Christmas caroling (or wassailing) is a longstanding holiday tradition that dates back to pre-Christian times. Northern European people would join together in the streets and sing and dance to celebrate the Winter Solstice or Yule. In Philadelphia, there are many ways to enjoy caroling — whether as an observer or an active singer.
Boathouse Row along Schuylkill River
1 Boathouse Row
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Boathouse Row has been getting into the holiday spirit since 1979, when all of the boathouses along the Schuylkill River received lights to make them look like gingerbread houses. Singing some holiday songs outdoors surrounded by beautiful lights will surely enhance your holiday. This may be a unique way to go caroling that is quieter and involves nature. Of course, it is chilly by the river so be sure to pack your cocoa.
16 E. Highland Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
The storefronts of many shops over in Chestnut Hill get into the spirit with twinkling lights and holiday decorations. You can find carolers and brass ensembles enhancing the shopping experience. Many stores also provide mulled cider on Wednesday nights to keep you warm. Also, there is free parking every Wednesday night through December 22.
Love Park (JFK Plaza)
1500 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Date: Through Jan. 1, 2014
Love Park is transformed into a German Market completely decked out for the holidays. Enjoy singing carols, drinking hot chocolate and warm cider as well as eating your way around the market — to keep your strength up for all that shopping, of course! Christmas Village would be a fun place to sing carols, and you may find new carolers joining your group. Plus, this spot offers the opportunity to do your own holiday shopping.
Sixth & Race Streets
Date: Through Dec. 31, 2013
Franklin Square is full of holiday fun from November 14 through New Year’s Eve. A lighted spectacular of 50,000 holiday lights and themed music surrounds a 10-foot-tall kite and key that will be lit by Ben Franklin. The light show begins at 4:30 p.m. and restarts at each half-hour, concluding at 8 p.m.. There will be eight shows, with each show being seven minutes, and there are two different versions shown during each half-hour show. Warming stations will also be available. After caroling, consider taking a ride on the Lighting Bolt Express Train or Parx Liberty Carousel.
Macy’s Center City
1300 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
The tradition of caroling in Macy’s has occurred since it was Wanamaker’s from the early 1900s at the grand court. This allowed carolers to keep warm and give shoppers some extra holiday cheer. Now that Wanamaker’s is Macy’s, the light show that began then still continues from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for 15 minutes at the top of every hour (excluding Christmas Day when it is closed). Enjoy some fun caroling then top your evening off with the light show.
Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The area around the museums of Philly is a popular area for walking around. Why not add some songs to the stroll? If you want to enjoy the traditional aspect of caroling in the open air, then this area should be on your list. Finish up inside the Art Museum, which has had carolers in years past to entertain museum goers.
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.