Tis the Season for Family, Friends, Festivities, and Holiday Decorations! …and a little nip from the holiday cheer (cup).
Philadelphia is a’glow with holiday decorations and celebrations. This year, my friends and I signed up for the Founding Footsteps Holiday Light Tour – BYOB trolley tour.
Founding Fathers is a tour group offering various tours of Philadelphia, featuring different types of tours (walking or trolley) and different themes.
After the busy Halloween season visiting Hudson Valley’s Pumpkin Blaze and participating in both the New Jersey’s Lighthouse Challenge and Maryland’s Lighthouse Challenge… I was very eager to enjoy an event with my friends in which someone else did the driving!
Having never attended, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But the tour advises that it is a BYOB trolley tour. My friends and I arrived in the city with plenty of time before our tour started. But we didn’t know how much fun was to be had at Santa’s Speakeasy before the event. Next time, we’ll be sure to arrive much earlier!
The Speakeasy is located above a convenience store. If you forgot to BYOB, this store can sell drinks you can take with you on the trolley tour. They also provide door service to store your cooler of beer/wine while you go upstairs to enter the Speakeasy and enjoy the holiday festivities. No need to lug that cooler up to the party!
Guests gather in the speakeasy, celebrating and drinking until the tour bus is announced. While we were there, tour groups arrived wearing their best worst-holiday-sweater ensemble, or straight-up holiday costumes. (Elves everywhere!)
We arrived at the festive speakeasy and found it already well into the holiday spirit. The energy was high! People were laughing and obviously having a great time. It set the mood for the rest of our night!
We decided to get a hot drink to help us warm up from the cold night air and we each ordered spiked apple-cider.
The speakeasy was brightly decorated. Along the wall there is a sled nestled among winter-wonderland decorations in which you and your friends can pose for pictures. And everyone was taking photos.
Holiday Lights tour
At the designated time, our tour is announced and we descended the stairs to gather outside in the winter night’s air. Our trolley was parked outside and was equally as decorated as the speakeasy. We settled into our decorated trolley and poured ourselves drinks in preparation for a guided tour of local holiday decorations.
As a BYOB, everyone has a wine, beer, or sangria drinks in their hand. Be sure to bring a bottle or beer opener!!
Once settled and everyone observed the introductions of our driver and personal musician, our trolley started down Market street and the music started. The talented musician seated on the trolley with us opened the tour with popular songs, and soon the entire trolley was singing along.
The tour only has a few stops you can disembark and walk around. One of them is the famous Smedley Street in South Philly. Smedley Street Christmas Lights Spectacular is located on a South Philadelphia cul-de-sac festooned with decorations.
We really enjoyed walking around the street and admiring all of the decorations that this neighborhood put up. It simply invites you into their magical wonderland of holiday lights. The center park is decorated, and so are many of the houses. It is obviously a labor of love, and everyone was enjoying the moment.
Tour Tip: The tavern at the Smedley Street tour stop is very welcoming to tour guests stopping in to use their facilities. They sell pizza by the slice, too. And yes, naturally we bought a slice of pizza or two before we boarded our trolley and continued our tour! 😋
The trolley swings by the famous Art Museum steps. As our trolley stopped, one of the trolley members ran off the trolley and then ran up every single step – FASTER than Rocky! – and reached the top step to the cheers of everyone onboard.
No-Stopping Views of Lights
There are other holiday lights you can enjoy without existing the trolley, including The Miracle on 13th Street, circling City Hall and Philadelphia’s Christmas Village, etc.
What I think is the best part of this tour – and why it was so much fun – was the live musician on the trolley with us. He was taking requests and leading us on sing-alongs as we traveled along the city street. Pedestrians turned to see our tour trolley and found us all singing and waving… and it simply raised the mood as everyone had a fantastic experience.
It was a great experience, and one I’m sure we’ll repeat in the future. My only complaint? It doesn’t last long enough. I really didn’t want the fun I was enjoying with my friends to end.
This was a great night to celebrate with your friends. Even if you pass on the BYOB portion, you will be entertained, singing and making merry with your friends and a group of happy strangers.
Hi, I’m Patti. I work in the IT field and my favorite thing to do is reboot stuff. (Muahahaha!)
I love exploring the United States and luckily I enjoy driving. Which is a good thing since it would be hard to explore if I had to walk everywhere. I am usually exploring the states on a tight budget with limited vacation time. I try to make the most of my free time, and I may have a trick or two up my sleeve.
I’m a weird mix of over-planner and free-spirit wanderer. There’s no in between. I see weekends as play-time. Laundry is for Wednesday nights and dusting is never on my to-do list.
I love museums, learning new things, and just letting my curiosity take me to my next discovery.
To discover more about me, check out my About Me page.