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City sidewalks, busy sidewalks (Dressed in holiday style!)

December 14, 2011

Living in a new city at Christmas is pretty exciting.  While I miss my Minneapolis-specific holiday traditions, like picking out a tree at the Bachmann’s on Lyndale or going to the Holidazzle (which, honestly, I don’t do every year ’cause it’s often too COLD), there are all kinds of new things to check out here in Pittsburgh and I’m excited to experience some of them, especially now that I’m done with classes and finals.  I finally feel like I have some time to explore my new city and what better time to do it than Christmastime?

The Christmas season in Pittsburgh begins with Light Up Night which usually falls the Friday before Thanksgiving.

Cathedral of Learning on Pitt's campus - Light Up Night

It marks the start of the shopping season downtown and it’s been going for over 50 years.  The main concept of Light Up Night is the entire Golden Triangle (downtown) gets lit up – every building downtown has all its lights on, every bridge into the city have their lights on all night.  Even the stadiums on the North Shore and buildings on the University of Pittsburgh campus get into the act.  Then there’s a huge fireworks show.

Besides the lights, there are events happening all evening, some of which continue into the holiday season.  Santa’s there along with some reindeer and there are carriage rides and musical performances.  An enormous tree is lit up in the middle of the PPG Place ice skating rink, which is open from Light Up Night until March 4.  I want to go skating right now, desperately, but there are special student rates after the holidays so it’ll have to wait.  There’s totally even a gingerbread house display and competition which goes into January!

Downtown also has a larger-than-life Nativity scene which is apparently the only authorized replica of the Vatican’s creche that’s on display in front of Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Like most large cities, various Pittsburgh theaters have their performances of those two holiday standbys, The Nutcracker and A Christmas CarolThe Pittsburgh Ballet Theater is performing The Nutcracker now through the 23rd.  I’m going to see it on Saturday!  The Pittsburgh CLO is one of the country’s most prestigious non-profit theaters and their production of “A Musical Christmas Carol” is a Pittsburgh tradition.  It also runs through the 23rd.  The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has another holiday tradition: their Holiday Pops Show starts tomorrow and runs through the 18th – Marvin Hamlisch is conducting!

The Phipps Conservatory has a Winter Flower Show, which is Nutcracker-themed this year.  They have hundreds of poinsettias, twinkle lights, and Nutcracker scenes.  They also have Candlelight Evenings and are open until 10 p.m. now until New Year’s.  I’m going Sunday evening next week to enjoy some greenery.  And twinkle lights.

Even The Warhol is getting into the holiday spirit.  They’re open til 10 p.m. every Friday for their Good Fridays series with half-price admission and a cash bar.  This Good Friday will feature a holiday-themed show from the Pop Cabaret.  Apparently there will be some traditional-sounding things like wassailing and sugar plum faeries, as well as some less-traditional fare like “evergreen tragedies” and “apocalyptic carols”…?  I’m going to The Warhol Friday evening for the first time this Friday.  Looks like it’ll be a holiday adventure!  The Carnegie Museums have some fun events and decorations too, including six 20-foot spruce trees all decked out for the holidays in the Hall of Architecture.  I plan on visiting them next week.

A visit to Santa is always a must.  Well, maybe not for me… but this lunch with Santa at the Pittsburgh Zoo event makes me wish I knew someone with kids so I could borrow them and see Santa and zoo animals!!

Anyone have any other suggestions for Christmassy things for a newcomer to do in the ‘burgh?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. cmhoman permalink*
    December 15, 2011 10:44 am

    Great. Now I want to go to Pittsburgh for the Holidays. That is not a sentence I expected to say.

  2. Jaime Frontero permalink
    December 21, 2011 10:33 pm

    Last time I was in Pgh (with Cassiopaea in tow at 9 or 10 years old) I tried to cross all the bridges. A monumental task – but pretty – they’re mostly all lit up (or were – this is like 12 years ago…).

    It is a nice christmas town though. As close as the US gets to Dickensian.


    • December 23, 2011 12:13 pm

      Pittsburgh is quite Dickensian at Christmas in several ways, not least of which is its similarity to Victorian London… dreary and a little dirty. But yes, also festive with lots of lights and the bridges and the rivers and such.

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