West Chester will be a glow this holiday season, but really that’s just the start. Photo: West Chester Views

Since word spread the Christmas parade would be cancelled again this year, there have been a lot of questions about what would replace it. How would the kids of the borough see Santa? What would happen to downtown businesses without their signature event that drew tens of thousands? Well, don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to see Santa. As well as opportunities to catch carolers, twinkling lights, hot cocoa, gingerbread houses, and just about anything else you can think of that says, the “holidays are here.” 

Some of the planned events are familiar. Small Business Saturday, which has evolved into Shop Small Business Weekend, is back; as is Santa making rounds on his fire truck and the downtown window decorating competition. Also back for a second year, the Holiday Door Tour dreamed up last year by the West Chester Public Library after COVID cancelled their traditional tour of homes – which speaking of, is also back this year. So now you have a choice: full indoor splendor for a full tour price, or an outdoor glimpse at a donation of your choosing. 

New this year is the Making Spirits Bright Holiday Music Series which promises to bring live carols to the borough each weekend, a professional gingerbread house competition with some of West Chester’s most talented bakers, and a Santa meet and greet at Marshall Square Park. Also, new, on the last Friday before Christmas the Oscar Lasko YMCA is hosting a special Parents Night Out event (they watch the kids; you shop, dine, or enjoy the lights without a chorus of “I’m cold.”).

So while Santa too is disappointed that his grand entrance to the holiday season has once again been thwarted. He is excited about the events the borough, the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce and others have dreamed up.

“There are some great things planned for sure,” Santa told me. (He also wanted me to share he is doing virtual visits again this year. I’m not kidding. Leave a comment if you want details. Also if you know of anything that should be added you can put that in the comments as well.)

There is so much going on, I had to give it it’s own list. Get ready, get planning, – and I am sure more things will pop up but this should be enough – to get you started. 

Santa sightings (and family-tailored events):

Santa may not be arriving via parade this year, but you’ll have plenty of chances for a chat or a wave.

November 20-December 19 – Santa Express, West Chester Railroad, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. West Chester’s Santa Express takes off from the Market Street station every weekend starting this weekend. Tickets: $30/adults; $25/kids.

November 27 – Santa on a fire truck, Downtown 3 p.m. 

November 28, December 5, 12 – Christmas Tree Train, West Chester Railroad, 8 a.m., Take the train to Wiggins Tree farm to cut down your tree. Tickets: $25/adults, $20/children; trees $70.

New! December 3 – Green Santa at the Chester County History Center, 4 – 5:30 p.m. take a photo of your kids or your pets with Santa dressed in his traditional green garb. Event sponsored by the West Chester Green Team.

December 4 – Santa on a fire truck, Downtown, 3 p.m.

December 4 – Breakfast with Santa and Holiday Bazaar, Chester County History Center. Tickets are required. You can get them through the West Chester Parks and Rec Department

New! December 4 – Santa at the park, Marshall Square Park, 5 p.m. Kids can share their wishes while parents enjoy the lights at this new holiday event. BOYHC (bring your own hot chocolate.)

December 5 – Photos with Santa at the Firehouse, Goshen Fire Company Station 54, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

December 11 – Santa on a fire truck, Downtown 3 p.m.

December 12 – Festival of Lights Hanukkah Party, Lulu’s Casita, details to come.

December 12 – Toys for Tot’s Toy Drive, Bar Avalon, Limoncello, bring five toys and get a voucher for a free family style dinner. Bar Avalon and Limoncello both participating.

December 12 – Pasta with Santa, Bar Avalon, 4 p.m. and later; reservations required. $29 includes full meal and pictures with Santa.

New! December 17 – Parents Night Out, Oscar Lasko YMCA, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Open to children 4 to 12.

December 17 – Play date with Santa, Lulu’s Casita, details to come.

New! December 18 – Gingerbread cookie decorating, Oscar Lasko YMCA 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m;

Event is free but masks are required and attendees must pre-register for a time slot. Click the time slot to register: 10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m., 12:30 p.m.,1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m. 

December 18 – Santa on a fire truck, Downtown 3 p.m.

December 19 – Elf on the Shelf Fiesta, Lulu’s Casita, details to come.

December 31 – Countdown to noon, Lulu’s Casita, details to come.

Home tours and holiday markets:

West Chester Library’s self-guided Holiday Door Tour is back for a second year.

December 3-4 – Christkindlmarket, Chester County Art Association, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

December 4 – West Chester Library’s Holiday Home Tour, self-guided, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tickets $40; booklets and wristbands can be picked up at the Library, proof of vaccination required. 

December 4 – 19, West Chester Library’s Holiday Door Tour, a self-guided tour of the decorated West Chester stoops; map of locations available through the library.

December 5 – Holiday Craft Fair, VFW Post 106, 837 Lincoln Avenue, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Event is free and open to the public. If you are a crafter that would like to exhibit, contact Diane for more information.

December 12 – Hot Chocolate Holiday Market, Charles A. Melton Center, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Food, music, crafts, free hot chocolate and a story-time with special guest for the kiddos.

Christmas lights: 

Nov. 25 – Dec. 31 – West Chester Christmas Light Display, 895 Concord Rd, 5 p.m. -10:30 p.m. $5 suggested donation, cash or Venmo (@gavin-synder-16) all proceeds go to the Brandywine SPCA 

Also, don’t forget there will be thousands of lights strung up downtown. You stroll through the twinkling lights beginning on November 26. Key viewing spots will be Gay Street and Market Streets from Matlack to Darlington and then High from Miner to Chestnut.

General merriment: 

The always lovely tree lighting will take place on December 3.

November 26 – 28- Shop Small Business Weekend, Downtown, free metered parking all weekend.

November 28 – Menorah Lighting, outside the old courthouse, 4:30 p.m.

December 3 – Traditional Tree Lighting Ceremony, outside the old courthouse, 6:45 – 8 p.m. featuring surprise guests and live music

December 3-4 Holiday Cheer Concert, Uptown! Theater, 5 p.m. Tickets $15 adults; $10 kids

New! December 10 – 12 – First Responders and Health Care Heroes weekend, Downtown. Featuring a Touch a Truck event, free hot chocolate and a Holidays Around the World exhibit. In addition 100% of QR code donations will go to local first responders.  

December 10 -12 – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (play), Uptown! Theater, 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Tickets: $25 adults; $15 kids.

December 13 – It’s a Wonderful Life, $5 Movie Mondays, Uptown! Theater, 7 p.m. Tickets $5, free popcorn

December 16,18 – The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (play), Uptown! Theater, 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Tickets: $25 adults; $15 kids.

December 17 – A Very Gospel Christmas, Uptown! Theater, 7:30 p.m., tickets $28 advance; $33 at the door

December 24 – Feast of Seven Fishes, Bar Avalon, a Bar Avalon tradition for over 15 years.

Merry Christmas, happy Hanukah, joyous Kwanzaa – however you celebrate, may your holidays sparkle (and support downtown businesses.)

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4 thoughts on “What Will We Do Without a Christmas Parade? Your 2021 West Chester Holiday Event List

  1. There’s no such thing as West Goshen Fire House. Did you mean Goshen Fire Company? (It’s in East Goshen).

  2. Hi Thank you for doing the posts. It’s my main source of info for what’s happening around town! The local VFW Post 106 is having a craft fair on December 5 which is open to the public. They are hoping to get some local talent to sell their crafts for Christmas. Would you kindly include the info in your post. A copy of the flyer is attached. Thank you again for all you do. Lois Santopietro

    Sent from my iPhone


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