• Irene Levy Baker

Deck the Halls with More Socially-Distant Activities -- Part II

Updated: Dec 17, 2020


Gingerbread house display at Bredenbeck's Bakery in Chestnut Hill

While we’ve missed a lot this year, we don’t have to miss the holidays. Here are more holiday activities, just proving that there are lots of safe ways to have fun this holiday season.

Chestnut Hill

Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill’s main street, looks like the set of a holiday movie this time of year with greenery and big red bows. You can stroll past 200 shops, including many that are family-owned, and more than two dozen restaurants. Every Wednesday in December is Stag & Doe, an all-day event with staggered entertainment, holiday specials, horse-drawn carriage rides, music and visits from Santa. Be sure to stop at Bredenbeck’s Bakery, to see the gingerbread house display. A few years ago they made the Philadelphia skyline shown above. With that kind of talent there's no telling what they're cooking up this year. And, if it inspires you, pick up one of the bakery's gingerbread house kits.


Tip: If you're going to be in the area, reserve tickets to see the holiday garden railroad at Morris Arboretum. It's awesome with one quarter mile of track running through towns, plus cars and figurines.


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Photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens


The spectacular holiday show at Longwood Gardens features 500,000 lights and was named "the best botanical garden holiday lights" by USA Today. The Garden Railway is a multi-level display on 500 feet of tracks with 31 locomotives including steam engines, diesel engines, specialty engines plus Thomas the Tank Engine and friends, all surrounded by plants. Other highlights include the Tunnel of Light and cozy fire pits. Timed tickets are needed. Through January 10, 2021.


Franklin Square Franklin Square, one of the five original squares included in William Penn’s brilliant design of Philadelphia, will have a holiday celebration with new and enhanced activities. The highlight will be the Electric Spectacle Holiday Light Show. This free, nightly show features more than 100,000 lights (the most ever) seemingly dancing to holiday music, some performed by the Philadelphia POPS ®. There will be two alternating shows every half hour starting at 5 p.m. daily and running until 9 pm on weekdays and 10 pm on weekends.


New this year is Chilly Philly Mini Golf. The 18-hole miniature golf course that features mini Philadelphia icons (think the Liberty Bell, Love Statue and Elfreth’s Alley) as obstacles will be decorated for the holidays with lights, giant winter characters and holiday music. It'll be a uniquely-Philadelphia holiday experience.


Adding to the festivities is the old fashioned carousel, two playgrounds and a snowy square stroll for little ones, and individual fire pits.

Until December 31, 2020.


African American Museum in Philadelphia's Kwanzaa Celebration


Franklin Square will also be the venue for the African American Museum In Philadelphia's Kwanzaa celebration. Celebrate the seven principles of the season with song, stories and art. Light the kinara together and give thanks. From 1:30 - 5 p.m. on December 26 & 27.


Tree Lighting at the Betsy Ross House

Virtual lightings at the Betsy Ross House in Old City: Christmas & Chanukah


Watch virtual lightings from the safety and warmth of your own home. The Old City Christmas tree at the Betsy Ross House will be lit at 6:15 pm on Thursday, December 3. It will be live streamed on Old City District’s Facebook page. Then, on the first night of Chanukah (Thursday, December 10), the Old City Jewish Arts Center will host a virtual Menorah Lighting live streamed on the Betsy Ross House Facebook page at 4:30 p.m.

Tip: Walk by for an in-person view at your leisure and without crowds. The Betsy Ross House courtyard is open on weekends. It is decorated for the holidays, Betsy Ross will be there, along with signs about how the holidays were celebrated in Colonial America. It's pay as you wish.


A Magical Hanukkah Celebration: Virtual


This safe, festive, fun 2020-style Hanukkah event is being hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and jkidphilly. The evening will include a candle lighting, a performance by a magician, Hanukkah songs and Hanukkah bingo. The event is free but registration in needed. On Tuesday, December 15 from 5:30 - 6:15 p.m.


Tip: Have your candles and menorah ready so you can join in the lighting.




by Irene Levy Baker, author, 100 Things To Do In Philadelphia and Unique Eats & Eateries of Philadelphia. Both books are full of tips. For even more tips, visit www.100ThingsToDoInPhiladelphia.com. Planning a staycation? Need gifts? Go to the website for signed copies of books. For free shipping, use promo code TheCityPulse. Click here for more blog postings by Irene Levy Baker including more holiday events and great gifts for foodies.


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