Light Up Night kicks off.

Despite the loss of the Macy’s department store Downtown, the Pittsburgh tradition of holiday window displays will continue this year.

Prior to the main Light Up Night event, the window displays in the former Macy’s storefront along Fifth Avenue will be unveiled. Nine windows in all will show holiday scenes by groups including the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Pittsburgh Dance Council.

Colcom Foundation and Core Realty are sponsoring the window displays this year. Colcom Vice President John Rohe said the tradition is about more than just windows, it’s about a holiday “state of mind.”

“[The tradition] has more to do with the wonder and imagination of a child,” Rohe said. “The tradition eagerly awaits the resourcefulness and ingenuity of our local arts community.”

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership unveiled plans for the 55th annual Light Up Night at a Thursday morning press event. Despite the 70 degree temps outside, Santa Claus was on hand dressed in his full Christmas attire to oversee the announcements for this year’s festivities.

The start of the Downtown holiday season kicks off on Nov. 20, with a daylong series of family-friendly events, culminating with the official tree lighting, and the requisite fireworks on the Clemente Bridge.

Light Up Night fireworks. Photo by Rene Rosensteel.
Light Up Night fireworks. Photo by Rene Rosensteel.

The windows will be revealed at 6:30 p.m. on Light Up Night by Mayor Bill Peduto and Pittsburgh native Meghan Klingenberg, of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team.

In addition, there will be live performances from Jeff Jimerson, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Nevada Color, Beauty Slap, Daya and JoJo.

Light Up Night is anticipated to draw thousands of visitors Downtown, the PDP says, and the entire roster of holiday events is expected to have an economic impact of $21 million.

There’s a fundraiser planned in advance of Light Up Night to mark the reopening of the rink at PPG Place.  A day before it reopens to the general public the skating rink will open for a glow-in-the-dark event for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Officially called the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place, the rink has completely overhauled with a new, larger surface for the 2015-16 season. The $100 million rink is 25 percent larger than the original rink, and can accommodate 350 skaters at once, 100 more than its previous capacity.

“We wanted to do something fun and family-friendly, and since the tree won’t be lit yet, we decided to do a glow-in-the-dark event,” says Jade Mills of the American Cancer Society.

Tickets to First Skate will be $25, and include a wristband, skate rental, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a glow necklace. And if you don’t want to put on a pair of skates but still want to attend, that’s fine too, Mills says.

The wristbands from the First Skate will give visitors access to the Wintergarden at PPG Place, ahead of the official Light Up Night unveiling, as well.

More information and the full list of holiday activities can be found on the PDP website.

Read more about Light Up Night and other top events happening this month in our 11 Pittsburgh events not to miss in November feature.

Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is an award-winning writer and editor who spends way too much time on Twitter. Her experience includes crime, features and business reporting, and she has a huge crush on Pittsburgh. She was a 2015 Kiplinger Fellow in Public Affairs Journalism at the Ohio State University, and is a founding member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Online News Association.