The holidays are a magical time in Pittsburgh. Whether getting your picture taken with Santa Claus, ice skating in downtown, taking in Christmas decorations or lighting a menorah, there's no shortage of fun holiday activities in this city. This month we'll be spotlighting 25 different things you can do to make the sparkle season bright. We want you to have the best holiday ever, so follow us for a handy guide to all the 'Burgh festivities you don’t want to miss!
For more than 130 years, families made their traditional holiday trip to Downtown Pittsburgh to visit Kauffman's (and later, Macy's) department store. Now is your chance to relive those cherished childhood memories at the Heinz History Center's new exhibit, A Very Merry Pittsburgh. Featuring ornate objects from Kaufmann's Christmas window displays, classic toys from the 1940s through 2000, an interactive kid-friendly play area and more, A Very Merry Pittsburgh is a must-see this holiday season!
It's the most wonderful time of the year at Kennywood! Visit America's Finest Traditional Amusement Park as it transforms into a winter wonderland with nearly two million twinkling lights, the tallest Christmas tree in Pennsylvania and variety of family-fun holiday activities. Visitors can also take a ride on some of Kennywood's traditional favorite rides such as the Kangaroo, Merry-Go-Round and the train.
The Nutcracker, one of Pittsburgh's favorite holiday traditions, is back for another spectacular season. Join the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as the company adds its own Pittsburgh flavor to the iconic show, including over 100 dancers and 150 costumes.
Giddy-up, giddy-up, giddy-up let’s go! This December you can enjoy free horse drawn carriage rides through Market Square. Take your loved ones down to PPG Place and have a magical holiday experience right out of an old-timey Christmas carol.
A holiday season in Pittsburgh isn't complete without a visit to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens' Winter Flower Show and Light Garden: Holiday Magic! It's a colorful wonderland filled with festive lights, poinsettias, pine trees, orchids and giant Christmas ornaments. Soaking in all this festive atmosphere is bound to get you in the holiday spirit.
Love listening to your favorite holiday tunes? Then you'll love Highmark Holiday POPS presented by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at the iconic Heinz Hall. Featuring the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Broadway performer Ryan Silverman, and of course, Santa Claus, this holiday concert is a gift you'll want to share with your whole family.
Christmas isn’t complete without a visit with Santa Claus, and the Gateway Clipper Fleet has you covered. Enjoy breakfast or lunch with Santa with great views as you sail away on Pittsburgh's three rivers.
When there's a chill in the air, the penguins come out to play! On Saturdays and Sundays in December, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium hosts the Penguins on Parade, where you can visit the friendly penguins as they waddle around and play in the snow. Get in the holiday spirit with breakfast or lunch with another legendary arctic friend – Santa Claus!
Hop on the Holly Trolley for a true "Holly Jolly" holiday! Perfect for families of all ages, the vintage-style trolley will take you on a free tour of downtown during weekends in December.
Head on down to the 6th Annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Downtown Pittsburgh. This Pittsburgh twist on traditional German Holiday Markets includes a unique shopping village filled with local artists and businesses, and international delicacies flavored with sugar and spice and everything nice! Don't forget to stop in Santa's house to mingle with the elves, share your wish list and take a picture with Santa!
The Festival of Lights is about to begin, and a great way to celebrate Hanukah is with the lighting of the menorah outside the City-Council Building. Get ready for eight days of feasting and fun!
Spend the holidays with everyone’s favorite Dickensian curmudgeon at the Byham Theater to watch CLO’s annual production of A Musical Christmas Carol. With the help of theatre magic and classical Christmas carols, Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim will remind you of the true meaning of Christmas. No one can say "bah humbug" to that!
Travel around the world in one afternoon when you visit PPG Place’s Wintergarden exhibit. Featuring paintings, life-size Santa statues and a 32-foot tree, this display is a celebration of the different holiday traditions. If you've ever wondered what Polish Santa Claus looks like, here’s your chance to find out!
Pittsburgh may be cold this time of year, but inside the National Aviary, it's a tropical paradise! Visit the National Aviary for Wings in Winter, a variety of season events that will bring you up-close and personal with all kinds of birds. Santa's reindeer won't be the only ones taking to the skies this holiday season.
Modeled after the Vatican's Nativity scene and built with the approval of the Vatican itself, the Pittsburgh Crèche is the place to go for a detailed and lovingly crafted depiction of the first Christmas. The Crèche features life-size figures of Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus, the Three Kings and various other Biblical characters. This is a Pittsburgh tradition sure to get you in the holiday spirit.
Who doesn’t enjoy a holiday themed pop-up bar? Located on the third floor of The Original Oyster House this year, Miracle on Market is the ultimate holiday destination with festive cocktails like Run Run Rudolph, Muletide and How the Gimlet Stole Christmas. Embrace quirky holiday decorations such as upside down Christmas trees, wrapping paper on the ceiling (and everywhere!), a Hanukkah Hideaway and Krampus Corner. Best of all, the bar is completely volunteer based and your bill benefits 412 Food Rescue, a local non-profit who distributes food to communities in need.
Every winter in Pittsburgh has to include a trip with your favorite skating partner to MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place. At two-thirds the size of a standard National Hockey League rink, there’s plenty of room to have some fun and show off your skating abilities with all the winter enthusiasts of the ‘Burgh.
It's a classic book and a beloved cartoon, and now it's coming to life on the stage of Heinz Hall! Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical features all your favorite characters, including the grouchy green Grinch, his adorable dog Max and sweet little Cindy Lou Who. It'll make your heart grow three sizes, for sure.
Point State Park is all lit up this time of year with the magic of the holidays. Enjoy a visit in the evening and you'll be able to bathe in the festive red and green glow of the massive, electronic Christmas tree. It may be winter, but there’s no reason to stay inside when there are so many amazing, sparkling decorations around the city.
If you haven't been to The Frick Pittsburgh lately, the holidays are a perfect time to visit. This year, the traditional Clayton Holiday Tour is offering a new "Through the Back Door" theme, giving visitors a more personal experience on the up-keeping of the historical Clayton House. The Frick also offers a variety of holiday programs for adults, families and children throughout the season.
The Miniature Railroad and Village at Carnegie Science Center has become a Pittsburgh holiday institution. Featuring miniature depictions of western Pennsylvania throughout the 1880s to the late 1930s, this display will take you through beloved Pittsburgh-area locations as Forbes Field, Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and the Duquesne Incline. Look closely and you'll see this year's newest addition, a Primanti Bros. Restaurant!
The PPG Wintergarden is having their 15th annual Gingerbread House Display and Competition this year, which should be exciting for all you gingerbread lovers out there. When you stop by PPG Place, you can take in the creativity of some of Pittsburgh's most innovative gingerbread architects as part of your holiday festivities. Run, run, as fast as you can, before it ends January 6th!
The Nationality Rooms are a special place any time of year, but during the holidays they're extra special. Each room is decorated according to the holiday traditions of its respective nationality. Stop by the Cathedral of Learning for a holiday-themed world tour. It's a great way to have a great time and learn all about holiday traditions of a variety of cultures.
This year the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust is bringing a holiday extravaganza to the Benedum Center. Featuring 300 eye-popping costumes, 20 world-class acts, snowmen, reindeer, penguins, gingerbread men and everything else your holiday heart could desire, Cirque Dreams Holidaze will leave you in a daze—and overflowing with holiday spirit.
Covered in beautiful lights and Pittsburgh themed ornaments, you won’t want to miss the iconic 58-foot blue spruce Christmas Tree in front of the City-County Building. The tree makes for an amazing photo opportunity and should be a part of every Pittsburgher's holiday bucket list!