Top Free Holiday Concerts In Philadelphia

December 2, 2013 7:00 AM

The Macy’s light show has been a Philadelphia Christmas tradition since 1955. (Credit: Hadas Kuznits)

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are almost upon us. If you’re not in the festive spirit yet, you will be once you attend one of the budget-friendly events below. This year, Philly will see plenty of singers, organists and even tuba players providing us with their own special twist to holiday classics and favorites. Without further ado, here are the top free holiday concerts in our area.

Family Holiday Concert at Temple
Temple Performing Arts Center
1837 N. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-9860

Date: Dec. 4, 2013 at 7 p.m.

Early this month, Temple University’s Symphonic Orchestra, Jazz Band and Combined Choirs will come together to perform both traditional and non-traditional seasonal favorites. The evening will include the orchestra and jazz band performing versions of “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky and Duke Ellington side-by-side. Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” will be conducted by Provost Hai-Lung Dai and the night will conclude with an audience sing-a-long. Can’t make it out? The event will also stream live here.

Free Christmas Performances at Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens
1001 Longwood Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348
(610) 388-1000

Date: Through Jan. 1, 2014

Longwood Gardens lights up this month and becomes magical with decorations and musical performances. The Longwood Organ plays daily throughout the season and invites you to sing along to holiday classics. Christmas performances by local choruses and organists are also held in the Gardens. Plus, the performances come free with an admissions pass to the gardens, which are a sight to see on their own. For performance schedules, visit Longwood’s website.

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Macy’s Christmas Light Show
1300 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 241-9000

Date: Nov. 29, 2013-Dec. 31, 2013

For many Philadelphians, the holiday season isn’t complete without a trip to Macy’s to view the annual light show and to hear the sounds of the famous Wanamaker Organ. The light show, which is narrated by Julie Andrews, is performed on the hour every two hours the store is open and takes the viewer through many holiday stories. The Wanamaker Organ is a staple of Macy’s, and the light show often concludes with a live organ performance. The organ is scheduled for daily concerts at 12 p.m. and 7 p.m., and you can frequently catch a performance after the hourly light show throughout the season.

Kimmel Center Commonwealth Plaza
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 790-5800

Date: Dec. 22, 2013 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.

TubaChristmas will be returning to Philly for not one, but two concerts on the same day. For both shows, up to 100 local tuba and euphonium players will join forces to perform many Christmas carols. Musicians will show their holiday spirit by decorating their instruments with tinsel and ornaments and wearing festive hats and scarves. This national event has been held annually since 1974, when the first one took place at NYC’s Rockefeller Plaza Ice Rink.

University of the Arts School of Music Holiday Concert
The Church of St. Luke & the Epiphany
330 S. 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 732-1918

Date: Dec. 9, 2013 at 8 p.m.

This holiday concert sees the University of the Arts School of Music’s Handbell Choir, Women’s Ensemble, Men’s Ensemble and the Chorus (with more than 150 members) share the stage to bring some of the best seasonal music to our ears. The concert will be held in the middle of Center City at the beautiful St. Luke & the Epiphany Church. U. Arts School of Music has deep roots in jazz, but it also embraces other types of music, with many on-campus ensembles. These trained musicians are sure not to disappoint.

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Kelly Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Philadelphia. Her work can be found on

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