The Christmas Village at LOVE Park

While LOVE Park will be ready by Nov. 18 for the first day of the Christmas Village preview, there’s still no set date for when Philadelphia’s iconic park will be open for public enjoyment.

City officials have said since September that LOVE Park will reopen this November, just in time for the holiday season. But Jennifer Crandall, a spokeswoman for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said this reopening will still be somewhat of a “soft” opening, and the grand unveiling of the new and improved LOVE Park won’t come until next spring.

“Its not really, really done yet,” Crandall said. She added that while hard surfaces will be laid in time for the Christmas Village preview days on Nov. 18 and 19, the visitors center isn’t yet complete and plantings are still underway. That means if you check out the Christmas Village this year, you’ll see construction continuing, though it will be in separate, fenced-in areas.

Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Crandall said Parks and Recreation is hoping to wrap up construction of the “hard surfaces” by the beginning of November so set-up of the Christmas Village can begin then. From there, the public will likely be able to enter LOVE Park to walk around prior to the Nov. 18 preview date, but that day hasn’t yet been set.

“It has to be ready for people to walk into the Village,” she said, “or else the Village wouldn’t be coming.”

Last year, the annual Christmas Village — a German-style Christmas market complete with high-calorie Pennsylvania food offerings and sometimes-bizarre crafts and gifts — was held outside City Hall.

So what will be in LOVE Park in time for the holiday season? You can count on seeing the fountain during the opening of the Christmas Village, and city officials are promising the LOVE statue will be back in the park at some point for the season. Its exact location hasn’t yet been determined, as preservationists don’t want it to be damaged while construction continues.

LOVE Park closed to the public in February 2016 so construction on a $16.5 million improvement project could begin. It was originally set to reopen in spring 2017, but crews working on the park encountered unexpected obstacles underground.

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.