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The Best Places in Philly for the Perfect Winter Wonderland

By Eric McInnis | December 5, 2019 | Culture

The holidays are right around the corner, so it comes as no surprise that everyone is looking for a way to bring in more cheer. And nowhere else can people get into the holly jolly spirit better than in Philadelphia. Here, enjoy our bucket list of must-visit places to get into the holiday spirit.

Franklin Square Holiday Festival

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Perhaps best known for its landmark fountain and lively carousel, Franklin Square is always a relaxing and scenic location in Philly. But when it’s the holidays, this area’s even better, thanks to the annual Franklin Square Holiday Festival. The most notable part of the Festival is Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show, featuring 80,000 lights adorning the entire perimeter of the park in one glorious display. This attraction also features a dynamite holiday soundtrack, multiple shopping venues and a great atmosphere that helps to make the season bright. Through December 31, Chinatown, historicphiladelphia.org

Longwood Gardens

For years, Longwood Gardens has celebrated Christmas with a festive display of plants and flowers that create a soothing and warm atmosphere. This year’s Longwood Christmas is no exception. Bask yourself with the Conservatory, which delivers numerous displays and props to go alongside their flora to make the whole experience more homely. Ribbons, crystals, snowflakes, sweets and more are around the area, making guests enjoy the festive atmosphere just a little bit more. Outside, you’ll be amazed at stunning light displays, illuminated trees and holiday music playing throughout the entirety of the acreage of foliage and beauty. It’s the perfect place to experience nature and the holidays together, and should not be missed. Through January 5, 2020, tickets $30, Kennett Square, longwoodgardens.org

Christmas Village

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One of the best options is to pop around LOVE Park’s authentic German Christmas market. Filled with comforting food, shopping and carnival attractions, the holiday spot features more than 80 vendors. Enjoy waffles and bratwursts, while also purchasing ornaments and designer jewelry. This village also features a carousel, holiday train, and—for the first time ever—a 65-foot Ferris wheel. Through December 24, free admission, JFK Plaza, philachristmas.com

Congress Hall

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The Shore isn’t just for the summer. Head to Cape May for Congress Hall’s ninth annual Winter Wonderland for a holiday train, vendor village and more. Make your own gingerbread house; have breakfast with Santa; watch a tree lighting ceremony; and see a performance of A Congress Hall Christmas, a stage play exclusive to Congress Hall. Through December 30, Cape May, N.J., caperesorts.com

Winterfest at King of Prussia Town Center

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Tired of spending all of your time at the mall? Head over to its neighbor, King of Prussia Town Center, for Winterfest: a five-weekend series full of fun for all. Movie screenings of Christmas classics like The Grinch, ice sculpture carvings, magic shows and even visits from Santa and Frozen’s Elsa are happening in the following weeks. These activities allow kids and adults to enjoy the festivities and get excited for December 25th. Through December 22, King of Prussia, visitkop.com

Craftsman Row

The local bar Craftsman Row Saloon is looking to get into the festivities with a holiday-themed design of the iconic hangout. Experience the restaurant decorated with thousands of ornaments, garland as far as the eye can see, and hundreds of toys and dolls (including 50 nutcrackers). Sip on holiday-themed cocktails like Santa Bae Bae and 100% That Grinch while catching up with friends.Old City, craftsmanrowsaloon.com

LumiNature

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A 35-foot polar bear lords over the Philadelphia Zoo’s newest holiday attraction filled with glimmering lights, flowers and animals. A nighttime event, LumiNature takes guests through multiple displays celebrating the beauty of the animal kingdom, with flamingo lawn ornaments, glowing orbs and flowers...plus more than 200 illuminated penguins. Be sure to bundle up, but to help ward off the chill, look for food and beverage tents where hot chocolate can be found. Through January 5, 2020, tickets $24, Philadelphia Zoo, philadelphiazoo.org

Miracle at ITV

The cocktail bar Into the Valley (ITV), from chef Nick Elmi, is going through a seasonal overlay this year, with Miracle at ITV. Patrons will get to see garland, holiday lights, ribbons, and more all around the area. Patrons also get to hear distinctive Christmas music and a slew of great holiday-themed cocktails, including Run Run Rudolph, Chrismapolitan and the Snowball Old Fashioned. Passyunk, itvphilly.com

The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia

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One of the most exquisite luxury hotels in the city, the Ritz-Carlton is pulling out all the stops to deliver some top-tier holiday excitement with an amazing light show in the lobby. Watch scenic views of snowy nature; look at classic holiday movies; and view city skylines all aglow at this 30-minute spectacular throughout the month of December. Mark your calendars for a holiday pop-up—specialty cocktails and live entertainment galor from BTV Live—on December 12 and 13. And for a bit of family fun, the hotel is hosting a gingerbread house workshop on December 15, where guests will also get a visit from good ol’ Santa Claus. Holiday pop-up tickets from $85, Gingerbread tickets $99, Through January 1, Avenue of the Arts, ritzcarlton.com

Tinsel

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One of the most iconic pop-up bars in Philadelphia is the Christmas-themed Tinsel—and for good reason. It creates holiday fun in a way few locations can achieve. Gaze at the festive decorations, cascaded by bows and ornaments, while also sipping on some clever holiday-themed cocktails that are sure to make any Grinch smile. It’s only available for a limited time, but is an experience unlike any other. After all, where else can people enjoy some tasty Rockin a Rye the Christmas Tree while under a chandelier decked with hundreds of Christmas ornaments? Through January 1, 2020, Midtown Village

Fashion District Holiday Light Show

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Kick off Fashion District’s first holiday season with their own holiday light show. Combining 1,600 lights, a giant 45-foot tall Christmas tree and music from Philly POPS, the district performs an exciting show every night from 4 pm to close. It’s sure to make your shopping experience just a little more magical. Through December 31, East Market, fashiondistrictphiladelphia.com



Photography by: Jeff Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.; Courtesy of Christmas Village; Courtesy of Congress Hall; Courtesy of KOP Township; Courtesy of Philadelphia Zoo; Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia; Courtesy of Tinsel Christmas Pop-up Bar; Courtesy of Fashion District Philadelphia