Best Christmas Activities and Attractions in Pittsburgh

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The Christmas season in Pittsburgh is an exciting time of the year! During the holidays, Pittsburgh has a beautiful holiday glow with so many places decorated for the holidays.

This guide to Christmas activities in Pittsburgh is here to help you find the best activities to enjoy this season! Since we’re located a short one-hour drive from Pittsburgh, we enjoy coming to Pittsburgh, especially during Christmastime because there is so much to do. Here’s a list of our favorite and top Christmas things to do in Pittsburgh! 

Top Christmas Activities and Attractions in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Light-Up Night

Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022

Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night is the official kick-off to the Christmas season in Pittsburgh! Light Up Night weekend is the first weekend all of the downtown Pittsburgh Christmas attractions open, such as the ice skating at PPG place and the Christmas Market. On Light Up Night, there are firework shows, tree lighting, block parties, food, music, carriage rides, and photos with Santa! Throughout the night, there are multiple places to get food and listen to live music! Check out the full Light Up Night schedule.

Downtown Christmas Light Displays and Trees

Downtown Pittsburgh offers a few locations to see Christmas light displays! Start your exploration at the Point and see the massive Christmas tree made of Christmas lights! Then, take a walk to the Unity Tree on the old Horne’s building. This building was Pittsburgh’s first department store, Joseph Horne Company. So you might here some locals call this tree the Horne’s Christmas Tree as well!

World’s Largest Pickle Ornament 

During the Christmas season in Pittsburgh, make sure to check out the World’s Largest Pickle Ornament. It stands over 35 feet tall!

Ice Skate at PPG Place

Located in downtown Pittsburgh, the Ice Rink at PPG Place is a fun activity for the winter. Open from Light up Night to mid-February, you can rent skates and skate your day away around the giant Christmas tree! You can also visit the Wintergarden, a winter “green space” that also houses the gingerbread display!

Pittsburgh Créche

Pittsburgh has a bit of the Vatican in its Christmas traditions! The Pittsburgh Créche is the world’s only authorized replica of the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square nativity scene. It opens during the annual Light Up Night in November and remains open through Epiphany. The Créche is located in downtown Pittsburgh’s outside courtyard of the U.S. Steel Tower.

Peoples Gas Holiday Market at Market Square

Located at Market Square in Pittsburgh, the Christmas Market is a great place to do some last-minute Christmas Shopping. Here, local businesses can sell their handicrafts. Throughout the duration of the market, there are different events, including live shows and food.

View the Gingerbread Houses and Spirit of Giving International Santas

After spending some time at the Holiday Market, take some time to visit the free display of life-sized Santas from around the world. Also, stop by the City-County Building lobby to view entries for the gingerbread house competition!

Visit Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden never fail to amaze us! Its winter flower show is always a beautiful spectacle! Featuring Christmas-themed exhibits, Christmas lights, holiday trees, and the magic of Christmas! The Winter Flower Show is a popular Christmas attraction in Pittsburgh, so get your tickets in advance!

Drive Through Christmas Light Displays

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of Pittsburgh’s many drive-through Christmas light displays! Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland in Butler and Clinton PA’s Christmas Light-Up have been local favorites for years! Or consider going further from the city and visiting Oglebay’s Festival of Lights in Wheeling, WV!

Tour the Clayton: A Gilded Age Christmas

The Clayton or the Frick Mansion offers holiday-themed tours during Christmastime. This beautiful late Victorian mansion was the home of the wealthy Frick family. This year’s tour discusses the evolution of popular Christmas traditions throughout the 19th century. Advanced ticketing is highly recommended for these tours!

See a Christmas or Holiday Theater Show

Seeing a Christmas show is a super fun thing to do in Pittsburgh during Christmas! The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra performs a yearly Christmas concert. Come to listen to your favorite Christmas tunes with a full orchestra! The Pittsburgh Ballet also follows suit with the Christmas theme in the Cultural District and puts on The Nutcracker! The Trans Siberian Orchestra and Cirque du Soleil Ovo visit PPG Paints Arena yearly.

Tour the Nationality Rooms

Located in the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, the Nationality Rooms get fully decorated for the holidays. These rooms are designed in the style of different nationalities worldwide and are decorated accordingly during Christmas.

Kennywood Christmas Light Show

During Christmastime, Kennywood Amusement Park decorates the park with thousands of Christmas lights! The light show spans most of the park, and some of the rides are operating! It’s worth taking the train ride around the park to see additional light displays. The park has different activities, including ice sculpture demonstrations, magic shows, and musical performances.

Visit the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum

The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum is fun to visit during the holidays! Every year, the Model Railroad Museum sets up its Christmas display!

Pennsylvania Trolley Museum Holiday

Every year the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum hosts the annual Santa Trolley. Visitors can ride aboard one of the beautifully restored streetcars and will get to meet and get photos with Santa Claus. After the ride with Santa, you can visit the decorated Wexford trolley station and museum to see the large Lionel toy train layout.

Carnegie Museum Hall of Architecture Christmas Trees

Every year the hall of architecture in the Carnegie Museum of Art gets into the holiday spirit and is decorated with Christmas trees! Consider taking some time to enjoy the art museum and the decorated Christmas trees on a snowy day this Christmas season!

Go Snow Tubing

If you’re looking to get outdoors this winter, consider going for a winter hike at one of the many beautiful parks near Pittsburgh.  Boyce Park, only a short 20-minute drive from downtown, offers snow tubing during the winter! Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Hidden Valley in the Laurel Highlands are two great ski resorts to visit during the winter!

Pop-Up Bars and Events

During Christmastime and throughout December, make sure to check out one of the pop-up Christmas bars in Pittsburgh. Or participate in one of the many Christmas bar crawls in Southside!