It’s the most wonderful time of the year — the holidays! Pennsylvania during November and December is particularly magical, with towns around the commonwealth rolling out holiday displays and special activities, and even enlisting a few Santa Clauses to help residents and visitors get into the spirit.
If you want to experience all Pennsylvania has to offer this holiday season, consider this your go-to guide. We have information on where to find family-friendly events around PA. Best of all? Most of them are low or no cost. Here’s a rundown of upcoming holiday activities across Pennsylvania.
1. Christmas Village in Philadelphia
Ever wonder what Christmas is like in Germany? You can find out with a trip to Christmas Village, an outdoor holiday market meant to mimic traditional Christmas markets in Germany. Their roots go back to the Middle Ages, when farmers would take their crops to market during Advent.
At the PA Christmas Village, more than 80 vendors sell crafts, jewelry, ornaments, and more. Traditional German food such as bratwursts and gingerbread are also available. Top off your Philadelphia Christmas market experience by taking in one of the special performances scheduled throughout each day, including choirs and dancing groups.
Location: LOVE Park, across from City Hall in Philadelphia
Cost: Admission to Christmas Village is free, but if you drive, you will have to pay for parking at a garage.
Dates: Christmas Village is open every day from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve and offers a preview the weekend before Thanksgiving.
2. Christmas Village: Bernville, PA
For 70 years, Koziar’s Christmas Village has been delighting visitors at the Berks County location. Set up beside a lake, this village includes gift barns and a spectacular holiday light display featuring more than a million dazzling, twinkling bulbs. Kids can pay a visit to Santa Claus while adults enjoy things such as:
- Manger scene shop
- Kissing bridge
- Christmas beneath the sea and in other lands
Location: 782 Christmas Village Rd. Bernville, PA
Cost: Free for ages 3 and under; $8 for ages 4-10; $10 for ages 11-64; $9 for seniors 65 and older
Dates: Koziar’s opens the first weekend in November and is open weekends through Thanksgiving. After that, it’s open daily through New Year’s Day
3. Christmas City: Bethlehem, PA
You can enjoy Bethlehem Christmas marketing at Christkindlmarkt, a holiday event filled with shopping, performances and delicious food. This annual Christmas market features vendors from across the state and beyond, housed in quaint wooden booths. The vendors swap in and out each week, so you can go more than once and see different items. The range of shopping opportunities includes:
- Handmade dolls
- Glass ornaments
You can even meet an ironsmith and talk to artisan cheesemakers. German food along with hot and cold beverages are also available.
Location: Steel Stacks, 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, PA
Cost: Admission is free, though you will likely have to pay to park at a downtown garage if you drive. Bethlehem makes a Christmas City Trolley available as well for free transportation around the city.
Dates: The Christkindlmarkt runs from mid-November through mid-December. Check their website for exact dates.
4. Latkepalooza: Philadelphia
This annual celebration sponsored by the Gershman YMCA invites prominent local restaurants to prepare latkes, a traditional Hanukkah food, for people of all ages to feast on. Each restaurant offers its own flavorful twist on the potato pancake. The one-night celebration also features sufganiyots, or Hanukkah donuts.
Location: Gershman Y, 401 South Broad St., Philadelphia
Cost: In the past, it has been $20 for adults, $15 for ages 2-12 and free for kids under 2. Check the website for this year’s pricing details.
Dates: Usually in December, but the timing depends on this year’s Hanukkah dates. Check the website for details.
5. Mifflinburg Christkindl
For families with younger children, Mifflinburg’s Christkindl market is a must-visit. The festival, another modeled after Germany’s Christmas markets, features a number of special activities and events geared toward children, including:
- Elf School: Claus and her elves help kids make an ornament and receive their elf “diploma.”
- Gingerbread Peek-A-Boo House: Kids look inside a house made of gingerbread to see the gingerbread family hard at work.
- Marionette Shows: Performances run daily.
Location: 401 Market Street, Mifflinburg, PA. Shuttles from several parking areas are available.
Cost: Free, with voluntary donations requested to cover costs.
Dates: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in mid-December. Check their website for exact dates.
6. Festival of Ice: Lewistown, PA
Imagine a town made of ice. This sounds like the plot of a movie, but it becomes reality every year in Lewistown, when the center of the city becomes home to more than 50 ice sculptures. You can tour the sculptures riding in a horse-drawn carriage or just enjoy the entertainment and food.
Location: Monument Square, Lewistown
Cost: Free to walk around.
Dates: Held annually the Thursday and Friday the week after Thanksgiving.
7. Dutch Wonderland Christmas: Lancaster, PA
If you like Dutch Wonderland, the Lancaster-area amusement park, in the summer, you will love it in the fall and winter. Dutch Winter Wonderland includes 20 rides and holiday shopping your entire family can enjoy. The highlight of the visit will be the Royal Light Show, featuring thousands of lights that blink and dance to the beat of holiday music. It includes a singing and dancing Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as a slew of elves.
Bring your appetite along to this event. You can buy s’mores and hot chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. In previous years, Dutch Wonderland has run a one-day promotion in November in cooperation with Toys for Tots, giving kids 12 and under who donate toys a free Dutch Winter Wonderland pass. Check the website to find this year’s date.
Location: 2249 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA
Cost: Check their website for prices. In the past, kids 3 and up cost $13.99.
Dates: Runs weekends, late November through December. Check their website for exact dates.
Enjoy Your Holiday Season With PA Attractions
‘Tis the season to be jolly, and you will feel the warm glow of happiness when you seek out any of these fun family activities that won’t break the bank. Remember to find more money management tips and resources on our WalletWorks page, too.
Feature photo of Christmas Village in Philadelphia provided courtesy of German American Marketing, Inc.