You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fun and livelier place to be around the holidays than Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The city is jam-packed with fun things to do for Christmas — if you know where to look! From ice skating on the riverfront and bonafide German Christmas markets to massive light shows, a giant Christmas tree, and much more, you’re surely in for a good time. Whether you’re a local or just visiting for the holidays, there’s no shortage of ways to spend Christmas in Philadelphia — but if you’re not sure where to start, we put together this short list of some of our top recommendations for enjoying the holiday in the City of Brotherly Love. So, turn on the Christmas music, and let’s dive in!


Christmas Eve 2024 in Philadelphia with City Cruises

philadelphiaPhiladelphia Christmas Eve Signature Brunch Cruise – As far as Christmas Eve plans go, spending a magical afternoon on the water is tough to top. Aboard the Philadelphia Christmas Eve Signature Brunch Cruise, you and your guests will create treasured holiday memories with your loved ones as you dine, dance, and soak in the magnificent skyline while you sail along the Delaware River. Get ready to enjoy a delicious, chef-prepared buffet while taking in Philadelphia’s historic waterfront views. Don’t forget to bring your camera to snap some pictures while you marvel at famed city landmarks — such as the Ben Franklin Bridge — from the comfort of the climate-controlled interior and spacious open-air roof decks. Of course, the spirits will be flowing with a fully stocked bar, fun games, and lively music from the on-board DJ. If that sounds like a memorable, one-of-a-kind Christmas Eve celebration to you, book your ticket ASAP. And, if you’re booked during the day on Christmas Eve, you can always opt for the Philadelphia Christmas Eve Signature Dinner Cruise for that same top-tier experience after dark.


Celebrate Christmas Day on the Water

Philadelphia Christmas Day Signature Brunch Cruise – Don’t stress the planning this Christmas — instead, book tickets for you and your loved ones to embark on the Philadelphia Christmas Day Signature Brunch Cruise. You and your guests will gather together for a joyful celebration and revel in the magic of the holidays as you dine, dance, and soak in magnificent skyline views on the Delaware River. There’s also a delicious, chef-prepared buffet, outstanding views of classic Philly landmarks, and on-board entertainment to make this year’s celebration an unforgettable, merriment-filled memory. If you’d rather spend the day lounging around the house in your pajamas, we get it — that’s why there’s also the Philadelphia Christmas Day Signature Dinner Cruise, which offers that same once-in-a-lifetime experience at night.




Other Fun Things to Do in Philadelphia for Christmas

Visit the Philadelphia Holiday Tree at City Hall – On the north side of City Hall, around the corner from all the wintry fun in Dilworth Park and LOVE Park, you’ll find the Philadelphia Holiday Tree. If you’re not around for the actual tree-lighting celebration in early December, residents and visitors alike can pop by to see the tree sparkle whenever they’d like after that. You can also explore the holiday cheer-filled surrounding area, which is complete with a whimsical carousel, local vendors, delicious treats — all in and around one of the East Coast’s most iconic buildings.

Christmas Village – When we think of Christmas, we think of the open-air European-style wonderland that is the Christmas Village in LOVE Park. With more than 110 different vendors set up in wooden huts, you and your guests can roam around and sample the local and international gifts, such as Käthe Wohlfahrt ornaments, fun accessories, chic wintry apparel, and more. For eats, there’s a bunch of options, including raclette sandwiches, spiced wine, apple cider, strudels, and more seasonal treats.

Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest – It wouldn’t really be the holidays without a little ice skating, right? If you’re of the same mind, then you have to carve out some time to experience a riverfront winter wonderland at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest. Get ready to glide around the enormous ice skating rink, take a picture next to Philly’s holiday tree, and warm your bones with, say, a hot apple cider next to one of the fire pits or inside a cozy holiday cabin. The best part? Entry to Winterfest is free!

The Macy’s Christmas Light Show – The light show at the Macy’s in City Center has been a tradition since 1956 — a long time! Spanning four stories, the massive display dominates the store’s Grand Court as nutcrackers, snowmen, and more holiday characters dance to carols. Plus, you can check out the Wanamaker organ (the largest pipe organ in the world) as it plays holiday tunes four times a day.


The red Love sign in LOVE Park Philadelphia


Book Your Holiday in Philadelphia with City Cruises Today!

What are you waiting for? Make this holiday one for the books, and start a new tradition of celebrating Christmas on the water with City Cruises Philadelphia.

FAQs – Philadelphia Christmas Fun in 2024

What are the best activities for Christmas in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia offers a wealth of festive activities during the Christmas season. Top activities include exploring the Christmas Village at LOVE Park, a German-style holiday market; enjoying the light show and holiday market at Dilworth Park; ice skating at the Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest; and touring the historic holiday-decorated houses in Fairmount Park. Don’t miss the Macy’s Christmas Light Show, a long-standing Philadelphia tradition.

Why is Christmas in Philadelphia special?
Christmas in Philadelphia is special due to its rich history and vibrant community celebrations. The city combines traditional holiday charm with modern festivities, from its beautifully decorated public spaces and historic sites to its lively holiday markets and unique events like the Deck the Hall Light Show at City Hall. The community spirit and festive atmosphere make it a memorable place to celebrate the season.

Can I dine out for Christmas dinner in Philadelphia?
Yes, Philadelphia’s diverse culinary scene offers numerous dining out options for Christmas dinner, from traditional holiday feasts to international cuisines. Many restaurants feature special holiday menus, but it’s wise to make reservations in advance as places fill up quickly during the holiday season.

Are there Christmas markets in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia is home to several Christmas markets, with the Christmas Village in LOVE Park being the most notable for its authentic German Christmas market experience. The Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market at Dilworth Park showcases local artisans and craftsmen, perfect for finding unique holiday gifts.

What types of Christmas cruises are available in Philadelphia?
While Philadelphia might not offer “City Cruises” in the traditional sense due to its riverfront location rather than a bay or open water, there are holiday-themed boat tours and river cruises available during the Christmas season. These can include dinner cruises along the Delaware River, offering views of the city’s skyline illuminated with festive lights, and special holiday events on the water.

Why take a Christmas cruise in Philadelphia?
A Christmas cruise along the Delaware River in Philadelphia offers a unique perspective of the city’s festive lights and decorations from the water. It’s an opportunity to enjoy a peaceful and scenic backdrop away from the bustling city streets, complete with holiday-themed dining and entertainment.

How can I book a Christmas cruise in Philadelphia?
To book a Christmas-themed river cruise in Philadelphia, check with local cruise operators such as Spirit of Philadelphia by City Cruises or other riverfront cruise services for their holiday offerings. Booking directly through the cruise line’s website or a reputable ticketing platform in advance is recommended to secure your spot.

What should I wear on a Christmas cruise in Philadelphia?
For a Christmas river cruise in Philadelphia, dress warmly in layers, as temperatures can be chilly, especially on the water. While the dress code may vary, smart casual attire is typically recommended for evening cruises. Always check with the cruise operator for specific dress code requirements.

What makes a Christmas cruise in Philadelphia special?
Celebrating Christmas on a river cruise in Philadelphia is special due to the unique combination of dining and sightseeing along the historic Delaware River, against the backdrop of the city’s festive lights. It’s a memorable way to experience the holiday spirit with loved ones, offering a blend of relaxation, entertainment, and scenic views.

Are Christmas cruises in Philadelphia suitable for families?
Yes, holiday-themed cruises in Philadelphia are designed to be family-friendly, with activities and menus that cater to guests of all ages. It’s a fun and festive way for families to celebrate the season together, enjoying the sights and sounds of the city from the water.

Do Philadelphia Christmas cruises offer entertainment?
While specific offerings can vary, many holiday cruises in Philadelphia include entertainment such as live music, DJ sets, or holiday-themed activities to enhance the festive atmosphere onboard. Check the details of your chosen cruise for information on what entertainment will be provided.