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The Philly Winter Break Survival Guide: 2021 Edition

Holiday break means a lot of quality time with your family, let us help you find ways to stay entertained!

It feels like everyone you talk to has plans for travel this year for Winter Break, a huge change from Winter Break 2020! For those of us who are staying close to home you’ll want some fun activities to entertain your family- they’ll grow bored of playing with their new holiday gifts, and you’ll regret not thinking ahead about what to do. Leave the thinking to us, and make your plans from this list below! 


Light Up Your Winter Break

Visit our post about all things Holiday lights, and you’ll find many don’t end just because Santa made his deliveries! Franklin Square’s Electrical Spectacle and City Hall’s Deck the Hall Light Show both run through January 1. 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.

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).

Winter in Franklin Square

Extended through February 27, 2022

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.

Photo by Jeff Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Through March 26, 2022

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.

Winter in Dilworth Park: Rothman Rink, Wintergarden, and Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market

Through January 1, 2021 (Rink through February 27)

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 the cozy Cabin for warm drinks and bites after skating on the Rothman Rink and running through the beautiful Wintergarden (closing April 3).



Virtual Winter Break Activities

Children’s Shows

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.

Franklin Frost Virtual Winter Programming by the Franklin Institute

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.

Art at Home with Philadelphia Museum of Art

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).

A Revolutionary Virtual Winter Break

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.

Winter Science Week at Academy of Natural Sciences

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.

NLArts Winter Break Camp

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.

Theatre Camps with Music Training Center

December 26-30

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.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations


Laura Swartz contributed to the original versions of this article.

Contributing Writer