An arch of purple and green Holiday lights in the shape of flowers
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9 things to do in Pittsburgh if you’re sticking around for the holidays

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Our City/Our Campus

If you’re sticking around Pittsburgh for Winter Recess, there are many ways to experience and spread holiday cheer. From ice skating to ballet, here are nine things to do that are accessible from campus by bus.

The Black Market: Holiday Edition

Dec. 11-12

This pop-up market supports and showcases Black-owned businesses from around the region. Stop by the free downtown event to shop for jewelry, sweet treats, beauty items and more.

The holiday market downtown

Through Dec. 23

The annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market has been named among the best in the country by USA Today and offers unique outdoor holiday shopping. With wooden chalet stands in Market Square inspired by the original German Christkindlmarkts, the market features global artisans and local makers to showcase one-of-a-kind wares. Attendees can also enjoy various activities and sights, including the world's largest pickle ornament and the Holiday Kidsplay Selfie Garden.

Festive nights at the National Aviary

Through Dec. 29

Holidays at the National Aviary include Season’s Greetings Saturdays, festive brunches in the garden and late nights with the birds.


‘The Nutcracker’ with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Select dates through Dec. 29

Join Marie, her Nutcracker prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy on a journey into the Land of Enchantment in “The Nutcracker.” Use your Pitt Arts discount to get tickets.

Holiday lights at Kennywood

Weekends only through Dec. 26, then nightly through Jan. 2

Take a stroll among more than one million twinkling lights and marvel at the tallest holiday tree in Pennsylvania. Savor the flavors of festive foods and holiday drinks along with special entertainment during the 10th anniversary of Kennywood’s Holiday Lights.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens holiday show

Through Jan. 9

This year's theme, Sparkle and Shine, features new displays of holiday trees, topiaries and more than 1,600 poinsettias. After a hiatus in 2020, this year will also see the return of the Winter Light Garden: an outdoor wonderland of luminous orbs, trees, fountains, a tunnel of lights and a new ice castle display.

Skating at PPG Place

Through Jan. 9

Enjoy ice skating among the skyscrapers at The UPMC Rink at PPG Place in downtown Pittsburgh.  

Holidays at the Carnegie Museum of Art

Through Jan. 10

Organized every year by the Women’s Committee of the Carnegie Museum of Art, the museum’s Hall of Architecture will be transformed into a winter wonderland featuring five Fraser fir trees adorned with hand-made ornaments. This year’s theme is Bedazzled: Celebrating the Diamond Anniversary of the Carnegie Trees.

Holidays at the Heinz History Center

Through Jan. 17

The museum’s A Very Merry Pittsburgh exhibition features a special section with family keepsakes, artifacts, film and imagery that explore how Western Pennsylvanians have celebrated major winter holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, through the years.


— Kara Henderson