Celebrate the Holidays in Pennsylvania's Cities

Pennsylvania’s cities prepare for a Dickens of a good time with holiday festivities galore.
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Pittsburgh's Light Up Night. Photo by John Altdorfer.
Pittsburgh's Light Up Night. Photo by John Altdorfer.

A boy watches a 1950s-style TV showing the “Miracle on 34th Street.” A skater twirls on the ice. A model train chugs through a snowy countryside. Do these images conjure up the holidays of yesteryear? The holidays are being celebrated with style in cities across Pennsylvania.

In Pittsburgh, stores showcase their most elegant window dressings. In Philadelphia, tree lighting ceremonies ignite a season of holiday markets and caroling concerts. There’s a hustle and a bustle – a vibrant energy that swirls about as people prepare in cities across the state for Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. 

Holiday Shows

A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the Christmas Light Show at Macy’s in Center City is a must-see event. Get in the spirit with animated shop windows on Market Street and then step into the magic of the landmark Wanamaker Building. Illuminated with almost 100,000 LED lights and accompanied by music from the National Historic Landmark Wanamaker Pipe Organ, the Macy’s Grand Court Light Show inside the historic building delights both young and old with a four-story display of fanciful holiday images, open daily now through December 31st. Load into the elevator for a ride up to the third floor and take in the “Dickens Village,” a 6,000-square-foot tribute to “A Christmas Carol” with more than 100 fully animated figures.

It’s year five for Philadelphia’s high-tech holiday show, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, at the 58-story Comcast Center’s 2,100 square-foot video wall. Stand in awe with fellow revelers of the original holiday imagery set to the music of a 64-piece orchestra shown on the world’s largest four-millimeter LED screen in the building’s lobby. The free 15-minute show occurs at the top of the hour, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (except 5 p.m. on weekdays), now through January 1. 

What better way to get in the holiday spirit than with a holiday-themed show? From traditional favorites to original productions, Lancaster’s theaters are filled with the lights, music and songs of the season that are sure to have you rejoicing this time of year. Oh, and did you know Lancaster is home to many American Christmastime traditions, including the beginning s of decorated Christmas trees and the mischievous Belsnickel – the Pennsylvania Dutch version of Santa Claus who gives coal to kids who’ve been naughty and candy treats to those who’ve been nice.

You won’t want to miss York County’s Christmas Magic – A Festival of Lights. Celebrate the season as you sip on homemade hot cocoa while meandering along a half-mile walking trail festooned with more than 600,000 twinkling lights and holiday scenes, including five heated pavilions at Rocky Ridge County Park, through December 31st . Discounted coupons can be downloaded here.

Come see Pip the Mouse save the day after Santa gets stuck in a chimney on the night before Christmas at Allentown’s “Pip the Mouse: the Mouse Before Christmas” puppet show. Now housed at the Liberty Bell Museum at historic Zion’s Church, the original stage and audio soundtrack have been lovingly restored, with this year marking the show’s 50th anniversary. Public show times are at 12, 1 and 2 p.m., Monday-Saturday, through December 29th.


Take the “Bah, Humbug” out of your holiday shopping with a trip to one of Pennsylvania’s holiday shopping destinations. You’re sure to be filled with holiday spirit and to come home with truly unique treasures for your “near and dear” – and maybe one or two for yourself – after visiting these one-of-a-kind markets that only appear at this time of year.

Recognized by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the top holiday markets in the world, Christkindlmarkt in Bethlehem showcases aisles of exquisite handmade works by the nation’s finest artisans, the heartwarming sounds of live Christmas music, delicious food and more. Be sure to stop by the glassblowing booth, where beautiful ornaments and decorations are always being made. You can even try your hand at making your own glass ornament, perfect for gift giving or the family’s Christmas tree. Christkindlmarkt spreads good cheer Thursdays through Sundays through December 23rd.

Outside at LOVE Park in Philadelphia, the fifth annual Christmas Village invites shoppers to browse holiday goods at this traditional German Christmas market. More than 60 decorated wooden booths display European food, sweets and drinks, as well as international seasonal gifts, traditional German Christmas ornaments, jewelry and high-quality arts and crafts. Enjoy hot mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwursts, plus thousands of twinkling lights and the city’s giant holiday tree as you stroll throughout the aisles of this shopping wonderland, which runs through December 24th.

Designed in the tradition of the Northern European holiday markets and inspired by the original Christkindlmarkt dating back to 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market™ in Pittsburgh provides a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Through December 23rd, visitors can stroll through European-style wooden chalets while enjoying the musically-choreographed Market Square Season of Lights, a magnificent display of 150,000 LEDs, including a 33-foot-tall tree.


Children are sure to have visions of sugar plums dancing through their heads after these fun and unique holiday happenings!

Santa’s Paradise Express is pulling in to the Strasburg Rail Road to celebrate the Christmas season, through December 16th. This holiday tradition provides a fun, relaxing atmosphere for families as they travel on a 45-minute ride in an authentic vintage steam train. Santa, his helper and musicians stroll from car-to-car, greeting and entertaining children of all ages. After the train ride, children are treated to storybook readings of holiday classics. Children ages 3 to 11 also receive a gift from Santa and his helper.

Bring the kids to Flinchbaugh’s Orchard & Farm Market in Hellam Township, York County for a Gingerbread Man Decorating Party now through December 15th. Using a variety of candy and treats, children can create their own gingerbread man or woman masterpiece. Adults can enjoy the festivities while sipping on hot spiced cider and, later, shop for fresh cut trees, greenery, wreaths and unique crafts. 

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