Top 10 Philly Events for Kids this Holiday Season

Ice-skating at Dilworth Park / Photograph by Jeff Fusco

So you’ve made it past spooky season, only to turn around and see that Christmas decorations are already going up on the lampposts! What? November is kind of this in-between time before the holidays are in full swing, but they creep up earlier and earlier as you work your way through your kids’ Halloween stash. There’s plenty of holiday and non-holiday things to keep you busy this month, so here are the best of the best to add to your calendar.

Winter in Dilworth Park: Rothman Rink and Wintergarden

Visit Dilworth Park for skating on Rothman Rink, frolicking though a garden maze of reindeer topiaries and twinkle lights, and cozy après-skate eats in the cabin. The rink will be open daily (including on Thanksgiving and Christmas) through February 26, 2023. Skating sessions are available in 90-minute timeslots online. There are also adorable penguin skate aids you can rent. Later in the month, the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market opens November 19th and the nightly Deck the Hall light show begins running on November 21st. The market features only Philly-area makers, so it’s a great place to do your holiday shopping while also supporting local businesses.
Dilworth Park and Wintergarden are free and open to the public. Rothman Rink admission is $5 for children 10 and younger, and $8 for adults; skate rentals are an additional $10 per person. November 4th-February 26th, Dilworth Park, 1 South 15th Street.


Photograph courtesy of CraftNOW

The theme of this monthlong celebration of all things crafty is “Public | Private,” with several exhibitions exploring that theme at local institutions all month long. And don’t miss CraftNOW, a free day of art-making and craft demonstration for kids at Smith Memorial Playground (3500 Reservoir Drive) on Saturday, November 5th.
CraftMONTH continues through November 31st, multiple locations.

Winter in Franklin Square

The Electrical Spectacle Light Show returns to Franklin Square  / Photograph by J. Fusco

Franklin Square’s Philly-themed mini golf is transformed into Chilly Mini Golf for the season with decorations, lights and other fun surprises. While you’re there, you can also ride the carousel, hit the playground and watch the Electrical Spectacle light show around the fountain. Light shows run every 30 minutes from 5 p.m. to closing, and feature holiday songs and more than 200,000 lights. Warm up by the outdoor fire pits with hot chocolate (or spiked hot chocolate) from Ben’s Sweets and Treats. And stop by on the evenings of November 25th and 26th when Santa will be there!
Free to attend; golf, carousel and food are pay-as-you-go. November 16th-February 26th, Franklin Square, 6th and Race streets.

Veterans Day

Photograph courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution

The kids almost definitely have off, but luckily there are kid-friendly ways to honor the service and sacrifice of our military on Veterans Day and the following weekend.

The Museum of the American Revolution will have gallery talks, re-enactors, hands-on activities in Revolution Place children’s discovery center and more. Visitors can make their own commemorative ribbon to honor members of our armed forces and write thank-you postcards to service members and their families. Admission for those currently serving in the military, veterans and Blue Star Families will be free throughout Veterans Day weekend.

The National Constitution Center will have a wreath-laying ceremony on the lawn the morning of Veterans Day, talks and learning opportunities, a letter-writing station for messages of gratitude to be sent to veterans in the community through Thank-A-Vet, a poppy pin craft station and more. Admission to NCC will be free for veterans on November 11th.


LumiNature at the Philadelphia Zoo / Photograph by Winnie Chung

The Philadelphia Zoo lights up for the holidays with larger-than-life illuminated zones and installations throughout the zoo. Favorites like the 25-foot-tall pink-flamingo tree, under-the-sea light tunnel, and giant snake archway return, along with new displays including a 15-foot-tall glowing blue gorilla! Also new this year, the “Penguin Prismatic” light show featuring a glowing 40-foot-tall penguin surrounded by a colony of little light-up penguins on the zoo’s Bird Lake. Seasonal fare, s’more-making at fire pits, strolling performers, hot chocolate (and adult beverages) add to the festiveness. Be aware that you won’t see zoo animals during LumiNature — it’s too dark, and most of them are sleeping! Pre-purchase timed-tickets online (or grab a $33 “anytime” ticket for flexibility).
$20-$33 (free for children under two); November 17th-January 7th, Philadelphia Zoo, 3400 West Girard Avenue.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella

My inner ’90s kid cannot wait for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (I wore out my VHS with Brandy and Whitney Houston, not gonna lie). Kids will also be swept away in the fantasy with classic songs like “In My Own Little Corner” and “Impossible.”
$25-$117; November 22nd-December 20th, Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street.

Museum Exhibits

Ocean Bound at Academy of Natural Sciences / Photograph by Sciencenter courtesy of Academy of Natural Sciences

The Please Touch Museum’s special exhibit, The Lion Guard, based on the popular animated show, brings the story to life with games, movement, music, and more Pride Lands-inspired fun through January 8th. Meanwhile, the Academy of Natural Sciences continues its interactive special exhibit Ocean Bound, which encourages visitors to explore marine life and how our habits and actions can affect the health of our waterways and oceans, through January 15th.

A Longwood Christmas

You’ve got through November 13th to enjoy the beauty of Longwood’s Chrysanthemum Festival, but then the fun really gets started because on November 18th Longwood Gardens glows up for the season with gorgeous outdoor and indoor light displays inspired by nature. There’s also live holiday music, open-air fountain shows, and the delightful Garden Railway display. Timed tickets are required, and weekends in particular sell out — but they’re one of the few attractions open on Christmas Day, so keep that in mind for next month.
$16-$30 (free for kids ages four and under); November 18th-January 8th, Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square.

Thanksgiving Day Parade

thanksgiving parade

Daniel Tiger has never been so intimidating. / Photograph by Jeff Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

Bundle up and get the kids to the Parkway early for a holiday tradition — our country’s first Thanksgiving Day parade, in fact. Giant balloons, bands, live Broadway-style musical performances, and even Santa’s sleigh will start your morning (and holiday season) off with so much festiveness. You can also watch it on 6ABC from the warm comfort of your home, but where’s the fun in that?
Free; November 24th, 8 a.m.-noon. Begins at 20th Street and JFK Boulevard., then heads east on JFK, left on 16th Street, then down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before ending at the Art Museum with performances.

And while you’re coming off the parade route, stop by LOVE Park for …

Christmas Village

Christmas Village returns to LOVE Park and the courtyard of City Hall for its 15th season. / Photograph by Christin Kalff

Yes, Christmas Village also opens in November, because Thanksgiving is a mirage. After a preview weekend on November 19th, it returns for its 15th season on November 24th, running through December 24th. Modeled after the traditional Christmas Markets in Germany, this annual market features dozens of unique vendors in wooden booths selling gifts, ornaments, crafts, clothing and more from all over the world. They also have great food, from brats to raclette to strudel to mulled wine (buy the commemorative mug for discount refills!); and rides including a giant Ferris wheel, a kiddie train, and a double-decker carousel in City Hall courtyard.
Pay-as-you-go; November 24th-December 24th (preview weekend November 19th-20th), LOVE Park and City Hall courtyard.


Source: PhillyMag.com

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