Visit Philly gives us the lowdown on what should be on our holiday to-do list.
With the whirlwind that is the holiday season, all the shopping and bussing around to family events, it’s important to take a timeout and venture into the city to explore the dozens of festive events Philadelphia offers.
Draught Lines caught up with Arturo Varela, PR manager for Visit Philly.com – the agency tasked with letting the world know how much history and fun is to be had in the City of Brotherly Love. He gave us the scoop on all the must-see events this year.
“The holiday season is when Philly really shines,” says Varela, a graduate of the University of Texas at El Paso and former Al Día journalist. “It might be a bit chilly outside, but there’s no shortage of things to do and places to warm up, while enjoying festivals and events in the city.”
First up are the old standbys, the tried and true winter festivals that have been big hits in Philly for years. “When the temperature drops, Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest transforms Penn’s Landing into a winterized riverfront park,” says Varela. Each winter, the roller-skating rink on the Delaware River is transformed into a “cold-weather oasis”. The Olympic-size ice skating rink, ski chalet-style lodge (complete with food and beer!), outdoor seating area with “fire pits & cozy warming cabins, as well as a kids’ lodge with arcade games, makes the RiverRink Winterfest a must every holiday season.”
This year marks the RiverRink Winterfest’s 25th season. The Lodge Restaurant and Bar features food from Chickie’s and Pete’s, Village Burger and two bars featuring local and regional craft beers.
Another time-honored holiday event is the yearly Franklin Square Holiday Festival. “Festive lights, winter treats and holiday cheer fill the historic Franklin Square park all season long for this free event,” says Varela. “This can’t miss show features over 50,000 twinkling lights and a dynamic holiday soundtrack.” The highlight of the annual light show is a 12-foot tall kite that’s a tip of the cap to one of Philly’s favorite sons. “The kite serves as an ode to Ben Franklin’s famous kite-and-lightning experiment, hovering above the square’s fountain.”
Can’t get enough of those twinkle lights? Then you have to stop by the Christmas Village in the heart of Philly’s iconic LOVE Park. Open daily from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, the Christmas Village is a one-of-a-kind, outdoor holiday market.
Okay, so those are the traditional, festival hotspots for the holidays – but after you’ve done the holiday markets and light shows, you just miiiiight be hankering for a beer or two, yeah? Well, Varela has you covered. “If you’re looking for a fireplace to cozy up in front of, with a beer in hand, my favorite spots are Devil’s Den in South Philly & Frankford Hall in Fishtown. And even though they don’t have a fireplace, Monk’s Cafe is about as cozy a winter spot as I could think of.”
If you’re looking for a bite to eat, The Dandelion’s “storybook parlor” is perfect in the winter months. This charming Center City pub serves British-inspired dishes to be enjoyed near one of their beautiful fireplaces. The Good King Tavern of Queen Village is a French tavern that’s small and cozy. Varela contends it’s, “one of those neighborhood restaurants that other neighborhood spots aspire to emulate, especially on a snow day.” And Hawthornes has a beer selection that is second to none, allowing customers to pick their favorite winter warmer or seasonal stout to enjoy along with a delicious brunch.
Philly never slows down, even when the weather outside is frightful! Don’t miss your chance to enjoy this city’s holiday spirit, grab your favorite winter beer and cozy up with friends and family.