Holiday Season Shines in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH — The holidays are here and Pittsburgh offers plenty of festivities to keep visitors merry. Read on for a summary of just some of the events that will dazzle visitors this holiday season.

Take a walking tour of western Pennsylvania at the world-renowned Miniature Railroad & Village®, sponsored by Bombardier, open for its 90th season! The Miniature Railroad & Village at the Carnegie Science Center features hundreds of wonderfully realistic animated scenes that illustrate how people lived, worked and played in our region during an era spanning the 1880s to the late 1930s. Favorites of this permanent exhibit include: Fallingwater, Forbes Field, Punxsutawney Phil at Gobbler's Knob, an historic Pittsburgh incline and more.

The Nationality Rooms on the University of Pittsburgh campus are decorated in traditional holiday styles. The one-of-a-kind nationality rooms on Pitt’s campus depict the city’s diverse ethnic heritage through authentic examples of architecture and decor from Eastern and Western Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The rooms are decorated for the holidays, now through Jan. 19.

Holiday revelers can take time out to stop and smell the poinsettias and other beautiful flowers at Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. The Winter Flower Show returns Nov. 23-Jan. 6 in all of its glamour. Stroll through the Conservatory to see the glorious topiaries, poinsettias and lights in this Pittsburgh tradition. Beginning Nov. 25, a brand new outdoor Winter Light Garden exhibit will shine with scores of whimsical LED light forms, adding even more enchantment to the public garden's spectacular seasonal displays. Candlelight Evenings at Phipps brings extended hours Nov. 25-Jan. 6.

Revel in the sparkling spirit of the season! During the holidays, Kennywood will open its gates for a lavish, one-of-a-kind treat with 2012 Kennywood Holiday Lights presented by Pepsi. Be dazzled Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, Nov. 23-Dec. 30, by spectacular light displays, a special Christmas light show set to music, Christmas carolers, holiday themed rides, performances by local choirs, delicious holiday foods, visits with Santa Claus and much more! Select rides are open and everyone’s favorite Potato Patch, too!

Downtown Pittsburgh's first-ever European holiday market opens Nov. 24 and runs through Dec. 23. Inspired by the original Christkindlmarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market features vendors from around the world displaying unique collectible and gift items in Alpine-style wooden chalets.

The Carnegie Museum of Art decks the Hall of Architecture with delightful seasonal displays and concerts. Neapolitan Presepio, Dec. 1-Jan. 6, a holiday tradition since 1957, features lifelike and colorful figures that recreate the Nativity within a vibrant panorama of 18th-century Italian village life. Flanking the Neapolitan Presepio are seven grand, 20-ft. trees, decorated in the theme of the world’s fairs, celebrating Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939, now on view at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Tis' the season for the arts and Pittsburgh's Cultural District is alive with holiday spirit and seasonal productions. The magic of the holidays comes alive with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's classic The Nutcracker. Surrender to the grand sweep of Tchaikovsky’s score and the wonders of childhood, Dec. 7-30.

The Pittsburgh CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition. For more than a decade, families and friends have added the magic of CLO's holiday production to their Yuletide festivities. Performances are at the Byham Theater, Dec. 7-23.

Music is an integral part of the season, and Pittsburgh doesn't miss a beat, offering a full-scale schedule of concerts and performances. The world-renowned Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra presents the much-loved holiday music of Highmark Holiday Pops, including "Sleigh Ride" and selections from The Nutcracker. Dec. 20-23.

Feel like practicing your figure eights? Then head to the Ice Rink at PPG Place, where you can lace up a pair of ice skates and glide around the 9,600-square-foot rink, which is larger than the rink at Rockefeller Plaza. A 60-foot tree stands in the center of the rink during the holiday season.

The season culminates with First Night Pittsburgh 2012 on Dec. 31, a community and family-oriented, alcohol-free celebration of the New Year through the arts. New Year's Eve in Downtown Pittsburgh is filled with dance, music, song, mime, storytelling, theater, poetry and film.

For more information on these and other getaways, go to for all the merry details.

As the official tourism promotion agency for Allegheny County, VisitPittsburgh is dedicated to generating convention, trade show and leisure travel business for the Pittsburgh region.