A German import that Philly has taken to its bosom, the Christmas Village offers fascinating things to see, do, buy and eat for young and old between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year.
If you’re like us, you’re probably in a frenzy now in the countdown to Christmas Day. May we suggest you take a break and do something fun with your kids in Philadelphia? The city is at its best this time of year, with both year-round and seasonal attractions that appeal to young and old. Here are five of the top places to go and things to do for kids in Philadelphia:
1. Macy’s Holiday Light Show and Dickens Village display. As the only traditional department store left in Center City, Macy’s has inherited the mantle of both its predecessors, John Wanamaker and Strawbridge & Clothier, honoring their legacies with holiday traditions that have delighted generations of kids in Philadelphia. The Holiday Light Show in the Grand Court has been refreshed and updated; the Magic Christmas Tree’s 34,000 lights now sparkle a little more brightly – and the grand Wanamaker Organ has become an integral part of the show to boot. On the third floor is the animatronic exhibit recounting Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” a classic that was the highpoint of a holiday visit to Strawbridge’s for decades. Macy’s Center City, 1300 Market St. Light show every hour on the hour, Dickens Village open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Dec. 31.
2. Enchanted Colonial Village at the Please Touch Museum. The grand Christmas tradition of Philadelphia’s fourth major department store, Lit Brothers, lives on at the Please Touch Museum in West Fairmount Park. From 1962 until Lit Brothers’ demise in 1975, kids in Philadelphia marveled at the animated “Enchanted Colonial Village” – a trip back in time to America’s early years, featuring scenes of everyday life in the colonial period: a blacksmith shop, a seamstress, a baker, a toymaker (of course), and more. Now in the Smithsonian’s permanent collection, this piece of Philadelphia history comes alive again every December at Philadelphia’s children’s museum. And while you’re there, take a ride on the Red Rocket, the monorail that used to circle Wanamakers’ fourth-floor toy department at Christmastime. At Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission $16, children under one and members free.
3. Christmas Village. This annual outdoor market, our version of the German “Christkindlmarkt,” offers something for kids in PhilHoliadelphia of all ages. More than 50 vendors offer one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, most specially themed for the holiday season. There’s also plenty of wonderful food to eat, including authentic German specialties and pastries. In JFK Plaza (LOVE Park), 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Blvd. Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, through Dec. 24.
4. Franklin Square Holiday Celebration. The newest holiday tradition for kids in Philadelphia is in Franklin Square, at the northwest corner of Independence Mall. The square was transformed a few years ago into a family fun attraction, and right after Thanksgiving, it gets dressed up for the holidays with festive lights and decorations. Even Santa Claus gets in on the fun, riding the vintage Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel, playing rounds of Philly Mini Golf with visitors and reading stories from “Patriots, Pirates, Heroes and Spies: Stories from Historic Philadelphia.” At Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets. Hours: Saturdays, Sundays and Christmas Eve, 12 noon to 3 p.m.
5. The Comcast Holiday Spectacular. Now this is must-see TV. The incredible, eye-popping LED video display in the lobby of the Comcast Center has been wowing both grownups and kids in Philadelphia since the building opened in 2008. You and your family will go on an incredible 15-minute journey down ski slopes, through enchanting winter scenes, and even into the sky with this high-tech tour de force. At the Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Shows every hour on the hour through New Year’s Day.