• Peoples Gas Holiday Market
Sunday, December 23, Market Square, Downtown
Enjoy the feel of a European village set in the heart of Downtown’s Market Square. This sixth annual holiday market has treasures that will make everyone on your gift list happy. Vendors offer items from a variety of countries. Stop at the Kathë Wolfhart booth and browse the assortment of holiday items and enter a chance to win two free tickets to Germany. Visit Santa’s House and take home a commemorative photo with him. Grab a delicious strudl or hot apple cider from Helmut’s of Austria.
• Kennywood’s Holiday Lights
4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin. Call (412) 461-0500 or visit kennywood.com
Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year at Kennywood Park. Come for the tallest Christmas tree in Pennsylvania and the hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights decorating the park. Stay for your favorite family rides, model train displays, cookie decorating and other holiday fun. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through December 23, plus December 26 through 30.
• Pittsburgh’s Crèche
600 Grant St., downtown
The beloved Pittsburgh Crèche is on display in the plaza outside of U.S. Steel Tower through the Feast of the Epiphany in early January. Each year about 250,000 people stop to gaze at the life-like replicas and the manger scene. It is a beautiful way to connect with joy and “reason for” the season.
• Carnegie Science Center
One Allegheny Ave, North Side. Call
(412) 237-3400 or visit Carnegiesciencecenter.org
Miniature Railroad & Village: 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. The exhibit began in 1920 with a man named Charles Bowdish of Brookville. 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 Primanti Bros. restaurant in the Strip District has welcomed patrons along 18th and Smallman Street since 1933; this year, the beloved restaurant, known for its towering coleslaw-and-french-fry-topped sandwiches, opened shop in Miniature Railroad & Village as a new historic installation. More favorites include the Westinghouse Atom Smasher, Crawford Grill, 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. The display has 250,000 trees, 105 animations, 85 automobiles and 14 aircraft, 23,000 fans in Forbes Field and much more.
Holiday Magic Laser Show: Experience the magic of the holiday season with a little science at this magical holiday laser show perfect for the whole family. Featuring traditional holiday tunes from across generations to contemporary artists performing their personal favorites, this matinee laser show is guaranteed to be a hit with all ages. Shows daily through December 29.
• Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, Penn Ave. Call (412) 392-4900 or visit Pittsburghsymphony.org
Handel’s Messiah: The PSO, Manfred Honeck and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh come together on Saturday, December 1 at 8 p.m. for one of the most festive musical events of the year. This is Handel at his most inspired and some of the most magnificent choral writing ever created. Come get swept away in the drama of this majestic masterwork.
Highmark Holiday Pops: It’s the most wonderful time of the year—a spectacular concert of holiday music for the whole family. Take a “Sleigh Ride” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Broadway’s Doug LaBrecque and Santa Claus, too! This Pittsburgh holiday tradition offers performance times from Friday, December 14 to Sunday, December 23.
Feel the Love: Celebrating a B. E. Taylor Christmas: B. C. Taylor, the band’s drummer, vocalist and tour leader is building a new tradition that carries on his father’s legacy. Two performances: Monday, December 17 and Tuesday, December 18.
• Pittsburgh CLO’s A Musical Christmas Carol
The Byham Theater, Sixth St. Call (844) 765-8432 or visit Pittsburghclo.org
The CLO takes the spirit of the season, wraps it in your favorite yuletide melodies and ties it with all the holiday magic and wonder of your childhood. Join Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and a host of colorful characters for a remarkable CLO holiday presentation. With dazzling special effects, holiday charm and ticket prices even Scrooge would approve of, this Charles Dickens classic is a wonderful way to celebrate the tradition of the season. Runs from Friday, December 7 through Sunday, December 23.
• Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker
Performances through Thursday, December 27, The Benedum, Seventh St. Call (412) 456-6666 or visit pbt.org
It’s Christmas Eve in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh when a mysterious gift sparks a wondrous adventure. Journey to a Land of Enchantment filled with swirling snowflakes, waltzing flowers and exciting dances set to Tchaikovsky’s glorious score. Five lavish scenes, dozens of dancers and over 150 costumes make The Nutcracker one of Pittsburgh’s most cherished holiday traditions.
• Carnegie Museum of Arts; co-presented with The Andy Warhol Museum
4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Call (412) 622-3131 or visit cmoa.org
A John Waters’ Christmas: Holier and Dirtier
Back by popular demand, legendary writer and director John Waters (Pink Flamingos, Hairspray, Cry Baby) returns to the intimate Carnegie Lecture Hall to perform his critically acclaimed one-man show on December 8 from 8 to 10 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.). Torn between capitalism and anarchy, Waters offers his hilariously incisive take on “Christmas crazy”, spreading his subversive yuletide cheer and lunacy while posing provocative holiday questions such as “Is Prancer the only gay reindeer?” and “Should you disrupt living crèche celebrations this year in the name of political action?” Please note this performance contains adult subject matter and strong language. Tickets are $30 (members and students $25); VIP tickets are $125 and include meet-and-greet.
• Carnegie Trees and Neopolitan Presepio
The Carnegie Museum of Art 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland Call (412) 622-3131 or visit cmoa.org
Kick off your holidays with a visit to this popular seasonal display, brought to you by the Carnegie Museum of Art Women’s Committee. This year marks the first-ever collaboration with 57th Carnegie International artist Karen Kilimnik. Five soaring evergreens are decorated according to Kilimnik’s artistic vision, which has been described as “joyful fantasy and a quest for the romantic sublime.” See the Hall of Architecture filled with several towering Colorado spruce trees, each adorned with handcrafted ornaments from committee members and collaborating organizations. The trees flank the museum’s exquisite Neapolitan presepio Nativity scene, a cherished Pittsburgh tradition. Handcrafted between 1700 and 1830, teems with lifelike figures and colorful details that recreate the Nativity within a vibrant and detailed panorama of 18th Century Italian village life. More than 100 superbly modeled human and angelic figures, along with animals, accessories and architectural elements, cover 250 square feet. The exhibit runs through the first week of January.
• PPG Place Wintergarden
One PPG Place and Third Ave. Call (412) 434-1900 or visit ppgplace.com
Spirits of Giving Around the World: The splendor of the holidays comes alive at PPG Place’s breathtaking “Spirits of Giving Around the World” exhibit in the Wintergarden at Two PPG Place, downtown, through January 2. This enchanting display of life-size Santas and original paintings captures a world of Christmas folklore and fantasy. The Wintergarden’s spectacular 32-foot tree is adorned with magnificent ornaments. Enjoy the Sounds of the Season in the Wintergarden as a variety of local choirs and musicians perform every day throughout December. Exhibit is free to the public. Call for hours.
Gingerbread House Display: Don’t miss this magnificent display of delicious dwellings created by area individuals, organizations, seniors, students and chefs, through January 1, 2019. There is no charge for admission; donations benefit the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Free Care Fund. Call for hours. To download an entry form for the gingerbread house contest, visit ppgplace.com.
Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides: Get into the holiday spirit and experience downtown in a whole new way during a free horse-drawn carriage ride through Market Square, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. Free carriage rides depart the Fourth Avenue side of the PPG Place Plaza. Arrive early as rides fill up quickly. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays through December 22.
MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place: Through March 3, the Plaza between Third and Fourth Avenues transform into The Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place, a spectacular outdoor ice skating rink. Enjoy an exhilarating holiday tradition as you glide around the breathtaking 65-foot Christmas tree at the plaza. Bring the grandkids to Skate with Santa on Saturdays: December 1, 8 and 15 and 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. Fee is $10 for adults and $9 for seniors (age 50 and older), children and those with military ID. Skate rentals are $4. Skating lessons are also offered. General hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. but be sure to call and confirm hours or to learn more: Call (412) 394-3641 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• ELF: The Broadway Musical
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, 600 Penn Ave. Call (844) 765-8432 or visit Pittsburgh-theater.com
Based on the beloved movie starring Will Ferrell and Zoey Deschanel, this show first premiered on Broadway in 2010 and has since been inducted into the canon of classic Christmas shows. Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin provide the bouncy score, while the book came courtesy of Broadway vet Thomas Meehan (Annie) and comedian Bob Martin. This critically acclaimed musical is a joyful addition to holiday theatre, with enough hi-tech wizardry and songs to keep the kids engrossed, as well as plenty of jokes for the adults. Runs December 26 through 30.
• North Hills Chorale Favorite Christmas Memories
Saturday, December 8, 7 p.m. and Sunday, December 9, 3 p.m., Kearns Spirituality Center, 9000 Babcock Blvd., Allison Park. Visit nhchorale.com
This holiday concert includes an audience sing-along for Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Bring non-perishable food donations for the North Hills Community Outreach Food Pantry.
• Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
One Schenley Park, Oakland. Call (412)-622-6914 or visit Phipps.conservatory.org
Holiday Magic: Let It Glow! The holiday season isn’t complete without a visit to Phipps and this year’s display promises to be their biggest and brightest show yet. Phipps has pulled out all the stops for this year’s Winter Flower Show with dazzling new displays of holiday trees, topiaries, exquisitely detailed props, and our signature floral delights, including amaryllis, orchids and more than 2,000 poinsettias. From a newly-restored Palm Court filled with trees mounted on oversized music boxes to a Serpentine Room of nutcrackers, toboggans and tea sets, one amazing display after another will dazzle your senses and warm your holiday spirit. Plus, in the Outdoor and Discovery Gardens, the must-see Winter Light Garden sparkles with luminous orbs, trees, fountains, a tunnel of lights and an all-new ice tower display that will mesmerize guests of all ages. Runs through Sun., Jan. 6. Admission is $17.95 for adults, $16.95 for seniors and students, and $11.95 for children ages 2 to 18. Members and kids under 2 enter free. Daily hours for Winter Flower Show are 9:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. and 5 – 11 p.m. for Winter Light Garden. Phipps closes at 5 p.m. on Mon., Dec. 24 and reopens at 9:30 a.m. on Wed., Dec. 26.
Magic Meets Music: Live Performance Nights. On select weeknights throughout the holiday season, live musical entertainment lends an enchanting dimension of splendor to your festive visit. From flutes and strings to brass and bands, there are tuneful treats for everyone to enjoy this year. Call or visit online for performance schedule.
Santa Visits: Join Phipps for a festive photo-op with the man in the red suit. It’s a perfect way to get into the spirit of the season, share a special memory and capture this year’s holiday family photo. This year, Santa is making select evening appearances on Dec. 10, 11 and 12. Santa Visits are free with Phipps admission.
Gifts and Greens Market. Free and open to the public, this special holiday shopping tradition at Phipps Garden Center in Mellon Park is sure to help you find the perfect gifts and holiday décor this season. A large assortment of fresh greens and garlands will be available, and master gardeners are on hand to create custom wreaths and centerpieces. The Shop at Phipps is also open during market hours with holiday decorations, handmade jewelry from local artists and lots of great gifts for loved ones, and until 3 p.m. daily, guest vendors and others will showcase their goods. Proceeds benefit Phipps educational programs. Phipps Garden Center is located at 1059 Shady Ave., Shadyside.
New Year’s Eve Family Celebration. Kids love ringing in the New Year just as much as adults but are often unable to stay up late enough to celebrate. At this family-friendly event featuring a variety of activities for children, the 2019 countdown begins at 8:45 p.m. so that everyone can join in the fun of this festive tradition. The celebration is free with regular paid admission.
• Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Big Butler Fairgrounds, 1127 New Castle Rd., Prospect. Call (888) 321-7547 or visit Shadrackchristmas.com
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland is back at the Big Butler Fairgrounds this holiday season. This Christmas light and music extravaganza is unlike any show you’ve seen. Simply tune into your car radio and watch the magic unfold as you drive through hundreds of thousands of brilliant LED lights dancing in perfect synchronization with the music. This year’s new theme is a Summer Safari with Santa and his friends. They found the perfect destination for jeep excursions, diving contests, keep-away games with the hippos and lounging around the water hole. Look for some elfin mischief and super fun snapshots. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are popular nights to visit the light show, so please anticipate long lines and wait times. Visit Monday through Thursday to avoid extended wait times. Fee is $25 for cars and family vans; $40 for mini-bus, limousine or activity van; $80 for school and tour busses. Christmas Wonderland supports local charities. Tickets can be purchased onsite from the comfort of your vehicle. The lights will glow every night from dusk to 10 p.m., including holidays, through January 6, rain, snow or shine.