Philadelphia Museum of Art will Kick Off the Holidays with its Annual Tree Lighting on Wednesday, November 27, at 5 P.M.

All are welcome to kick off the holiday season with the much-anticipated Tree Lighting against the skyline at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Wednesday, November 27. Enjoy free live music, complimentary candy canes and warm beverages on the East Terrace starting at 5:00 p.m. With the official countdown set for 5:50 p.m., 12,000 LED lights will illuminate the stately 55-foot-tall white fir on the terrace.

The tree aglow on the museum’s East Terrace with the city skyline in the distance. Photo by Tim Tiebout, courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

The Tree Lighting once again headlines the museum’s holiday program, which continues through the close of 2019 with events ranging from holiday card making, caroling through the galleries, and celebratory dining to a Feliz Navidad Fiesta and a Festival of Lights.

It promises to be a spectacular Tree Lighting, and we invite everyone to join us here at the museum, where admission—following the countdown—will be Pay-What-You-Wish until 8:45 p.m., as it is every Wednesday evening,” said Timothy Rub, the museum’s George D. Widener Director and CEO, who will officiate with the Honorable Jim Kenney, Mayor of Philadelphia. “This event brings out so many families and friends – last year’s Tree Lighting drew a record 3300 well-wishers—and we invite everyone to join us for what promises to be a festive evening full of community spirit.”

The tree aglow on the museum’s East Terrace with the city skyline in the distance. Photo by Tim Tiebout, courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

Mayor Kenney said, “This Tree Lighting ceremony has become a Philadelphia tradition that attracts so many people to our historic museum every year. It looks spectacular, high above the Ben Franklin Parkway. From the look on kids’ faces, it has to be one of the happiest occasions in our city that every Philadelphian can enjoy the day before the iconic Thanksgiving Day Parade. I look forward to taking part in this year’s festivities.”

We’ve been rehearsing our classics like Let It Snow and Jingle Bells but also some of the lesser known Christmas songs, by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald,” said Chelsea Reed of Chelsea Reed and the Fairweather Nine. “I’m so excited to share all of these with the people of Philadelphia!”

Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Nine will perform on the museum’s East Terrace during the Tree Lighting Celebration, November 27, 2019. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Inside the museum, right after the Tree Lighting, visitors will be able to stroll through the galleries and public spaces adorned with seasonal decorations and enjoy festive foods and beverages. “Sister Cities Girlchoir is looking forward to performing inside the museum,” said founder Alysia Lee. “There’s no better way to top off Philadelphia’s Tree Lighting than to get warm and cozy in the Great Stair Hall, where the girls will bring their unique blend of songs of empowerment, celebration, and meditation as they perform with such grace under the majestic gilded statue of the Roman goddess Diana.”

Sister Cities Girlchoir will perform in the museum’s Great Stair Hall during the Tree Lighting Celebration, November 27, 2019. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Down at the street level next to Kelly Drive, the newly reopened North Entrance, leading to the celebrated Vaulted Walkway, is already decorated with evergreens for the holidays. Visitors may enter there any time during museum hours and begin their holiday shopping, too, in the new Main Store, access to which paid admission is not required. On November 27, the Store will offer a 20 percent discount from 5 p.m. until 8:45 p.m.

(The museum’s East Entrance remains open during public hours and the West Entrance is now closed until fall 2020.)

A view at sundown of the tree, facing the museum’s East facade. Photo by Tim Tiebout, courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

Each year, the holiday tree provides a magnificent spectacle overlooking the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Planning for its placement requires exceptional coordination. The Philly-bound evergreen makes a 300-mile trip, wheeling in from Hornell, New York, on a flatbed truck. The 7500-pound tree is craned upright upon a platform; it is then unwrapped, branching out to a 25 foot-wide-spread. Next, it is adorned with thousands of lights, each one at .144watts, all powered by (2) 20amp circuits. High on the apex of the tree, a star is placed, measuring 6 feet in diameter and containing 175 lights itself.

Visitors and the tree aglow on the museum’s East Terrace during the Tree Lighting Celebration, 2018. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2019.

Acquiring and installing the tree and generating the lighting would not be possible without dedicated support. Seasonal decor is generously provided by IBEW, Local 98, Dougherty Electric, Inc., PMC Property Group, and the Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Holidays at the Museum is sponsored by LF Driscoll, with additional support from Dan Lepore & Sons Company, The Berlin Steel Construction Company, JPC Group, Inc., Thomas Company, Tracey Mechanical, Inc., ARC, D.M. Sabia & Company, Inc., Colonial Electric Supply, and Crescent Designed Metals.

Below Is The Full Schedule Of Holiday Events At The Museum To Close Out 2019:

Tree-Lighting Celebration

Wednesday, November 27, 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Make this annual event part of your holiday tradition. Enjoy music by Chelsea Reed and the Fair Weather Nine and the Sister Cities Girlchoir.

Friday, November 29, 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Make art as a family, 10:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Balcony Studio

  • Work off your Thanksgiving feast with a stroll through the galleries. Then gobble up some art while creating expressions of thanks in the Balcony Studio.

Family Tours

Look, discover, and tell us what you think on these playful tours.
11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. This event is part of the Holidays at the Museum program series.

Friday Nights: Cartoon Party with the Cartoon Christmas Trio

Friday, November 29,5:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.
The Cartoon Christmas Trio ushers in the spirit of the season with songs from classic holiday cartoons like A Charlie Brown Christmas. They will be joined by the Cartoon Christmas Children’s Chorus. Performances at 5:45 and 7:15 p.m. This event is part of the Friday Nights and Holidays at the Museum program series.

Holiday Card-Making

Wednesdays: Dec 4, 11 & 18 | 6:00–8:00 p.m. | Great Stair Hall

Local artists and shop owners help you get into the holiday spirit through hands on holiday crafting. Materials provided.

  • Dec 4 Groundswell Greetings
  • Dec 11 Sea Heart City Press
  • Dec 18 Shannon Maldonado of Yowie

Friday Nights

Fridays in December | 5:00–8:45 p.m. | Great Stair Hall

December is overflowing with festive music and craft cocktails:

  • Dec 6 Feliz Navidad Fiesta with Members of The Villalobos Brothers
  • Dec 13 Joyeux Noel with Doug Munro and La Pompe Attack
  • Dec 20 Holiday Jazz with George Burton’s Yule Log Project
  • Dec 27 Festival of Lights with Jacques Schwarz-Bart

Music in the Galleries: The Music of Friends

Saturday, Dec 14 | 1:30, 2:15 & 3:00 p.m. | Gallery 377

  • Enjoy festive chamber music in our British period room from Sutton Scarsdale Hall.

Caroling through the Galleries

Sunday, Dec 15 | 1:30, 2:30 & 3:45 p.m. | Meet in the Great Stair Hall

  • The Pennsylvania Girlchoir, led by Ya-Jhu Yang, performs a selection of traditional carols. Performances are approximately 30 minutes

Family Festival: Holiday Clay

Pay What You Wish Sunday, Dec 1 | 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

Set a holiday table with your own clay creations and meet ceramicist Stefani Threet, whose artworks bring people together.

Family Sundays: Feast Your Eyes

Sundays: Dec 8, 15 & 22 | 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

‘Tis the season of treats! Your tummies will growl while you look at food-filled works of art. Visit feasts of yesteryear and write recipes for future foods.

Winter Break Family Programs

Thursday, Dec 26–Tuesday, Dec 31 | 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Great Stair Hall Balcony

Work with guest artists from Space1026 to create family portraits with a drawing machine. Be sure to hop on an all-ages gallery tour at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and pick up a Holiday Family Guide.

Family Art Workshop: Seasonal Sculptures

Sunday, Dec 15

  • Ages 4–7 with an adult: 10:15–11:45 a.m.
  • Ages 9–12 with an adult: 1:00–3:00 p.m.

Make a gilded gift or sculptural stocking stuffer inspired by our collection. $20 (members $16) per child, per class; does not include museum admission. Space is limited. Sign up online, by calling 215-235-7469, or in person. Both kids and grown-ups must register; tuition is nonrefundable.

Fairmount Park Historic Houses

Workshop: Wreath-Making

Wednesday, Dec 11 | 6:00–8:00 p.m. | Mount Pleasant

Gather at Mount Pleasant to create some cheerful door décor. $30 (members $24); materials provided

A Very Philly Christmas

Thursdays–Sundays, Dec 5–22 & daily Dec 26–Jan 1 | 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

Cedar Grove & Mount Pleasant Spark your imagination with a visit to our historic houses. $8 (members free); included in the price of admission

Trolley Tour: A Festive Tradition

Thursday, Dec 26–Sunday, Dec 29 | 10:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m. & 1:30–4:00 p.m.

Meet in North Entrance.

Tour three Fairmount Park historic houses and delight in unique yuletide decorations. $40 (members $32); Sponsors and above ($1,000+) receive two free tickets; reservation required


Naughty or Nice

Wednesdays & Fridays in Dec | 5:00–8:30 p.m Holiday-themed cocktails and options to turn your PG-rated hot chocolate into an R-rated treat. Pay as you drink

New Year’s Day Brunch

Wednesday, Jan 1 | 11:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m. | Stir restaurant Ring in the New Year with a leisurely brunch. To reserve your table, call 215-684-7990