(212) 564-1001 or (800) 999-8160

The Best 2021 Holiday Season Activities in Philadelphia

The Best 2021 Holiday Season Activities in Philadelphia

Perhaps you know Philadelphia for the Liberty Bell or the Declaration of Independence. Or perhaps for the cheesesteaks or the cream cheese. Or maybe for the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers or 76’ers. Heck – maybe just from Elton John’s hit Philadelphia Freedom. And yes – all of those things are part of, or at least associated with, the City of Brotherly Love. But did you also know that Philadelphia is a fabulous destination to get your holiday cheer on? Indeed, it is!


Every year in the days that follow Thanksgiving and right on up to the ringing in of the new year, Philadelphia transitions itself into a Christmas card like kind of atmosphere. With plenty of options for shopping, skating, singing and spectacular scenery, it ranks up there with its fellow major cities in the Northeast – i.e. – New York City and Washington DCwhen it comes to celebrating the joy that is the month of December.


Need convincing? Well then, grab some eggnog and perhaps a candy cane or two, make yourself comfortable and check out our top picks for Philadelphia’s holiday season activities to see exactly what I am talking about.


German Christmas Market in Philadelphia

Opening before you have the chance to devour your Thanksgiving meal – unless you eat your turkey for breakfast – and continuing on through Christmas Eve, this Christmas market can be found at LOVE Park and City Hall – pretty much smack dab in the center of town. Modeled after real-life German Christmas markets, here you’ll find all kinds of fun things to do for every age. First up are the wooden booths manned by vendors selling a vast array of international fare where you’re bound to find the most unique gifts – even for those oh-so-hard-to-buy-for people on your list. Then this year, instead of just one, they will host two German style beer gardens featuring local craft beers, cold and hot beverages – with some of those hot beverages being spiked in nature (wink, wink) and of course plenty of German cuisine – think schnitzel, potato pancakes and Cheese Spätzle which is Germany’s take on Mac’n’Cheese. And for the kiddos there are the story times presented by the Philadelphia Free Library, plenty of hot chocolate and rides like the Christmas Village Carousel complete with reindeer to ride!

Macy’s Christmas Light Show and Dickens Village

Macys isn’t just a sight to see in New York City. The Macy’s Department Store in Philadelphia comes alive during the holidays as well. After a pared down celebration in 2020, Macy’s, which is located in the Wannamaker Building just steps from the German Christmas Market, is back in all its glory this December. And thanks to a spectacular light show – a tradition since 1956, it’s festively decorated – and animated – store windows and of course the multiple performances on that magnificent Wannamaker Organ – which is used for the finale of some of the light shows – it’s truly become a holiday tradition for many. In addition to all that there’s also a delightful Dickens Village for all of you A Christmas Carol fans that tells the heartwarming tale of redemption of that mean old miser Ebenezer Scrooge thanks to three not so scary spirits through a series of beautifully animated scenes. Bonus – it also happens to be in the same area of the store where a right jolly old elf named Santa Clause is waiting to hear what is on your child’s Christmas list this year.

Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park

Looking to shop local? The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park is another jubilant seasonal market to take in this time of year and is THE place to head to support local vendors. Showcasing talent not only from Philadelphia but from the entire tri-state areas well, this holiday market is set up on the west side of City Hall – complimenting the German Christmas Market and making it super-easy to visit both on the same day. Opening the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and then open daily through January 1st – with the exception of Christmas Day – this is the perfect place to find handmade, one of a kind presents from jewelers, designers and other incredibly talented artisans. Here, the twinkling holiday lights are only outshined by the pride these local crafters beam with, while sharing tales of their crafts with you. I can’t think of a more fabulous – or festive – way to support small, local businesses.

Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Show

When I was little, around the holidays, when darkness fell, my parents used to load my brother and I into the car and drive us around town looking at everyone’s Christmas decorations. To me that was the highlight of the season. The concept of the Shady Brook Farm Holiday Light Show takes that tradition further – a lot further – with a dazzling display of – get this – more than three million lights spread across acres of farmland. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Plus, they also give you an opportunity to get out of your car and into the fresh air should you so desire – and experience their splendor via a wagon ride up close and personal – weather permitting of course. In addition to the displays filled with everyone’s favorite holiday characters – both old and new – there are other seasonal activities at Shady Brook to enjoy. You can take a walk through Candy Cane Lane, reserve a site where you will have your own campfire to warm up to while you roast marshmallows and sip cocoa, or partake in a tasty breakfast with the big man himself. The festive farm fun begins on November 20th.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

As far as holiday season activities go – I would say that ice skating must be among one of the most popular. Nothing like gliding along the ice, surrounded by twinkling lights, listening to holiday tunes. And of course, Philadelphia does not disappoint when it comes to ice skating – thanks to the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Located at the famed Penn’s Landing along the Delaware River – making for a beautiful backdrop might I add – this rink has been a favorite of locals and out-of-towners for almost three decades now. And if the thought of trying to balance on two thin blades isn’t your cup of holiday cheer – there are plenty of other options here. There are fire pit stations – socially distanced of course, and cozy cabins – both of which can be reserved ahead of time. There are also games for all ages and a myriad of yummy food and hot and cold beverage options. And this is one entry on our list that doesn’t end with the new year as it is open through March. No skates? No worries! You can rent them there.

The Sights and Sounds of Christmas in Philadelphia

Now if all that wasn’t enough – or if you are worried about navigating it all on your own – we here at Beyond Time’s Square are very excited to announce our newest holiday offering in Philadelphia – The Sights and Sounds of Christmas. With The Sights and Sounds of Christmas in Philadelphia experience you will be personally escorted to these joyous attractions – as well as others, including other holiday window displays around the city, via a four hour walking tour with your very own expert private tour guide. And should you prefer to ride instead of walk, private transportation can always be added as well. Also included is door to door service, complimentary hot chocolate at the Christmas Village and, as always, 24/7 support from that amazing team of ours. The tour operates seven days a week from December 1st through Christmas Eve, and we will be happy to customize the tour and any of the stops at your request.


What did I tell you? Holiday season activities galore, right? Every year Philadelphia does a marvelous job of transforming into a winter wonderland filled with magical experiences waiting to be explored. And if you need help with that exploration, you are in luck because Beyond Times Square’s destination experts are just a phone call away and waiting to help you create an unforgettable holiday getaway in the City of Brotherly Love. Give them a call – oh and tell them Mrs. Clause sent you. 😊