I don’t know about you, but my absolute favorite time of the year has arrived: Christmas time! Whether you start setting up your tree in November or wait until after Thanksgiving to get in the spirit, Christmas is truly “the most wonderful time of the year.”
While I think the best part about the holidays is getting to stay at home, baking or watching movies with your family, another great way to get in the spirit is to head out to enjoy fun and festive attractions. If you live near the Philadelphia area like me or plan to visit family there, check out these 10 ways to kickstart your winter break in and around the city.
1. Christmas Village
This cute display of shops filled with lights and festive decor is a magical way to get in the spirit. Held right in the city’s LOVE Park, more than eighty vendors will be set up selling all sorts of gift-worthy merchandise, such as handmade jewelry and ornaments. Grab a warm drink to sip as you stroll through the different shops.
2. Macy’s Christmas Light Show
This event is one of my favorites, and is without a doubt a fan favorite since it has been around since 1956. Take a trip to Macy’s Department Store on Market Street. Enter the store to see a show put on every two hours, with more than one thousand LED lights displaying brightly colored nutcrackers, reindeers and snowflakes dancing along to organ music. For more fun, head to the third floor to see an intricate Christmas Carol display. I remember going through this with my family and marveling at all of the characters.
3. Comcast Holiday Spectacular
Located right in the lobby of the Comcast Center in Center City Philadelphia, this fifteen-minute show happens on a giant video screen. Having seen it many times with my family, I am always in awe of the special effects. Here are a couple fun facts about it: The 2,100 square-foot video wall is five times the resolution of high-def TV and one of the world’s highest-resolution LED screens.
4. Blue Cross River Rink WinterFest
Penn’s Landing has the perfect views for ice skating. A roller skate rink in the summer transforms into a winter wonderland. Ice skate with your family as you gaze at the Delaware River and enchanting lit-up trees that surround the ice rink. After skating, head over to the log cabin where you can sit near warm and toasty fireplaces to enjoy sweets like s’mores, ice cream waffle sandwiches and homemade hot chocolate. If this doesn’t get you in a holiday mood, what will?
5. Philly Pops Christmas Spectacular
Okay, so it’s not a Taylor Swift concert, and you might be embarrassed to admit you enjoy it, but the Philly Pops know how to put on a show. The 65-piece orchestra performs each December at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts in Philadelphia to perform an amazing lineup of musical arrangements that will make you appreciate instruments other than a guitar and drum. This is a Philadelphia holiday tradition that is worth seeing (and hearing) once in your life. Imagine how happy you’ll make your grandparents if you bring them along.
6. QVC West Chester Christmas Parade
On November 30, take a trip to downtown West Chester and secure a spot to watch the Christmas parade. Local marching bands, dance studios, seasonal floats and Santa himself all take part in the parade. Even if you miss the parade, West Chester is a pretty cool college town to grab dinner with your friends. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop aboard the West Chester Railroad for a ride to Wiggins Tree Farm where you can go pick and cut down your Christmas tree, then have it brought home on the train. That is so much better than assembling a fake tree from Wal-Mart.
7. Longwood Gardens
Another favorite of mine, Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square is the perfect place to get your Christmas Card photo taken. Pose in a glass palace filled with festive flowers and twinkling lights. You can’t miss the light show outside either, complete with huge fountains pulsating along to holiday music.
8. King of Prussia Mall
I only live 10 minutes from the largest retail mall in America. Whatever the distance, however, it’s worth the drive. King of Prussia is the ultimate destination to do your holiday shopping for family and friends. Not only is KOP Mall a retail heaven, it’s also decked out in red and green decorations. Stop to get a picture with Santa in front of the huge Christmas tree.
9. Peddler’s Village
If you want to step away from the busy city, Peddler’s Village is the place to go. Located in Bucks County, Peddlers Village is another entertaining place to walk around and take in the sights. On November 16, the village hosts their “Grand Illumination Celebration” when they flip a switch to illuminate all the quaint shops in millions of tiny lights. While looking for that one-of-a-kind gift, sip apple cider and check out the winners of the Gingerbread Competition.
10. Elmwood Park Zoo
If you like animals and acting like a little kid, then Elmwood Park Zoo’s Wild Lights makes your list this holiday season. I’ve been to the zoo many times in my 18 years, but to see it decorated like a winter wonderland would be unforgettable. Stroll around sixteen acres filled with countless lights to visit Disco Ball Way and Candy Cane Lane. Stop by Santa’s Workshop and say hello to the live reindeer on your way to seeing the regular zoo animals.