Light the Nights: 8(+1) Ways to Celebrate Hanukkah in the Philadelphia Region

Philadelphia has plenty of fun ways to celebrate the Festival of Lights in style

From spinning a dreidel to lighting the menorah to munching on latkes, there are plenty of ways to celebrate Hanukkah in style this year.

Hanukkah is the eight-day Festival of Lights that commemorates the Jewish uprising against the Greek-Syrian kingdom almost 2,200 years ago, and is meant to symbolize resistance and triumph over oppression. This year, it begins at sundown Sunday, with families gathering to exchange gifts and to light the first nightly candle — there are eight, in reference to a historic miracle of the oil in the temple lasting eight nights.

In and around the Philadelphia area, games, festivals and menorah lightings mark all eight nights (and an extra parade night). NBC10's compiled your guide to the Festival of Lights this season.

The season kicks off before the holiday even begins with Lubavitch Philadelphia’s Car Menorah Parade on the Parkway. The parade featuring more than 200 cars topped with menorahs starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at Eakins Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Filling the street with light, music and holiday fun, the parade ends with a celebration at Independence Mall.

On the first night, Sunday, Dec. 2, locals are welcome to enjoy drinks, latkes and doughnuts at the Betsy Ross House, which is partnering with Old City Jewish Arts Center, for a community menorah lighting at 4:30 p.m. If you’re closer to Jersey, maybe you’d rather see the SJ Car Menorah Parade, which starts at 4 p.m. at the Chabad Center. Or maybe you’d prefer a menorah lighting and gelt drop, complete with latkes, hot cocoa and music in Conshohocken’s Mary Wood Park, at 5:30 p.m. 

On the second night, Dec. 3, the familiar lights of Boathouse Row will glow white and blue in the shape of a menorah. Sponsored by community partners, the celebration runs from 6 to 7 p.m. and is open to the public. If you can't make it to the special event, no worries — the row will be lit for Hanukkah throughout the holiday.

On the third night, Dec. 4, several Philly organizations will host menorah lightings — Center City Kehillah is hosting a candle lighting in Rittenhouse Square at 5:15 p.m., Chabad of Lafayette Hill is lighting a giant “Menorah of Warmth” at their Chanukah at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, and the Jewish community in Fairmount is lighting their grand public menorah at the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

On the fourth night, Dec. 5, the Please Touch Museum opens for Hanukkah First Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. – they’ll have oil (get it) and water paintings, a teaching kitchen, dreidel games and a parade. For more children’s events, jkidphilly and the Chabad Lubavitch of Doylestown are joining the Doylestown Bookshop at 6:30 p.m. for an interactive Hanukkah storytime featuring books and cookies. 

On the fifth night, Dec. 6, Chabad of the Shore presents “Chanukah on Ice” at Pier Village in Long Branch, New Jersey, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. They’ll serve jelly doughnuts and latkes before the giant menorah lighting. 

On the sixth night, Dec. 7, Philly friends can enjoy dreidel games, latkes, holiday crafts and the Electrical Spectacle light show as part of Hanukkah at Franklin Square in Philadelphia: it’s from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., although the light show runs nightly through Dec. 31. 

On the seventh night, Dec. 8, hit the rink at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey, with yet another Chanukah on Ice from 7 to 9 p.m. The rink promises a giant carved-ice menorah, hot latkes and doughnuts, crafts and a mix of contemporary and classic Jewish songs. On the same night, jkidphilly invites families to a free Rick Recht concert in Blue Bell from 5:30 to 7 p.m. 

On the eighth night, Dec 9, Elmwood Park Zoo presents a Hanukkah celebration from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Later in the evening, Philly Improv Theater offers its second night of the Philly Hanukkah Special (performances are Dec. 2 as well, 9 p.m. both nights) – with a different take every performance, improvisers will reenact the Hanukkah miracle with a touch of Philly flair.

And even post-Hanukkah, there are a few highlights to look forward to before the year ends. The Gershman Y presents the Moo Shu Jew Show Dec. 24, a night of comedy and entertainment (and Chinese food), while Dec. 25 offers "Being [___] at Christmas," a full day of activities at the Museum for American Jewish History.

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