8:04 PM / Monday June 5, 2023

10 Dec 2021

The must-see holiday attractions in Greater Philadelphia for 2021

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December 10, 2021 Category: Entertainment Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: The Visit Philadelphia Holiday Tree at City Hall in 2020  — Photo by J. Kaczmarek for Wawa Welcome America


Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th Street

Visit Philadelphia Holiday Tree

Through January 1, 2022

Powered by NRG, the city’s magnificent 45-foot-tall holiday tree arrived on November 10 at the Wawa Holiday Plaza (i.e. the north side of City Hall), around the corner from all the wintry fun in Dilworth Park and Christmas Village. Take special note of the tree’s custom-made steel base, replete with designs representing signature Philadelphia landmarks, portions of the city’s skyline and Philly’s diverse neighborhoods. A tree-lighting celebration on December 2 invited residents and visitors to see the tree sparkle for the first time this season with more than 4,000 lights, as well as enjoy entertainment and free giveaways.

LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo

Through January 9, 2022

After last year’s hiatus, LumiNature returns to transform the Philadelphia Zoo into a nighttime winter wonderland for a second year. Occupying the zoo’s entire footprint LumiNature features over a dozen illuminating and interactive experiences, including a menagerie of 500 colorful illuminated flamingos, a 25-foot-tall flamingo holiday tree, over 200 illuminated penguins and a 21-foot-tall colored snake. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance.

Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Avenue

Fountain lit up in Franklin Square in Philadelphia — Photo by J. Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.

Winter in Franklin Square Presented by Citizens

Through February 27, 2022

During Winter in Franklin Square, presented by Citizens, the Electrical Spectacle Light Show presented by PECO makes this historic square twinkle, with free shows featuring more than 150,000 lights dazzling viewers through the end of February 2022. Catch the show every 30 minutes from 5 to 9 p.m., with additional performances until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. No holiday show would be complete without comfort food, local beers, and hot beverages, all available at Franklin’s Winter View (plus, outdoor fire pits and an indoor heated tent). Visitors can also play a few rounds of mini golf on the Chilly Philly Mini Golf course and take a spin on the Parx Liberty Carousel, featuring a holiday soundtrack.

Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th Street

Wild Lights at the Elmwood Park Zoo

Through December 30, 2021 (select dates)

Elmwood Park Zoo adds even more to the millions of LED lights that illuminate its 16 acres over the holidays during Wild Lights. Each night of the festival features live entertainment, animal encounters, holiday music and Santa appearances.

Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown

Holiday decorations at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square — Photo by B. Mathias

A Longwood Christmas at Longwood Gardens

Through January 9, 2022

Kennett Square’s world-renowned Longwood Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland during the popular A Longwood Christmas. This year’s display highlights the contrast between fire and ice with a clear blue alpine stream with flocked trees, a waterfall, and suspended icicles in the Exhibition Hall, as well as a 22-foot-tall Fraser fir outfitted with flame lanterns and red, gold and amber ornaments in the East Conservatory. Outdoors, expect 500,000 lights glittering in trees, a 200-foot tunnel of light, and spectacular fountains and fire pit flames dancing to seasonal music. Timed tickets are required, so plan ahead!

Holiday Performances on the Kimmel Cultural Campus

Through December 23, 2021 (dates vary by performance)

Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street

The venues that comprise the Kimmel Cultural Campus — including the Merriam Theater and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts — host a slew of holiday performances for 2021.

•  A Philly POPS Christmas: West End and Broadway star Scarlett Strallen and Philadelphia native and Broadway legend Hugh Panaro join the Philly POPS for an all-new program of holiday songs (December 4-18, 2021).

•  The Glorious Sound of Christmas: The Philadelphia Orchestra continues its 60-year tradition, playing magnificent renditions of Christmas classics (December 16-21, 2021).

•  Family Christmas Favorites: This virtual show from The Philadelphia Orchestra is available for the week up to and including Christmas, featuring sweeping family-friendly performances of holiday favorites (December 18-25, 2021).

•  Messiah: George Frideric Handel’s oratorio is a holiday staple, performed over two days by The Philadelphia Orchestra (December 22-23, 2021).

Philly POPS perform holiday songs at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia — Photo courtesy the Philly POPS

Free Santa visits, Kwanzaa, and more in Franklin Square in December


Sunday, December 12, 5 – 8:30 pm

Citizens Bank invites visitors to the Square to create inspirational cards to include in packages being sent to area children this holiday season with the non-profit Cradles to Crayons. Plus, stop by the PECO Connect table in Franklin’s Winter View for energy saving tips and giveaways.

Saturday, December 18, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Santa in the Square: Meet the star of the season, FREE, presented in partnership with the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Citizens Bank invites visitors to the Square to create inspirational cards to include in packages being sent to area children this holiday season with the non-profit Cradles to Crayons. Plus, stop by the PECO Connect table in Franklin’s Winter View for energy saving tips and giveaways.

Sunday, December 19, 5:00 – 8:30 pm

Citizens Bank invites visitors to the Square to create inspirational cards to include in packages being sent to area children this holiday season with the non-profit Cradles to Crayons.

Sunday, December 26 – Friday, December 31, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Kwanzaa Celebration: Kwanzaa celebrates the first fruits of the harvest in homes over multiple days. Join the African American Museum in Philadelphia in partnership with Franklin Square to uplift the seven principles of the season through the work of percussionists Sistas Laying Down Hands, and hands-on engagements with teaching artists. Light the kinara and give thanks. Activities will occur in the Franklin’s Winter View heated tent and throughout the Square.

Friday, December 31, 4 – 9 pm

Kids’ New Year’s Eve Countdown: Music and crafts begin at 4 pm. Countdown to new year with a family-friendly Square Drop from atop SquareBurger at 6 pm and New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront, viewable from the Square and The Franklin’s Winter View heated tent will host a Kids’ Dance Party until 9 pm, FREE. 


Franklin Square is open through February 27 daily (closed December 25, January 1). Hours through December 31 are 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 10 pm. The nighttime festivities run 5 – 9 p.m. daily, and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. (Hours will vary in January and February.)

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