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Nov 6 2017

Philadelphia’s Historic District Celebrates The Holiday Season

The Original City Gets Into The Spirit With HoliDays & Nights

This December, Philadelphia’s Historic District transforms into holiday central. The original city neighborhoods of Old City, Society Hill and the Delaware River Waterfront join forces for Philadelphia’s Historic District HoliDays & Nights, a celebration of the season. From November 30 through December 31, the merrymaking spans museums, restaurants and shops between the Delaware River and 7th Street and Vine and Lombard Streets. As part of the festivities, the Snowflake Shuttle powered by PHLASH will offer free rides throughout the District Thursday through Saturday evenings, 6-9 p.m. The best way to experience Historic District’s wintertime fun is with the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, offering guests of participating hotels free parking and more perks, bookable at

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the Historic District this holiday season:

Holiday Hubs:

  • Franklin Square – The Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show makes the park twinkle with free light shows every 30 minutes between 4 and 8 p.m. on weeknights and 4 and 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Among the 50,000 lights set to music are a giant, illuminated kite and key. Festivities include #FranklinSquareFridays; Saturdays with Santa; Seasonal Sounds on Sundays; a holiday train and carousel; make-your-own s’mores, hot and fresh doughnuts, local brews and hot beverages—served in a warm, tented beer garden; and mini-golf. The grand finale comes during the Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown and Dance Party, a family-friendly celebration at 6 p.m.—with a “Square Drop” and a view of the first fireworks show (see below). November 9-December 31. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, ,
  • Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest – The Delaware River Waterfront’s popular, seven-day-a-week (holidays included) seasonal attraction returns for its 24th year. On tap: fire pits, a Kids Lodge arcade, a chalet-style Lodge Restaurant and Bar serving food from Garces Group and Chickie’s and Pete’s, story time every Saturday (beginning December 2), 12 days of Christmas movies (December 14-25), a Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin (for hot chocolate, hot fudge sundaes, s’mores kits and more) and a spectacular live tree (tree lighting, followed by fireworks on December 1)—centered around a regulation-size skating rink with a spectacular view of the Ben Franklin Bridge. On weekend afternoons in December, the Blue Cross RiverRink welcomes Saint Nick onto the ice for Skate With Santa (December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17). The holidays culminate with The SugarHouse  New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront, two pyrotechnics shows—one at 6 p.m. and another at midnight. Winterfest ups the celebration with NYE Parties on Ice, featuring entertainment, favors, outdoor seating and great views of the fireworks. November 24-March 4. Columbus Boulevard at Market Street, (215) 925-7465,
  • Independence Visitor Center – ’Tis the season for the District’s information station to extend its hours until 7 p.m. and bring in colonial re-enactors to mingle with guests. November 24-25 and December 26-30. Also for a limited time: winter storytelling and colonial carolers. November 24-25, December 21-23 and 28-30. 6th & Market Streets, (800) 537-7676,
  • Elfreth’s Alley – The nation’s oldest continuously inhabited street tells the story of Christmas in America with Making Christmas, an exhibit retelling how 18th-century German immigrants brought over the folk traditions and customs (Santa Claus, toys, cookies and that tannebaum) that transformed December 25 into the holiday that it is today (November 25-26, December 3, 9-10, 16-17, 23-24, 30; evenings: November 30 & December 7, 14, 21). On December 2, Alley residents welcome the public to tour their 18th- and 19th-century homes during the popular ticketed event Deck the Alley. The festive afternoon includes carolers, refreshments, appearances by a 19th-century Santa Claus and Benjamin Franklin—not to mention rare access to most of the private homes. Elfreth’s Alley (exhibit entrance: No. 126), (215) 574-0560,
  • Old City – Five festive Thursday evenings become Historic Holiday Nights, when all of Old City will stay up late. Shops sell their wares until 8 p.m.; restaurants offer holiday specials, and the courtyard of the historic Betsy Ross House Courtyard will offer live entertainment, snacks and more (5-8 p.m.), beginning with a tree lighting November 30. November 30, December 7, 14, 21, 28. Betsy Ross House, 239 Arch Street, (215) 686-1252,; Old City District, (215) 592-7929,

Museum Merriment:

  • Museum of the American Revolution – The District’s newest addition inaugurates its first holiday season with Illuminating Liberty. Colorful illuminations based on those by eminent Revolutionary-era Philadelphia artist Charles Willson Peale will fill the Museum’s sidewalk-level windows. On November 30, the Museum will officially kick off holiday season in the Museum’s Cross Keys Café by offering seasonal treats such as Shane’s Hot Cocoa and hot cocktails. In addition, the gift shop will remain open for holiday shopping, and visitors will be able to try on Revolutionary-inspired clothing and design their own decorative window illuminations. November 23-January 1. 101 S. 3rd Street, (215) 253-6731,
  • Independence Seaport Museum – Penn’s Landing’s maritime museum puts on a Saturday of nautical holiday fun—sailboat ornament-making, gingerbread boat-building, snow lessons and Santa—followed by the Parade of Lights, an early-evening parade of illuminated working vessels (tugboats included) along the Delaware River. December 9. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655,
  • Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent – This city-centric museum hosts the Golden Age of Retail, a cocktail party and pop-up exhibition of artifacts from classic department stores John Wanamaker, Gimbels and Strawbridge & Clothier, along with vintage ornaments and 19th-century cards. December 9. During winter break, the museum offers the gift of pay-what-you-wish admission. December 26-January 2. 15 S. 7th Street, (215) 685-4830,
  • National Museum of American Jewish History – Each year on Christmas, the museum opens its doors and galleries to families of all backgrounds for Being __________at Christmas, a day of games, dancing, crafts, storytelling and live music with Emmy Award-winning Alex & the Kaleidoscope. Tickets required. December 25. 101 S. Independence Mall East, (215) 923-3811,
  • National Constitution Center – Winter break means loads of student programming at the world’s only museum dedicated to U.S. Constitution. Visitors can enjoy special family-friendly programs and activities, including arts and crafts, games and interactive shows. Featured activities include colonial dress-up and photo opportunities, military muster demonstrations and the Growing Up, American Style show. December 26-30. 525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700,
  • African American Museum in Philadelphia – The museum’s Kwanzaa Celebration includes four family-friendly days of celebrating the First Fruits of the Harvest. Workshops, discussions, film screenings and performances demonstrate the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of Kwanzaa, and each day’s craft activity is dedicated to a single principle: self-determination (Day 1), working together (Day 2) and supporting each other (Day 3). On the final day, a candle-lighting ceremony demonstrates the principle of purpose—and acclaimed magician Ran’D Shine puts on a show. December 27-30. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380,

Holiday Touring:

  • Tippler's Tour: Yuletide Cheers & Beers – A little history, a little beer and a lot of fun are served up during Historic Philadelphia’s Tippler’s Tour, when a Redcoat soldier recalls life in British-occupied Philadelphia in 1777 while guiding the over-21 crowd through four cozy pubs in two hours. Winter brews, festive libations and delicious snacks are included in the holiday-time-only ticket. Thursdays, November 16-December 28. Tours begin at the Betsy Ross House. 239 Arch Street, (215) 686-1252,
  • Snowflake Shuttle, Serviced by PHLASH – Getting around the District is even easier Thursdays through Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m., when a dedicated, decked-out PHLASH bus loops the neighborhood, picking up and dropping off riders free of charge. The six-stop, 17-minute route includes Franklin Square, the Museum of the American Revolution, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, 3rd and Market Streets, Elfreth’s Alley and the Betsy Ross House. November 30-December 30.

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.

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Related Releases

Nov 6 2017

’Tis The Season: So Many Holiday Happenings In Philadelphia

The Region Celebrates With Lights, Trees, Parades, Fireworks, More

As temperatures drop in the history-rich, tradition-steeped city of Philadelphia, holiday spirit spills from shops, theaters, restaurants, parks and stadiums. Every must-do holiday list includes visits to Macy’s Christmas Light Show, a spin around the skating rink and more festive fun at Philadelphia City Hall, a seat at The Nutcracker, a nosh at Latkepalooza and a spot on the sidewalk for the Mummers Parade. These, and dozens more activations and traditions are supported by the Philly Holiday Festival, a creation of Welcome America, and Philadelphia’s Historic District HoliDays & Nights.

As always, the most wonderful way to enjoy

Oct 25 2017

Celebrate New Year's Day Like A Local At Philly's Mummer's Parade

A Primer To The Who, What, When, Where & Why Of New Year’s Day In Philly

New Year’s Day is about celebrating, and there’s no better place to fete 2018 than at Philadelphia’s Mummers Parade, a tradition dating back to 1901 in which 10,000 men, women and children dressed in colorfully lavish costumes twirl, sashay, pirouette and strut down one of the city’s main streets.

A carnival-like atmosphere welcomes revelers who stop by at the last minute—but a little advance preparation helps onlookers get the best views of the spectacle. Better still, spending the night in the city ensures an early start to the day. The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package and other packages are

Sep 28 2017

Winter Holiday Highlights In Philadelphia

Lights, Trees, Parades, Fireworks, Shows & LOVE

Celebrating the winter holidays in Philadelphia just feels right. As temperatures drop in the history-rich, tradition-steeped city, a festive spirit spills from shops, theaters, restaurants, parks and stadiums. This year promises the return an abundance of citywide celebrations. The most wonderful way to enjoy Philly in winter: the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, offering overnight guests free parking and more perks, bookable at

Here are some highlights of the winter holidays in Philadelphia:

Holiday Traditions:

  • Christmas Village in Philadelphia – The German-style market returns to an under-renovation JFK. Plaza, also known as LOVE Park. For the 10
Jun 6 2017

Philadelphia's Classic Fourth Of July Celebration Turns 25

Wawa Welcome America! Includes Four Fireworks Shows, Four Concerts, Free Museums, Boyz II Men & Mary J. Blige

Welcome America turns 25 this year, and Philadelphia is planning a six-day Independence Day festival to celebrate. As always, a birthday party of this magnitude can take place only in the United States’ birthplace—Philly. From June 29 through July 4, 2017, Wawa Welcome America! includes four spectacular fireworks shows, a bigger Historic District Block Party, a delicious Wawa Hoagie Day and a huge July 4th concert—this time, starring Mary J. Blige. Also on the docket: Free Museum Days, outdoor movies—including Rocky on the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps—and new alfresco happy hours.

To take in all the patriotic

Nov 28 2016

Holiday Highlights In Philadelphia

An Abbreviated Guide To Lights, Trees, Parades, Fireworks, Shows & More

Holiday tradition runs deep in Philadelphia, home of the new Philly Holiday Festival, a seven-week citywide celebration, and the Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package, offering overnight guests at 38 hotels free parking, two tickets to Jurassic World: The Exhibition at The Franklin Institute and more perks, bookable at

Here are some highlights of the winter holidays in Philadelphia:

Christmas Traditions:

  • Christmas Village – Philadelphia City Hall transforms into holiday central, adding to its grounds a German-style market with live entertainment. In adjacent Dilworth Park, there’s a new setup for the live, 38-foot Christmas tree, Rothman Institute Ice
Nov 22 2016

Philadelphia Rings In 2017 By Starting Early & Ending Late

Two Fireworks Shows & The Mummers Parade Are Among Philly's All-Ages Festivities

In Philadelphia, ringing in the New Year begins early and ends late. Daytime and early-evening bashes entertain children at the Please Touch Museum®, Franklin Square and Independence Seaport Museum. Fireworks displays over the Delaware River go off at 6 p.m. and midnight. On New Year’s Day, thousands of colorfully costumed merrymakers march in the Mummers Parade, the nation’s oldest folk parade.

The Visit Philly Overnight Hotel Package lets revelers enjoy every moment with free hotel parking, two tickets to The Franklin Institute’s Jurassic World: The Exhibition, admission and skate rentals for two at Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, a

Jun 3 2016

Memorial Day Weekend Breaks Records For Center City Hotels

Crowds In Historic Philadelphia, Special Events & Exhibitions & Great Weather Played A Part

Center City hotels were full this Memorial Day weekend with both Saturday and Sunday seeing the highest occupancies for those nights in at least a decade.

Overall Weekend Hotel Occupancy:

  • Friday: 82.8% (+5% from 2015 when occupancy was at 78.5%, source: Smith Travel Research)
  • Saturday: 98.0% (+1.4% from 2015 when occupancy was at 96%, source: Smith Travel)
  • Sunday 93.4% (+21.1% from 2015 when occupancy was at 77%, source: Travel Click 2016)

“Memorial Day weekend is the start of the summer tourism season, and what a great one it was for Philadelphia thanks to so many factors in Historic Philadelphia and

Nov 20 2015 The Official Visitor's Guide For The Holidays In Philly

Lights, Attractions, Shopping, Shows, Ice Skating & The Mummers

The best way to plan festive getaways and experiences in Philadelphia: The region’s official visitor website features the definitive guide for the holidays, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. Also getting in on the seasonal spirit, blog will publish holiday-related news through the New Year.

Here’s a look at the features of the online guide:

  • Thanksgiving: The festive season starts with the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade. People can plan their celebrations on the website with the parade route and map and the day-by-day guide to Thanksgiving week.
  • Holiday Shopping: Independent shops and well-known stores—Macy’s, Nordstrom Rack,
Oct 28 2015

Holidays In Philadelphia Mean New Celebrations & Can't-Miss Classics

The Mummers Add A New Division To Their New Year’s Day Parade

The holidays are all about tradition, especially in Philadelphia where each year generations of visitors gather at Macy’s for the Christmas Light Show, snap memory-making photos of Longwood Gardens’ elaborate displays and oooh-and-aaaah at the SugarHouse New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront, which will be displayed on screens around town at midnight. This year, the Mummers Parade, Philadelphia’s oldest and proudly quirkiest New Year’s Day tradition, gets a new look with the addition of a new division—the first since 2008. Joining the Comic, Fancy, Wench, String Band and Fancy Brigades on the march along Broad Street will