One of the most iconic spots to visit during the holidays in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the Christmas Light Show At Macy’s (it even features 100,000 lights on the displays and tree!) The address for this location is 1300 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107. This year, in 2023, the show runs from Friday November 24th to December 31st.
The times of operation are Monday through Saturdays 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. On Sundays, you can see the show at 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. If you would like to see the light show with the famous Wanamaker Organ, these will be featured on the 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. showings, except on Sundays.
It is a free show to watch which is nice as well, and reservations are not required at this time. Once you get to the store, you just walk through the door and go forward down the hall. The room will open up, and you will see the Christmas tree and organ above. There are many places for standing in this wide room.
Over the years, it has been really neat to check out this historical holiday show. One of the main features is that it hosts the Wanamaker Organ (the world’s largest playing pipe organ with 28,575 pipes.) To review its history, it was created for the 1904 St. Louis Fair by the well known organ architect George Ashdown Audsley, who also wrote the novel “The Art of Organ-Building.” An investor, Murray M. Harris, also had a major impact on the project and was known as “The Father of Organ Building in the American West.”
In 1909, a Philadelphia merchant named John Wanamaker, bought this organ that was featured in the St. Louis Fair for his emporium (a large retail store.) Thirteen freight cars were used in the shipping process, and the installation as a whole took place over 2 years. For the first time, the Grand Organ was heard in the store’s seven story atrium on June 22, 1911, at the exact time that England’s King George V was crowned at Westminster Abbey. On another historical note, in 1911, the store was featured when President William Howard Taft dedicated the store.
Over the years, many symphonies and concerts have been featured here, and the location is a registered National Historic Landmark. The Wanamaker Organ is the American Symphonic in design, and it can play the entire range of orchestral literature, as well as so many grand organ masterworks. Its pipework has the resources of three symphony orchestras, and the String Organ by itself has 7,000 pipes. Over the years that we have visited, we are always in total amazement listening to it, and the music that you hear is breathtakingly beautiful. I understand why so many churches have organs, because you are totally transported into another place with the rich tones drifting through the air.
As you meander about the store, you will find a very interesting bronze statue of an eagle. It was created by German sculptor and expressionist artist August Gaul to represent Germany at 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. The Eagle is made of “Durana” bronze, which gives it a nice golden hue. The 2,500 pound (about 1,134 kg) Eagle was made by hand, and every feather was individually attached. It took skilled workers 5 months to complete this beautiful artwork. At the end of the fair, John Wanamaker acquired the piece to display in his store, and it has stood in that location ever since. A local saying among those who reside in Philly is to “meet up at the Eagle.” (Before this location was Macy’s Department Store, it was known as Wanamaker’s, and it was open from 1876 to 1995.)
When I was a youth, I lived in the Philadelphia area, and then in my mid twenties, about ten years ago, I moved back. I feel like the holidays are a time full of traditions, and my husband and I have started to build our own. Every year, we love going into Center City, Philadelphia for the holidays, because they really go all out with everything. We enjoy making a stop at the Macy’s Light Show, and it really is so elegant and festive with the lights, animations, stories, and truly fantastic music.
If you are traveling to, or live in the Philadelphia area, I highly recommend a stop at the Christmas Light Show in Macy’s. It is a spectacular light display, and is sure to give you some holiday cheer! Let me know in the comments if you have ever traveled to this location before, and what you thought as well. I hope you are having a wonderful day, and remember to click the like and subscribe button!
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