30 Free Things To Do with Philly Kids this Holiday Season

Free holiday events and ideas in the Philadelphia area

The holidays are right around the corner. A chill is in the air, and lights and festive fun are popping up everywhere you look. With holiday time, comes lots of spending on presents, food, and travel. For families on a tight budget, it can be tough to find a way to get out of the house and celebrate the season. We've rounded up 25 things Philly families can enjoy for free this holiday season. So, give your wallet a break and grab your mittens.

1. Visit Byers' Choice Christmas Market and see the hand carved carolers. While you're there, kids can drop off letters for Santa, take a photo in 19th century costumes, and enjoy some Christmas cookies.
2. Watch Santa light the holiday light display at Peddler's Village's Grand Illumination Celebration.
3. Learn about Pennsylvania's wild turkeys at Washington Crossing Historic Park on November 19. Play games, make crafts, and listen to stories just in time for Thanksgiving!
4. Head downtown (or turn on the TV) and watch the 6ABC Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade on November 23.
5. Visit The Comcast Center for its Holiday Spectacular. Shows are every hour 10 AM-8 PM (except 5 PM on weekdays) from Thanksgiving day through New Year's Day.
6. History buffs can learn about a Continental Christmas on Saturday, November 25 at Graeme Park.
7. See Macy's Christmas Light Show downtown from November 24- December 31. While you're there, see Santa at Dickens Christmas Village and enjoy a free Christmas concert.
8. See Santa arrive by helicopter at The Market at DelVal on November 25.
9. Finish up your Christmas shopping or just take a stroll around Christmas Village in LOVE Park, which is open November 23- December 24. Enjoy a special preview on Saturday, November 18 and Sunday, November 19.
10. Take a trip to Wilmington, DE to see The Wilmington Jaycees 52nd Annual Christmas Parade on November 25. The parade features floats, dance groups, marching bands, and, of course, Santa.
11. Make a gingerbread house together- either with a kit or from scratch!
12. Herr's Snack Factory's Holiday Light Show is a delightfully festive treat. Kids will even get to see some reindeer! Lights are on display November 24- January 1.
13. Head to Rose Tree Park in Media for its annual Festival of Lights. On display December 1- January 1, this light show is a wonderful holiday display.
14. Learn how cultures around the world celebrate the holidays at Penn Museum on December 3. 
15. Transport yourself to 1840s London at Narberth's Dickens Festival on December 3. Enjoy a scavenger hunt, crafts, puppet shows, and more.
16. Check out the Gingerbread House Competition and Display at Peddler's Village November 17- January 6.
17. Enjoy The Miracle on South 13th Street Holiday Lights display in South Philadelphia.
18. Visit Kennett Square for its holiday light parade on November 24. The parade begins at 6 PM and features lots of bright, sparkling lights, as well as a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
19. See the lights at Lock 60 where over 1,000 luminaries line the canal. Holiday Luminaria takes place December 9 at Schuylkill Canal Park.
20. Looking for a free production of the Nutcracker this holiday season? Visit the Free Library of Philadelphia on December 10 for Pages to Pirouettes rendition of the classic holiday show.
21. Visit Smith Memorial Playground for an After Turkey Play Day on November 24. 
22. Go to Reading Terminal Market to see its Holiday Railroad display November 24- December 31.
23. Franklin Square hosts its holiday festival November 9- December 31 featuring the Electrical Spectacle light show.
24. Travel back in time to the Victorian era at Pennypacker Mills' Victorian Christmas Open House on December 9. Visit with a Victorian-style Santa and Mrs. Claus, see a clear toy candy demonstration, and chat with live historians throughout the mansion. 
25. Santa arrives in Ambler by train on December 7. After Santa arrives, walk with him down Butler Ave. to the Ambler Theater where kids can watch a movie and sit on Santa's lap.
26. Visit the Winter Fountains installation at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from November 30 - March 18, open nightly from sunset to midnight.
27. Don't miss the Deck The Halls Light Show at Dilworth Park Wintergarden.
28. Get into the holiday spirit by visiting the Christmas Tree Lighting at Rittenhouse Square on November 28 at 5 PM. 
29. See the Tree Lighting Ceremony in Manayunk on November 25 and enjoy a stroll down the city streets.
30. Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest opens November 24. General admission is free; there is a fee for ice skating.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Fusco for Historic Philadelphia, Inc.