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FunTimes Magazine

Shine a Light on the Holidays with These Things to Do & Philly Places to Go For Family Fun!

Philadelphia city hall lit up with projection of Christmas decorations with red and white stripes and evergreen trim

From public parks to zoos, here are some upcoming free or low-cost in-person family activities to light up the winter holiday season. And now that daylight savings time is in full swing, there’s more time to “play” and keep things light. (Be sure to contact the organizations for their in-person visiting pandemic-related precautions and protocols.)



November 18, 2021 - January 9, 2022. The Philadelphia Zoo is lit up in an array of one million lights during LumiNature. Hundreds of light-adorned animals, like flamingos and penguins, in 14 displays add to the ambiance of a canopy of light showers, a 100-foot-long aquarium tunnel with giant jellyfish, and other sparkling showcases.  

Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 W. Girard Ave., 215-243-1100,


November 19 – December 30, 2021. Elmwood Park Zoo’s Wild Lights returns with new lights and decorative attractions highlighting many animals on exhibit on 16 acres.  Each night of Wild Lights features live entertainment, performances, holiday music, and a chance to see Santa.

1661 Harding Blvd., Norristown, 610-277-3825,


November 18, 2021 - February 27, 2022. During Winter at Franklin Square presented by Citizens, the Electrical Spectacle Light Show presented by PECO makes this historic square twinkle with free shows showcasing more than 100,000 colorful lights. Enjoy the Franklin Square light display, munch on comfort food, local brews, and hot beverages in the Winter Beer Garden (plus, outdoor fire pits and an indoor heated tent). 

Franklin Square, 200 N. 6th St., 215-629-4026,


November 22, 2021 - January 1, 2022. Spectacular technicolor projections — synchronized to sound effects and played continuously on a nonstop loop — animate the façade of Philadelphia’s City Hall, one of the nation’s oldest government buildings, nightly for an enlightening holiday season at the Deck The Hall Light Show. The show is just one of the popups at Dilworth Park, where endless streams of of lights illuminate trees and shine like diamonds in the air over the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink (, 215-983-1291), the Wintergarden on the Greenfield Lawn, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market and the Rothman Orthopedics Cabin. Dilworth Park west side of City Hall, Broad and Market streets, in Center City.


December 1 – December 24, 2021. Macy’s Christmas Light Show. Macy’s Center City in the Wanamaker Building, a National Historic Landmark, has been a holiday must-see mainstay in Philly since 1956. Set in The Grand Court, the show features a 100,000-light show of twinkling snowflakes, dancing snowmen, and more, narrated by actor-singer Julie Andrews and accompanied by the sounds of the world-famous Wanamaker Organ, one of the world’s largest pipe organs. The show features classic songs and stories like The Nutcracker and Frosty the Snowman.

Free performances of the light show take place once daily: at 10:30 a.m. beginning December 1 to 24, and at 11:30 a.m., from December 26 to 31. No reservations are required. 

1300 Market St., 215-241-9000,


November 27 - December 26, 2021. Check out a model train racing down a quarter-mile of track beaming with twinkling holiday lights. The annual Holiday Garden Railway brings a mini-winter wonderland to the 92 sprawling acres of public garden at the historic Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. On weekends, visitors can buy after-hours tickets to experience larger or “G-scale” model trains weaving through tunnels and over bridges past little replicas of Philadelphia landmarks with lighted trees. Advanced tickets are required. 

Morris Arboretum, 100 E. Northwestern Ave., in Chestnut Hill, 215-247-5777,


December 2, 2021. The first official sign of the holidays is the lighting of the City Hall tree, a 40+-year-old Concolor Fir. Visit the VISIT PHILADELPHIA® Holiday Tree powered by NRG to officially usher in the holiday season at the traditional in-person tree lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. on City Hall’s north side. Free giveaways begin at 5 p.m. The 25-year-old ceremony is back after a pandemic hiatus in 2020 and features performances by local artists and Disney’s DCappella. The ceremony will be broadcast live on 6abc. This is part of a series of City-hosted light displays that continues on the Schuylkill River throughout the season of joy.

November 28 – December 6, 2021. The City of Philadelphia, through its Parks and Recreation Department, will host the season by lighting up Boathouse Row in honor of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Boathouse Row will be illuminated for Hanukkah with a virtual program led by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia at 4 p.m. on December 6. The Christmas lights on Boathouse Row will be on display, from December 20 through December 25, with a virtual program led by the City’s Office of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs at 4 p.m. on December 20. Boathouse Row will be lit in honor of Kwanzaa, from December 26 through January 1, 2022, with a virtual program led by the Philadelphia Kwanzaa Cooperative, at 4 p.m. on December 26. Watch each virtual program via live stream on the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement Facebook page. Details about the virtual ceremonies will be available on the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Faith-based and Interfaith Affairs website, and questions can be sent to the Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart at [email protected]