Getting yourself in the holiday mood for free

In the mood for the holidays but can’t quite afford the swanky cheer? Then head downtown before you head home and soak up some warm and fuzzy holiday cheer without going go broke. If you

In the mood for the holidays but can’t quite afford the swanky cheer?

Then head downtown before you head home and soak up some warm and fuzzy holiday cheer without going go broke.

If you missed the Mummers during the Thanksgiving Parade, take a trip down Avenue of the Arts or over to Rittenhouse Square where the Mummers will be performing in the streets during the evenings.

Check out for a complete list of the times, dates and locations of where they will be showcasing their talent.

For those who would love to buy a dinner for their loved ones but can’t afford the unfriendly prices, Rittenhouse Square’s tree lighting is the place to be.

On Dec. 5 at 5 p.m., Rittenhouse will not only light up their tree, but hand out free gourmet food as well.

So if you have been looking for a romantic spot, head on over and enjoy finger food, music and some holiday cheer.

Lord & Taylor, in the historic Wannamaker Building (13th and Market Streets) has upheld a holiday tradition that simply shouldn’t be missed.

While some might find it a little on the cheesy side, it does have its charm.

Everyday until Christmas, the Wannamaker building presents a fully automated light and music display free of charge, so stop in, browse the goods and enjoy the show.

Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch Streets) has decided to close shop a little late this season.

For the next few weeks, the Market will stay open late on Wednesday nights to entertain and enlighten the senses with free food, cooking classes and great gift ideas.

On Dec. 6 the Avenue of the Arts will follow suit with Rittenhouse Square and light up their tree at Locust and Broad Streets with free food compliments of the Double Tree Hotel along with another appearance by the Mummers.

If you feel like another swinging soirée head to another college campus on Dec. 8 from 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. to check out the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology (33rd and Spruce Streets) for a free holiday festival and celebration of peace.

Since not everything in Philly is free, there are a few more options for those who have a little cash to spend.

The Kimmel Center features a lot of great artists this season, including the Philadelphia Holiday Pops and their world-renowned singers the Holiday Pops Choir, the Vienna Boys Choir and George Winston.

Prices start at about $15 for the cheap seats, and rather sizable student discounts are available. Call 215-893-1999 for more information.

The Academy of Music (Broad and Locust Streets) also offers a great deal of performers for minimal cost.

This season, catch “The Colors of Christmas” or George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker” performed live, both starting at around $20 and offering an experience of a lifetime.

For those who aren’t classical ballet fans, check out Drexel’s ContempraDance Theater’s take on the Nutcracker as they perform “Philly-Nut-Crack-Up” at the Mandell Theater (33rd and Chestnut Streets) for only $20.

Prefer music to all that dancing? Then go check out the “Jack Frost Revue” at the Camden Center for Arts, at only $7 per person it’s worth the trip.

Also this year the Adrienne Theatre presents for the first time “Like Crazy, Like Wow: Holiday Humor with a ’50s Twist” for only $10.

Call the theater at 215-592-9560 to reserve tickets.

If you don’t like musicals and you don’t like dancing, then head over to the Prince Music Theater (Chestnut and Broad Streets) for the good old standby, a movie.

Showing on Dec. 16, “It’s a Wonderful Life” will quickly erase all that final exam stress as you realize your life could suck much more than it does.

While not all the holiday cheer comes free, it does come cheap. So take advantage of what’s all there to enjoy gratis and be a miserly scrooge without all the guilt.

Moira Cochran can be reached at

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