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PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- From Christmas until New Year's Day, school vacation and a typically slow work week provide perfect excuses to grab the family or a loved one and head to action-packed Philadelphia. Some highlights: festive events like A Longwood Gardens Christmas andSugarHouse New Year's Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront with two shows; performances such as George Balanchine'sThe Nutcracker and the Philadelphia Orchestra's New Year's Eve Concert; and blockbuster exhibitions such as the Prohibition-focused American Spirits.
One of the highlights of the week is always the sparkling, feathered and festive Mummers Parade, a day-longextravaganza that sends thousands of men, women and childrenstrutting, dancing and playing music up Broad Street. This year, the parade is the focus of a six-part video series, Behind the Sequins: Showtime for the Philadelphia Mummers. The90-second segments, produced by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, tell the Mummers' story through the people who make the costumes, choreograph the routines, build the sets and march. The first video is available for viewing at visitphilly.com/newyears, and new videos will debut each Friday for five consecutive weeks.
A Philadelphia tradition since 1956, the Christmas Light Show at Macy's in Center City illuminates a large wall inside the Wanamaker building, a National Historic Landmark, with almost 100,000 LED lights and finishes with sounds from the Wanamaker Organ. November 23 - December 31. 1300 Market Street, (215) 241-9000, wanamakerorgan.com
It's year four for Philadelphia's high-tech holiday show, The Comcast Holiday Spectacular, at the 57-story Comcast Center. Onlookers stand in awe of the original holiday imagery set to the music of a 64-piece orchestra and shown on the 2,000-square-foot, 10 million-pixel LED wall in the building's lobby. The 15-minute show occurs at the top of the hour, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. (not 5:00 p.m. on weekdays). Through January 1. 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Boulevard, visitphilly.com
The holidays go red, white and green at Longwood Gardens during A Longwood Gardens Christmas. Hundreds of thousands of lights, strolling carolers, daily concerts, sing-alongs and ice-skating performances brighten the gardens' vast grounds and conservatory. Through January 6. 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, (610) 388-1000, longwoodgardens.org
Please Touch Museum® presents the Enchanted Colonial VillageSupported by The Philadelphia Foundation, with intricately restored Colonial scenes depicting the Bakery, Blacksmith Shop, Toymaker, Tailor Shop, Watchmaker and others. The village first made its home at the Lit Brothers department store from 1962 until 1975. Through January 2. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
Scuba Santa adds a holiday twist to the underwater creatures during Adventure Aquarium's Christmas Celebration. After watching in awe as the big guy dives into the 760,000-gallon tank, kids can write him personalized letters and snap a photo with him on dry land. For the season, the aquarium transforms into an underwater winter wonderland, with decorations, twinkling lights, glowing trees, holiday characters and even snow—plus 8,500 animals. Through January 1. Riverside Drive, Camden, (856) 365-3300, adventureaquarium.com
A Brandywine Christmas takes over the Brandywine River Museum, home to a large collection of Wyeth family paintings. On view: a display of trees featuring "critters" and all-things natural, a Victorian dollhouse, a model railroad with more than 2,000 feet of track and exquisitely crafted jewelry inspired by Andrew Wyeth's paintings. Through January 6. U.S. Route 1, Chadds Ford, (610) 388-2700, brandywinemuseum.org
Morris Arboretum's Holiday Garden Railway resembles a miniature winter wonderland amid the evergreens. The exhibit features a quarter-mile of model-train track with twinkling lights, seven loops and tunnels with 15 different rail lines, cable cars, bridges and trains that cruise past scaled replicas of historic monuments and Philadelphia-area landmarks made from all-natural materials. November 24-December 31. 100 E. Northwestern Avenue, (215) 247-5777, morrisarboretum.org
The African American Museum in Philadelphia hosts a Kwanzaa Celebration for the whole family with jam-packed afternoons of celebratory activities. There's free admission for those who bring a canned-good donation for Philabundance. December 29-30. 701 Arch Street, (215) 574-0380, aampmuseum.org
A Philadelphia tradition perfect for holiday lovers of all ages, the Pennsylvania Ballet dazzles at the Academy of Music during George Balanchine'sThe Nutcracker™. Through December 30. Broad & Locust Streets, (215) 790-5800, kimmelcenter.org
Plaid Tidings at theWalnut Street Theatredrums up the holiday spirit with festive favorites performed by the boy group Forever Plaid. Through December 30. If all-American Broadway musicals fit the bill, Walnut stages The Music Man, during which the entire family can sing along to the classic Seventy-Six Trombones. Through January 6. 825 Walnut Street, (215) 574-3550, walnutstreettheatre.org
The Arden Theatre Company invites people to an imaginative retelling of the classic glass-slipper story, Cinderella, set to the music of Mozart and filled with surprises for the whole family. November 28-January 27. 40 N. 2nd Street, (215) 922-1122, ardentheatre.org
New Year's Eve:
New Year's Eve partiers along Penn's Landing ring in 2013 two times, with SugarHouse New Year's Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront, illuminating the night sky at 6:00 p.m. and midnight. December 31. Along Columbus Boulevard, delawareriverevents.com
Please Touch Museum® celebrates 2013 early with Countdown to Noon on December 31. The museum opens at 9:00 a.m. and holds "Noon Year" party activities with music and confetti. Countdowns take place two times this year at 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. 4231 Avenue of the Republic, (215) 581-3181, pleasetouchmuseum.org
Those with early bedtimes can still enjoy an evening New Year's Eve party at Franklin Square's Kids' New Year's Eve Countdown, featuring a 6:00 p.m. "square" drop and a great view of the fireworks show at Penn's Landing. 6th & Race Streets, (215) 629-4026, historicphiladelphia.org
Holiday visitors to the National Constitution Center can play a part in the New Year's Show, where they'll discover the origins of New Year's Eve and explore traditions from around the world. Seasonal Karaoke adds to the holiday fun as visitors belt out favorites like "Winter Wonderland" and "Let it Snow." 525 Arch Street, Independence Mall, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
Maritime merriment abounds on New Year's Eve when the Independence Seaport Museum stays open late for the Annual Family Fireworks Viewing Party (4:00-6:30 p.m.) on the museum's second-floor balcony, complete with a sparkling cider toast and panoramic views of the sparkling sky. 211 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 413-8655, phillyseaport.org
Winter sports enthusiasts celebrate at the Blue Cross RiverRink's New Year's Eve Party on Ice, a family-friendly affair that boasts one of the best views of the city's breathtaking fireworks displays over the Delaware River at 6:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight. Skaters can catch both of the sparkling shows during the early (5:00-7:00 p.m.) and late (11:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m.) parties. Columbus Boulevard & Market Street, (215) 925-RINK, riverrink.com
2012 comes to a close with a splash aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia's New Year's Eve dinner cruise on the Delaware River. This New Year's bash includes dinner, premium open bar, live DJs, a champagne toast at 12:00 midnight and a terrific view of the fireworks. Families can opt for the 4:00 p.m. early-bird cruise with prime views of the 6:00 p.m. fireworks. 401 S. Columbus Boulevard, (866) 455-3866, spiritofphiladelphia.com
Culture lovers can conclude 2012 and ring in 2013 with the time-honored tradition of the Philadelphia Orchestra's New Year's Eve Concert, this year conducted by new Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin. Highlights of the Kimmel Center show include Haydn's light-hearted Farewell symphony, Bernstein's Mambo and Falla's Ritual Fire Dance. Onstage dancers amp up the festive atmosphere. Broad & Spruce Streets, (215) 893-1999, philorch.org
New Year's Day:
For a Philadelphia experience that's as traditional as cheesesteaks, a pilgrimage to the Mummers Parade on New Year's Day is a must. Dating back to 1901, the only-in-Philly celebration is a lively and colorful parade of costumed men, women and children who practice all year to strut, dance and play music up Broad Street. The parade begins at 10:00 a.m. at the intersection of Broad Street and Snyder Avenue and proceeds to City Hall, followed by a ticketed competition at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Spectators should purchase tickets ahead of time to sit in the judging stand or get there early to find a spot along the parade route. Convention Center, 12th & Arch Streets, phillymummers.com; tickets for bleacher seating outside City Hall available at the Independence Visitor Center, 6th & Market Streets, (215) 965-7676, independencevisitorcenter.com; tickets for the competition at the Convention Center available at (800) 298-4200, comcasttix.com
Celebrating spirits of a different kind, the National Constitution Center features American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Through interactive areas of the exhibition, visitors can explore a re-created speakeasy, learn how to dance the Charleston, take a quiz to find out if they would have been a "wet" or a "dry" and trace how the temperance movement resulted in the 18th Amendment with the carnival-inspired Wayne Wheeler's Amazing Amendment Machine. Temperance propaganda, flapper duds and authentic homebrew items are among the 120 rare artifacts that help bring to life the causes of Prohibition, the culture of the 1920s and the lasting effects of the only U.S. Constitution amendment to ever be repealed. Through April 28.525 Arch Street, (215) 409-6700, constitutioncenter.org
AtThe Franklin Institute, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition unveils a startling collection of 212 artifacts—china, candlesticks, tiepins, silver dollars and more—recovered from the wreck site that tell stories of drama and tragedy, humanity and heroism. The display documents the ship's construction and launch, life onboard the doomed vessel, the tale of the sinking and dramatic rescue of some 700 people, the discovery of the buried ship 73 years after it was lost and the conservation efforts in recent years. Through April 7. 222 N. 20th Street, (215) 448-1200, fi.edu
If we make it, the Penn Museum features Maya 2012: Lords of Time. The exhibition guides visitors on a journey through the time-ordered universe of the ancient Mayan civilization with interactive experiences, full-sized replicas of major monuments and more than 100 remarkable objects and artifacts. Through January 13.3260 South Street, (215) 898-4000, penn.museum
For the first time ever, the complete collection of original drawings created in the design of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) will be on display at PAFA itself. Building a Masterpiece: Frank Furness' Factory for Art shows original designs by Furness and his partner George Hewitt and traces how they changed and adapted the design throughout the project. Through December 30. 118-128 N. Broad Street, (215) 972-7600, pafa.org
Through Dancing Around the Bride, the Philadelphia Museum of Artpresents the first exhibition to explore the interwoven lives and works of these influential Americans: artist Marcel Duchamp, composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham and visual artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. With more than 80 objects, stage sets, musical compositions, videos of dance and live performances, visitors explore and interact with the artists' creative spirit.Bonus: On Friday night, the museum's weekly Art After 5 gets festive, with cocktails, upbeat music and plenty of art, of course. 26th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway, (215) 763-8100, philamuseum.org
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region's vitality.
For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com or uwishunu.com, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.