PITTSBURGH — The coronavirus pandemic is not allowing for the usual large displays and events we are accustomed to in the Pittsburgh area for the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the festivities!
This year would have been the 60th year of Light Up Night, but that was canceled due to COVID-19.
Here’s a list of holiday events and ongoing displays in our area:
The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has reimagined downtown holiday attractions so that families can still find things to down downtown and still be conscious of safety. Some of this year’s highlights include:
Holiday Wonderland Projections: New larger-than-life falling snowflakes, swirling candy canes, and other fun holiday themes will be projected on several building facades in the Cultural District.
Holiday KidsPlay Selfie Garden in Heinz Hall Courtyard: Holiday KidsPlay has been reinvented this year to provide safe and easily accessible outdoor fun. Presented by Highmark, it will offer colorful backdrops and standees of popular characters from Fred Rogers Productions' beloved children’s shows including Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
Santa Zoom: Live from the North Pole: The magic of a visit to Santa is reimagined through Santa Zoom a new way for kids to safely interact with Santa, Live from the North Pole, powered by Xfinity! Every family gets a free downloadable photo keepsake of the visit with a suggested $5 donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Foodbank. Santa Zoom is open daily beginning Nov. 27, and ending Dec. 23.
Holiday Shopping: New holiday shopping highlights include the Small Mall, opening at 922 Penn Avenue, the Pop-Up on Fifth at 230 Fifth Avenue, and The Black Market: Holiday Edition, showcasing gifts and goods from Black-owned businesses. Plus, The Merry Market: Pop-Up on Penn Avenue, in partnership with the Handmade Arcade, will offer an additional outdoor shopping experience for two weekends along Penn Avenue.
The Pittsburgh Zoo is offering holiday fun for the family that is also COVID-19 friendly.
Tickets are now on sale for the all-new “Zoo Lights Drive-Thru” -- an event where families can drive through the zoo at night “while guided by a themed audio tour as thousands of environmentally friendly LED lights transform the park into an unforgettable winter wonderland.”
According to the website, tickets are available only in advance. It’s $60 per car or $40 per car if you are a season pass member.
Ice Rink at PPG Place (Downtown)
Lace up your skates and glide around the spectacle of downtown Pittsburgh’s 65-foot illuminated Christmas tree this holiday season outside PPG Place!
The Rink at PPG Place was expanded by 25% this year and is open for the holidays starting Nov. 20.
Admission will be limited to local guidelines for outdoor gatherings. Capacity will be monitored and online ticket services have been established in order to mitigate exposure.
COVID-19 protocols will include:
- Maintain 6′ distance while waiting in line.
- Masks must be worn when entering the skate rental area and outside when social distancing is not possible.
- Temperature checks will be performed prior to entering the skate rental area.
- Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected often
The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has updated its guidelines for safe park use this winter.
The organization recommends to continue visiting the parks with members of your households or your pets, to remain at least six feet away from park users you don’t know and to wear a mask over your mouth and nose.
For outdoor entertainment in city parks, the Conservancy recommends that visitors grab a good book and wrap themselves in a blanket, sip a thermos of hot chocolate while walking a trail, ride a sled or go for a run.
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Parks Conservancy has produced a range of digital tools and resources to keep city residents connected to their local parks. You can read more about them HERE.
Santa’s Jingle Bell Tour (Cranberry Township) – Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, December 5
Santa will visit Cranberry Township not in a winter sleigh, but atop one of the fire company’s engines.
The tour will be led by Cranberry Township Fire, Police and EMS crews who will direct Santa through Community, North Boundary and Graham parks. Residents are invited to gather – at a safe social distance – to welcome Santa.
The tour will travel from the Route 19 Fire Station to Community Park, North Boundary Park, Graham Park, the Municipal Center and finishing at the First Station.
Peoples Gas Holiday Market (Market Square)
The Peoples Gas Holiday Market will return for a ninth year, though it will be reconfigured with social distancing in mind.
The popular pop-up in Market Square is scheduled to open on Nov. 27!
In addition to shopping from small-businesses, the Holiday Market will again feature live music on its centerpiece stage, although this year the acts will be reduced in scale to allow for social distancing.
A diverse array of genres and community acts will be featured every lunch time and early evening during the week and all-day on weekends.
It’s a Connellsville Christmas! – 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, December 5
There will be a toy collection event for kids that live in the Connellsville School District in front of the east side fire hall.
First responders will be there throughout the day to help collect new, unopened and unwrapped toys.
This is the first year for the event, but city leaders are hoping to make it an annual one.
Wilkinsburg Holiday Kickoff – 5-7 p.m. Saturday, December 5
This event will feature holiday giveaways, music, hot beverages and a socially distanced visit from Santa.
Holiday Village Market (Cranberry Township) – 5-9 p.m. Saturday, December 5
The Holiday Village Market is a continuation of a partnership between Cranberry Township and the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber.
This free community event hosted by PNRC encourages the region to shop local and support small businesses. It will feature holiday vendors, food trucks, live music, kids' activities and more. Social distancing will be in place with masks required to attend.
Edgewood Light Up Night – 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 5
You can walk around Edgewood to safely enjoy the holiday lights and luminary display.
Santa Zoom: Live from the North Pole (Market Square)
“Santa Zoom” is replacing the traditional Santa’s House in Market Square with a unique experience offering a live chat with Santa while providing a digital keepsake for families.
Santa will be broadcasting “Live From the North Pole” due to his need to put in extra time at the workshop this year.
Open daily between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it will be free with a minimum $5 suggested donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
The city’s 18th annual Gingerbread House Display and Competition is virtual for 2020. A panel of judges will choose award recipients, and an online gallery featuring photos of all entries will be available beginning Nov. 20.
Yes, Santa Claus is still coming to a few malls in our area ahead of Christmas!
Starting Nov. 27 through Christmas Eve, you’ll find Santa and his team of elves at various malls in western Pa., including Monroeville, Robinson and Westmoreland.
Visits will be contactless, with families sitting six feet away to ensure proper social distancing. Santa will be available for photos during the following times:
- Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Christmas Eve, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
- Set Closed on 11/30 and 12/7
All guests must schedule their visit with Santa using a convenient online reservation platform, located HERE.
The Christmas Wonderland is coming to the Butler Fairgrounds this holiday season!
Drive through over 2 miles of custom-built light displays all dancing in perfect synchronization with the festive music playing on the radio in your car, including a 300-foot drive-through RGB tunnel and 50-foot RGB light tree.
Plus, the show features giant, LED displays of the 12 Days of Christmas with a comical spin on the traditional song. The event runs from Nov. 13 to Jan. 3.
Hours are Monday-Friday: 6-10 p.m., Saturday-Sunday: 6-10 p.m. or later, including holidays and rain.
Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are very popular nights to visit the lights show. Because of this, long lines should be expected and wait times can be long.
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens invites fans to enjoy the beauty of Winter Flower Show: Home for the Holidays from the comfort of their own homes!
The new Winter Flower Show Virtual Video Tour includes a 25-minute video walkthrough of every room in this year’s spectacular show accompanied by festive background music.
The video is available for an introductory two-week price of $4.99 for Phipps members and $9.99 for nonmembers, allowing guests access to stream and watch as many times as they’d like on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast. The video can also be rented for a 24-hour viewing window for $4.99.
You can visit vimeo.com/ondemand/PhippsVirtualTour to order.
The Washington Salvation Army is creating an indoor winter wonderland with a Snowman Trail contest open to the community.
The Snowman Trail will be on display from Dec. 1 through Dec. 21 at The Washington Crown Center Mall. Visitors can vote on their favorite by placing a donation in the red kettle placed next to the snowman or by selecting their favorite snowman online.
The Frozen Sisters will be visiting on Dec. 2 and 16 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be available for pictures. There will be three categories for prizes, including most traditional, most unique, and most fundraised. The winners of each category will win a special snowman prize.
To register a snowman for the contest, CLICK HERE.
All funds raised will go toward The Washington Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.
Nutcracker at Carnegie Performing Arts Center
The classic holiday ballet will be streamed this year from the Carnegie Performing Arts Center in Carnegie.
A DVD will be available for sale for $60 after December 15, whereas an individual stream costs $30.
You can go HERE for more information.
First Night, the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, is also going virtual this year.
That includes the raising of the “Future of Pittsburgh Ball.”
And it wouldn’t be Pittsburgh without fireworks. Organizers say those will be virtual this year as well.
Seasonal Events at Carnegie Museum of Art
Enjoy seasonal traditions and discover something new at Carnegie Museum of Art this holiday. Some events coming up include:
Family Day (Dec. 13, noon to 4 p.m.): Spend an afternoon as a family exploring the wide-open galleries! Pick up an Art Cat bag filled with kid-focused activities and seasonally-themed exclusive takeaways inspired by works of art on view.
Holiday Date Night (Dec. 17, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.): Admission is half price if you’re looking for a holiday adventure for you and a loved one. Each couple can pick up an art-inspired winter themed bag of activities to share in the galleries, while enjoying lively performances.
Molley’s Trolleys Pittsburgh is offering a new holiday sightseeing tour starting on Dec. 5.
The tour will include fun facts about Pittsburgh’s holiday traditions as the trolley travels through the city to visit the most iconic lights and displays. There will also be opportunities to take photos on the trolley, as well as singing Christmas carols!
The tours start in the Strip District and run every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 5 – 20.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under.
North Park & South Park ice rinks
The North Park and South Park ice rinks will open for the season on Dec. 4 at noon.
The 2020-21 ice skating season will run through mid-March, weather and conditions permitting.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, several restrictions and operational changes will be in effect during the 2020-21 season. This is from the Allegheny County Parks Department:
- Public skating will be limited to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, as well as special holiday sessions
- Only 100 skaters will be permitted per session;
- Tickets are available for purchase in advance online up to one hour before each session;
- Face coverings will be required both inside and outside at all times in compliance with Pennsylvania’s Universal Masking Order;
- Physical distancing must be observed inside rink buildings;
- No season passes will be sold;
- No concessions will be available at the rinks;
- No outside food or drinks will be permitted;
- No birthday parties or other celebrations will be permitted; and
- No group tickets will be sold.
A visit to the Nationality Rooms Holiday Open House is part of the holiday season for many people in our area. For the past 30 years, it’s been a one-day event, but because the campus buildings are closed to the public, that isn’t happening this year.
Instead, people can learn about global holiday traditions through dozens of virtual visit videos hosted by room committee members. The videos include performances, stories, cooking demonstrations and handmade ornaments from 31 countries represented in the rooms.
“In a year when we’ve had to do things so differently, we were trying to wrap our heads around how do we bring joy and continue to celebrate cultural heritage and do it in a mode that is safe and enjoyable for all?” said Belkys Torres, Pitt’s Executive Director of Global Engagement who is serving as interim director of the Nationality Rooms. “So, we came upon this idea of putting together different kinds of videos to teach folks something about a holiday tradition in a particular country.”
The videos are accessible at www.globalhub.pitt.edu/holiday-open-house.
Holiday Laser Shows
Celebrate the holidays with a unique event at North Park.
From the safety of your own car, you and your family can watch a 45-minute light show synchronized with holiday music from Dec. 10-20 in the North Park Pool parking lot.
Cox Media Group