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Things to Do in Philly This Weekend

This photo accompanies a guide to things to do in Philadelphia this weekend, which includes a massive holiday parade down Market Street

Header photo by J. Fusco / Visit Philadelphia

Are you feeling the holiday spirit? It seems like it’s all about the yuletide season right now in Philadelphia. Trees and menorahs are being lit, ice skating rinks are full of skaters, and fire pits are crackling at venues across town while friends gather over beers and hot toddies.

All that fun continues this weekend, which sees Philadelphia’s first-ever parade that celebrates all the holidays happening throughout winter. The Visit Philadelphia Holiday Parade happens Saturday night with an hour-long procession down East Market Street that includes marching bands, giant balloons and floats for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and Chinese New Year.

RELATED: Planning ahead? Check out our guide to what’s happening this winter in Philadelphia

The spectacle ends at the tree at City Hall (which gets lit on Thursday), where you can disperse to enjoy all the holiday to-dos happening around Center City—like the ice rink and Made in Philadelphia holiday market at Dilworth Park, and the charming Christmas Village across the way at LOVE Park.

You’ll find details on all that and tons more below. Remember, this list gets updated throughout the week, so stop by regularly for more ideas for how to spend a perfect weekend in Philly.

WHAT TO DO IN PHILLY THIS WEEKEND


Try wines and cheeses amidst Monets and Van Goghs during a tasty this Friday night at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. | Photo by Anton Mislawsky / Unsplash

WINE + CHEESE TASTING @ PMA: Instead of lighting a tree at the top of its steps, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is celebrating the holidays with a food- and drink-themed event happening every Friday evening in December, from the 3rd to the 17th. It all starts with a swanky holiday wine, cheese and charcuterie pairing on Friday, December 3, from 5 to 7pm. Besides tasting a variety of delicious cheeses, cured meats and crisps, guests will learn from the experts on hand how to create the perfect cheese board for your ensuing holiday gatherings.

Shop all kinds of local goods from artists and small businesses at this weekend’s Now + Then holiday market. | Photo by Becca McHaffie / Unsplash

A VERY MERRY LOCAL HOLIDAY MARKET: To inspire you to shop local this season, Now + Then is hosting its final market of the year over two days this weekend at the Warehouse on Watts (923 N. Watts Street) in Port Richmond on Saturday, December 4, from 10am to 3pm, and Sunday, December 5, from noon to 5pm. More than 60 local small businesses will be on hand both days, along with a full bar and food from Angie’s Vietnamese Cuisine and Brokenfork.

Catch Santa and tons more holiday shenanigans during the Visit Philly Holiday Parade. | Photo by J. Fusco / Visit Philadelphia

VISIT PHILADELPHIA HOLIDAY PARADE: Be there as the city ushers in all the holidays during a festive evening parade down East Market Street featuring floats representing Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year and Christmas. Local marching bands and giant balloons will also make their way along the route on Saturday, December 4, at 5pm, which begins at 2nd and Market streets and ends, fittingly, at the holiday tree at City Hall. Can’t make it? 6ABC is airing it Sunday morning at 2pm.

Boats lit for the holidays will sail along the Delaware River Waterfront this Saturday night | Photo by Steve Weinik

PARADE OF LIGHTS: The Visit Philly Holiday Parade isn’t the only festive procession happening in town this weekend. On the same night, over on the Delaware River, the Independence Seaport Museum will host its annual Parade of Lights, where boats covered in holiday lights sail up and down the waterway for spectators along the banks. The Parade of Lights happens Saturday, December 14, at sundown (around 5:15pm-ish).

The Kimmel Cultural Campus presents a live-action version of A Charlie Brown Christmas on Saturday night.

HOLIDAY THEATER: Looking for some good holiday theater to check out this season? Shows begin this weekend, when the Kimmel Cultural Campus presents a live-action, one-night-only version of A Charlie Brown Christmas, on Saturday, December 4. Also that night, Quintessence Theatre Group raises its curtain on a charming musical adaptation of Little Women that runs through December 31.

Locals gather around the Singing Fountain in South Philly for the annual tree-lighting.

TREE + MENORAH LIGHTINGS: What’s more classic holidays than gathering with neighbors, hot cocoa in hand, and watching trees and menorahs get their glow for the season. You’ll find that happening all over town this week and weekend. Here’s a full rundown:

Miracle on 13th Street, the delightful and long-running holiday light show in South Philly, is happening now. | Photo by J. Fusco

MIRACLE ON 13TH STREET: Philadelphia’s most popular holiday light show, which takes place along a stretch of 13th Street in South Philly, is glowing now! Most homes on the three- to four-block stretch have something dazzling to gawk at—whether it’s a pretty twinkling light display, a hologram Santa peeking from a window or cheeky homages to classic holiday films like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Catch it happening after sundown now through the end of December.

East Market offers a nearly hidden holiday retreat along a corridor in the Fashion District

HOLIDAY FUN AT MARKET EAST: The Fashion District corridor that is East Market is all ablaze for the holidays, with its towering, whimsical tree, strands of lights and glowing snowflakes, and food and drink options always at your fingertips. Starting this week, you can stop by every Thursday night between December 2 and 30 for a festive light show, live music and small bites and cocktails. Similar activities happen on Fridays (from December 3 to 24) and Saturdays (December 4 to 18).

The Christmas Village at LOVE Park opens Thanksgiving Day.

HOLIDAY HAPS AROUND CITY HALL: LOVE Park and various spots around City Hall are playing home to the whimsical, Bavarian-themed Christmas Village, that’s full of wintery, German-inspired treats and great opportunities for holiday 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.

Walk amongst thousands of lights at Tinseltown, which starts up this weekend in Oaks, PA.

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 now through January 2.

It doesn’t get more Christmas than Craftsman Row Saloon during the holidays | Photo by Society Hill Films

CHRISTMAS POP-UP @ CRAFTSMAN ROW SALOON: Over-the-top holiday cheer is what it’s all about at this Jeweler’s Row Christmas pop-up bar that’s packed floor to ceiling with 5,000 feet of garland, thousands of lights and ornaments, and other yuletide accoutrements.

Do your holiday shopping at the Made in Philly Holiday Market, open now at Dilworth Park.

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


The holiday seasons launches into gear with the opening of the ice skating rink at Dilworth Park | Photo by Matt Stanley

BLUE CROSS RIVERRINK WINTERFEST: The vibrant winter attraction along the Delaware River is now open for 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.

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.