Light Up Night is Pittsburgh’s most magical night of the year — for kids from 1 to 92 (and beyond, really).
Though there are a few less trees lit this year, no longer window displays or department stores to visit, Pittsburgh Light Up Night has an extensive schedule that can be quite daunting for, well, kids from 1 to 92.
This post offers an excellent guide to making Light Up Night merry and bright!
Before I offer my tips and tricks for experiencing the best Pittsburgh Light Up Night possible, I recommend bringing extra face masks for you and anybody you’re with. The COVID-19 pandemic persists. Some indoor spots might require face masks. Bring your COVID-19 vaccination card as some indoor locations might require proof of vaccination.
While events kick off at 11 a.m., for most people, I recommend arriving between 4 and 5.
Take public transit if you feel comfortable around crowds given the pandemic. Remember, face masks are required on public transportation. Taking the T? Get off at the Gateway or Wood Street stations.
Driving? Park on the outskirts of Downtown — on the North Side near Heinz Field and PNC Park, First Avenue garage, Station Square. If you park at any of those locations and feel comfortable taking the trolley, Port Authority has light-rail stations near Rivers Casino/Heinz Field (Allegheny) and PNC Park (North Side) on the North Side; First Avenue station in the First Avenue garage; and Station Square. Of note: Trolley stations between First Avenue and Allegheny are free. It will cost you to take the T from Station Square and beyond.
Of course, the garages and T stations are all very walkable if that is something for you.
Once you’ve figured out travel and you’ve arrived in Downtown Pittsburgh, here are my Pittsburgh Light Up Night tips for making it a merry and bright night!
- 4-4:45 p.m. — Browse the shops at the Holiday Market at Market Square. More than 30 artisans and vendors offer gifts, food and more from tiny chalets.
- 4:45 p.m. — Make your way to the City-County Building (414 Grant St.) for the City of Pittsburgh Tree Lighting at 5 p.m.
- 5 p.m. — Watch the City of Pittsburgh Tree Lighting at 5 p.m. After the tree lighting and fireworks, be sure to check out the annual Gingerbread House competition. This year’s display will feature 60 winning entries displayed behind glass under the Grant Street portico.
- 5:45 p.m. — Make your way to Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue for the Horne’s tree lighting.
- 6-6:45 p.m. — Celebrate Pittsburgh’s most iconic holiday corner with the lighting of the Horne’s tree (officially known now as the Highmark Christmas Tree Lighting). Look up after the tree is lit for Zambelli rooftop fireworks! (Alternative, though, I don’t recommend missing the Horne’s tree lighting: Visit One Oxford Centre to see Santa. Several food trucks will be stationed outside. If you take this alt idea, skip the 6:45 ice carvings.)
- 6:45 p.m. — Check out the ice carvings near Fifth Avenue Place on your way to Heinz Hall.
- 7:15-7:45 p.m. — Listen to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s 30-minute holiday concert at Heinz Hall (600 Penn Ave). Be sure to read about the mask/vaccination policy for Heinz Hall.
- 7:45 p.m. — Skip over to EQT Plaza (625 Liberty Ave.) to check out the “world’s largest” pickle ornament. It’s kind of a big dill, ’n at. This pickle ornament is more than 35 feet tall!
- 8:20 p.m. — Miss Freddye at the Highmark Main Stage under the Horne’s Tree, Stanwix Street & Penn Avenue
- 9:30 p.m. — BNY Mellon Fireworks Spectacular (with “supersized” Zambelli finale), Allegheny Overlook on Fort Duquesne Boulevard