Philadelphia is celebrating the holiday season in style yet again this year with the returning German Christmas Village. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the holiday market and can be found at the famous LOVE Park and Dilworth Park in Center City. Just a short train ride away, visitors have the chance to witness and partake in a traditional German practice that has been celebrated around the world since the middle ages.
Called by its time-honored name, the Christkindlmarket is most well-known in Nuremburg, Germany where no expense is spared in its creation. The Christmas Village in Philadelphia is modeled after the original German Christkindlmarket and involves more than eighty booths selling European delicacies like Turkish dried fruit, Bavarian pretzels, Austrian strudel and of course German bratwurst and spatzle.
The market also offers an amazing shopping opportunity. Many booths set up elaborate displays of their handmade goods. Taking a quick walk through the village is impossible due to the huge crowds of people surrounding every booth selling items like international holiday articles, ornaments, jewelry and fine quality art.
Good food and gifts are not all the village has to offer. Housed at Dilworth Park is a large ice skating rink that the public is encouraged to use for a small cost. Young kids can even enjoy themselves on the rink by leaning against a sliding penguin support which acts akin to bumpers at a bowling alley. Also at Dilworth is an elaborate merry-go-round for kids to enjoy and, on certain days, Santa comes to take pictures with all the children.
If ice skating is not your cup of tea, have a stroll through the garden, or “horticulture maze” as some would describe it, at Dilworth that poses as a perfect photo shoot moment. The garden is decorated with elaborate greenery cloaked in twinkling lights. There is even a wooden canopy with wicker globes hanging from its ceiling for visitors to walk through to enter the garden.
Around the corner from the ice rink and garden is a giant Christmas tree decorated with popular symbols like the bald eagle and American flag star. Topping this beautiful tree is not a star but the Liberty Bell to further show city pride.
If you need a break from the crowded market, walk over to Macy’s, which is just across the street from the city hall visitor’s center. There you will find creative and whimsical window displays decorating the street. Pop inside and you will be awestruck by the magnificent tree that Macy’s has presented. This tree is about twice the size of the Christmas Village one. Every branch of the tree is covered in colorful lights that make the scene look unreal. Don’t be embarrassed if you have to stop and gawk at it for a few minutes because the shopper next to you will be doing the same thing.
The Christmas Village first opened on Thanksgiving and is running until Christmas Eve, though many booths will remain open until January. So take a break this weekend from cramming for finals and hop on the bus to the Exton train station. There, you can buy a $13 independent pass that covers any and all travel on SEPTA transportation services.
With the Christmas Village in mind, the regional rail line can become a fast journey to Christmas fun on the “holiday express.” Disembarking at Suburban Station, you can make your way out of the station by following the signs to city hall. This brings you directly to the Christmas Village.
To learn more about the village and the history of Christkindlmarket, visit philachristmas.com. There you will find a full calendar of events at the market as well as details on what is available during weekdays and weekends. Additionally, the Christmas Village’s website contains a list of all the vendors who have booths set up categorized by the goods they are selling.
Maria Marabito is a first-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at MM883631@wcupa.edu.