Category Archives: Horne’s

Take a holiday walking tour of Downtown Pittsburgh

Rossilynne Culgan, author of “100 Things to Do in Pittsburgh Before You Die,” is offering three guided walking tours throughout the holiday season featuring nine holly jolly stops along the way.

Culgan’s tour is $25 per person and includes a copy of her book, plus some other fun.

The tour includes the PPG Place ice rink, the City of Pittsburgh’s gingerbread displays and more.

Her tour is inspired by her 2017 holiday walking tour she published in The Incline.

Your ultimate guide to Pittsburgh area holiday events

I curated this epic list of Pittsburgh area holiday events to help guide you through the season! I did it for my actual full-time job since It’s Christmas 365 actually costs me money instead of making me money, haha.

The list has sooooo much in it. Take a look. Share with others! Reach out to me with events I missed. Or if you hit up any of these events, let me know! You might even see me there!

The Light Up Night post to make your Pittsburgh Light Up Night merry and bright

You’re going to want to bookmark, print or take notes because this is going to be one epic post to help you get through a Pittsburgh Light Up Night that’s merry and bright.

First thing’s first: Light Up Night is an amazing way to kick off the holiday season. Do not let traffic, crowds or other factors prohibit you from heading Dahntahn for the fun!

Light Up Night is my ultimate favorite night of the year in Pittsburgh. (If you want the history of Light Up Night, go here.) I miss the Kaufmann’s windows and walking around the various floors to see what’s happening. But there still is a lot to enjoy.

So… how do you have a fun and happy experience at Light Up Night?

Here’s how:

Plan ahead. You’ll want a plan for Light Up Night because there literally is so much going on that if you decide on the fly, you’ll waste more time! Read on for how to make the most of your time!

Bundle up. It’s going to be festive out, so you’ll want the scarves and gloves, hats and heavy coats for Friday night.

Be merry. It’s going to be crowded. Other people do exist.

And now, here are some ways to take it all in on Light Up Night:

The first official ceremony takes place at noon with the creche at the U.S. Steel Tower. You probably won’t be around for that, but I needed to give you the heads up if it’s something you want to see.

As for the evenings where everything else happens:

Get the most out of Light Up Night!

With so much going on at Light Up Night, it’s difficult to figure out what to check out. Here are my suggestions to help you have a great Light Up Night experience.

Everything I know about is bulleted here. But the bolded ones are my suggestions. See below the bullets for descriptions, timelines, etc.

  • 4:45 p.m. – Allegheny County Courthouse Trees and Tower Lighting
  • 5:15 p.m. – City-County Building Tree Lighting
  • 5:30 p.m. – PPG Plaza Tree Lighting and American Cancer Society Tribute of Light ceremony
  • 5:45 p.m. – One Oxford Centre Tree Lighting
  • 5:45 p.m. – Market Square’s Season of Lights Countdown
  • 6 p.m. (to 9:45 p.m.) – Celebrating the Music of Fred Rogers + appearances by Daniel Tiger (EQT Plaza – 625 Liberty Avenue)6 p.m. – The Nox Boys (Main Stage, Ft. Duquense Boulevard and Stanwix Street)
  • 6 p.m. – Beauty Slap (New Music Stage, Penn Avenue & Stanwix Street)
  • 6 p.m. (to 9 p.m.) – Santa Spectacular features the Entercom (former CBS Radio) stations helping to light the tree at Point State Park. Event includes Farkleberry Cookies, glimpse of the Mckeesport Model Train Display, food vendors, music, light show. [this event is not officially part of Light Up Night]
  • 7 p.m. – Highmark (Horne’s) Tree lighting and rooftop fireworks plus a Jumbotron show
  • 7 p.m. – Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers (Main Stage, Ft. Duquense Boulevard and Stanwix Street)
  • 7:30 p.m. – Tribe Eternal (New Music Stage, Penn Avenue & Stanwix Street)
  • 7:45 p.m. – Santa Spectacular fireworks (Point State Park) [this event is not officially part of Light Up Night]
  • 8:30 p.m. – Adam Lambert (Main Stage, Ft. Duquense Boulevard and Stanwix Street)
  • 8:30 p.m. – Krunk Movement (New Music Stage, Penn Avenue & Stanwix Street)
  • 9:30 p.m. – Fireworks Finale (Ft. Duquesne Boulevard between 6th Street and Stanwix Street)

If you’re able to kick off Light Up Night at 5 p.m., your first stop should be to the City-County Building’s tree lighting at 5:15 p.m. This tree is beautiful, the lighting is amazing and – NEW THIS YEAR – the City-County Building is home to the gingerbread display (PPG Place booted it for private rentals in the Wintergarden, boo!).

After the lighting, I’d recommend not going in to see the gingerbread displays since they’ll be there through the holiday season. You can visit them any day, so why do it when it’s co crowded!

After that, you should make your way to PPG Place to watch the American Cancer Society’s Tribute of Light ceremony. The East End Kids actually begin performing at 5 p.m., but the tree lighting usually is between 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. (By the way, at 4:45 p.m., the RMU Island Sports Center Skaters will perform “Rockin’ Christmas” on the ice rink. That’s always a fun show.)

I’ll note (for full disclosure) that for several years, I helped on stage with the tree lighting and have been a long-time volunteer with the American Cancer Society.

OK, so after that, you have some time to quickly stroll the vendors at Market Square and get a quick bite to eat. There usually are food trucks at Gateway Center. I don’t recommend a sit-down place because they’ll be busy and you’ll waste time! YOU CAN EAT WHEN YOU LEAVE!

You also could stop by Steel City to see Eat’n Park’s Smiley!

So after PPG Place, make your way to Fifth Avenue Place, where there is entertainment and Mr. McFeely! Plus, it’s a great spot to warm up, look at the few stores there and maybe head to the food court upstairs for a quick bite to eat.

Then you can head outside to watch the Horne’s Tree light up. This lighting does happen pretty quickly, so make sure you’re there on time!

Afterward, head over to Point State Park for the Entercom Radio’s Santa Spectacular. It is not affiliated with Light Up Night, but still offers festive fun!

They’ve got music (obv) and a light show, plus the big tree lighting and fireworks!

The overall event typically ends around 8 p.m., which leaves you time to make your way to the Main Stage on Fort Duquesne for the Adam Lambert show.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of non-holiday music at LIGHT UP NIGHT. But, it is what it is, and it has to be part of the draw to get people to town now without the major department stores that once brought crowds.

The area for the stage gets very crowded. But there are screens set up along the road so you still can get in on the stage action.

So your best bet is to find a good spot for the fireworks, which kick off at 9:30 p.m.

Now, you’re probably wondering about the other events, like the vendors at Market Square and the gingerbread displays.

You’ll need to come back to experience the holidays even more! There are plenty of events happening at the Holiday Market at Market Square throughout the season. Plus, the City-County Building will have the gingerbread displays. There are several theater shows and concerts that are holiday-related.

There’s so much to do in Downtown Pittsburgh for the holidays. Subscribe to the It’s Christmas 365 newsletter for more holiday events and tips for enjoying them!

If you got this far and want more info, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram! And do let me know if you’re Downtown so we can say hi!

Have ‘A Very Merry Pittsburgh’ with Heinz History Center’s holiday exhibit

Pittsburghers love traditions – especially during the Steelers season and the holiday season.

And, as the years go by, the beginnings of holiday traditions that made Pittsburgh’s once-vibrant Downtown shopping district shine are nothing but a memory.

Horne’s, Kaufmann’s, Gimbels all had extravagant holiday season traditions: windows, tree lightings, amazing interior decorating, Santa.

While those landmarks and many of the events are gone, the memories will live on through a very special exhibit at the Heinz History Center: “A Very Merry Pittsburgh.”

It’s the second year for the unique display (it first appeared in 2017).

The display, which opens Nov. 16, features:

  • The original Santa’s chair from Kaufmann’s Santaland, the giant mailbox where Pittsburgh area children used to mail wish lists to Santa
  • Holiday window display items and other memorable objects from Kaufmann’s, Horne’s and Macy’s
  • An interactive retro toy display showcasing toys from several generations
  • Gifts and toys dating to the 1840s, which show the evolution of gift-giving for the holidays

And, of course, Santa! The History Center welcomes Santa on select days and times.

I visited this exhibit during its premiere year in 2017 and took my mother, who fondly recalled so many toys and items from Kaufmann’s and Horne’s. I loved getting a chance to see old window display pieces up close and to learn more about those pieces.

This is a must-see exhibit for any Pittsburgher!

More details:

A Very Merry Pittsburgh opens Nov. 16 and continues through Jan. 5. The exhibit is included as part of a regular admission ticket to the Heinz History Center.

Santa will be at the History Center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following days: Nov. 16, 17, 23, 24, 29; and Dec. 1, 7, 8, 14, 15, 21, 22, 23, 24.

The History Center is located at 1212 Smallman St. in the Strip District. You’ll want to block off several hours to visit the History Center because of all of the wonderful exhibits, including pieces from “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and the massive Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, and so much more! Or, just get a membership and return multiple times throughout the year!

Get event listings and more holiday fun in the It’s Christmas 365 newsletter!

Adam Lambert to headline Pittsburgh Light Up Night

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the group of elves who oversee Light Up Night, unveiled this year’s Light Up Night events this morning.

The event – dubbed the 59th annual, but we know it’s not annual – will take place Nov. 22.

Adam Lambert (8:30 p.m.) will headline the main stage on Fort Duquesne Boulevard, which will lead into the night’s massive fireworks show (9:30 p.m).

Here’s a look at the tree lightings and other ceremonies:

  • Noon – U.S. Steel Tower Dedication of the Crèche
  • 4:45 p.m. – Allegheny County Courthouse Trees & Tower Lighting
  • 5:15 p.m. – City-County Building Tree Lighting
  • 5:30 p.m. – PPG Plaza Tree Lighting with the American Cancer Society
  • 5:45 p.m. – One Oxford Centre Tree Lighting
  • 5:45 p.m. – Market Square’s Season of Lights Countdown
  • 7:00 p.m. – Highmark Unity Tree (the Horne’s Tree!) Lighting with Rooftop Fireworks & Jumbotron Show

Comcast Main Stage (Ft. Duquense Boulevard & Stanwix Street):

  • 6 p.m. – The Nox Boys
  • 7 p.m. – Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers
  • 8:30 p.m. – Adam Lambert

BNY Mellon New Music Stage (Penn Avenue & Stanwix Street):

  • 6 p.m. – Beauty Slap
  • 7:30 p.m. – Tribe Eternal
  • 8:30 p.m. – Krunk Movement

EQT Jazzmasters Stage (EQT Plaza, 625 Liberty Ave.):

  • 6 to 9 p.m. – Celebrating the Music of Fred Rogers and appearances by Daniel Tiger

Peoples Gas Holiday Market at Market Square:

  • 5:45 – 9:30 p.m. – BNY Mellon Season of Lights and the Eleventh Hour Barbershop Quartet


  • 7:00 p.m. – Highmark Unity Tree (Horne’s Tree!) Lighting & Rooftop Fireworks at Fifth Avenue Place
  • 7:45 p.m. – Santa Spectacular Fireworks at Point State Park
  • 9:30 p.m. – BNY Mellon Fireworks Finale by Zambelli

Subscribe to the It’s Christmas 365 newsletter for more Light Up Night details! And find more details from the Downtown Partnership here.

12 Sleeps to Christmas: Special ornaments

Some people theme trees with colors, patterns or styles.

While themed trees look beautiful, I prefer trees that truly represent a person or family through the ornament choices.

My family’s main tree is filled with a number of handcrafted and store bought ornaments — many of which tell the stories of our lives.

Whether it’s an ornament showcasing the Pittsburgh skyline, Myrtle Beach or “baby’s first Christmas,” they all tell a story.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite ornament. I love all of the ornaments depicting Kaufmann’s Clock and the Horne’s tree. My Kennywood Park ornaments (especially the wooden pieces of coaster track) are great, too.

But the ornaments I love most are the ones from my grandparent’s tree.

They are simple glass balls with designs.

Most are in OK shape with some obvious signs that they’re old.

I don’t put all of these special ones on the tree. Some remain in the containers so to try to protect some of them.

They sit near the top to avoid being swatted by a dog’s tail.

I wish I knew more about their origin — what store they’re from, who designed them, if they’re part of a larger collection.

I know nothing about them except that they were part of my grandparents’ tree for decades.

As a kid I remember helping my grandma hang them on her tree.