Whether you celebrate a holiday other than Christmas or have relatives in town who need to be entertained, Philly has plenty to offer.
You could spend Christmas Day at a family-friendly day of activities at the National Museum of American Jewish History, and then finish it up with a delicious latke-and-vodka food festival in Society Hill.
Looking for a fun way to kick off the Kwanzaa season? The African American Museum in Philadelphia has you covered. And if that’s not enough museum-hopping, head over to the Penn Museum later in the week to take part in its new after-hours flashlight tours just for grownups.
Find more details and all that below in our roundup of fun Christmas Week to-dos.
Things to do in Philly during the week of Christmas
For those looking for something fun to do on Christmas, the National Museum of American Jewish History will be open all day with a slew of family-friendly activities and the chance to check out the special Ruth Bader Ginsburg exhibition. Besides browsing me museum, a full schedule of activities from 10am to 5pm includes arts-and-crafts fun with the Clay Studio, face-painting and story hours, films and live performances from Emmy-winning kindie group Alex & the Kaleidoscope. Food is BYO, so pack a lunch and enjoy a day in the museum while everyone else is at home fighting with their families ????. Wednesday, December 25, 10am–5pm, $5–$15, National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 S. Independence Mall East.
Sadly, the Gershman Y’s Latkepalooza, the long-running Philadelphia food festival for all things latkes, no longer exists, but you can still get a mouthful of the good stuff at this seventh annual gathering that pairs the delicious potato pancakes with a variety of kosher vodkas. (Chinese food and wine will also be on hand if none of that sounds good to you.) The evening also includes a community menorah-lighting ceremony. Wednesday, December 25, 5–7pm, $18, B’nai Abraham Chabad, 527 Lombard Street.
The African American Museum in Philadelphia kicks off the first day of Kwanzaa with a daylong bash featuring tons of performances, a learning session about the seven principles of Kwanzaa and a meal. The day starts with an opening drum ceremony and then carries on with several hours of poetry readings, musical performances, stilt-walking, sing-alongs, a craft table and more. The day is absolutely free to attend. Kwanzaa runs through January 1, 2020, and there are several ways to celebrate in Philly. Check out a good list here. Thursday, December 26, 2–5pm, free, African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street.
The Penn Museum, which recently unveiled its latest renovations and new galleries, is retooling one of its most popular kids events for grownups. Like 40 Winks, Night Vision gives folks a chance to wander through the museum after hours on flashlight tours—and with beer and hard cider in hand. The first iteration happens for two nights after Christmas and focuses on objects in the museum that tell stories of monsters and myths, like vampires, werewolves and snake-haired and intestine-faced demons. You may even learn how to cast out a ghoul or two, which could come in handy as we head into a fresh new decade. Flashlights out! Thursday–Friday, December 26–27, 5:30–8pm, The Penn Museum, 3260 South Street.
Looking to help the hungry in Philadelphia over the holidays? Just before New Year’s Eve, One Kind Act a Month (OKAAM) hosts one of its backpack events that asks folks to donate satchels full of food, water and toiletries that will be immediately donated to people living on the street. To get involved, arrive at 9th and Market streets between noon and 12:15 with a backpack filled with 5-10 brown bag lunches (stock hem with sandwiches, chips, fruits, a bottle of water, etc … ) From there, the caravan will travel to LOVE Park, handing out the lunches to people on the street as they go and to anyone who shows up at LOVE Park needing a meal. OKAAM does this every month—on every fourth Saturday—so if you can’t make it there are plenty of opportunities to take part in the new year. If you have any questions contact OKAAM firstname.lastname@example.org. Saturday, December 28, noon, 9th and Market streets.
The Christmas Village in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park is open through Christmas Eve. The European-style village is packed with more than 80 local and international vendors selling everything from holiday ornaments to Philly-centric clothing to belly-warming food and drink. Do-gooders should beeline to the glowing, life-sized present onsite through December 31. The installation doubles as a donation point where you can give to Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation or Project HOME, an organization working to help the homeless in Philadelphia. Through Tuesday, December 24, LOVE Park, 15th and Arch streets.
What says holidays more than a wintry twirl on the ice? You’re in luck, because the outdoor ice skating rink at Dilworth Park is open noon to 7pm on Christmas Eve, noon to 8pm on Christmas Day, and 11am to 11pm on the 23rd and from December 26 to 30. When you’re not skating, you can try the variety of new seasonal food and drink options onsite, including the Cocktails and Cold Ones happy hour on Christmas night starting at 5pm. The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market will also be up and running if you need to snag any last-minute gifts. Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street.
The dazzling holiday light show at Franklin Square will be aglow every day this week except December 25. The center of the festivities is the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, which illuminates the park through December 31 with more than 80,000 LED bulbs that flicker along to a soundtrack of holiday tunes pre-recorded by the Philly POPS. The season also sees family-friendly activities and, for adults, a winter beer garden decked out with sizzling fire pits and a bar cranking out beer, wine and hot chocolate. Through December 31, Sunday–Thursday, 4–8pm; Friday and Saturday, 4–9pm, pay as you go, Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets.