Kick off the holiday season at Franklin Square

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A Holiday Light Show made its inaugural debut on Nov. 14, 2013. Eight shows a night will take place between Nov. 13-Dec. 31. The show includes a 12-foot-tall kite, 50,000 LED lights, and the music of The Philly Pops. ( CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer )

Move over, pumpkin spice — we’re all about peppermint mocha, gingerbread, decking the halls, and writing letters to Santa. The newfound excitement for the holidays comes just in time for Franklin Square’s (6th and Race Streets) Holiday Festival, extending from Thursday, Nov. 13 through Wednesday, Dec. 31.

Set to the pleasant sounds of holiday tunes from the Philly POPS, the Square’s Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show returns with daily showings every half hour from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., weather permitting. The park’s over-50,000 lights will illuminate and sparkle throughout the night, providing a sight for dedicated viewers or even those in their cars heading home from work.

Even more of an incentive to come on Sundays is a free concert series in which local choirs perform during the intermissions of the Electrical Spectacle. Starting with the Valley Choral Society (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) on Sunday, Nov. 16, the schedule includes Play on Philly (5 p.m. to 6 p.m.) on Sunday, Nov. 23, Vicky Rogers, Ms. Senior Pennsylvania (4 p.m. to 5 p.m.) on Sunday, Nov. 30, The Baldwin Singers (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) on Sunday, Nov. 7, and A Cappella Pops (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) on Sunday, Dec. 21.

Ignore the chill by the fire pits at Barren Hill Brewery Beer Garden, operating from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays until Friday, Dec. 26 when it’s open daily until Tuesday, Dec. 31 (also from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) Expect seasonal beers from Old Eagle Tavern, as well as toasty drinks and winter-appropriate food options — the latter two options being offered daily throughout the festival.

Local radio station More FM (101.1) hosts music and game-filled parties in Franklin Square on various days throughout the festival, including opening day Thursday, Nov. 13 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Catch them also on Sundays Dec. 7, 14 and 21 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and closing day, Wednesday, Dec. 31 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

This ugly sweater party has a good cause, we promise. Come in your most horrid holiday pullover and get information on adoptable pets from local animal shelters from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23.

On Fridays, however, from Friday, Nov. 28 through Friday, Dec. 26, a different Philadelphia favorite food truck will set up outside the Square for your eating pleasure.

PHAIR takes over Franklin Square for the ultimate al fresco shopping experience. Vendors will sell their one-of-a-kind jewelry, accessories, clothing, toys and other gift items at the Franklin Square Holiday Market from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. from Friday, Nov. 28 (Black Friday!) to Tuesday, Dec. 23.

What would the holidays be without a few Santa sightings? Hang with him in the heated pavilion for an hour every Saturday from Saturday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 20 starting at 4 p.m. for milk, cookies and stories. Following, he’ll be taking photos and hearing kids’ wish lists from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Cap off 2014 in family-friendly style, beginning at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 31 with crafts, the SquareBurger “Square Drop” at 6 p.m., indoor pavilion kids dance party and the final Electrical Spectacle Holiday Light Show at 8 p.m.

Open daily from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. is the space’s holiday gift shop, stocked with your typical gift shop garb: hats, gloves, LED goodies.

Kids can get their hands dirty during a free hour of kids’ crafts starting at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday during the entirety of the festival.

In addition to the holiday-themed festivities, the park’s Philly Mini Golf will remain open (with warming stations to keep golfers toasty) as well as the Parx Liberty Carousel. On Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 15 through Dec. 28 (and Thursday, Nov. 13 and Wednesday, Dec. 31) the Lightning Bolt Holiday Express Train will give riders a view of the decorated Franklin Square. 

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