8 Pittsburgh Holiday Traditions
By Meghan Poisson-DeWitt
Wintergarden at PPG Place
PPG Place has been a Pittsburgh icon since its construction began in 1981. While the 5.5-acre complex is not lacking in ameneties, it’s the glass enclosed Wintergarden that makes our list. Over the holiday season, the warmth and light of the Wintergarden beacons with its seasonal displays. Every year from late November to January, the Wintergarden hosts annual Spirits of Giving Around the World and Gingerbread House and Train Exhibits. These combined exhibits embody holiday celebrations around the world with displays of gingerbread houses, paintings and international Santa Clauses, Stop in today!
Ice Skating at Schenley Park
Nothing is more nostalgic than a day of ice skating with family. Every year, hundreds of skaters young and old, flock to Schenley Park to take to the ice. From kids just learning to stay upright to seasoned skating veterans, the Schenley rink has something to offer everyone. Open from November to February, the rink hosts several themed skating events throughout the winter season, including “Skate with Santa” in December. Make magical holiday memories with your family today!
For dates, times and prices, visit pittsburghpa.gov/citiparks/schenley-skating-rink
Miniature Railroad & Village at Carnegie Science Center
The history of the Miniature Railroad & Village at Carnegie Science Center began over 70 years ago as the in-home display of Charles Bowdish of Brookville, Pennsylvania. After 34 years, the display was moved to Buhl Planetarium in 1954 before making its permanent home at the Carnegie Science Center in 1992.
The display features hundreds of animated scenes depicting life in the region from the 1880’s to the late 1930’s and beyond. Iconic buildings dot the landscape, including Falling Water, Forbes Field and even the Monongahela Incline. The Village will premier its new holiday display on November 17th.
WPXI Holiday Parade
Holiday parades have been part of festive celebrations across the United States for generations. Featuring giant balloons, creative and colorful floats, marching bands, celebrity guests and Santa’s first appearance of the year, the WPXI Holiday Parade presented by Pittsburgh Public Schools is no different! First marching down Fifth Avenue in 1980, the parade celebrates its 36th anniversary this year. The event takes place on November 26th from 9-11am. Can’t make it down the parade route? Don’t worry! The parade will be broadcast live on WPXI-TV and stream live on wpxi.com.
A Musical Christmas Carol
This year, join Pittsburgh CLO in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of A Musical Christmas Carol! Charles Dickens’ classic characters come to life on stage in a vibrant, song-filled feast for the senses. Full of spellbinding special effects, memorable songs and spectacular dance numbers, A Musical Christmas Carol is not to be missed. and Join Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim at the Byham Theater from December 9th to December 23rd!
Very few things embody the holidays quite like The Nutcracker. Pairing mesmerizing choreography with the iconic Tchaikovsky score, The Nutcracker has fascinated audiences for generations. The Pittsburgh Ballet Theater (PBT) has created a very Pittsburgh-centeric production, featuring locations and icons from turn of the century Pittsburgh, including the F.W. McKee mansion (once located on Fifth Avenue) and the Kaufmann’s Clock, which still adorns the Macy’s building downtown. The PBT version of the Nutcracker, complete with new choreography by artistic director Terrence S. Orr, has graced the Benedum stage since 2002.
Don’t miss out on this Pittsburgh tradition December 2nd through December 27th!
The Nationality Rooms are on the first and third floors of the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. These classrooms, designed to represent the cultures of the assorted ethnic groups that settled in Allegheny County over generations, allow visitors to “experience their ethnic identity and ancestral roots.” Every holiday season, from November to January, these rooms are decorated in the traditional holiday styles of their representative countries. Many religious beliefs, traditions and holidays are represented. Guided group tours for ten or more people are available with an advanced registration. Smaller groups and individuals can take a self-guided tour.
People’s Gas Holiday Markets
A local family favorite, the People’s Gas Holiday Market takes place downtown in Market Square during the holiday season. Inspired by the original German Christkindlmarkets, the Holiday Market offers an international holiday shopping experience to local Pittsburghers. All of the holiday themed shops are tucked inside of Alpine-style wooden cottages and illuminated by holiday lights. Don’t forget to check out the daily live performances and take a picture with Santa. The Market opens during Light Up Night on November 18th and runs through December 23rd. For more information on the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, visit www.downtownpittsburgh.com