Winter has arrived, friends. Don’t believe me? Take a look around. Temperatures are dropping faster than GPAs. But seriously, winter is here. And she did not come to play. 

Thankfully, Philadelphia has tons of (free!) festivals, shows, and extravaganzas to get you into the holiday spirit—and we’ve compiled a list of the best ones. So if you're looking for some festive things to do outside of the Penn Bubble, make sure to check out these attractions before winter break.

Thanksgiving Day Parade

Philadelphia’s Thanksgiving Parade is a perfect reminder of how historic this city really is. The oldest Thanksgiving parade in the nation and a beloved Philadelphia tradition, this parade is a great opportunity to experience the Philly community outside of Penn. Gigantic floats and balloons dominate the city’s streets while local choirs, dance groups, marching bands, and special performers offer entertainment and fun for all.

When: November 22, 8:30 a.m.—12 p.m.

Where: Benjamin Franklin Parkway, 20th St. & Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.

Franklin Square Holiday Festival

The main attraction of this free festival is the Electrical Spectacle Light Show, which consists of a whopping 75,000 twinkling lights set holiday tunes. The show runs every 30 minutes daily starting at 4:30 p.m. In addition to the light show, this festival also features a pop–up beer garden, mini–golf, a carousel, visits from Mr. Claus, and Kwanza and Hanukkah celebrations. Click here for full schedule.

When: November 15—December 31

Where: Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th St.

Comcast Holiday Spectacular

Displayed on a truly gigantic LED video wall (83’ x 25’ to be exact), the Comcast Holiday Spectacular show consists of a special performance of The Nutcracker by the Pennsylvania ballet as well as scenes from “Carol of the Bells,” “Jingle Bell Rock”, and “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” If you’re looking to avoid the frightful weather, but don’t want to skimp out on a unique holiday experience, the Comcast Spectacular is for you. The free presentation of all your favorite holiday classics can be seen at the beginning of each hour from 10a.m.—8 p.m.

When: November 22—January 1

Where: The Market and Shops at Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show

Macy’s Christmas Light Show is a Philadelphian tradition that’s as old as it is beautiful. Since 1956, the light show, accompanied by the historic Wanamaker Organ, has wowed the Philadelphian community with its fantastical holiday images and larger–than–life organ recitals. This year the show will feature more than 100,000 LED lights and a Grande Finale performance of “Deck the Halls.” The show runs every day, except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, every two hours from 10 a.m.—8 p.m.

When: November 23—December 31

Where: Macy’s, 1300 Market St.

Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum

Featuring a quarter mile of track, seven loops and tunnels, 15 rail lines, two cable cars, nine bridges (one of which you can walk under), and cute model trains, the Holiday Garden Railway at Morris Arboretum offers you the perfect photo–op to get you in a cheery mood this holiday season. The miniature landscape is made from all-natural materials and includes replicas of Philadelphia landmarks. You can visit the Arboretum daily from 10 a.m.—4 p.m.  Morris Arboretum also offers a ticketed event, Holiday Garden Railway Nights. Details and tickets can be found here.

When: November 23—December 31

Where: Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

This winter park features a picturesque winter landscape, ice skating rink, bright holiday lighting, outdoor fire pits, adorable warming cabins to escape the cold, an arcade, and a lodge bar. Blue Cross literally has it all and if the arcade and fire pits weren’t enough for you, this year Blue Cross is celebrating their 25th anniversary in a big way—free skating admission and rental on Opening Day, November 23!

Free tickets will be available online and upon entry.

When: November 23—March 3

Where: Blue Cross RiverRink, 101 S. Columbus Blvd.


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