Ready or not, the holidays are just around the corner! A great place to spend this special time is none other than the Steel City. Downtown Pittsburgh is a winter wonderland of activities that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Whether you choose to stay at Stay Alfred at the Venue or Stay Alfred at 1627 on the Strip, you’ll be surrounded by all the sites and sounds of the season.
Kickoff Your Holiday Celebrations at Light Up Night and the Peoples Holiday Market
The annual People’s Gas Holiday Market is a European style shopping village that takes place in the heart of downtown. Mixing the old and the new, this is your one stop shop for hand-made gifts, pictures with Santa and entertainment for the whole family. The market will run daily from November 22nd through December 23rd.
You won’t want to miss the inaugural Light Up Night which takes place on the first night of the Holiday Market. You’ll get to experience a full lineup of live music, fireworks, food trucks, and official tree lightings! This one night event takes place on the first night of the Christmas market. Details on both events can be found here.
Another classic shopping venue is Fifth Avenue Place, known for being one of the best shopping destinations in the country! This is a great option if you’re looking to stay out of the cold and shop a unique selection of specialty foods and high quality gifts. Not sure what to do next? The Welcome Pittsburgh Information Center, located inside the building, is your go-to for all happenings in the city. Their gift shop carries high end souvenirs to gift to your family and friends.
Cruise on Over to See One Heck of a Crèche
Unless you’ve visited before, you probably didn’t know that Pittsburgh is home to the only authorized replica of the Vatican’s nativity scene. Amazing, right?! Known as the Crèche, it opens just a few blocks from downtown on Light Up Night. Even if the nativity scene isn’t your scene, the sheer craftsmanship and effort it takes to put together this spectacle is worth a gander. It features 20 life-sized figures inside a stable totaling 66,000 pounds! In recent years the work was almost abandoned due to the high cost of maintaining it. Thanks to the generous donations of businesses, local foundations and admirers, it continues to be a sight for future travelers and generations to visit.
Relive Those Christmas Morning Feelings Through Music and Dance
Pittsburgh is the pinnacle of entertainment, especially during the holidays. Heinz Hall Performing Arts Center has a full lineup of holiday shows and is the official home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. On December 7th, they are presenting the well-known Handel’s Messiah. From December 13th-22nd, bring the whole family along to listen to your favorite holiday tunes during Highmark Holiday Pops. A variety of talented musicians and vocalists will be there, including Santa Claus himself.
The Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, right in the center of the Cultural District, is home to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the Pittsburgh Opera. From December 6th-29th, take a journey through the enchanted kingdom during a performance of the Nutcracker, a cherished holiday tradition. In late November, Broadway classics Les Miserables and A Bronx Tale will make a stop at the Benedum as well. Whether it’s your first time seeing these classics, (or perhaps your fifth time) you’re sure to be transported to a wintry musical wonderland. You can find a full list of upcoming musical performances here.
Glide Through Wintry Downtown Streets All Cozy and Warm
If you're simply looking to relax, enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride provided by the PPG Place in downtown. Take a step back in time as you ride through Market Square from the comfort of your carriage. This is the perfect way to wind down after a long day of shopping and sightseeing. Rides are free, so it is a good idea to get there early before spots fill up!
Once your ride is complete, check out PPG’s expanded ice-skating rink. Each winter season they transform their courtyard into a public ice skating rink, one that’s 67% larger than the Rockefeller Center ice rink in NYC! Even if your a newbie, ice skating a classic way of getting into the holiday spirit and admire the beautifully lit Christmas tree in the center of the rink.
Embrace the Warmth of your Downtown Pittsburgh Travel Apartment
Sometimes the best way to spend a winter evening is snuggled up with a movie and a hot drink. If you’re leaning towards a night in, our Pittsburgh vacation rentals offer full amenities to make you feel the comforts of home. Enjoy free wifi and cable services as well as a full kitchen; just remember to bring the hot cocoa. Lucky for you, the holiday activities are always close by should you choose to explore some more.
Photos courtesy of Visit Pittsburgh.