It’s the Holiday Season 2018! Let the Fun Begin!

Last year, I hope you asked Santa to bring you some extra free time because you are going to need it this holiday season if you are going to squeeze in all the fun doings scheduled in and around Pittsburgh. The following is a list of some things that will help to make your days merry and bright.

Light Up Night

No one kicks off the holiday season like Pittsburgh. For more than five decades, the city has been drawing people to downtown Pittsburgh to usher in the holidays with Light Up Night. Held in the beginning of November, Light Up Night features the official lighting of the Christmas tree, entertainment, food, and fireworks. To learn more, check out our article on Light Up Night here!

Holiday Parade

What’s a celebration without a parade? For nearly four decades, WPXI has been hosting Pittsburgh’s Holiday Parade, which features floats, marching bands, and, of course, the arrival of the jolliest of elves, Santa Claus. The parade is scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving. To learn more, check out our article on the holiday parade here!

Peoples Gas Holiday Market

One of the city’s newest holiday events, Peoples Gas Holiday Market, nevertheless, has been growing every year. Located in Market Square and running from late November until December 23, the holiday market is modeled after the original Christkindlmarkt in Nuremburg, Germany. Pittsburgh’s market is one of only three such markets in North America. European-style chalets feature one-of-a-kind gifts and hand-crafted items from around the world and sold by regional, national, and international vendors. Entertainment is provided by ethnic, cultural, and community groups as well. New this year is the Holiday Karaoke Contest. The Peoples Gas Holiday Market also supports the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. In exchange for a cash donation or a non-perishable good, visitors to the market may enter Santa’s House and receive a ticket to have your picture taken with the Jolly Old Elf. Learn more about the history of Market Square and the holiday festivities there by clicking here!

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh

To cap off a fabulous holiday season, Pittsburgh uncorks the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration around. This family-friendly evening is celebrating its 25th year and is filled with fun, entertainment, and activities and, of course, fireworks. In fact, fireworks are held twice in the evening at 6 p.m. and midnight. With approximately 150 events at 50 indoor and outdoor locations, First Night Pittsburgh is the region’s largest single-day celebration.

Nationality Rooms University of Pittsburgh

Don’t you wish you could travel around the world and experience how the holidays are celebrated in different lands? The next best thing to doing that is to visit the Nationality Rooms at the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Starting in mid-November through Martin Luther King Day, the classrooms will be decked out in their holiday finest.

Miniature Railroad & Village

For the ultimate in model railroading, visit the Miniature Railroad and Village at the Carnegie Science Center. Since 1954, this Pittsburgh Christmas tradition has delighted thousands as they take in a miniature replica of Western Pennsylvania during the 1880s to 1930s. New this year is Cement City, a historic neighborhood in Donora. Although the display is open year-round, the Miniature Railroad & Village experiences the most visitors to the exhibit during the holidays. Admission to the display is included in your Carnegie Science Center ticket.

PPG Place

This landmark in downtown Pittsburgh turns into a winter wonderland every year as the Rink at PPG Place beckons skaters to come take a glide around the majestic Christmas tree in the center of the ice. Inside the nearby Winter Garden, the exhibit of Spirits of Giving From Around the World, which features life-size Santas and Gingerbread Houses that will amaze and enchant children of all ages. Throughout the season entertainment is also scheduled.

Overly’s Country Christmas

Since 1956, Overly’s Country Christmas has been the place to go to bask in the holiday atmosphere. Located at the Westmoreland Fairgrounds, Overly’s Country Christmas offers a Christmas Village that harkens back to yesteryear with carol singing around a bonfire, an elaborate train display, visits with Santa, horse drawn sleigh ride or wagon rides, or shopping in the general store. Learn more about Overly’s Country Christmas here!

Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Garden

Phipps pulls out all the stops during the holidays. This year it celebrates 125 years with Holiday Magic: Let It Glow! To enhance the experience, don some Holiday Hologram Glasses. From the Winter Light Garden and Flower Show to Santa Visits to Winter Ice Towers, Phipps is perhaps the most serene and beautiful destination in the area for celebrating the holidays. In addition, the Shop at Phipps is the ideal place to find unique gifts, especially for the gardener on your list. Learn more about Phipps here!

Carnegie Museum of Art

In such a stately setting, it is only fitting that it houses such an elaborate Nativity display. The Neapolitan Presepio, created by Italian craftsmen between 1700 and 1830, depicts the Neapolitan vision of the Nativity and village at the time of Jesus’ birth. More than 100 miniature figures bring the first Christmas to life.

Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights

The Winter of Festival of Lights has been cited numerous times as one of the best holiday lights displays in the country. Located in Wheeling, West Virginia, the Winter Festival of Lights encompasses 300 acres over a six-mile drive through a dazzling light display. New this year is the addition of 3D Sleigh Bans, holographic eyewear that turns the lights into magical displays. It’s so beautiful, you may decide you don’t want to leave. In that case, you can book a stay at the Resort and Conference Center, which is also decked out for the holidays.

Pittsburgh Crèche

Erected in 1999, the Pittsburgh Crèche, located on Grant Street in the USX Tower Plaza, has in a few short years become one of the most visited Christmas destinations in Pittsburgh. The larger-than-life Nativity is the world’s only replica of the crèche at St. Peter’s in Vatican City, and it remains on display until the Feast of the Epiphany.

Hartwood Mansion

The Hartwood Mansion at Hartwood Acres decks the halls for the holiday season and hosts tours. Make your reservations early as these tours fill up quickly.

Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum

For 31 years, the nonprofit Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum has hosted it Holiday Train Show. Located in Gibsonia, the WPMRM’s display opens in early November and runs through January 13. For information on hours and admission, visit:

Frick Art & Historical Center

The Frick Art & Historical Center decorates the Frick Mansion, Clayton, for the holidays and offers tours of this historic home. This year, it is styled after 1980, the year Helen Clay Frick made her society debut. One of the few remaining homes of Pittsburgh’s famed “Millionaire’s Row,” Clayton will give you a sense of how Christmases past were celebrated by the city’s elite.

Old Economy Village Christmas at the Village

In December, you can return to a 19th century Christmas village at Old Economy in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. As you walk along candlelit lanes, you can window shop and buy handcrafted items and then take in musical entertainment from local choirs. Children can make crafts and enjoy a visit with Belsnickel (Pennsylvania Dutch Santa Claus).

Carnegie Science Center Holiday Movies on the Giant Screen

Throughout the holiday season, you can take in some of your favorite Holiday Classic movies at The Rangos Theater.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

This award-winning light show is held at the Big Butler Fairground and is a light and music extravaganza that you drive through. Children will enjoy the Santa’s Village at the tour’s end. The display runs through January 6.

The Joy of Cookies Cookie Tour

Rapidly becoming a Pittsburgh favorite, the Lawrenceville Joy of Cookies tour takes place early in the season and is a free and family event. The self-guided tour allows you to stroll the neighborhood, visiting shops and sampling cookies. From the city that gave the world the wedding cookie table, it’s only natural that a cookie crawl would follow.

Miracle Pop-Up Bar

Back for a third holiday season is Miracle Pop-Up Bar. The temporary holiday tavern will be located at 705 Liberty Avenue in the former Katie’s Candy Corner. Spencer Warren, the man behind the pop-up bar, describes the bar’s atmosphere as “like Christmas threw up everywhere.” The place will be packed tighter than Santa’s sleigh with holiday paraphernalia and features cocktails with holiday themes. Miracle on Liberty will run through New Year’s Eve and raise funds for a local charity.

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