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Holiday Happenings in Pittsburgh

Published: 11/10/2014

PITTSBURGH -Who says you have to go to New York City to take in big-time holiday fun? Pittsburgh is just a few hours away from Erie and is so packed full of hip holiday happenings, that the biggest challenge will be deciding what to do!

Only a two-hour drive away, Erie ranks as the 8th largest market for visitors to Pittsburgh - with 220,000 overnight trips to Pittsburgh annually and 428,000 day trips. The top interests among Erie visitors are shopping, performances and shows, tours, sightseeing and family attractions. It is for that reason that Pittsburgh has its eye on Erie residents when it comes to marketing the city's holiday getaways.

The 54th annual Light Up Night® celebration on November 21 kicks off the holiday season. This family-friendly event features performances from iconic Pittsburgh and national bands including Cobra Starship, free horse-drawn carriage rides, multiple tree lighting ceremonies, a synchronized light show in Market Square, appearances by Santa Claus and, of course, the famous Zambelli fireworks display.

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market™ in Market Square opens on Light Up Night® with an enhanced 30-vendor European-style market. Inspired by the original German Christkindlmarkts, the holiday market brings a cherished European tradition to Downtown Pittsburgh that mixes international flair with local charm. A one-of-a-kind shopping village throughout an illuminated Market Square, weaves through Alpine-style wooden chalets, brimming with high-quality gifts. Runs through December 23.

Lace up your skates and don your mittens! The MassMutal Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place will be in full swing as skaters glide around a spectacular holiday tree. The PPG Place Wintergarden is home to the Spirits of Giving Around the World Exhibit, Nov. 21-Jan. 7. This enchanting display of life-size Santas and original paintings captures a whole world of Christmas folklore and traditions from around the globe. Kids love the annual Gingerbread House and Train exhibit. Open seven days a week.

In its 90th season, the Carnegie Science Center's world-renowned Miniature Railroad & Village® is a winter wonderland full of 105 animations, 250,000 trees, 22 horse-drawn vehicles, and day and night scenes. It's a favorite holiday tradition!

Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens has visitors swooning over its romantic Winter Light Garden and Flower Show. The festive atmosphere is brought to life with artful arrangements of LED lights, favorite seasonal flowers and displays of glowing glass all while decorated inside and out. The flower show runs Nov. 28 through Jan. 11, 2015.

Kennywood, Pittsburgh's favorite amusement park, celebrates the season with the ever-popular Holiday Lights display, featuring more than one million lights! Fun for all ages, visitors can sing along to holiday classics, all while watching dazzling choreographed lights synchronized to music throughout the park. Kids can sit on Santa's lap and ride the Gingerbread Express train. Holiday Lights run Nov. 28-Dec. 21.

A visit to Carnegie Museum of Art isn't complete without stopping by the Hall of Architecture to see the annual Christmas tree displays and the Neapolitan Presepio - one of the finest miniature Nativity scenes of its kind. A Pittsburgh holiday tradition since 1957, this nativity scene features more than 100 handcrafted human and angelic figures, along with animals, create a memorable depiction of the Nativity as seen through the eyes of Neapolitan artisans. The five decorated Christmas trees are a sight that will take your breath away. Dec. 4-Jan. 5, 2015.

Ring in the New Year at Highmark First Night, an arts-focused and family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration in Pittsburgh's Cultural District. It is the largest single-day celebration in Western Pennsylvania, offering 150+ events at nearly 50 indoor and outdoor locations within a 14-square-block area.

The Cultural District's 11 theaters will also be bustling with performances. From PNC Broadway Across America musicals and Pittsburgh Dance Council ballet acts to the Cabaret and Improv theaters, there is something for everyone this holiday season.

For a list of additional events, please visit