Holiday hype: City of Philadelphia group classic annual events for Philly Holiday Festival

The City of Philadelphia unveiled its Philly Holiday Festival, a five-week lineup of mainly free, family-fun holiday events, at a press conference on Nov. 9.

The big reveal of the festival, presented by One Liberty Observation Deck, also included a cast of holiday characters from the PA Ballet Nutcracker Mouse King and Sugar Plum Fairy to the Christmas Village reindeer and inflatable Thanksgiving Parade elves.

“The Philly Holiday Festival welcomes everyone to our city,” said Mayor Jim Kenney at the conference.

Kicking off the Philly Holiday Festival will be the 99th annual 6abc/Dunkin’ Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 22.

“If you go down [to the Thanksgiving Parade] you will see people who have been coming since their grandparents and their parents. … Families of 50 together, and some even bring porta-potties,” President and General Manager of 6abc Bernie Prazenica told Philadelphia Weekly. “There are new elements every year, but that’s not what is exciting about it. What’s exciting about it, is this thing has brought generations together and it continues to and it’s free and it’s our community and it’s Philly.”

The Philly Holiday Festival will run until Jan. 1, ending with the Mummers Parade and feature more than 20 free events and attractions. Just some of the events include: the now open Wintergarden at City Hall, currently under construction Christmas Village at Love Park and Franklin Square Holiday Festival. Wrapping up the Holiday Festival will be New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront by SugarHouse Casino and the annual revelry that is the Mummers Parade.

Visitors can take the Philadelphia PHLASH, starting Nov. 22, which will stop at 11 attractions every 15 minutes. The shuttle will operate for free during the evening from Thursday through Sunday until the end of the festival.

“The best part of the holiday season is to see the energy of the city and to see how it turns into magical winter wonderland. When you walk around, especially near Center City and here in City Hall, it’s transformed and it’s a different vibe and it’s such a sense of joy that everyone has,” said City Representative Sheila Hess. “You see the lights, you see the entertainment, you see the shopping and it’s just something that I love.”

Hess said she is particularly excited to see the lighting of the 65-foot-tall white fir Philly Holiday Tree at City Hall. During her speech, she announced that even the “rock star” Gritty will be in attendance, showing that the fandom train for the orange monster mascot has not slowed down yet.

“I think Gritty is amazing. He [came] from nowhere to [become] the most popular, in a city that has a history that started with the Phanatic,” said Prazenica. “To have Gritty come on the scene so quickly and be so popular blows me away.”

Philly Holiday Festival | Nov. 22-Jan. 1. Free. Locations throughout Philly.


The Philly Holiday Festival has tons of festivities the entire family will love. Here are five events that will kick the eggnog drinking, mistletoe kissing, stocking stuffing holiday spirits into high drive.

Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market

Support your local scene this holiday season. Comprised of more than 40 vendor tents, each topped with Herrnhut Stars,  you will be sure to find that special holiday gift for that special someone. | Nov. 17-Jan. 1. Sunday-Thursday: 11am – 7pm. Friday-Saturday: 11 am-8 pm. Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th St. Free admission.

A Very Philadelphia Holiday at One Liberty Observation Deck

Get into the Philly holiday spirit with a view  of the city’s landscape from the high-up 360-degree One Liberty Observation Deck. Look down on festivities going on in the streets and participate in one of One Liberty Observation Deck’s own holiday events, including Pay What You Wish Day for the site’s third anniversary, a Candy Cane Hunt with the Sugar Plum Fairy and an Ugly Sweater Party at Bar 57. | Nov. 21-Jan. 4. Prices vary. One Liberty Observation Deck, 1650 Market St.

Comcast Holiday Spectacular

It’s the 10th anniversary of the Comcast Holiday Spectacular, which has attracted more than 2 million visitors since its inception. Celebrate a decade of the seasonal LED light holiday show, bring the family for a technological winter wonderland that incorporates holiday classic songs and clips of the Pennsylvania Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” | Nov. 22-Jan. 1. Free. Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy

Winter Memories

Create those beloved “winter memories” with family and loved ones at City Hall. Presented by ACME and powered by Inspire, the courtyard will be filled with amusements, including a carousel, live music, arts-and-crafts activities, shopping, and food and drink. | Nov. 22-Dec. 24. Free admission. Dilworth Park, 1 S. 15th St.

Christmas Tree Stand Holiday Market

While we love our time-honored traditions, Philly is always ready to create new ones as well. The latest Cherry Street Pier will check off your holiday shopping list at its daily market from Black Friday to Christmas Day. Shop for that perfect tree for the living room, and find other greens, ornaments and holiday decorations. | Nov. 23-Dec. 24. Free admission. Cherry Street Pier, 121 N. Columbus Blvd.


  • A.D. Amarosi's Headshot

    A.D. Amorosi is an award-winning journalist who, along with working for the Philadelphia Weekly, writes regularly for Variety, Jazz Times, Flood and Wax Poetics, and hosts and co-produces his own SoundCloud-charting radio show, Theater in the Round for Pacifica National Public Radio station WPPM 106.5 FM and

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