5 Festive Philadelphia Events That Will Light up Your Holiday Season

By Jessica Tzikas | December 12, 2019 | Culture

Take a page from our holiday playbook and check out these five festive Philadelphia happenings. Whether you want to layer up and see spectacular light displays or get into the spirit from the cozy confines of a theater, the City of Brotherly Love is brimming with magic.

1. GEORGE BALANCHINE’S THE NUTCRACKER

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Based on Alexandre Dumas’ dreamlike version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s sinister adult fairy tale from 1816, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker has been a holiday tradition for Philadelphia since 1968. Watch as Marie adventures throughout the Land of Sweets from within the gilded grandeur of the Academy of Music. This year, the ballet will also offer a sensory-friendly performance on Dec. 30 with adjusted lighting and lower sound levels. Dec. 6-31, 240 S. Broad St., paballet.org

2. A LONGWOOD GARDENS CHRISTMAS: THE SHAPES OF CHRISTMAS

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People from all over flock to Longwood Gardens to get their holiday fix every December. This year, visitors can enjoy A Longwood Gardens Christmas’ indoor and outdoor light show, featuring more than 500,000 lights, plus an outdoor train display, dancing fountains and the same nostalgia we all crave from holiday time at this world-famous attraction. Through Jan. 5, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, longwoodgardens.org

3. CIRQUE DREAMS: HOLIDAZE

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A show for all ages, Cirque Dreams: Holidaze celebrates everything from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day with a flurry of singers, costumes and gravity-defying acrobatics. Dec. 26-29, Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St., kimmelcenter.org

4. LUMINATURE

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Animal-themed lights and sounds fill the Philadelphia Zoo’s new exhibit, LumiNature, sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co. When the sun goes down, illuminated penguins, oversize flowers and a 25-foot tree made up entirely of flamingo lawn ornaments light up America’s oldest zoo. Through Jan. 5, 3400 W. Girard Ave., philadelphiazoo.org

5. ICE SKATING AT DILWORTH PARK

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Grab your puffiest coat and slip on your skates for a spin around the fire- and-ice-themed Rothman Orthopedics Ice Rink beneath the shadow of City Hall. Enjoy handcrafted cocktails and bites from Brûlée Catering fireside on the outdoor terrace or in the bustling heated cabin. After, head across the street to Christmas Village in LOVE Park. 1 S. 15th St., centercityphila.org



Photography by: ALEXANDER IZILIAEV; BY DANIEL TRAUB; BY IAN IBBETSON; COURTESY OF PHILADELPHIA ZOO