Updated 12/23/22: After nearly three years and the loss of its title sponsor, the West Chester Christmas Parade is back and ready to take its place as the rightful start to the West Chester Christmas season. The parade with its signature Santa sighting will cap an evening that will also include the annual lighting of the Christmas tree.
While the parade may not be the 3-hour production it was in the past, there will still be plenty to see. This year’s event features 55 separate entrants including local bands, dance and cheer performances, some professional parade surprises, and a very special Santa float brought to you by Tree House World.
In addition to bringing back the parade, the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce decided to keep last year’s popular Chester County Hospital Lights Up West Chester as well. Starting before Thanksgiving look for thousands of twinkle lights all over downtown. Also back, the carolers and Santa on a fire truck and Santa in the (Marshall) Square (Park). So, if you were feeling a little Grinch-y this year you may want to take your headset elsewhere because West Chester is going straight-up Whoville.
There is so much going on, I had to give it its own list. I will update throughout the season but this should be enough to get you started.
Santa sightings (and family-tailored events):
Nov. 19 – Dec. 18 – 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 until the weekend before Christmas. Tickets: $30/adults; $25/kids; $10/toddlers; 9 mo and under ride free. Many trains are already sold out – so if this is a holiday tradition for you get those tickets now!
Dec. 2 – West Chester Christmas Parade returns, Downtown West Chester, 7 p.m. Parade-goers can expect a local focus this year – from award-winning floats by some of Chester County’s most creative designers, to sparkling performances by local bands, dance teams and spirit squads. The parade starts at New and Market Streets then heads down Market to Matlack heads up Matlack to Gay and then back down again. See the full route detail here.
Dec. 3 – Santa pictures at Mat Fitness, 903 E. Boot Rd, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Each child will have an opportunity to take a picture with Santa and receive a goody bag.
Dec. 3 – Santa on a fire truck, Downtown, 3 p.m.
Dec. 3 – Santa in the Square, Marshall Square Park, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Kids can share their wishes with Santa while parents enjoy the ambiance of West Chester’s oldest park. BOYHC (bring your own hot chocolate.) Also, bring a toy to donate. Food trucks, however, will be available.
Dec. 9 – Santa at a bank, S&T Bank, 2 N. Church St. 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Stop by for complimentary pictures with Santa.
Dec. 10 – Festive Family Fun Day, Chester County History Center, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. CCHC staff will guide visitors through the history and meaning of historic crafts (like tin punching) and children can make a unique treasure to keep for themselves, or gift to a loved one. Admission to the museum is required.
Dec. 10 – Santa on a fire truck, Downtown, 3 p.m. This week only Santa will be disembarking from his firetruck for some hot chocolate with the kids of West Chester. Have your camera ready to snap a holiday photo.
Dec. 10 – Santa Brunch, Stove and Tap, 12 p.m, – 2 p.m. Grab a photo with Santa while enjoying brunch specials.
Dec. 11 – Holiday Hoopla, Monkey Fish Toys, 1:30 -3:30 p.m. Stop by for pictures with santa, face painting, and holiday crafts. Plus, every kid gets a free toy!
Dec. 13 – Celebrate a Green Holiday, Sykes Ballroom, WCU, 5 – 7:00 p.m. Bring the kids for a fun holiday crafting event. Learn how to use t-shirts to make reusable bags, paper scraps to make cards – even your own red and white woven basket. The event is free and brought to you by the West Chester Green Team.
Dec. 14 – Preschool Ballet, West Chester Public Library, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. Dance to the music of the Nutcracker with Miss Sarah from The Studio of Valley Forge. For ages 3-6. No dance experience necessary. Registration required.
Dec. 15 – Santa at a Car Dealership, Fred Beans of West Chester, 1155 West Chester Pike, 5 – 8 p.m. The Fred Beans Automotive Group is hosting free photos with Santa Claus at their West Chester dealership. A can good donation is requested.
Dec. 17 – Christmas at the Park, Marshall Square Park, 9:30 a.m.- 12 p.m. Event is sponsored by Lulu’s Casita and includes crafts, storytime and a hot chocolate station. Tickets are $30/child, $5/adult.
Dec. 17 – Santa Claus at a Bakery, Yori’s Bakery, 15 N. Church St., 2 – 4 p.m. Stop by for free photos with Santa (and a donut – for purchase.)
Dec. 18 – Touch a Truck, Chestnut and Church Street parking lot, 10 a.m. – noon. There will be ambulances, police cars, fire trucks and construction vehicles. This is a free event
Dec. 18 – Pasta with Santa, Bar Avalon, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Reservations start at 4:30 p.m. Santa arrives at 5 p.m. Dinner includes mozzarella sticks, penne with meatballs, and a Christmas cupcake. Cost is $29 for kids under 12. Reservations required.
Dec. 31 – Countdown to Noon, Lulu’s Casita, 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Dancing, balloon drop, facepainting and a apple juice/champagne toast. Tickets: $30/child.
Dec. 31 – Countdown to Noon, West Chester Area YMCA, 10:30 – 12 p.m. Family membership required.
Home tours and holiday markets:
Dec. 2, 3 – Christkindlmarkt, Chester County Art Association, Friday 4 – 8 p.m.; Saturday – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 45 stalls featuring locally crafted products, food trucks, live music. Admission is free.
Dec. 3 – West Chester Library’s Holiday Home Tour, self-guided, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tickets $40 in advance; $50 day of booklets and wristbands can be picked up at the Library.
Dec. 3 – 19, West Chester Library’s Holiday Door Tour, a self-guided tour of the decorated West Chester stoops; Those that make a donation of $10 will receive a map of doors, a scavenger hunt item list, and a complimentary raffle ticket.
Dec. 4 – Holiday Open House: Unlocked Art, 426 W. Gay St, 12 – 4 p.m. Enjoy an afternoon of art and connection with artist Sophia A. Foutres.
Dec. 11 – Hot Chocolate Holiday Market, Charles A. Melton Center, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Food, music, crafts, free hot chocolate, and lots of local vendors to help close out your Christmas list.
Dec. 18 – Handmade Holiday craft fair, alignSpace (2 Market Street), 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Join West Chester’s first Handmade Holiday featuring the art and craft of 12 local artists.
Nov. 25 – Dec. 31 – West Chester Christmas Light Display, 895 Concord Rd, 5 p.m. -10:30 p.m. $5 suggested donation all proceeds go to the Brandywine SPCA. There are themed nights and food truck vendors each weekend including pictures with Santa night on Dec. 10.
Dec. 2 – West Chester Tree Lighting Ceremony, Old Courthouse, West Chester, 6:30 p.m. Tree lighting is taking place before the parade this year. Also, don’t forget there will be thousands of lights strung up downtown. Key viewing spots include Gay Street and Market Streets from Matlack to Darlington and High Street from Miner to Chestnut.
Dec. 3 – East Goshen Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting Ceremony, East Goshen Park, 6 – 7 p.m. Includes choir and dance performances. Stay warm with $1 hot chocolate while supporting local Girl Scouts.
Dec. 14 – 24 – Westtown Lights, This year Westtown Park and Rec is hosting a resident light tour and holiday decorating competition. Winners have been announced. Visit the Westtown Township website for your map of participating homes.
Holiday plays, performances and concerts:
Nov. 30 – Dec. 23 – The Butterfingers Angel, Uptown Knaur Performing Arts Center, 7 and 2 p.m. Created by William Gibson (The Miracle Worker), this touching, funny and highly imaginative retelling of the Nativity story is presented from a fresh and richly creative point-of-view. Tickets, $47/adult; $39/under 18. Visit Uptownwestchester.org for a complete list of performances.
Dec. 2 – Holiday Cheer Concert, Uptown Knaur Performing Arts Center, 5 p.m.- 6 p.m. Enjoy old holiday favorites as well as more recent classics made famous by R&B and Pop Artists. Tickets $15/adult; $10 children 12 and under.
Dec. 4 – Candlelight Christmas Concert, First Presbyterian Church of West Chester, 4 – 7 p.m. Two concerts featuring the Chancel Choir, Children’s Choir, Miner Street Brass, and the Brandywine String Quartet as well as vocal soloists from WCU. This is a free event but reservations are requested and a free-will offering will be collected.
Dec. 6 – The Cartoon Christmas Trio, Uptown Knaur Performing Arts Center, 6:30 p.m. Since its inception in 1995, The Cartoon Christmas Trio has been the premier interpreter of the classic soundtracks of holiday cartoon music, especially “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Joining the trio will be the combined children’s choirs of Pocopson, Unionville, and Hillendale Elementary Schools. Tickets $28/advance; Students $15/advance.
Dec. 9 – Balladeer Carolers, Downtown West Chester, 5 to 7 p.m. Dressed in Victorian attire, the West Chester Borough Balladeer Carolers will roam around downtown West Chester and perform.
Dec. 10 – Balladeer Carolers, Downtown West Chester, noon to 2 p.m. (See above)
Dec. 10, Making Spirits Bright Holiday Music Series, Historic Courthoues, 2 to 3 p.m. Free concert sponsored by Oakbourne Advisors featuring Henderson HS Jazz Band, Peirce MS Jazz Band and Fugett MS Chorale.
Dec. 10 – Scrooge!, West Chester United Methodist Church Fiesta Center, 1 and 3 p.m. Follow Scrooge’s journey to the true Christmas spirit in this danced version of the Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol” Tickets – $12, Seniors and Children 11yrs and under -$10.
Dec. 10 – Rutter’s Magnificat & Other Holiday Favorites, United Methodist of West Chester, 7 p.m. The Brandywine Singers present Rutter’s Magnificat with chamber orchestra & organ. Tickets are $25.
Dec. 10 – West Chester University’s 101st Holiday Program, Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 3 – 4 p.m. Featuring both sacred and secular music, the Annual Holiday Program is a staple of the West Chester University holiday season since its inception in 1921. Tickets are $14/each.
Dec. 17 – Brandywine Singers perform Holiday Favorites, Historic Courthouse, 2 – 3 p.m. This is a free event and the last performance in the Downtown West Chester music series this year.
Dec. 20 – The Last Big Band Holiday Show, Uptown Knaur Performing Arts Center, 7:30 p.m. Join jazz musicians Larry McKenna and Erich Cawalla as they perform a variety of holiday classics. Tickets $35 in advance; $40 at the door.
Nov. 26 – Jan. 2 – Professional Gingerbread House Competition, Downtown West Chester, Look for participating houses outside Sunset Hill Jewelers, Carlino’s, Kilwins, Yori’s, Bryn Mawr Running Company and Iron Hill. Vote for your favorite here.
Dec. 3 – Little Lincolns Gettysburg Address Competition, Historic Courthouse, Noon – 1 p.m. Middle school students from across the county put on their best Lincoln attire and recite the Gettysburg Address.
Dec. 10 – I Heart the Holidays – Ugly Sweater Party, Levante Taproom, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Includes live music, raffle and waves of holiday brews being released all day long.
Dec. 12 – It’s a Wonderful Life, $5 Movie Mondays, Uptown Knaur Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m. Tickets $5, free popcorn
Dec. 18 – Chanukah at the Courthouse, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Join a public menorah lighting with music, donuts, latkes, hot drinks, crafts, and more. This is a free event.
Dec. 19 – The Man Who Invented Christmas, $5 Movie Mondays, Uptown Knaur Performing Arts Center, 7 p.m. Tickets $5, free popcorn
Dec. 21 – Lighted Labyrinth Walk, Everhart Park, 5 p.m.
Dec. 23 – Christmas in West Chester, Uptown Knaur Performing Arts Center, 4 – 5:30 p.m. Celebrate Christmas with 938 Church at Uptown. There will be Christmas songs, a message of hope, and a few fun surprises for the whole family along the way. Registration is encouraged.
Dec. 24 – Feast of Seven Fishes, Bar Avalon, a Bar Avalon tradition for over 15 years.
New date! Dec. 29 – All-Star Mummer Performing in West Chester, Downtown West Chester, 2 – 4 p.m. The Mummers and all their glory will be stopping at C Mac barbershop (2 p.m.) before before heading over to Lorenzo’s Steaks (3 p.m.).
Pay it forward
Nov. 30 – Jan. 3 – Socks for the Season – Sock Drive, The Shop on Market Street. Socks are the most requested clothing items at homeless shelters – and among the most fun to buy. Drop off new (still in the package) socks to 134 E. Market Street and make sure no one’s feet get cold this holiday season.
Dec. 1 – Dec. 11 – Monkey Fish Toy Drive, 662 Downingtown Pike. Monkey Fish Toys has two toy drives going on – one in support of Toys for Tots, the other supporting the Andrew L. Hicks Foundation. Let them know your purchase is for Toys for Tots and receive 10 percent off; for the Hicks Foundation use the code “ALHJTOY22” to receive 10 percent off your purchase.
Dec. 11 – Toys for Tots Toy Drive, Bar Avalon and Limoncello’s. Bring five toys to either location and get a voucher for a free family-style dinner.
Dec. 13 – Toy Drive Breakfast, St. Agnes Thomas Patrick Hall, 7:30 – 9 a.m. Sponsored by WSFS bank, breakfast is free to all that bring an unwrapped toy. Donations go to benefit St. Agnes, the Melton Center and A Child’s Light.
Dec. 17 – Pajama Drive, Rustin Gym, 1:00 p.m. Rustin Girls basketball team is collecting adult-size pajamas to donate to Safe Harbor.
Dec. 26 – Boxing Day Soccer Matches and Food Drive, Kildare’s Irish Pub, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. The tradition continues however, this year with a food drive. For every two nonperishable food items or one new toy, get a free pint on the bar. All proceeds will be donated to those in need during the holidays.
Jan. 1 – 15th Annual Stanley’s Dream 5K, corner of Church and Market St., noon. Registration: $30. Funds raised support the Stanley’s Dream scholarship program and childhood brain cancer research.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, joyous Kwanzaa – however you celebrate, may your holidays be bright (and support downtown businesses.)
Know of an event I missed? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add it. Also, as we do not have an extensive fact-checking department over here, I would suggest clicking on the links and double-checking dates and times to confirm nothing has changed.
New to Hello, West Chester? Subscribe to receive the latest updates from West Chester.