Two months ago I was asked to teach a class at our church’s Christmas workshop in November on things to see and do in the Pittsburgh area during the holidays. I was unable to teach so instead I handed over my notes of preparation to another lady who graciously stepped in to help. Although I wasn’t able to teach, I promised some friends that I would share the information I gathered so that they could take advantage of all the wonders Pittsburgh has to offer this time of year. And while this is just a sampling of what this area has to offer, I hope you find a new adventure to explore with your family this Christmas season!
(PS- Forgive the weird format. Something crazy happened when I transferred it from my word document)
Things to do in Pittsburgh at Christmastime:
- Light Up Night Pittsburgh– The unveiling of the city’s holiday decorations. This free event features music by national and local artists across several stages and genres, as well as the start of Pittsburgh’s favorite holiday attractions, an unveiling of the city’s holiday decorations, family-friendly activities and a special bridge lighting ceremony, all capped off by an awesome fireworks display.
- Date: November 18th.
- Location: Downtown Pittsburgh
- Cost: free
- People’s Gas Holiday Market– Inspired by the original German Christkindlemarket, this holiday market creates a picturesque shopping village in Market Square. Market Square will be transformed into a winter wonderland featuring vendors housed in Alpine-style wooden chalets, musical performances and a house for Santa Claus with a bay window, an ice-capped chimney and a candy cane entryway.
- Dates: November 18- December 23rd
- Location: Market Square…
- Cost: Free with the exception of purchases made.
- Extra Info: Receive a complimentary photo with Santa if you make a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.
- Carnegie Museum of Natural History/Art Museum- Tree Display!
- Dates: Dec. 5-Jan. 12
- Hours: 10:00- 5:00
- Location: 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
- Cost: For admission to the natural history and art museum: $19.95/adults, $11.95/children
- Nationality Rooms- The Nationality Rooms are a collection of 30 classrooms in the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning depicting and donated by the national and ethnic groups that helped build the city of Pittsburgh. The rooms are designated as a Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation historical landmark and are located on the 1st and 3rd floors of the Cathedral of Learning, itself a national historic landmark, on the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The various national, traditional, and religious holidays of the nations represented are celebrated on campus and the rooms are appropriately decorated to reflect these occasions.
- Date: Self-guided holiday tours beginning November 12th.
- Hours: Saturdays 9:00-2:30. Sundays 11-2:30.
- Location: 4200 Fifth Ave. Pittsburgh, PA inside the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning.
- Cost: Adults- $4.00/Children $2.00
- Extra info: a great stop within walking distance of Carnegie Museums and Phipps Conservatory.
- Phipps Conservatory- Winter Flower Show and Light Garden
The most magical time of the year arrives with the opening of Winter Flower Show and Light Garden on Fri., Nov. 25. Built around a whimsical “Snow Day at Phipps” theme, the changing exhibit rooms will feature topiary penguins, bears and reindeer frolicking in showcases of artful LED lights, decorated fir trees, whimsical props, colorful poinsettias, aromatic paperwhites, showy amaryllis and more. From snowball fights and ice skating to cuddly blanket forts, the displays will revive the wonder of a winter’s day of childhood play in guests of every age.
Adding to the festive atmosphere, in our Outdoor and Discovery Gardens, our biggest, best Winter Light Garden yet will sparkle with luminous orbs, trees and fountains, as well as a brand new tunnel of lights designed to imitate a twinkling winter sky. Garden Railroad will be on view too, taking you on a trip through 200 marvelous years of Pittsburgh history, brought to life with interactive buttons for children to push, and miniature living plants, shrubs and trees.
- Dates: Winter show begins November 25th
- Hours: Daily hours for Winter Flower Show are 9:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. and 5 – 11 p.m. for Winter Light Garden
- Location: One Schenley Park Pittsburgh, PA
- Cost: $17.95 for adults/ $11.95 for children
- PPG Wintergarden- (A free event in Pittsburgh) Here you will find:
- Spirits of Giving: See the splendor of the holidays come alive during PPG Place’s breathtaking “Spirits of Giving From Around the World” exhibit. This enchanting display of life-size Santas and original paintings captures a whole world of Christmas folklore and fantasy. The exhibit comes alive with a collection of original paintings, each depicting holiday celebrations around the world.
Capture memories of Christmases past in the Wintergarden where a tree larger than any from your childhood awaits you. Our spectacular 32-foot tree is surrounded by a showcase of gingerbread houses and Santas from around the world.
Hear a variety of seasonal music performed by area musicians daily throughout the month of December.
- ANNUAL GINGERBREAD DISPLAY/COMPETITION AND TRAIN DISPLAY-
- Enjoy Free Horse Drawn Carriage Rides
Highwoods proudly supports the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Get into the holiday spirit and experience downtown in a whole new way during a complimentary horse drawn carriage ride through Market Square.
Free Carriage Rides depart the Fourth Avenue side of the PPG Place Plaza Arrive early as rides fill up quickly. No reservations needed.
- Pittsburgh Creche– Pittsburgh’s Crèche is the world’s only authorized replica of the Vatican’s Nativity Scene as erected in St. Peter’s Square. It opens on Pittsburgh’s annual Light Up Night in November and remains open through Epiphany in early January.
Each year an estimated two hundred and fifty thousand people stop to gaze at the life-like replicas and the manger scene that is the reason for the holiday celebration. The Crèche has become an attraction to downtown Pittsburgh allowing residents and out-of-towners to connect their beliefs with the joy of the season.
- Dates: November 18- January 7th
- Hours: Wintergarden Hours: Monday-Thursday: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Location: 1 Ppg Pl, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
- Cost: Free. Donations to Children’s Hospital are accepted.
- Skate at the MassMutual Rink at PPG Place– From late-November through February 26, the Plaza between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue transforms into the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place, a spectacular one-of-a-kind outdoor ice skating rink.
- Dates: Opens November 18th and will remain open through February
- Hours: 11:00am- 10:00pm
- Location: Between 3rd and 4th Ave, Pittsburgh
- Cost: Adults/ $8.00, Children/ $7.00
- Macy’s Christmas Windows– Stop by and take a peek at Macy’s beautiful Christmas window displays at 400 5th Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
A few facts about the windows:
■ The display is a tradition that dates back more than 100 years.
■ Past themes include: “The Nutcracker,” “Journey of a Letter to Santa,” “The Magic of Making Iconic Christmas Elements” and “Cinderella.”
■ The team of carpenters, machinists, artisans and animators spend 35 weeks working on the scenes.
■ In the early days, the animated holiday scenes were powered by employees taking turns walking on a treadmill below the windows to keep them in motion.
■ Downtown visitors can view this year’s holiday display through Jan. 7.
- Carnegie Science Center Miniature Railroad Village– Take a walking tour of western Pennsylvania at the world-renowned Miniature Railroad & Village®.
This beloved exhibit’s story began in 1919 with a man named Charles Bowdish of Brookville, Pa. Originally a holiday display on the second floor of his house, it moved to the Buhl Planetarium in 1954, and ultimately found its final home at Carnegie Science Center in 1992.
The Miniature Railroad & Village® 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. A replica of Crawford Grill, the renowned Hill District jazz club from 1937 to 1951 is the latest gem added to this extraordinary display.
More favorites include Fallingwater, Forbes Field, Punxsutawney Phil at Gobbler’s Knob, Luna Park, Sharon Steel Mill, Manchester Farms, and a historic Pittsburgh incline, to name a few.
- Dates: The miniature railroad will re-open on November 17th.
- Hours: Sunday – Friday 10 am – 5 pm Saturday – 10 am – 7 pm
- Cost: $19.95/adults and $11.95/children
Things to do Beaver County during Christmastime:
- Old Economy Village- Christmas at the Village: Step back in time and visit a 19th century Christmas village.
Walk along a candlelit cobblestone street and window shop in the various stores that contain interpreters eager to show off wares from this time. People looking for last minute gift ideas will find unique handmade items for sale by vendors. Local choirs will be performing . Children’s crafts and activities along with Belsnickel (Pennsylvania Dutch Santa Claus) will be found in the Granary.
- Dates: December 3rd and 4th
- Hours: 2:00pm- 9:00pm
- Location: 270 16th St. Ambridge PA
- Cost: $10.00/adults, $6.00/children
- The Harmony Museum– The Harmony Museum’s annual WeihnachtsMarkt, a Christmas market in the German tradition that has become a major regional attraction, will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12 – 13th in the heart of Harmony’s National Historic landmark District.The festival has also become the museum’s prime annual fundraiser while presenting seasonal gift-shopping in a family-fun atmosphere. The thousands of visitors who attend each year find handcrafted and German imports. Artisans and vendors are chosen to participate based on the quality of their offerings; no stereotypical “shopping mall festival”stuff here. Entertainment, food and refreshments also reflect Harmony’s German heritage.
- Dates: November 12th (11:00-6:00) and 13th (12:00- 4:00)
Location: 218 Mercer St. P.O. Box 524 Harmony, Pa 16037
Cost: Adults/ $7.00 and $3.00/children
- Christmas on Main Street – Volant Village Saturday, Nov. 12th 10am-6pm Sunday, Nov. 13th 12pm-5pm
Saint Nick arrives in a horse drawn carriage to open the Christmas season in an Old Fashioned way. Great Holiday shopping, breakfast & pictures with Santa, strolling carolers, musicians, carriage rides on Main St and much more! Fun for the whole family. Saturday 10am-5pm
9am Breakfast with Santa– Neshannock Creek Inn. Reservations 724-533-2233 $5/child & $7/adult 10-5pm Farmer’s Market – Warm Amish donuts, baked goods, canned goods & quilts – Volant Mills Kettle Corn, Hot homemade Apple Dumplings & ice cream – Volant Mills’ courtyard Grannies Kitchen food truck – Volant Mills’ parking lot 12pm Santa arrives by carriage with local carolers, candy & elves- front of Mill 1-5pm Carriage Rides – next to Kitchen Shoppe $5/person 12:30-5 Meet & Greet Santa at his workshop in Candy Cane Forest- behind Knockin Noggin Cidery 1-3pm Lawrence County Brass Band – throughout the Village 3-5pm Butler Notables Barbershop Quartet – throughout the Village Dusk Outdoor movie “Elf at Santa’s Workshop”(dress warm & bring chairs) Knockin Noggin Cidery 7-9pm Live indoor music– Knockin Noggin Cidery
12-1pm Christmas stories with characters – Knockin Noggin fire pit 12-5pm Cookie walk– throughout the village. Call 724-533-2983 for reservations. 12-5pm Hot Apple Dumplings and ice cream – Volant Mills’ curtyard 12-5pm Grannies Kitchen food truck – Volant Mills’ parking lot 2-4pm Live harp music – Knockin Noggin Cidery
- Festival of Trees– Brady’s Run Lodge-
- Dates: November 24-December 4th
- Hours: Noon- 9:00pm
- Location: The lodge at Brady’s Run Park
- Cost: Adults- $6.00. Children- $3.00
Music and Shows in Pittsburgh at Christmastime:
- PNC Broadway: “A Christmas Story: The Musical”
- Dates: November 22-November 27
- Location: Benedum Center (7th St. and Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA)
- Cost: Tickets starting at $26.00
- Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre: “The Nutcracker”
- Dates: Playing through the month of December
- Location: Benedum Center (7th St and Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA)
- Cost: Tickets starting at $28.00
- Pittsburgh CLO: “A Musical Christmas Carol.”
- Dates: December 9- 23rd
- Location: Byham Theatre (101 6th St. Pittsburgh, PA)
- Cost: Tickets starting at $16.75
- Pittsburgh Symphony: “Holiday Pops”
- Dates: December 9th-18th
- Location: Heinz Hall (600 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA)
- Cost: Tickets starting at $22.00
- An alternate location to hear “Holiday Pops”:
- Date: December 15th (8:00pm)
- Location: Scottish Rite Cathedral, New Castle PA
- Cost: tickets can be reserved at http://pittsburghsymphony.org/src
Other things to see or do around the Pittsburgh Area:
- Santa Train at the Oil Creek Railroad: It’s over the river and through the woods for an enjoyable afternoon with Santa and friends, Christmas caroling and an opportunity to take photos with Santa. Children receive a special gift. Check out the special Train Shop where you can start your Christmas shopping for the trainenthusiast on your list. Free hot chocolate and cookies upon your return to the Perry Street Station
- Dates: November 26th and December 3rd
- Hours: Train leaves at 1:00pm
- Location: Perry Street Station (409 S. Perry St. Titusville, PA)
- Cost: For the three hour trip: Adults/ $22.00 and Children/ $15.00
- Other things to know: Dress warmly. Reservations are recommended.
- Overly’s Country Christmas: Celebrate the season at Overly’s Country Christmas®, a nonprofit organization operated mainly by volunteers who are committed to creating holiday memories with a walk-around Christmas Village that’s filled with an array of old-fashioned traditions and treats. Sing carols ’round the bonfire, revel in the model train display, have your picture taken with Santa (in the days before Christmas), take a horse drawn wagon/sleigh ride or shop for gifts in the C. Edgar & Sons General Store plus much, much more as you experience the warmth of this traditional Christmas Village!
- Dates: November 18 -January 1st
- Hours: 5:30 pm- 9:00 pm
- Location: 116 Blue Ribbon Ln, Greensburg, PA 15601
- Cost: $15.00/ car (Mon-Thurs) $18.00/car (Weekend)
- Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland- AMAZING drive thru musical Christmas light display.
- Dates: November 18th– January 8th.
- Hours: Dusk- 10:00pm every evening
- Location: 1127 New Castle Rd, Prospect PA 16052
- Cost: $25.00/car
- Kraynak’s Christmasland– An amazing toy store with a Christmas walk thru display- From September 10th thru December 31st, Imagine a world of make-believe with twinkling lights, glittering trees, and a magical array of life-like characters. “Santa’s Christmas Land” is a 300-foot, indoor starlight avenue of uniquely designed artificial Christmas trees. Each tree has a specific theme that is enhanced and complimented by surrounding scenery and a cast of life-like animated characters.
- Dates: Now- December 31st
- Hours: 9:00 am- 9:00 pm
- Location: 2525 E State St, Hermitage, PA 16148
- Cost: FREE
Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights – Since 1985 the Winter Festival of Lights has been delighting visitors of all ages! This annual holiday light show is one of the nation’s largest, covering more than 300 acres over a six-mile drive throughout the resort.
The Winter Festival of Lights was listed as one of the 10 Best Christmas Light Displays in the US according to AOL Travel. The show is also listed on the American Bus Association’s Top International Events, was named as a top 100 event by Eventcrazy.com and was recently listed as one of the top 200 events in the country by Discover America. The Festival of Lights was also featured on the Travel Channel’s Extreme Christmas Celebrations and was named one of the top 10 best holiday light and tree shows by HotelsCombined.com, a leading hotel search engine.
- Dates: November 11th– January 1st
- Hours: Dusk-10:00 pm
- Location: 465 Lodge Dr, Wheeling, WV 26003
- Visit the “A Christmas Story” house (Cleveland, Ohio)– A Christmas Story House, now restored to its movie splendor, is open year round to the public for tours. Directly across the street from the house is the official A Christmas Story House Museum, which features original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos. Among the props and costumes are the toys from the Higbee’s window, Randy’s snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom and the family car. After reliving A Christmas Story at Ralphie’s house don’t forget to visit the museum gift shop for your own Major Award Leg Lamp and other great movie memorabilia.
- Hours- Open year round 10:00am- 5:00 pm. Tours run every 30 minutes beginning at 10:15.
- Location: 3159 W. 11th St., Cleveland, OH 44109
- Cost: $11.00/ adults and $7.00/ children