Explore Philadelphia

Chanukah in Philadelphia

It’s the time of year when lights shine bright, and latkes are on the plate.

Chanukah, the “Festival of Lights,” commemorates the victory of the Maccabees against the Sellucid Greeks. It also recognizes the miracle of the oil that lasted eight nights during the re-sanctification of the Temple in Jerusalem. Remembering this miracle, a menorah is lit for eight nights with one candle added each night until all eight (plus the “helper” Shamash candle) glow brightly, and foods typically cooked in oil are enjoyed.

This year’s celebration lasts from December 18-26, overlapping with Christmas, and is filled with lights, delicious foods, and family-friendly events. If you’ve ever wondered what a hanukkiah (menorah) was or why everyone seems to be eating potato pancakes (latkes), chocolate coins (gelt) and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot) during these eight days, here’s your chance to join in the festivities and experience the holiday yourself. 

Philadelphia Celebrates Chanukah

Old City Menorah Lighting

The Old City Menorah lighting will take place at 4:30 p.m. at sundown on Sunday, December 18, when the Betsy Ross House joins the Old City Jewish Arts Center to host a community menorah lighting celebrating the first night of Hanukkah, complete with traditional foods like latke and sufganiyot and menorahs for the younger guests and lively music. The ceremony is located at the Betsy Ross House. House, complete with traditional foods like latke and doughnuts for all.

Sesame Place

Join the gang for this annual family favorite. From December 18-25, celebrate the Festival of Lights with the Sesame Place Menorah Lighting Ceremony. Join a local cantor, Baby Bear and his family, Grover, and other Sesame Street friends and play dreidel games, light the Menorah, and learn all about Hanukkah.

One Crazy Night

This party takes the concept of getting “lit” to a different level. Join hundreds of Young Professionals & Grad Students for the largest Hanukkah Fest in Philadelphia, One Crazy Night. The evening bash features a concert and festivities, including live music, sufganiyot, chocolate gelt, an ugly Hanukkah sweater and onesie contest, and a menorah light. Tickets are required. December 22, 7:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m.

Abe Fisher and Lilah

This year CookNSolo is offering guests two ways to celebrate the First Night of Chanukah. Abe Fisher has put together an intriguing Chanukah tasting menu for Sunday, December 18. Guests can choose three courses from the prix fixe menu with holiday favorites done up Abe Fisher style. Start with Challah Parker House Rolls and then choose an appetizer like Chicken Liver Mousse, Borscht with Egg and Smoked Trout Roe, latkes, or matzoh ball soup. For an entrée, coffee-braised brisket is the standout, along with olive oil cake (commemorating the miracle of the oil) for dessert. Reservations are required. If you prefer to celebrate the holiday at home, order Abe Fisher by Lilah Chanukah Packages To-Go to be picked up at Lilah on Sunday, December 18, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. 

Garces Trading Company

If you’re in search of a great meal for the holiday, Garces Trading Company has an exclusive dinner priced at $55 per person. Orders can be made online here, and dinners consist of Manischewitz-Braised Brisket, Matzo Ball Soup, Crispy Latkes, Roasted Haricots Verts and a Cinnamon Orange Bundt Cake. Orders require a two-person minimum and can be placed from now until December 21 (allow 72 hours). 

Franklin Square

Enjoy the festive season at Franklin Square with various holiday installments, and a Hanukkah Celebration with Old City Jewish Arts Center on December 18 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy the 10th Annual Electrical Spectacle Light Show presented by PECO while you’re there—the free evening show is a fun way to enjoy the winter season.