The Philly Winter Break 2020 Survival Guide
Mask up (or log on) and get ready to make the most of this very weird holiday season!
This year, with no travel and many traditions canceled, Winter Break seems longer than ever. And while we can look forward to being home while not logged into Zoom for school, break can get monotonous even in a year when we haven’t spent the last nine months at home. But don’t worry, there’s plenty to do around town (and online), and we’ve got the rundown. So mask up (or log on) and get ready to make the most of this very weird holiday season!
Even after Christmas is over, that doesn’t stop Philly from sparkling until 2021. Franklin Square’s Electrical Spectacle and City Hall’s Deck the Hall Light Show both run through the end of the year. You can hop in the car for the free drive-through American Heritage Credit Union lights or take a longer drive to Shady Brook Farm’s Holiday Light Show out in Yardley.
And of course, the new Winter on Broad spectacle–including Gritty Claus– shines on outside the Wells Fargo Center through January 3.
Beyond your typical light show experience, it’s a great time of year to just walk through the city and marvel at the holiday lights. From all-out neighborhood productions (like Miracle on South 13th Street, Smedley Street, and Christmas on Kimball) to classic holiday streetscapes like Jeweler’s Row and Germantown Avenue, you’re sure to get plenty of holiday cheer (and glowing photo ops).
Extended through February 2021
200 N. Sixth St.
In addition to their nightly light show, Franklin Square is debuting Chilly Philly Mini Golf, a holiday spin on their beloved golf course complete with lights, holiday music, and larger-than-life inflatable wintertime friends! You can also ride the carousel (be sure to pick an animal that isn’t wearing a blanket, as those are “resting” for social distancing purposes). Masks and social distancing are required.
Through March 7, 2021
101 S. Columbus Blvd.
Come to skate, ride the Ferris wheel, enjoy the lights, play boardwalk games, and more. This rink is a Philadelphia favorite for a reason. Timed reservations required for skating.
Through January 1, 2021 (Rink through February)
Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th St.
While Christmas Village in LOVE Park only lasts through Christmas Eve, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth lasts a little longer, through January 1. It’s a great way to shop with local makers and small businesses all in one place. Stop by after skating on the Rothman Rink and running through the beautiful Wintergarden, which will both remain open through February 2021 along with the cozy Cabin for warm drinks and bites.
December 26—31, 10 am—5 pm
239 Arch St.
While the Betsy Ross House remains closed, Betsy Ross (wearing a mask of course) will be greeting visitors in the courtyard, with all safety guidelines in effect. Find out more about colonial holiday celebrations from Betsy and from signage placed throughout the courtyard, and check out the Old City holiday tree while you’re visiting. You can also visit the Betsy Ross House gift shop, which remains open.
Dine out in an Igloo, with a Princess, and More
Would you, could you in a tent? While restaurants have been hit hard during the pandemic, some have gotten creative with their outdoor dining options and safety measures. Our favorites include Germantown Garden Grill with their individual heated igloos (and princess brunches on December 26 and 31), Rouge‘s “Lodge,” Taqueria Amor‘s Grinch takeover, and Tinsel‘s walk-through winter wonderland and festive outdoor “streetery .” But there are so many more options both for outdoor dining and takeout, so save yourself the dishes and support local restaurants if you can.
Catch holiday classics through December 23, and then Wonder Woman 1984 hits the screen starting Christmas Day! All tickets must be purchased online in advance. Bring your own snacks (but no glass bottles are allowed). Attendees are required to remain in their vehicles at all times unless using the restroom. When outside the vehicle, attendees are required to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
Virtual Winter Break Activities
Winter break is a great time to take in a show, even if they are virtual this year. The Pennsylvania Ballet’s Nutcracker streams through December 25, so be sure to check that out early on during Winter Break. For more Christmas-themed entertainment, People’s Light is streaming A Christmas Carol in concert through January 3, while the Philly POPS are streaming their holiday concert free through New Year’s Day.
Not to be missed, Quintessence Theater has reimagined a full virtual production of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess. All four actors perform live from specially designed home studios, with the chance for young viewers to even make a cameo appearance onscreen! The show was recently extended through January 3.
Since closing (again) due to the pandemic, the Franklin Institute has kept the science fun alive online. This winter they started a slate of programming called Franklin Frost, including unique live events, engaging science experiences, fun DIY holiday science, and more. Be sure to tune into their Facebook page for Tinker Tuesdays, where science educators demonstrate how to add a sparkle of science to your holiday-themed projects. They’re also planning to end 2020 with a bang, with a special virtual New Year’s celebration. See link in title for the whole schedule.
Follow the museum’s online resources anytime to get step-by-step instructions on how to make art using everyday materials. Plus, kids can join a virtual Winter Break Playdate on select dates (free, but reservations required).
From December 26–January 1, discover the stories behind the “10 Crucial Days” of the Revolutionary War and the “times that tried men’s souls.” The Museum of the American Revolution brings their annual Winter Break activities virtual with make-at-home crafts, a Virtual Discovery Cart, and more.
Cozy up to your computer for a free virtual program or check out some Science From Home activities to enjoy some guided family fun. On December 27 and 29, make Dino-Dough models, and on December 30, kids can Ask the Scientists and learn about some of the incredible discoveries the Academy made this year. All activities are free, but registration is required for the live events.
December 28-31, 9:30-11:30 am
Kids can explore fantastic stories and write their own with Ms. Rae. Each day of camp, read a book and make a project inspired by the story, as well as games and community time. No special supplies required, just whatever you have on hand for drawing. Sign up for one day or all four.
MTC is taking its online teaching platform even further, just in time for the holidays, with winter break musical theatre camps. Students in grades 2-10 will play theatre games, learn choreography, scene study, singing, and more. Choose from morning session, afternoon session, or sign up for both.
Photographs by Laura Swartz.