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Top Winter Activities in Philadelphia

January 10, 2024

Philadelphia is home to events, activities, and attractions that rejuvenate the city during the colder months. Here is a roundup of some of the best things to do in the city during the winter.

Winter Festivals

Dilworth Park is home to popular winter attractions, including the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink, The Cabin, and Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn. Lace up your skates and hit the rink for a 90-minute skating session next to City Hall. The rink’s accompanying Cabin invites visitors to warm up around fire pits and recharge with a menu of seasonal food and drink, including local beer and festive cocktails. Or kick back and relax in the Wintergarden. The whimsical outdoor sanctuary features topiaries, twinkling lights, and rustic décor.

People sitting at picnic tables surrounded by holiday trees with lights and rustic décor surrounded by nearby skyscrapers.

Dilworth Park. Photo by M. Stanley.

Historic Franklin Square transforms into a whimsical winter destination every year. Take a spin around the park’s charming carousel or marvel at the Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show. The show features more than 200,000 bulbs that glow, twinkle, and dance along to a playlist of holiday favorites. Grab some seasonal comfort food and hot beverages from Franklin’s Winter View, a heated tent surrounded by firepits where you can warm up. Each winter, the park’s year-round mini golf course becomes a festive wonderland that is fun for the whole family. The Chilly Philly Mini Golf course features an array of seasonal décor amid miniature versions of Philadelphia landmarks, including the Liberty Bell, the Rocky Steps, and the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Head to Independence Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest to relax by a fire, sip hot cocoa, and ice skate beside the Delaware River. The waterfront’s Lodge offers a heated space with cozy cabins where you can enjoy seasonal food and drinks from local vendors.

It is nighttime. A large outdoor ice rink is shown. There are multiple people ice skating. A bridge is shown off in the distance.

Independence Blue Cross RiverRink. Photo by M. Stanley.

Holiday Events

Philadelphia is also home to pop-up markets and seasonal celebrations throughout November and December. Get some holiday shopping done at the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market, where local artisans sell crafts, gifts, food, and other goods. Unique finds are also plentiful at Christmas Village in Philadelphia, the city’s authentic German Christmas market. Shop from more than 100 vendors selling handmade goods out of traditional wooden shopping stalls. This outdoor market is spread throughout LOVE Park – home to the iconic LOVE Sculpture.

Head to Macys to enjoy the Macy’s Christmas Light Show, featuring 100,000 LED lights that dance along to classic holiday tunes inside of the historic Wanamaker building. Celebrate Hanukkah with a menorah lighting at the Betsy Ross House. Children will be given dreidels and menorahs at the event. Or celebrate Kwanzaa at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. Family-friendly activities include arts and crafts recognizing and honoring the seven principles of Kwanzaa.

A woman stands in a colorful outfit lighting red and green candles in celebration of Kwanzaa at the African American Museum in Philadelphia.

Kwanzaa celebration at African American Museum in Philadelphia. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®

There are plenty of ways to ring in the Year of the Dragon in Philadelphia, home to one of the largest Chinatowns on the East Coast and a vibrant Asian population. The city was ranked as one of Thrillist’s 12 Best Places to Celebrate the Lunar New Year in the U.S. because of its authentic Chinese cuisine, traditional lion dances, family friendly festivals, and parade. Each year, The Philadelphia Suns Lion Dance Troupe performs traditional lion dances in honor of the Lunar New Year, preserving the cultural significance of the dance. The Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink in Dilworth Park also hosts an annual Lunar New Year celebration. 

Multiple performers wearing yellow sweatshirts are holding up dragon heads as part of a costume as they dance in the street during a Lunar New Year parade.

Lunar New Year Parade. Photo by A. Lee.

Catch a Live Show

Celebrate and support the arts in Philadelphia by going to a live show from one of the city’s many performing arts organizations. The Philadelphia Orchestra entertains audiences every holiday season with performances celebrating Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Lunar New Year. The Philadelphia Ballet also brings George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker – a beloved holiday tradition – to life every December. Beyond the holidays, the winter is packed with live shows from all the city’s performing arts organizations, including Ensemble Arts Philly which offers a Broadway Series.

A group of about a dozen ballerinas are shown performing on stage. There appears to be snow falling. The artists hold props in their hands as they dance in light blue and white dresses. The backdrop in a blueish gray.

Philadelphia Ballet George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker® Photo by A. Iziliaev.

Annual Winter Events

Philadelphia is the proud host of many annual events with some of the most notable ones happening each winter. The Philadelphia Auto Show features hundreds of vehicles from pre-production models to classics, and even some Hollywood icons. The event showcases the latest models and trends in the industry. Held inside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the show is one of the largest auto shows in the U.S. and typically happens every January or February.

The Philadelphia Flower Show, is the largest and longest running flower show in the nation. The event features dazzling floral displays and elaborate gardens set up inside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center every March. With a new theme each year, the world’s premier floral and landscape designers showcase their talents.

A woman with long red hair wearing a dark floral dress stands and poses for a picture in front of an elaborate floral display featuring green and orange plants. A silhouette of an individual wearing a hat and taking the woman's picture is shown off to the right.

PHS Flower Show 2023

Looking for a bite to eat in between activities? Check out our Food & Drink page.

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