Free holiday fun in Philly


PHILADELPHIA – In Philadelphia and The Countryside®, families partake in festive and free traditions to make happy holiday memories. Parents who remember standing in awe of the Enchanted Colonial Village at Lit Brothers department store can take another peek inside the busy bakery, the bustling village store and the seven other restored scenes with their own children at the Please Touch Museum®. Or, they can start a new holiday tradition when they catch The Comcast Holiday Spectacular on the 2,000-square-foot LED screen inside the 57-story Comcast Center. On New Year’s Eve, revelers will be treated to two fireworks displays. And, on New Year’s Day, the fanciful Mummers strut their stuff up Broad Street during the day-long, only-in-Philly parade. These and other classic Philly customs make the region a must-see during the holiday season:

A Historic Twist:

A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s in Center City illuminates the Wanamaker building, a National Historic Landmark, with almost 100,000 LED lights and finishes with sounds from the Wanamaker Organ, November 26-December 31. 1300 Market Street, (215) 241-9000,

Relive December 1776 and witness Washington Crossing the Delaware River, a free, annual reenactment staged at 1:00 p.m. on Christmas Day at Washington Crossing Historic Park. A full dress rehearsal, set for 1:00 p.m. on December 11, is accompanied by family-friendly activities starting at 10:00 a.m. and continuing throughout the day. Routes 32 & 532, Washington Crossing, (215) 493-4076,

It Takes A Village:

The traditional European Christmas Market opens this holiday season for a full two months, November 1-December 31, at Byers’ Choice. Shoppers can find gingerbread houses, advent calendars and handcrafted toys in a village-like setting. 4355 County Line Road, Chalfont, (215) 822-6700,
While holiday shopping at Peddler’s Village, visitors can check out the 30th Annual Gingerbread House Competition and Display, November 19-January 1. Participants compete in a variety of categories, including traditional, authentic reproduction of a significant building, amateur and unusual 3-D creation. To kick off the holiday season, the vendors of Peddler’s Village host the Merchants’ Open House, a fun-filled weekend of free cider, toasted marshmallows, previews of holiday gifts and the debut of the holiday lights display, November 19-21. Route 263 & Street Road, Lahaska, (215) 794-4018,

The Christmas Village outside of City Hall invites shoppers to browse the holiday goods displayed in 50 decorated booths, which form a medieval village selling European food, sweets and drinks, as well as international seasonal holiday gifts, traditional German Christmas ornaments and high-quality arts and crafts. Shoppers visiting this outdoor market may also enjoy live musical performances, hot mulled wine, bratwursts and a Christmas carousel sure to enchant young visitors. The shopping wonderland runs November 25-December 24. Broad & Market Streets, (215) 268-7606,

More Holiday Fun:

It’s year three for Philadelphia’s high-tech holiday tradition, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, at the 57-story Comcast Center. Onlookers will be amazed by the original holiday imagery set to the music of a 64-piece orchestra and shown on the 2,000-square-foot, 10 million-pixel LED wall in the building’s lobby. Featuring computer generated images and an exciting new dance performance, the 16-minute show occurs at the top of the hour, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (except on weekdays at 5:00 p.m.), from Thanksgiving to New Year’s weekend.

Starting on November 26, the picturesque Franklin Square lights up to brighten the season—literally—and provides a holiday backdrop for visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus on select weekends. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026,

The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) hosts a Kwanzaa Celebration at The Gallery at Market East with candle-lighting ceremonies and an introduction to Kwanzaa symbols and principles, along with live music, dancing, drumming, storytelling, historical reenactments, face painting, balloon art, crafts and games. Dates and times to be announced. Gallery, 9th & Market Streets, (215) 625-4962,; AAMP, 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380,

Ring In The New Year:

This year, partiers along Penn’s Landing ring in 2011 with twice the fireworks, twice the fun. Dazzling shows will illuminate the night sky at 6:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight. Along Columbus Boulevard,
For a Philadelphia experience that’s as traditional as cheesesteaks, a pilgrimage to the Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day is a must. Dating back to 1901, the only-in-Philly celebration is a lively and colorful parade of costumed men, women and children who practice all year to strut, dance and play music up Broad Street. The parade begins at 9:00 a.m. at the intersection of Broad Street and Snyder Avenue and proceeds to City Hall, followed by a ticketed competition at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Spectators can purchase tickets ahead of time to sit in the judging stand or get there early to find a spot along the parade route to watch for free Convention Center, 12th & Arch Streets,; tickets for bleacher seating outside City Hall available at the Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-7676,; tickets for the competition at the Convention Center available at (800) 298-4200,