Things to do in Philadelphia this weekend

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A Very Philly Christmas: The Historic Houses of Fairmount Park are some of the best highlights of 18th and 19th century American architecture. Many of the houses are decorated for the holidays. This year’s theme is “A Very Philly Christmas.” Houses like Strawberry Mansion, Laurel Hill and Lemon Hill – among others – will host special events around four elements: food, neighbors, family and music. Dec. 10 focuses on Neighbor’s Day and Dec. 11 on Flavors of the Season. Visit to see the list of events and purchase tickets.

Zoo Noel: The Philadelphia Zoo celebrates the holidays with Yuletide treats, season gifts and a visit with Santa. On Dec. 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., enjoy warm drinks at the Holiday Hot Chocolate Bar. Purchase gifts for family and friends at the Little Elves’ Gift Shop. Get your photograph taken with Santa Claus at the Treehouse at 11 a.m., 12:30 and 2 p.m. Santa’s helpers can even help hand-deliver holiday cards for your favorite animals. Zoo Noel is included in admission ($16) and can be purchased at

Parade of Lights: On Dec. 10, the 7th annual Parade of Lights takes place on the Delaware River. See a parade of boats festooned with holiday decorations and lights. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. Beforehand, visit the Independence Seaport Museum, which will feature holiday activities and festivities. Activities include arts and crafts, face painting, musical performances and a visit from Santa. The second floor balcony of the museum is the best place to view the parade. Visit for a full list of activities.

Holidays at the Museum of the Art: Throughout the month of December, enjoy special events at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. On Dec. 9, from 5-8:45 p.m., enjoy a special Art After 5 while Mexican guitarist Paco Renteria plays sounds of the season. Visitors can enjoy light refreshments. On Dec. 11 (and 18 and 29), take a special tour of the museum that highlights all the beauty of winter throughout the collection. The tour on Dec. 11 starts at 10:15 a.m. Later that afternoon, the Pennsylvania Girlchoir performs traditional carols throughout the museum. Performances run at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:45 p.m. Visit to see the full lineup of events.

Christmasland at Linvilla Orchards: Take a special trip to Linvilla Orchards for a farm style North Pole. Cut down a Christmas tree (for $59.99), shop at the holiday market, and enjoy hot mulled cider. Every weekend in December, Santa makes a special appearance from 1-3 p.m. On Sunday evenings, take a special hayride with caroling. There are also pre-cut trees at the Christmas Shop and Garden Center, as well as greens, roping and wreaths. Visit to learn more.