The many winter holidays such as Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Kwanza, Christmas and New Year’s provide numerous opportunities for families and friends to come together. Here are the top holiday events in the Philadelphia area this season. Some are even free, so you may find a new tradition to enjoy.
The Mummers Parade
Broad St. & Washington Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Date: Jan. 1, 2014 at 10 a.m.
Parades are a common tradition in many towns and cities, but the Mummers are unique to Philadelphia. Over 10,000 mummers from about 40 different clubs strut down Broad Street in lavish costumes to celebrate the New Year. This annual tradition began with official judging back in 1901 and has entertained audiences and participants alike each year. The parade’s different divisions allow viewers to enjoy both the comic side and the fancy sparkles and feathers, all enhanced by music. Plus, a parade wouldn’t be a parade without the floats. If you can’t get enough mummers, you can purchase a ticket to the fancy brigade competition held in the convention center. There is a 12 p.m. competition and another at 5 p.m.
Comcast Holiday Spectacular
Comcast experience wall
1701 John F. Kennedy Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Date: Now through Jan. 1, 2014 at the top of the hour from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
This 15-minute display packs in a lot of holiday scenes and is fun and free for the entire family. The tradition began in 2008, and each year, it has combined new technology to make it even more magical. Scenes from “The Nutcracker” as well as other holiday images are added to the wall and then combined with computer-generated graphics on LED screens. The imagery is coupled with the sounds of a 64-piece orchestra. This year, new scenes featuring ice skaters are being shown on an LED screen 83.3 feet wide and 25.4 feet tall that’s set on a 2100-square-foot video wall. The Comcast Spectacular also uses footage of the Philly countryside for a virtual sleigh ride. You can enjoy this bit of merriment as part of a lovely evening in the city.
Christmas Festival at Peddler’s Village
Routes 202 & 263
Lahaska, PA 18931
Date: Dec. 7-8, 2013
Live holiday-themed entertainment, Santa Claus and mulled hot apple cider are all part of the atmosphere at the Peddler’s Village Christmas Festival. Enjoy the music and the village’s holiday ambiance while doing some shopping, or eat some tasty holiday foods such as roasted chestnuts and toasted marshmallows. There are over 70 shops and restaurants at this quaint Bucks County shopping complex, so take a few hours to explore.
A Very Furry Christmas at Sesame Place
100 Sesame Road
Langhorne, PA 19047
Date: Now through Dec. 31, 2013
Sesame Place gets into the holiday spirit by fully decorating the park with thousands of twinkling lights, playing holiday music and scheduling visits from Santa. There will be three holiday shows and special holiday parades on Sesame Street as well, and the park will also offer holiday food and shopping. Season pass holders can get discounted tickets to this separate event and still enjoy 30-percent off of food and merchandise. While usually open from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), on December 13 and 14, the park is only open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., so check the site before making plans. Sesame Place is open the week of Christmas, however, except for Christmas Eve and day. And on New Year’s Eve, there will be fireworks.
Pennsylvania Ballet Presents “The Nutcracker”
Academy of Music
240 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Date: Dec. 7 – 29, 2013
“The Nutcracker” ballet is a holiday tradition for many people, but it might be something new for you to experience. The enchanting story of “The Nutcracker” involves traveling to a different dimension, a battle and a love story, all set to the music of composer Tchaikovsky. The score is further enhanced by the addition of the Philadelphia Boys Choir. For the first time, there will even be a Nutcracker Market open from December 6-8 at the Kimmel Center, where you can purchase hand-made crafts and specialty gifts from local artisans. For an extra sweet treat, you can plan Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy on December 8 at 2:30 p.m. or December 21 at noon. Tickets are $85 and include a buffet, a photo opportunity and a matinee performance.
Christina Dagnelli is a freelance writer in Philadelphia and the author of Little Squares with Colors: A Different way to look at autism. Her work on examiner can be found here Examiner.com.