Nov 30, 2023 - News

How Philadelphia's holiday tree gets to City Hall

The switch will be flipped Thursday night to light up Philly's annual holiday tree. Photo: Courtesy of the City of Philadelphia/Albert Lee

One lofty evergreen is plucked from a tree farm each year to grace the front of City Hall and bring holiday cheer to Philly.

Why it matters: Getting the city's longtime tradition here and ready for the holiday season is a feat of logistics and willpower.

What's happening: Philly's tree lighting ceremony kicks off at 7pm Thursday on the north side of City Hall followed by music and performances.

  • Score free giveaways starting at 6pm.

🧠 Pro tip: Arrive early. The tree lighting happens at the start of the program this year.

Details: The event, produced by the city and Welcome America, features:

  • A performance from singer and actress Jordin Sparks, along with Zeek Burse, DJ Diamond Kuts and Felicia Ponzo.
  • A special pre-show performance from Disney's "Frozen."

Of note: Road closures and parking restrictions are in effect around City Hall throughout the day.

Where is this year's tree from?

The 55-foot white fir hails from Yule Tree Farms in Hornell, New York.

  • The tree is estimated to be between 65-70 years old.
Philadelphia's holiday tree being cut down at Yule Tree Farms in New York.
Philadelphia's holiday tree starts its journey at Yule Tree Farms in New York. Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Stutzman

How it gets here

Once the tree is felled, it's loaded on a flatbed truck for a 5-hour, 300-mile journey through the Poconos and Lehigh Valley.

  • It arrived in early November and will come down Jan. 1.

What's special about Philly's tree?

It stands freely on its base, unlike other cities where a tree may be secured to a building.

  • The tree is believed to be the largest untethered tree in the U.S., weighing in at about 6,000 pounds, per Steve McEntee, owner of Proof Productions, which decorates the tree and makes its stand.

What else is special about the tree?

  • This is the eighth year the tree will stand in a custom, 7-foot-tall steel base.
  • The illuminated base features neighborhoods, like Chinatown and Fishtown, and landmarks, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

How is it decorated?

The tree is festooned with more than 5,000 LED lights and hundreds of ornaments, which takes at least 1,000 man-hours to decorate.

  • Look for the Liberty Bell — crack and all — as the tree topper.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Philadelphia stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Philadelphia.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more