Spirit of the Season: Philadelphia’s Brightest Holiday Traditions

Lights, camera... holiday tradition?

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If you’re all about the seasonal celebration but don’t know where to start, don’t worry - NBC10 has rounded up the best and the brightest holiday traditions in the area. Here’s our guide to experiencing the spirit of the season, Philly style.

The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, a Philly tradition on the Comcast Experience video wall, is celebrating its 10th year. The display, which features holiday scenes, songs, and a short performance of “The Nutcracker” by the Pennsylvania Ballet, runs hourly every day from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., starting Thanksgiving Day and ending New Year’s Day. Visitors can use the hashtag #Spectacular to share their photos and reactions to the show. Oh, and don’t miss the larger-than-life Grinch Snow Globe just outside on the Comcast Plaza. (Comcast is the parent company of NBC10.)

For an assortment of holiday-related, centrally-located activities, head to Dilworth Park on the west side of Philadelphia City Hall. You can go ice skating at the Rothman Park, check out crafts at the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, stroll through lighted greenery at Wintergarden or watch the Deck the Hall light show, which runs daily from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Plus, just across the street is a traditional German Christmas Village in LOVE Park, a kid- and dog-friendly place to buy gifts, sample authentic European foods and watch local holiday performances.

On the other side of Philly's city Hall, you’ll find another set of holiday traditions: the Macy’s lineup. Featuring a series of lighted windows on Market St., a teddy bear workshop at the Dickens Christmas Village, and the famous Wanamaker Grand Court light show, the displays – some of which date back to the 1950s – are now iconic in local holiday history.

From Macy’s, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to The Electrical Spectacle holiday light show in Franklin Square. The 75,000-light show illuminates the park to a soundtrack of holiday favorites every night from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. In between displays, viewers can warm their hands by the fire pits, taste sweet treats in a heated tent and ride the Lightning Bolt Holiday Express Train around the square.

Starting Nov. 23, visitors can hop on the Philly PHLASH’s holiday loop, which runs every 15 minutes from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. From Franklin Square, it’s a quick trip to WinterFest at the Blue Cross RiverRink. The winter park includes an ice rink, warming cabins, a lodge and a confectionery cabin – and it’s open every single day, including holidays, from Nov. 23 through March 3.

If you’re looking for something a little more “neighborhood Christmas display," try The Miracle on South 13th Street, which is the 17th annual holiday lights display on the 1600 South Philly block. Each home is decorated to reflect its resident’s personal taste, and it’s not uncommon to see Santa and his crew hanging out between Tasker and Morris streets. 

Further out of Center City, you can check out the miniature trains at the Morris Arboretum Holiday Garden Railway up in Northwest Philly, the gingerbread house competition and Santa parades during Christmas in Peddler’s Village, and the illuminated trees at A Longwood Christmas in Kennett Square.

Don’t forget to bundle up, and have fun in the most wonderful time of the year!

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