Philadelphia

Everything You Can Do in Philadelphia This Holiday Season

Consider this our gift to you.

S.Borisov/Shutterstock
S.Borisov/Shutterstock
S.Borisov/Shutterstock

We’ve never needed a holiday pick-me-up as badly as we do this year. As 2020 comes to a close and locals are looking for a way to infuse some merriment into their days, Philly delivers with a slate of socially distanced holiday celebrations that are bound to put some pep in your step. While we won’t be gathering in-person for tree lightings or the Mummers parade, there are other festive ways to celebrate the holiday season sans crowds. Bundle up, Philly-and don’t forget your mask!

Northern Liberties PA
Northern Liberties PA
Northern Liberties PA

Support local small businesses with a holiday pop-up

December 3-6
North 2nd Street
This holiday season, Northern Liberties hosts a pop-up shopping extravaganza featuring a lineup of vendors who don’t have brick and mortar locations taking over new and vacant storefronts along 2nd Street in NoLibs. Score jewelry from Adorned by Aisha, breads and other baked goods from Gluten Lab, and natural soaps and lotions from SBC Naturals-you’ll be the best gift-giver out there.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go

Old City District
Old City District
Old City District

Tune in from afar as the powers that be flip the switch on a holiday tree

December 3
Online
While you won’t be able to see the Old City tree lighting in person, you can witness the whole ordeal in real time online. Tune into Old City District’s Facebook page, where the ceremony will be broadcast starting at 6:15 pm to see the evergreen designed by Old City’s Petit Jardin en Ville. If you want to check it out in person at a later date, the tree will be stationed at the Betsy Ross House.
Cost: Free

Olga Savina/Shutterstock
Olga Savina/Shutterstock
Olga Savina/Shutterstock

Celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with a menorah lighting livestream

December 10
Online
On the first night of Hanukkah, log onto the Old City District’s Facebook page for a live stream of the neighborhood’s menorah lighting, starting at 4:30 pm, hosted by the Old City Jewish Arts Center. Just like the Old City tree, the menorah will also be located at the Betsy Ross house if you wanted to take a peek another day.
Cost: Free

Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Shop for one-of-a-kind presents

December 24
LOVE Park and City Hall
Christmas Village, the German-style open-air holiday market returns for another year of unique shopping in LOVE Park. Shop for art, handmade soaps, clothing, jewelry, and yummy German foods (bratwurst, anyone?) daily through Christmas Eve. Vendor booths will be spaced out this year to mitigate crowds and foot traffic will be limited to one way. Just across the street at Dilworth Park is the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market where you can scour gifts made by local artisans. Masks are required at both markets and weekday visits are strongly encouraged.
Cost: Free entry

National Museum of American Jewish History
National Museum of American Jewish History
National Museum of American Jewish History

Keep the family engaged while staying inside this holiday

December 25
Online
Usually held in-person at the National Museum of American Jewish History, this year’s Being ___ at Christmas event moves to the digital sphere. Starting at 10 am on the museum’s website and Facebook page, the day’s activities begin with a performance from Alex Mitnick of Alex & the Kaleidoscope. The day continues with virtual on-demand art, music, and meditation lessons to enjoy at your leisure.
Cost: Free, $10 suggested donation

The African American Museum in Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia
The African American Museum in Philadelphia

Celebrate first fruits of the harvest with a local Kwanzaa gathering

December 26-27
Franklin Square
The African American Museum in Philadelphia celebrates Kwanzaa, and the holiday’s seven principles-unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith-during two days of activities in the park. Expect storytelling, music, art, and lighting of the kinara. 
Cost: Free

Franklin Square
Franklin Square
Franklin Square

Feast your eyes on a dancing lights show

December 31
Franklin Square
One of the city’s original urban parks, Franklin Square will once again be decorated with thousands of lights for the holiday season. The highlight of the park’s celebrations is the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, where the lights shimmer and dance to a soundtrack of holiday music multiple times an evening. You can also get in a festive game of mini golf or ride on the Parx Liberty Carousel. Food and drink are available in the Winter Beer Garden and SquareBurger.
Cost: Free entry, $8-10 mini golf, $3 carousel ride, pay-as-you-go food and drink

Tinsel
Tinsel
Tinsel

Raise a toast to the holiday season 

Through December 31
116 S. 12th St.
After popping up for Christmas in July and again for Halloween, Tinsel returns for seasonal drinking in Midtown Village. In addition to Instagram-worthy decorations-lights, bows, stockings!-and outdoor parklet seating, expect seasonal cocktails (including to-go), warm beverages, and tasty bites from Sueño and Finn McCools. Don’t forget to make your reservation and don’t forget your mask.
Cost: Pay-as-you-go

Old City District
Old City District
Old City District

Check out decorated window displays in Old City

Through January 1
Old City
Over a dozen Old City businesses-from 2nd Story Brewing to Old City Jewish Arts Center-deck out their front window displays with holiday decorations as a part of the Old City Window Decorating Contest. Stroll through the neighborhood and peep the decor and don’t forget to vote for your favorite!
Cost: Free

The Miracle on South 13th Street Holiday Light Display
The Miracle on South 13th Street Holiday Light Display
The Miracle on South 13th Street Holiday Light Display

Walk through a winter wonderland

Through January 1
1600 block of St. 13th St.
After Thanksgiving hits, the 1600 block of South 13th Street transforms into a blissed out splendor, dubbed the Miracle on South 13th Street. The coordinated decoration effort features illuminated garlands and trees, wreaths, reindeer, and twinkling lights and is open for anyone to peruse at their leisure. 
Cost: Free

Chris Szagola/CSM/Shutterstock
Chris Szagola/CSM/Shutterstock
Chris Szagola/CSM/Shutterstock

Have a very merry Gritmas

Through January 3
Wells Fargo Center
The parking lots of the Wells Fargo Center will be transformed into a walkthrough winter village. Complete with 193 light sculptures and displays (including a 25-foot reindeer and a forest of over 45 illuminated trees), photos with Gritty Claus, and a marketplace of local goods and food, Winter on Broad Street will be a festive way to get into the holiday spirit while social distancing. The open-air extravaganza requires timed ticketing and mask-wearing.
Cost: $15-32.50

Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens

Bundle up and stroll through the grounds at Longwood Gardens
Through January 10
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
A holiday tradition at Longwood Gardens is their annual holiday display, consisting of more than half-a-million lights decorating the outdoor grounds. As the sun sets, marvel at the extravagant lighting displays, watch an illuminated fountain show, and warm up at an outdoor fire pit. Head inside the conservatory to see ornately decorated Christmas trees, living wreaths, and seasonal floral arrangements. You must buy your tickets ahead of time and wear a mask at all times indoors and outdoors.
Cost: $2-30

Blue Cross RiverRink
Blue Cross RiverRink
Blue Cross RiverRink

Take a lap or two around the city’s ice skating rinks

Through February 2021
Dilworth Park and Blue Cross RiverRink
If you found yourself leaning into skate culture this summer and want to pivot to a seasonal version, hit the ice at either the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink at Dilworth Park or the Blue Cross RiverRink at Penn’s Landing. Both outdoor rinks are limiting capacity this year and you’ll need to reserve tickets to skate. At Dilworth Park, cozy up in a holiday-inspired garden (with mulled wine!) or an open-air cabin serving food and drinks. On the waterfront, grab some Chickie’s & Pete’s in the Lodge and play boardwalk games when you’re not skating. It goes without saying, you must wear a mask at all times except while eating and drinking.
Cost: $5-7 skating admission, $10 skate rental, pay-as-you-go food and drinkSign up here for our daily Philly email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Allie Volpe is a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn’t slept in days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.

Philadelphia

Museum Exhibits in Philly to Check Out Before They Disappear

Get in some culture (and selfies) at the best art exhibits in Philadelphia.

Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney

From the historical to the artistic, Philadelphia is jam packed with museums. Art aficionados of all ages can get lost inside the likes of tourist-friendly museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of the American Revolution or feast their eyes on unique exhibitions at institutions like the Fabric Workshop and Museum and the Museum for Art In Wood.

Between big-ticket exhibitions honouring the House of Mouse to collections showcasing the legacy of a prominent Black family in early America, there’s plenty of material to dig into. After you’ve planned a date night and rounded up friends to explore the city, here are the most exciting museum exhibits in Philly right now-before they’re gone for good.

Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney
Photo courtesy of Disney

The Franklin Institute

Exhibition: Disney 100: The Exhibition
Mickey Mouse, you look good for your age. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Disney is a retrospective exhibition, which got its world premiere right here in Philly. Between rarely-seen artworks and artifacts, costumes and props, and interactive installations where you can listen to hit Disney songs, the exhibit is a Disney lover’s wish-upon-a-star-come-true.
Dates: Until August 27, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Monday through Sunday. Tickets are available online and at the door.

Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS
Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS
Photo by Ramon Torres, courtesy of ANS

Academy of Natural Sciences

Exhibition: Conversations With Birds
No, not an allusion to the Eagles, this exhibition is dedicated to actual birds, their migration patterns, and humans’ relationship with avian creatures. Expect avian photography and video by local birders and wildlife photographers along with an interactive exhibit showing five migratory birds that pass through the Philadelphia region on their seasonal passage between North and South America.
Dates: Until May 21, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the door.

The Barnes Foundation

Exhibition: Sue Williamson & Lebohang Kganye: Tell Me What You Remember
The work of two contemporary South African artists-Sue Williamson and Lebohang Kganye-are shown side by side, offering a cross-generational dialogue. Both artists utilize video installations, photographs, sculptural installations, and textiles “to consider how the stories our elders tell us shape family narratives and personal identities.”
Dates: Until May 21, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Photo by Jonathan Horowitz
Photo by Jonathan Horowitz
Photo by Jonathan Horowitz

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

Exhibition: The Future Will Follow the Past: An Exhibition by Jonathan Horowitz
Exploring the rapid change of societal issues in America since 2020-antisemitism, racial violence, immigration, women’s rights, LGBTQIA+ rights-Jonathan Horowitz designed installations inspired by recent occurrences. His works explore specific events like the infamous far-right rally from white supremacists in Charlottesville as well as recent themes in American history, like attacks on those within the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Dates: Until July 4, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Friday through Sunday. Admission is available online and at the door.

Photo by Hoda Tawakol
Photo by Hoda Tawakol
Photo by Hoda Tawakol

The Museum for Art In Wood

Exhibition: The Mashrabiya Project
The newly renamed Museum for Art in Wood (formerly The Center for Art In Wood) celebrates the rebrand with a brand new project. Focusing on mashrabiya, the traditional Islamic architectural design, The Mashrabiya Project is a first of its kind effort in the U.S. to examine this aesthetic. As a part of the larger mission, a new exhibition Seeing Through Space features newly-commissioned, never-before-seen works by six female-identifying artists.
Dates: Until July 23, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets are not required.

Photo by Carlos Avenda├▒o
Photo by Carlos Avenda├▒o
Photo by Carlos Avenda├▒o

Fabric Workshop and Museum

Exhibition: Henry Taylor: Nothing Change, Nothing Strange
Combining painting and sculpture, Henry Taylor utilized recycled objects in this exhibition, the product of an 18-month residency. The entire second floor of the museum houses the large scale assemblages, tapestries, and textiles. Think: 30-foot billowing canvases and towering totems created from compressed blocks of paint buckets, vinyl home siding, and black plastic planters.
Dates: Until July 23, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available but advanced registration is encouraged.

Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Exhibition: Judith Joy Ross
More than 200 photographs from renowned portrait photographer Judith Joy Ross will be on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, chronicling her career from the 1980s to today. Her black-and-white portraits are intimate reflections of everyday Americans, and this show features work from all her major projects, plus, never-before-seen images.
Dates: April 24 to August 6, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Thursday through Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

American Swedish Historical Museum

Exhibition: Radically Marimekko
Famous for their bright and bold fabrics, Finnish textiles, clothing, and home furnishings, the company Marimekko is showcased at this special exhibit. Drawing attention to Finnish design, the collection traces the brand’s path from industrial art house to fashion icon.
Dates: March 30 to September 24, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday. Walk up admission is available.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and African American Museum in Philadelphia

Exhibition: Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America
A collaboration between the African American Museum in Philadelphia and PAFA, Rising Sun showcases new work from 20 artists examining the question of Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy? With pieces shown in both museums, visitors can reflect on, challenge, and expand their view of democracy through art.
Dates: March 23 to October 8, 2023
How to visit: The African American Museum in Philadelphia is open Thursday through Sunday; admission is available online and at the door. PAFA is open Thursday through Sunday; admission can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Museum of the American Revolution
Museum of the American Revolution
Museum of the American Revolution

Museum of the American Revolution

Exhibition: Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia
James Forten may not be a familiar name within early American history, but this new exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution is looking to change that. Telling the story of Forten and his family through 100 historical artifacts, Black Founders explores the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and the abolitionist movement.
Dates: Until November 26, 2023
How to visit: The museum is open daily. Admission is available online and at the door.

National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center

Exhibition: The 19th Amendment: How Women Won The Vote
That lofty document known as the Constitution and its values, interpretations, and amendments are explored in great detail at the National Constitution Center, naturally. This semi-permanent exhibit examines the 19th Amendment-the one which granted women the right to vote-and the road to its ratification. Out of the near 100 artifacts, expect to see a rare printing of the Declaration of Sentiments from the first women’s convention at Seneca Falls, a ballot box used to collect women’s votes in the late 1800s, Pennsylvania’s ratification copy of the 19th Amendment, and various “Votes for Women” ephemera.
Dates: Semi-permanent, no end date announced
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

M├╝tter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
M├╝tter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
M├╝tter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia

M├╝tter Museum

Exhibition: Spit Spreads Death
Eerily topical, the M├╝tter’s latest special exhibit, Spit Spreads Death, an exhibit about the 1918 flu pandemic, opened in the fall of 2019, less than six months before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The exhibit traces the disease’s spread throughout Philadelphia neighbourhoods a century ago and how the pandemic impacted the city with artifacts like photos, newspaper clippings, and more.
Dates: Now through 2024
How to visit: The museum is open Wednesday through Monday. Advanced tickets are required.

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Allie Volpe┬áis a writer based in Philadelphia. She hasn’t slept in days. Follow her on Twitter:┬á@allieevolpe.

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