Category Archives: Things to do

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.

Pittsburgh area drive-thru lights displays 2022

From resorts and parks to the neighborhood Clark Griswold, there are plenty of drive-thru lights displays.

  • Pittsburgh Zoo: The drive-thru lights display features more than 80 animal lights displays — including 30 new displays, classic characters and carols. Event is held from 5:15 to 9:45 p.m. on select nights from Nov. 25 through Dec. 30. Cost is $40 per vehicle for members or $50 for nonmembers. Buy tickets, more information online.
  • Allegheny County’s Holiday Laser Show at North Park: Allegheny County offers a 45-minute light show synchronized with holiday music in the parking lot of the North Park pool. Show is held multiple times daily from Dec. 9-22. Shows Sunday through Thursday are $20. Shows Fridays and Saturdays are $25. Space is limited. More details at AlleghenyCounty.us.
  • Clinton Christmas Light-Up: First held in 1993, organizers of the Christmas Light-Up Celebration in Findlay Township say it’s the “best kept holiday secret in Pittsburgh.” The drive-thru display features a 1-mile drive of lights displays in a wooded setting through the Clinton Community Park. Display is open nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. Nov. 19 to Jan. 1. Cost is $10 per vehicle and is cash only. This event is organized by a nonprofit group. Though not guaranteed, the chance to go through multiple times is possible depending on traffic. Find more information online.
  • Presque Isle Lights: For the third year, Presque Isle State Park will offer a serene drive-thru lights display through the park that many Pittsburghers are familiar with in the summer for its beaches along Lake Erie. The lights show is organized by the nonprofit Presque Isle Partnership group. Lights turn on at 6 p.m., and park gates close at 9 p.m. There is no fee to enter the park. Lights displays are found in some spots among the 13-mile drive. Be sure to spot the owls, the Presque Isle Lighthouse and Beach 8 display. Important to note that this display does not light the entire park, so if you head north, be sure to couple it with the Erie’s Best Holiday Lights Facebook group. Many displays are lit with solar generators. Lights are lit Thursdays through Sundays from Dec. 1-30. The lights are not lit on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Details on the Presque Isle Partnership site.
  • Erie’s Best Holiday Lights Facebook group: Created out of COVID-19 pandemic closures, this group provides photos and information to the many public and private lights displays in Erie — from several homes on Harvard Boulevard to Asbury Woods park. Check out the Facebook group here.
  • Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland: This annual display has a NEW LOCATION for 2022 — Cooper’s Lake in Butler County. This display offers a 300-foot-lit tunnel, a 50-foot-tall tree and several displays — including the new “Favorite Tales” displays. The event is held nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. (or later on Saturdays/Sundays) from Nov. 18 through Jan. 1. Cost per carload varies based on night and ranges from $30 to $40 for most vehicles. There is an “express lane” add-on. There are special costs for other types of vehicles. Tickets are purchased for a specific day but are “valid on any day of equal or lesser value.” Find more information online.
  • Oglebay’s Festival of Lights: The 6-mile drive-thru display is lit up nightly from dusk to midnight, including holidays, from Nov. 10 to Jan. 8. The resort says there are reduced wait times Mondays through Wednesdays, and visitors can beat the rush when arriving between 5 and 6 pm. Cost is a $30 donation and includes a season pass and a coupon rewards book. There are discounted rates on select days. Find more information here.
  • Overlys Country Christmas: This location is a mix between drive-thru and walk-around event. The event’s website describes it as not a drive-thru but “rather a unique, old-fashioned, walk-around Christmas Village, filled with traditional sights, sounds, treats and things to do reminiscent of Christmas of long-ago.” If you go, go early as there are reports annually of people waiting 90 minutes to get a parking spot. Cost is $25 per family carload (up to eight people) or $5 per person. Cash only. Other costs are associated with different vehicles. Overlys is open “select” Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 17 to Dec. 30. Opens at 5:30, closing hours vary based on day and month. It’s closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. More details here.
  • ElfBurgh: TBD FOR 2022. The people behind the scary Hundred Acres Manor haunted attraction celebrate the holidays with a holiday-themed drive-thru event. The family-friendly so-called “COVID safe Christmas drive-thru event” features more than a half-million lights along the “Elf trail,” which makes its way to Santa’s Ice Castle. You never have to leave your car. Cost is $25 per vehicle. Select nights from Nov. 26 to Dec. 23. Buy tickets and get more information at PittsburghChristmas.com.
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Family, neighborhood displays

“Dad, you taught me everything I know about exterior illumination.” — Clark Griswold

  • 217 Maplewood Ave., Ambridge: One man puts at least 20,000 lights up around his Maplewood Avenue, Ambridge, home. Even some houses next door and down the street get into the fun. Park, walk and take some selfies!
  • Brodzinski Family Light Show: Located at 1 Woody Crest Drive in Whitehall, the Brodzinski Family Light Show features more than 10,000 lights, a 20-foot-tall tree and other displays synced to music. The show begins Nov. 27 and is lit from just after 5 p.m. to around 9 (some nights until 10) p.m. Find details on the family light show’s Facebook page.
  • Gilstrap Family Lights: This interactive display in West Newton lets people viewing the show vote on the next song. Check for a start date and times on the family display’s Facebook page.
  • Woodland Ridge neighborhood in Moon: For at least 25 years, residents in the Woodland Ridge neighborhood have held a house decorating contest and celebration to usher in the holiday season. The neighborhood is located at Tiffany Ridge Drive and Thorn Run Road in Moon. Neighborhood’s light up judging is Dec. 11.
  • Taylor’s Christmas Light Display: New this year, the Taylor’s Christmas Light Display will officially kick off at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at 335 Vernon Drive in West Newton. Find more on the family’s Facebook group for the display.
  • Pappy Ed’s Christmas Lights: Near Glenburn Drive and Orchard Drive in Pleasant Hills
  • Nellis Family Holiday Light Show in Baldwin
  • Light Up Lebo 2022: Drive through the Pittsburgh suburb of Mount Lebanon on Christmas Eve to view the luminiaria lining the roads. If you live in Mount Lebanon, you can support the American Cancer Society and participate in this event.
  • Edgeworth Borough on Christmas Eve: This small borough near Sewickley has, for many years, lit luminaria bags along sidewalks and property lines on Christmas Eve. Whether you’re heading home from family, trying to find Santa in the night sky, heading to midnight church services or making a Sheetz run, take a drive through Edgeworth on Christmas Eve.
  • 2022 Christmas Light Spectacular at Sts. Simon & Jude in Scott: The Sts. Simon and Jude Church parking lot at 1607 Greentree Road in Scott has been transformed into a musical lights display with dancing lights, music, Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mrs. Claus and Elves. The show, which runs through Jan. 8, is about 60 minutes, and is looped continuously, so you can drive in at any time and you will not miss anything! The show is broadcast on FM radio channel 96.7, so turn your radio to that channel when you park. There are no donations asked for or accepted for this event. It’s free and open to the public.
  • Unconfirmed for 2022 but have provided displays in the past:
    • Corner of Forsythe Road and Crest Lane in Scott Township (near Carnegie boundary)