The Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday kicks off an event-filled weekend that sees the return of several major winter and holiday attractions all around Philadelphia.
You’ll find no shortage of ways to glide into the holiday spirit (or entertain Thanksgiving guests!) over the weekend, with the opening of the charming, Bavarian-inspired Christmas Village at LOVE Park, and the 2021 debut of Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest on the Delaware River waterfront. There’s also a massive holiday light show, called Tinseltown, opening at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks.
On top of all that, you could twirl around the ice rink and shop at the Made in Philadelphia holiday market at Dilworth Park, sip on boozy hot cocoas at a ski lodge-inspired pop-up bar at Assembly Rooftop Lounge, or wander through Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens to the glow of twinkling lights.
You’ll find details on all that and more below. This list gets updated throughout the week, so stop by regularly for more ideas for how to spend your weekends in Philly. Happy Thanksgiving, all!
WHAT TO DO IN PHILLY OVER THANKSGIVING WEEKEND
DECK THE HALL LIGHT SHOW: The westward-facing side of City Hall will glow with stunning holiday light projections from November 22 to January 1. The spectacle overlooks the ice skating rink, winter garden and other holiday attractions going on at Dilworth Park.
THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE: If you’re looking for an official start to the holiday season, the 6abc/Dunkin’ Donuts Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade may be your best predictor. What feels more holiday-y than turning on the parade on Thanksgiving Day and letting it run in the background while you gripe with family over turkey lunch. You could also catch the 1.4-mile procession in person. It starts at 8:15am at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard, turns left onto 16th Street and then turns left again left onto Ben Franklin Parkway.
CHRISTMAS VILLAGE: November 25 through Christmas Eve, LOVE Park and various aprons around City Hall will play home to a whimsical Bavarian-themed holiday village, full of wintery treats and opportunities for European-style knickknack-shopping. New for this year: a double-decker carousel and a German food court will take up space in the City Hall courtyard. The Ferris Wheel and Kid’s Train will also be back on the North Apron of City Hall.
BLUE CROSS RIVERRINK WINTERFEST OPENS: The massively festive winter attraction along the Delaware River opens for business just after Thanksgiving, on Friday, November 26. Now in its 28th season, the attraction draws thousands of revelers throughout the season for ice skating on its open air, NHL-sized rink. Make a night of it by renting a cozy warming cabin that you can enjoy with your sweetie or a gaggle of friends. Or just toast-up in The Lodge or by a fire pit before heading off to play carnival games. A 700-pound smoker manned by Craft Hall’s Black Iron BBQ will make sure you’re well-fed for all the shenanigans.
TINSELTOWN HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR: The Fairgrounds at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in nearby Oaks, PA, is the site of a massive holiday light show and festival that sports more than a million lights, larger-than-life holiday sculptures, a 60-foot light tunnel that sounds pretty great for Instagram, and a dining area for all your noshing needs. Catch it running from November 26 to January 2.
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: Businesses along East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly are rolling out special deals and savings during Small Business Saturday, happening all day on Saturday, November 27. Score some good winter reads at A Novel Idea bookshop for 10 percent off; Metro Men’s Clothing is offering 20 percent off on new winter apparel and clearance items; and South Fellini will debut the theme for its annual custom-designed ornaments and holiday T-shirts. Check out a trailer for Small Business Saturday on East Passyunk Avenue here.
MENORAH AND HANUKKAH LIGHTS: Hanukkah runs from November 28 through December 6 in 2021. To celebrate, you could find some menorah-lighting celebrations in Philly. The Betsy Ross House is hosting one on Sunday, November 28, at 4:30pm—complete with latke and doughnuts. Boathouse Row will also glow with Hannukah hues starting November 28. And a menorah at Headhouse Shambles will be lit with a ceremony on Tuesday, November 30.
CHRISTMAS POP-UP @ CRAFTSMAN ROW SALOON: Indulgence and over-the-top festive-ness is the name of the game at this Jeweler’s Row Christmas pop-up bar that’s decked out with more holiday decor than ever before. I’m talking 5,000 feet of garland, thousands of lights and ornaments, and other yuletide accoutrements. The more-is-more theme trickles over onto the menu, which features things like the Ugly Sweater milkshake, made with (are you ready for this?) eggnog, crushed gingerbread cookies, green and red M&Ms, holiday-inspired Peeps, rock candy, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. You can make that booze for an extra $4.50. There’s also a Christmas Dinner burger that’s topped with “everything you would want from grandma’s Christmas table.”
SKI LODGE / ROOFTOP BAR: The Assembly Rooftop Lounge, which offers stunning views of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, has transformed into Alpine Heights, a lofty ski chalet-style pop-up bar where you can huddle around fire pits in cozy blankets while drinking your way through a menu of hot cocktails and winter ales, and nosh on comforting winter grub, like fondue. It’s open now through February 26.
MADE IN PHILADELPHIA HOLIDAY MARKET: Now through January 1, a bustling marketplace at City Hall features more than 40 vendor booths selling locally made jewelry, clothing, home goods, art and tons more. It’s open every day of the week, with extended hours happening around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
ONGOING ACTIVITIES AT PHILLY ATTRACTIONS
CHERRY STREET PIER: There’s always something fun going on at Cherry Street Pier—from art shows to food markets to just sitting back, beer in hand, and gazing at the monstrous Benjamin Franklin Bridge looming above you.
DILWORTH PARK: The urban oasis in the shadow of City Hall is in total winter mode now through February 27, with outdoor ice skating, a cozy ski chalet and a wintergarden, where you can skip among twinkling lights, festive topiaries and other whimsical décor—with a steaming cup of mulled cider in hand. The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, boasting tons of locally made goods, is also open there through January 1.
FRANKLIN SQUARE: The historic green space in Old City is holly jolly for the holidays, with the Electrical Spectacle Light Show and fountain shows, which run every 30 minutes, daily starting at 5pm through February 27. That happens alongside a host of other wintertime activities at the Square, including Chilly Philly Mini Golf and Franklin’s Winter View, a seasonal pop-up bar with fire pits, a heated tent and bone-warming food and cocktails galore.
PHILADELPHIA’S MAGIC GARDENS: During the Gardens After Dark series, you can tour Isaiah Zagar’s incredible mosaicked wonderland on South Street—both inside and in the outdoor gardens—after hours and with the complementary glow of thousands of colorful lights. These after-hours visits only happen every Friday through December 17 from 6:30 to 9:30pm.
PHILADELPHIA ZOO: During LumiNature, running through January 9, the Philadelphia Zoo is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over a million lights; hundreds of glowing penguins and flamingos, and to top it all off, holiday tunes wafting overhead.Header photo of Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest by Maria Young