Category Archives: Decorating

Downtown Pittsburgh holiday season must-dos

Missed Light Up Night? Still want that selfie with all the trees? Check out these spots to hit on a fun “holiday day” in Downtown Pittsburgh! See the map below. These are listed in no particular order so that you can customize your own holiday fun!

Downtown Pittsburgh

  • See the Horne’s tree. Yes, it’s now called the Highmark Tree, formerly the Unity Tree (that name needs to come back. Maybe Highmark Unity Tree). This is the crème de la crème of Pittsburgh holiday season decorations. The tree beautifully sparkles at the corner of Stanwix and Penn along the corner of the former flagship Horne’s department store building. While decorated windows and shopping no longer exist here, the tree can serve as a great backdrop for that holiday season selfie!
    • Tip: Stand near the Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s Gateway Station for a fuller shot of the tree.
  • Shop the Holiday Market at Market Square. Find more than 30 artisans and vendors at Pittsburgh’s mini version of a German Christmas market, complete with adorable chalets. Local artists, such as Linda Barnicott, display everything from ornaments to paintings, and other artisans have wearables (gloves, sweaters, hats), edibles (baked goods and more), smellables (is this even a word?) (candles) and more. While at Market Square, check out the dazzling lights, sphere tree and entertainment.
  • Get a group photo with the large ornament at K&L Gates Center. The huge red ornament is up! Check it out in front of the main entrance to K&L Gates Center at 210 Sixth Ave.
  • See the 107th Pittsburgh Christmas tree. Check out the ornaments depicting each of the city’s neighborhoods.
  • Skate at PPG Place. This rink is larger than New York City’s Rockefeller Center! Enjoy the PPG Place tree and ice rink before or after dinner. Check out details and prices here. Not an ice skater? Stop by for a selfie of the dazzling tree with all of its colorful designs!
  • Visit the Pittsburgh creche. It’s the only authorized replica of the creche at the Vatican. That’s a big deal for Catholics.
  • Visit Point State Park to see the snowflakes. After more than 30 years, Duquesne Light turned off the lights of the recognizable tree at the confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. A new display is expected in 2024, but in the interim, Duquesne Light gave the Point some holiday flare.
  • Spot the Pittsburgh area landmarks at the Carnegie Science Center train display. Popular Pittsburgh area landmarks — Kaufmann’s building, Mister Rogers’ house, etc. — dot the landscape of this adorable train display. Don’t rush through it — watch day turn to nighttime! Also, while at the science center, check out the holiday laser lights show. Admission is required for the science center.
  • See Santa Downtown. Check out Santa’s schedule and give him a visit.

Duquesne Light’s tree at Point State Park won’t be back. But it’s not all bad news!

Duquesne Light said last year that the very iconic tree at Point State Park would be retired at the end of the 2021 holiday season.

The private company that runs a public utility said a new, “sustainable” display would replace the 30-year-old Tree of Lights.

The company ran a crowd-sourced campaign to find the next holiday display.

The winning team was Ben Towne and his partners at Dagostino Electronic Services, Duquesne Light said in a news release. The release said Towne is a Carnegie Mellon University graduate.

The winning display, however, won’t go up for the 2022 holiday season.

The power company cited “ongoing supply chain constraints” and said it is planning for the display to premiere in 2023.

In the release, Duquesne Light President and CEO Kevin Walker said the company looks “forward to giving our customers and the community a new tree that they can be proud of and admire for years to come.”

But Duquesne Light won’t leave Point State Park in the dark this holiday season!

The company plans to add snowflakes and additional lighting to help “add a beautiful ambiance” to Point State Park, Walker said in the news release. The 2022 display will be ready in time for Light Up Night, which is on Nov. 19.

So, what will the display for 2023 include?

Well, it sounds really great, actually.

The company selected Towne and Dagostino through a crowd-sourced campaign using HeroX. Their motive was to find a display that would be more sustainable and “would better protect the integrity of the park grounds.”

The winning team’s submission included “a modern, bright, festive and ‘smart’ tree design,” Duquesne Light said, adding that it will be “environmentally friendly with the use of new technologies.”

Features proposed include LED light strings that will use battery packs “to ensure resiliency during potential power disruptions.”

And check this out — the 2023 display will be animated.

In a statement from Duquesne Light’s news release, Towne said his team “was informed by years spent absorbing Pittsburgh history, including days in the Heinz History Center with special focus in their exhibits about the history of innovation in Pittsburgh. Time and again, this city has come up against constraints and found innovative ways to reinvent itself, while keeping up fun traditions that bring people together.”

Looking forward to 2023!