One of the most beloved and iconic Christmas traditions in the Philadelphia region will return to light up the 2021 holiday season in Center City, but you are only going to be able to see the show once a day.
Macy's this week announced the return of the FREE Christmas Light Show and Dickens' Village to the former Wanamaker's location at 1300 Market Street (across from City Hall).
Both the musical light show -- dating back to 1956 -- and the "Christmas Carol"-themed animated display -- dating back to the 1980s -- have delighted children of all ages for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic forced both events to not be held in person in 2020 and this year visiting with your family will be different than you remember.
Macy's Christmas Light Show in 2021
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The biggest change to the light show traditionally voiced by legendary actor Julie Andrews and featuring the "The Nutcracker" and "Frosty the Snowman" backed by the sounds of the world-famous Wanamaker Organ in the department store's Grand Court is that instead of multiple showings a day, it will only be held once daily.
The light show -- featuring around 100,000 LED lights between the characters on the wall and the massive Christmas tree 🎄 -- begins Wednesday, Dec. 1, and runs through the end of the year with daily showings, except on Christmas Day.
"To discourage continuous crowding," the light show will only run once a day at 10:30 a.m. from Dec. 1 to Christmas Eve and at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 26 to 31, Macy's said. You won't need tickets to attend and organizers said times are subject to change.
It is unclear how many people will be allowed to watch each daily show.
For people not wanting to crowd into the store or not make the trip into the city, they can watch the light show online on Macy's Santaland website.
How to Get Tickets for Macy’s Dickens' Village
One free holiday tradition that definitively will require a ticket for admission is Dickens' Village, which runs in person from Friday, Nov. 26, through Friday, Dec. 31.
"Macy’s Dickens' Village will take guests through select animated displays telling the story of the Charles Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol," Macy's said.
To take the journey, folks must reserve tickets five days in advance on the Santaland site. Tickets will go on sale for opening day on Monday, Nov. 22, and will be open up at 5:30 a.m. each morning moving forward.
Organizers didn't say how many people each day will be allowed into the "Village."
They did, however, say that visits with Santa would be virtual this year via the Santaland site.
Macy's Holiday Windows Return
One tradition that remains mostly the same is the window gazing from the sidewalk outside the store.
"As the first department store to feature Christmas window displays, Macy’s has created a destination in its windows, bringing the spirit of the season to life in animated fashion," Macy's said.
Macy's Holiday Windows will be on display from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31. The windows will "feature a journey of discovery and triumph as a very special reindeer takes to the sky to help Santa Claus bring joy to millions of children, all made possible when she finally believed," Macy's said.
Holiday Lights and Shopping Return to Dilworth Park
Visitors to Macy's can hop across the street to Philadelphia City Hall for the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market (running daily from Nov. 20, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2022) featuring artisans and handmade goods outside City Hall and the Deck the Hall Light Show (running on the hour from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. on weekends from Nov. 22 to New Year's Day) on the west façade of City Hall.
Comcast Holiday Spectacular Returns in 2021
The big screen in the lobby of the Comcast Center in Center City will light up once again this holiday season. Comcast -- the parent company of NBC10 -- has yet to reveal exact details for the 2021 show.
The First Annual Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular in Oaks
Not feeling up for the Macy's holiday traditions or not wanting to come into Center City? A new holiday tradition starts this year in Montgomery County.
"Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular presented by Dietz & Watson will bring the magic of the holiday season to the Greater Philadelphia Area through an immersive, one-of-a-kind event where guests can stroll through a winter wonderland of lights, check off their holiday shopping list, dine on festive treats and beverages (including adult beverages like Spiked Warm Cider and Christmapolitans), skate on a synthetic ice surface, and much more. Tinseltown will run from Black Friday (November 26) through January 2," organizers said.
The event, backed by Comcast Spectacor, claims to feature 1.2 million lightbulbs.
You can buy tickets ($13.99 for children 5 to 13, $19.99 for adults) to the "Spectacular" by clicking here. Children under 5 are free.