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Releases: Expanded View

Oct 26 2010

Loved Ones Share Holiday Experiences In Philadelphia

Festivities Include Holiday Lights, House Tours, Two New Year’s Eve Fireworks Shows & Mummers

In Philadelphia and The Countryside®, families partake in old and new traditions to make happy holiday memories, many of which are free or low-cost. 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:

Hotel Happenings:

  • On select Saturdays in November and December the elegant Swann Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia presents Tea in Wonderland. Young attendees can visit with Alice herself and watch excerpts from The Nutcracker ballet performed by students from the Rock School for Dance Education. 1 Logan Square, (215) 963-1500,

A Historic Twist:

  • From November 23-January 9, visitors to historic Pennypacker Mills are treated to guided tours of the richly decorated mansion. A Victorian Christmas Open House: A Bit of Magic on December 12 from 2:00-8:00 p.m. features historians, live music, sing-alongs around the Christmas tree and candy-making demonstrations. 5 Haldeman Road, Schwenksville, (610) 287-9349,
  • 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,
  • Every year, the Fairmount Park Houses get dressed in their holiday best for yuletide tours. Visitors can wander through one or all of these architectural masterpieces beginning December 1 (Laurel Hill, Lemon Hill, Sweetbriar and Woodford through December 12; Cedar Grove and Mount Pleasant through December 19).

Gardens Aglow:

  • The holidays go red, white and green at Longwood Gardens during A Longwood Gardens Christmas, November 25-January 9. Hundreds of thousands of lights, strolling carolers, daily concerts, sing-alongs and ice skating performances brighten the gardens’ vast grounds and conservatory. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000,
  • A miniature winter wonderland amid the evergreens awaits visitors to Morris Arboretum, November 26-December 31. The Holiday Garden Railway display is a quarter mile of model-train track featuring seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines, two cable cars, nine bridges and bustling trains that cruise past scaled replicas of historic monuments and Philadelphia-area landmarks made from all-natural materials. 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, (215) 247-5777,
  • Linvilla Orchards looks more like a winter wonderland December 1-24. The decorated farm features a Christmasland display and animals with their winter coats for petting, while the market section is stocked with all-things holiday and crafts for younger guests. Santa makes a guest appearance every Saturday and Sunday in December, and on select afternoons, visitors can sing along during Caroling Hayrides, complete with live music, roasted marshmallows and apple cider. And while they’re there, families can cut their own tree. 137 W. Knowlton Road, Media, (610) 876-7116,

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. On December 11-12, guests can also enjoy A Christmas Carol, a one-man show performed by Charles Dickens’ great-great grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens. 4355 County Line Road, Chalfont, (215) 822-6700,
  • Please Touch Museum® presents the Enchanted Colonial Village, November 12-January 2. The intricately restored Colonial scenes depict the Bakery, Blacksmith Shop, Toymaker, Tailor Shop, Watchmaker and others. The village first made its home at the Lit Brothers department store from 1962 until 1975. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181,
  • 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,

’Tis The Season For Shows:

  • This year’s holiday calendar at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Academy of Music is chock-full of old-fashioned favorites, including the Vienna Boys Choir, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops’ Holiday Pops! and George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Various dates in November and December. Kimmel, Broad & Spruce Streets; Academy, Broad & Locust Streets, (215) 790-5867,
  • Those in the mood for a magical holiday musical can stop by the Walnut Street Theatre, the oldest theater in the country, for a brand new production of Irving Berlin’s Broadway musical White Christmas, November 9-January 9. 825 Walnut Street, (215) 574-3550,
  • Bristol Riverside Theatre’s Winter Musicale, taking place December 11-22, celebrates the season with traditional holiday carols, popular classics, contemporary arrangements and original songs. 120 Radcliffe Street, Bristol, (215) 785-0100,

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. 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard,
  • A Brandywine Christmas takes center stage from November 26-January 9 at the Brandywine River Museum, home to a large collection of Wyeth family paintings. On view: a display of trees featuring “critters” and all-things natural, a Victorian dollhouse and a model railroad with more than 2,000 feet of track. The museum will also display exquisitely crafted jewelry inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s paintings. U.S. Route 1, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700,
  • 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,

Other Seasonal Celebrations:

  • On December 24, the holiday spirit goes beyond Christmas at the newly opened National Museum of American Jewish History, which presents its annual Being Jewish at Christmas program, a family event that includes music, refreshments and children’s activities. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811,
  • A tongue-in-cheek twist on Jewish Christmas activities (going to movies and eating Chinese food), the Gershman Y presents its annual Moo Shu Jew Show, an evening of stand-up comedy and a six-course dinner, at Chinatown’s Joy Tsin Lau Chinese restaurant on December 24. 1026 Race Street, (215) 446-3022,
  • 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:

  • Please Touch Museum® celebrates 2011 early with Countdown to Noon on December 31. The museum opens at 9:00 a.m. and holds “Noon Year” party activities with music and confetti. Countdowns take place at 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181,
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art welcomes museum visitors after hours for a festive New Year’s Eve Pre-Party from 5:00 to 8:45 p.m., when guests enjoy views of the extensive art collections and a live band. 26th Street & the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100,
  • This year, partiers along Penn’s Landing ring in 2011 with SugarHouse Casino presents 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,
  • Winter sports enthusiasts celebrate at the Blue Cross RiverRink’s New Year’s Eve Party on Ice, a family-friendly affair that boasts one of the best views of the city’s breathtaking fireworks displays over the Delaware River. Skaters can catch both of the sparkling shows during the early (5:00-7:00 p.m.) and late (11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.) parties. Columbus Boulevard & Market Street, (215) 925-RINK,
  • 2010 comes to a close with a splash aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia’s New Year’s Eve dinner cruise on the Delaware River, a five-hour nautical bash with dining, live DJs, a champagne toast at 12:00 midnight and a terrific view of the fireworks. 401 S. Columbus Boulevard, (866) 455-3866,
  • 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 should purchase tickets ahead of time to sit in the judging stand or get there early to find a spot along the parade route. 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,

The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.

For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit or, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.

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Tagged: Family, Holidays, Winter

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