Ready to feel holly and jolly? You could spend the entire month of December celebrating the holiday season. From parades to markets and festive rides, there is really something for everyone and every age to enjoy. And then, as 2019 winds down and 2020 comes into focus, it’s time to really party! I’ve pulled together more than 65 of the best, most unique, and fun holiday and Christmas events in Philadelphia and across the region plus New Year’s Eve events, too!
Holiday & Christmas Events in Philadelphia
Christmas Village in Philadelphia
For more than a decade, the Christmas Village in Philadelphia at Love Park has been one of the most popular Christmas events in Philadelphia. And each year the Christmas Village, inspired by traditional open-air German Christmas markets, gets bigger and better. The Christmas Village in Philadelphia opens on Thanksgiving Day following the city’s Thanksgiving parade. And then on that Saturday, December 1st, Christkind will officially open the market in the true Nuremberg fashion. In addition to more than 80 vendors selling food, crafts, and gifts, the market has plenty of events to help you feel extra festive.
Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market
Overflowing from Love Park to Dilworth Plaza, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market is returning with more than 50 locally-based artisans, crafters, and vendors. This market encircles City Hall, the Wintergarden, and the Rothman Ice Rink and through the courtyard, where you’ll also find the Christmas Village Carousel and, brand new for this year, a 65-foot Ferris wheel. The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market kicked off November 23rd and runs through the first of the new year.
Photo Pop Philly: Winter Wonderland
Looking for the perfect Christmas card photo? Photo Pop Philly: Winter Wonderland sounds like a winner! The event which runs through January 5th is an interactive art exhibit with a kitschy pop culture-meets-holidays theme. Photo Pop Philly: Winter Wonderland is inside The Bourse. Timed tickets are required.
Holidays at the Museum
Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art is still undergoing a multi-year renovation, they’re still decking the halls! On the evening of November 27th, the museum will host a tree lighting celebration on their eastern side overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
On Friday, December 6th, the Mexican Cultural Center will host a Feliz Navidad Fiesta as part of its Friday Nights and Holidays at the Museums series.
Deck the Alley
Throughout the year, Elfreth’s Alley attracts visitors for its quaint appearance and historic roots as the nation’s oldest residential street. But on December 7th, Deck the Alley will see the owners of these still private homes opening their doors to visitors. It’s a rare opportunity. Tickets are required.
Winter on the Waterfront
This year, the Delaware River Waterfront is continuing its tradition to celebrate Winterfest. The 26th annual Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest offers lives up to its promise of a winter festival. There’s ice skating on the banks of the river by trees covered in twinkling lights, cozy cabins, fire pits, and more. Visitors can enjoy tasty bites and drinks from the likes of Franklin Fountain, Garces, and Chickie’s and Pete’s. There’s even a special cabin for kids! The Blue Cross RiverRink is open all winter from November 29th through March 8th. Buy your tickets online.
Kwanzaa Celebration at AAMP
On December 26th, the African American Museum in Philadelphia will be hosting a free Kwanzaa celebration in the afternoon. There is plenty of food and music planned for the event plus performances. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate and learn about the holiday, including its seven principles.
George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker
Throughout the month of December, the Pennsylvania Ballet will be putting on George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Featuring Tchaikovsky’s score, the performance is a holiday classic that delights the entire family with fantastic performances and memorable music.
Holiday & Christmas Events in Philadelphia Suburbs
A Longwood Christmas
There is perhaps no bigger holiday tradition in the Philadelphia region than A Longwood Christmas. Each year, the Kennett Square gardens put on a lavish display of poinsettias, twinkling lights, evergreen trees, and more across their outdoor gardens and inside their 4-acre Conservatory. Longwood has a sweet surprise with their latest decorations. They’ve partnered with the country’s oldest candy store, Shane’s Confectionery in Philadelphia, to offer a peek at traditional vintage Pennsylvania German candy molds and toy candies. A Longwood Christmas amazes each year and always manages to innovate and thrill viewers. Timed tickets are required and the holiday spectacular runs from November 22nd through January 5th.
A Brandywine Christmas
Hidden amongst the trees overlooking the Brandywine Creek, the Brandywine River Museum is perhaps best known for its remarkable collection of art by the Wyeth family. But there’s more to it than that, especially during Christmastime. In addition to beautiful trees and hand-made ornaments, the real jewel of their holiday festivities is their model train display. A Brandywine Christmas features nearly 2000 feet of O-gauge model train track!
Grand Chanukah Lighting
The Lubavitch of Yardley is holding a Grand Chanukah Lighting of the borough’s giant menorah on December 23rd. Located outside of Yardley Borough Hall, the event includes music, hot cider, and latkas!
Christmas in the Castle
The Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn will kick off its Christmas in the Castle tours on November 29th. The event, which runs through January 5th, offers 45-minute guided tours of the Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn family’s holiday traditions. Of special interest are the museum’s dozens of three-dimensional Nativity scenes that were collected around the world.
Elmwood Park Zoo’s Wild Lights
Through January 5th, the Elmwood Park Zoo will be extra bright and festive for Wild Lights as things get colder and darker. The zoo’s sixteen-acres are decked out in millions of lights! The displays include a giant video show in the giraffe yard and a Rainbow Runway. Throughout the season, there will be special live entertainment, animal encounters, and more. And, of course, you’ll be able to find Santa in his workshop on site.
Santa’s Polar Bear Express
All aboard! Colebrookedale Railroad in Boyertown will be running Santa’s Polar Bear Express on select dates through the holiday season. The approximately two-hour round trip lets you get up close with the Man in Red himself. If you’re really looking to indulge, consider a First-Class Parlor ticket. Or, you can enjoy brunch in the Dining Car as you roll through the Secret Valley.
Winter Wonderland Tea
If you ask me, A Taste of Britain is the best tea room in the Philadelphia region. Throughout the year during the holidays and change of seasons, the restaurant offers special themed afternoon teas. This year, their Winter Wonderland Tea will be held six times before the end of the year. The enticing menu includes savory lobster cheesecakes, sticky toffee pudding scones, and warm Moroccan rice pudding. Reserve your seat while there’s still availability!
First Crossing Reenactment
On December 25, 1776, General George Washington led troops across the Delaware River for a surprise attack against the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey. It’s an important moment in United States history and one that’s been recounted in George Caleb Bingham’s famous painting. Each year, thousands gather in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, to witness costumed reenactors bring it all to life. From a rousing speech by General Washington to that cold row across the river.
This year, they will be holding two reenactments starting in Washington Crossing Historic Park. The first is a paid event on December 8th that will include additional colonial-era activities and demonstrations. Then on December 25th, the free Christmas Day Crossing event will kick off at noon with the actual crossing set for an hour later.
Holiday & Christmas Events in Lancaster County
Find Your Belsnickle Christmas Tour
Lancaster County is full of charming bed and breakfasts where you can relax. For the holiday season, fifteen of these “authentic B&Bs” are outfitted with their holidays and offering tours. All proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Dutch Winter Wonderland
During the warmer months, Dutch Wonderland thrills with its family-friendly attractions. But during the winter, it transforms itself into a family-friendly Christmas event in the Philadelphia area! Santa arrives with Dutch Winter Wonderland! Themed rides, a Royal Light Show, and more await visitors to the festivities.
Christmas at the Strasburg Rail Road
The Strasburg Rail Road is hosting several events this holiday season. Families can ride the railroad with Santa himself during the Santa’s Paradise Express event. Their Night Before Christmas Train captures the excitement of Clement Clarke Moore’s poem of the same name. There’s also a Christmas Tree Train which transports riders to Leaman Place Grove to select a Christmas tree. Riders and their trees then ride back on the train.
Ice Cream with Santa
While leaving cookies out for Santa might be the popular choice, the folks at Turkey Hill know he loves a little ice cream, too. The Turkey Hill Experience invites children to join the big guy and Mrs. Claus for ice cream and cookies, storytime, and crafting!
Christmas at the Cloister
The holidays are so frequently big and bold, that sometimes it takes something the complete opposite to really deliver an impact. The Ephrata Cloister, a 1741 Meetinghouse will be hosting an event of quiet reflection, seasonal readings, and holiday music. They will also be hosting theatrical lantern tours with students leading the event.
Yuletide at Wheatland
The only president to hail from Pennsylvania is James Buchanan. His Wheatland mansion transforms for the holidays to share how they celebrated in the 19th century both above and below the stairs. There’s an emphasis on German and Irish holiday traditions.
Christmas Lights & Ziplining
Set hearts racing this holiday season at Refreshing Mountain. They will be hosting their second annual Christmas Lights Experience with over four miles of lights. Additionally, there are packages offering zipline, high ropes, and a giant swing. Or, if you want to keep your feet on the ground, you can keep it cozy around the campfire!
Holidays & Christmas Events in Harrisburg (& the Region)
Holidays at Hershey
There is no shortage of holiday attractions in Hershey!
Through the first of the New Year, Hersheypark Christmas Candylane wows visitors with four million twinkling lights, Santa and nine real reindeer, and all the cocoa your heart desires. Elsewhere, Hershey Sweet Lights offers a two-mile drive-through holiday attraction with 600 animated, illuminated displays.
Just next door, Hershey’s Chocolate World is home to its annual Holiday Chocolate House, a gingerbread house-like piece of engineering that is, no surprise, made of decadent chocolate.
Or, you can go for a ride through the town on the Hershey Trolley for a guided tour!
Holidays at the Pennsylvania State Capitol
The architecture of the Pennsylvania State Capitol is impressive at any time of the year, but during the holidays it is something really special. Visitors to Christmas at the Capitol can see the state’s 20-foot Christmas tree covered in more than 800 lights and 500 handmade ornaments. As always, visits to the capitol building are free!
Holidays in Harrisburg
In addition to the festivities in the State Capitol building, the town of Harrisburg knows how to celebrate the holidays. On December 8th, visitors can get a peek inside some of the city’s most impressive homes for a candlelight house tour.
At the Fort Hunter Mansion, you can enjoy their Victorian-era Christmas tree and toy train exhibits while the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center plays host to the Pennsylvania Christmas & Gift Show from December 4th through the 8th.
Spring Gate Vineyard will be hosting their 3rd Annual Santalympics on December 7th and 8th. The open-house style event allows individuals or teams of four to complete Christmas and wine-themed games! Tickets are required and all ticket proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation.
Koziar’s Christmas Village
Koziar’s in Bernville dazzles with memorable outdoor light displays. A visit is an annual tradition for many families across the region. The event runs through January 1st.
Holidays & Christmas Events in Northern Delaware
Holiday Season at Nemours Estate
No one can accuse Alfred I. du Pont and his wife of being modest. Their Nemours Estate is inspired by Versailles, complete with massive water fountains in their beautiful 3000-acre formal gardens. And each winter you can explore this already spectacular mansion in its holiday best. The decorations are a blending of modern with the authentic period. You can count on multiple Christmas trees, wreaths and more. The holiday festivities at Nemours Estate are already on display!
Yuletide at Winterthur
Beginning on November 2rd, Winterthur is ready for the holidays. The 175-room mansion near the state line between Pennsylvania and Delaware celebrates Yuletide at Winterthur with all the fantastic decorations that you would expect. The estate is famous for its dollhouse display as well as a Dried Flower Tree that’s been a tradition for more than three decades.
Holidays at Hagley Museum
While there are a number of du Pont family estates across the Brandywine Valley, the Hagley Museum was the family’s first home in the United States and the site of their original powder mills. The 235-acre property transforms to honor the family’s French roots for the holidays. It’s a warm reminder of how integral family is during this holiday season. The Hagley Museum’s holiday exhibition starts on November 23rd.
Christmas in Odessa
Each year, Historic Odessa offers visitors the chance to tour a collection of private, historic homes and buildings that date to the 18th and 19th centuries. The village is charming to visit as you walk between the properties and admire not only the decorations but also the architectural details. One tradition of Christmas in Historic Odessa is the Storybook Trees exhibit, where Christmas tree decorations take inspiration from children’s books. Another is the decorations of the homes themselves, themed to a specific story. This year, it’s The Secret Garden! The holiday festivities run through December 29th.
The Spirit of Christmas in Historic New Castle
The 19th annual Spirit of Christmas in Historic New Castle will take place on December 14th. The one-day event transports visitors to the past with events like tree lighting and caroling. And, of course, you can count on plenty of food, music, and fun. The celebration is free!
Capital Holiday Celebration
As the capital of Delaware, Dover knows how to celebrate! On Thursday, December 5th, Downtown Dover will turn out for a Capital Holiday Celebration including caroling, hot cocoa, and the official tree lighting. Rumor has it the big man in red will be making an appearance, too. (But you didn’t hear it from me!) Then on December 14th, Downtown Dover will be hosting its holiday parade and holiday marketplace.
Christmas in Clayton
On the first day of December, Clayton will be kicking off the Christmas holiday season. In the morning, Santa will be hosting breakfast. Then later in the afternoon, a DJ will spin festive tunes as you shop, enjoy food, and Christmas hayrides. Then the day finishes with a Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony!
City of Harrington Christmas Tree Lighting & Parade
On December 3rd, the City of Harrington will kick off their celebrations with a Christmas tree lighting and holiday caroling. Then on December 6th, the city will be hosting its annual Christmas Parade.
Milford’s 14th Annual Holiday Stroll
Milford, Delaware, will host its fourteenth annual Holiday Stroll on Friday, December 6th. Visitors will get to enjoy Strolling Holiday Carolers, the Delmarva Miniature Horse Club, and, of course, Santa. The free event is rain, snow, or shine!
A Farmer’s Christmas
The Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village will be celebrating the holidays on December 7th. The interactive holiday event will engage visitors of all ages with crafts and musical performances. You can also experience a Victorian Christmas with spots around the museum, like their active blacksmith shop and farmhouse kitchen. You can even send a letter to Santa with the train station’s telegraph!
Fifer Orchards Cider Festival
On December 14th, the Fifer Orchards Cider Festival in Wyoming, DE, will host a special apple cider festival. Visitors can enjoy free hot apple cider, tours of the farm, and roast marshmallows by a bonfire.
Holiday & Christmas Events in New Jersey
Holiday Happenings in Atlantic City
Not all of the Christmas events in Philadelphia are in the city. Some are in the surrounding region. Atlantic City is a go-to spot for entertainment at any time of the year and especially so at Christmas. There will be special holiday-themed performances by such big names as Mariah Carey and Michael Bolton as well as traditional holiday entertainment like the Atlantic City Ballet Presents It’s a Shore Holiday.
If you’re feeling a little naughty, the Borgata is hosting a Burlesque Holiday show the last week of the year. Just, uh, don’t tell Santa.
Holiday Events in Cape May
Cape May will get lit on Friday, December 6th with at least two tree lightings: one at Congress Hall and another at Rotary Park. Then the following day, West Cape May Christmas Parade struts its stuff from Broadway to Carpenter Lane.
If you’re pining for a simpler time, you may be interested in the Old Fashioned Christmas Exhibit at the Emlen Physick Estate. The exhibit in Cape May’s only Victorian house museum includes model trains, toys, and more! The event runs through the end of the year.
Holiday Events in Wildwood
On December 6th, the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse Christmas Tree Lighting will take place. The celebration kicks off at 4:30 pm and includes music, refreshments and free tours of the lighthouse!
Then, on the 6th and 7th, Christmas on the Plaza will take place in Downtown Wildwood. On Friday evening, a Christmas parade and tree lighting will kick things off. The free event also includes carnival rides, vendors, and more holiday activities!
Wildwood will be hosting a new Wildwood Winter Wonderland event this year on December 13th and 14th. The event, hosted at the Holly Beach Park, includes family-friendly events like food, craft vendors, free movies, and live music.
New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Philadelphia
Rivers Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront
Considered the city’s major New Year’s Eve fireworks display, Rivers Casino will host two performances along the waterfront. There’s an early show at 6 pm and another at the stroke of midnight. You can take in the fireworks from either side of the river.
Head to South Philly and Xfinity Live! for their countdown to 2020 with NYE Live! The party starts at 9 pm and includes live music, multiple DJs, confetti cannons, and more. In addition to a free midnight champagne toast, there’s complimentary food until 11 and then local favorites like Lorenzos and Sons, Chickie’s and Pete’s, and Geno’s will be available.
For many across the Philadelphia region, it wouldn’t be January 1st without the Mummers Parade. On the first day of every year (weather permitting), the Mummers strut their stuff through the city in what’s thought to be the nation’s oldest folk festival.
New Year’s Celebrations in Pennsylvania
New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Hershey
There are a lot of options if you’re looking to ring in 2020 in Hershey, Pennsylvania! In downtown, you can celebrate with the Hershey’s Kiss drop at midnight. Or, you can head to Hershey’s Chocolate World for a kid-friendly early celebration starting at 4 pm.
New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Harrisburg
Harrisburg is fun and cool any time of the year. But New Year’s Eve in Harrisburg offers a wealth of options so you better be ready to party! On New Year’s Eve, the state capital offers family-friendly activities and live music, depending on what you’re looking for. At midnight, the city drops a strawberry from the Hilton Harrisburg! For your really little ones, the Whitaker Center offers a children’s party that kicks off at 11 am with a noon countdown.
Head to Binns Park in Downtown Lancaster to say so long to 2019 and hello to 2020 for N.Y.E. in Lancaster City! The celebrations include the lowering of the Red Rose and fireworks! The event is free and includes live music.
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