First Night

There’s something for everyone this December—whether you’re ready to sip spiced eggnog, sing Auld Lang Syne or exclaim Bah humbug. Before we send 2016 on its merry way, get out and explore the Burgh’s best December events yet.

Joy of Cookies Tour
Courtesy Lawrenceville Corporation.

1. Joy of Cookies Tour in Lawrenceville: December 1—4

Lawrenceville’s signature holiday happening is sweeter than ever—with a four-day desert lover’s paradise that would make cookbook pioneer Irma Rombauer beam with pride. Toss in heaps of dough, inventive recipes, independent commerce, and fierce neighborhood pride and you’ve got the ingredients to make the Cookie Tour one of the city’s most beloved events. While strolling Butler St. and parts of Penn Ave. and 34th St., cookie crawlers can pop into 40 eclectic businesses to nosh on free cookie samples, collect tried-and-true recipes and help boost Lawrenceville’s local economy. New twists include to-die-for dark chocolate sea salt and milk chocolate caramel Snappers crafted by Edward Marc Chocolatier, and a presentation of the coveted Cookie Cup—a miniature silver replica of the Stanley Cup made by Paul Michael Designs which will go to the cookie contest winner. The 19th annual extravaganza includes a tree lighting ceremony, crafts, visits with Santa, a Cookie Mall, trolley transport, and more. Download a map and view Cookie Tour hours.

Courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art.

2. Holidays at Carnegie Museums: December 1—17

There’s an entire month filled with reasons to make Carnegie Museums your holiday destination. For a beloved seasonal favorite, don’t miss the magnificent Carnegie Trees and Neopolitan presepio display, where towering evergreens are adorned with handcrafted ornaments celebrating the cultural diversity of Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, and Peru. Peer into the rare Neapolitan presepio filled with lifelike figures and wondrous details re-creating the Nativity scene within an exquisite panorama of 18th-century Italian village life. On Dec. 9, head to the grand opening of the new Natural History Museum Store, featuring kids activities, products by local makers and giveaways. Pop into the CMOA Store’s Open House and Trunk Show events to shop for haute art, enjoy music, meet area designers, and have your gifts wrapped. For some warm and fuzzy nostalgia don’t miss the Dec. 17 screening of the 1983 holiday classic, A Christmas Story, based on stories by Jean Shepherd. Introducing the film and leading a Q&A, meet-and-greet session and autograph signing will be special guest Ian Petrella, who plays Ralph Parker’s kid brother Randy in the hit film. View a complete schedule.

Artwork by Joe Mruk.

3. Midnight Radio Holiday Spectacular at Bricolage: December 1—17

Forget six geese a laying and those dashing reindeer and instead take in a night of locally produced holiday mischief. Anything goes at Bricolage’s eagerly awaited Holiday Spectacular—where top local comedy writers and actors join forces to craft the company’s merriest installment of Midnight Radio yet. Blending the golden era of live radio with a fast-paced variety show, the family-friendly production features works penned by Matt Henderson, Tessa Karel and Gayle Pazerski. Witty Pittsburgh-themed spoofs on traditional holiday classics like “Fake Breaking News ” and “Madlib Radio Minute” will help take the edge off the holiday Sturm und Drang. The show’s signature 1940s radio format is packed with live Foley sound effects, commercial bits, and vocal acrobatics. Holiday revelry needs festive music and this show shines with local musical luminaries—from Molly Alphabet’s down-home country twang to Bob Banerjee’s raucous foot-tapping fiddling. Don’t miss the ugly sweater contest, photos with Mr. & Mrs. Claus, and “Happy Half-hour” featuring holiday games, free drinks, and tasty eggnog. Buy tickets.

The Frick Pittsburgh
Courtesy The Frick Pittsburgh.

4. Holidays & Winter Fridays at The Frick Pittsburgh: December 1—31

Few places exude holiday charm and cheer like The Frick Pittsburgh. Whether you want to check out the site’s new exhibitions and $15M expansion—or you have a houseful of relatives to entertain—The Frick offers an entire month packed with creative ways to deck the halls. From experiencing the splendor of a Victorian Christmas and unwinding with a glass of vino on a Friday night, to building your own gingerbread house, The Frick’s expanded holiday lineup has something for every reveler. Don’t miss the new Clayton Holiday Tour, A Family Christmas, where visitors will step back in time 100 years to explore Christmases past and learn about Victorian gift-giving traditions. See rare 19th-century objects such as a toy sewing machine, Kodak camera, wind-up animals, and other artifacts, games, and dolls from the Gilded Age. Step into lavishly adorned rooms inside the Frick family manse to bask in the warm glow of live poinsettias, fresh greens, decorated trees, and archival photos. Head to the Winter Fridays series to enjoy strolling carolers, piping hot libations, cookie decorating, hands-on workshops, films, live music, and more. View a complete schedule.

Faust, F. W. Murnau, 1926.

5. Faust at The Hollywood Theater in Dormont: December 4

Who wouldn’t want to spend a Sunday with Faust? The protagonist of classic German legend—who makes a deal with the devil—has inspired countless artistic reinterpretations over the ages. One of the most notable is the iconic 1926 silent film made by German director F. W. Murnau, who reimagined Faust for the silver screen four years after making his Expressionist, Dracula-inspired masterpiece, Nosferatu. Fans of Hollywood’s golden age won’t want to miss the rare chance to see Murnau’s last German film as part of The Hollywood’s Silents, Please! series. Starring Gösta Ekman and Emil Jannings, the technically elaborate production draws on traditional versions of the enduring tale and on Goethe’s 19th-century tragic play. Audiences will be drawn in as Mephisto sets his sights on corrupting the thoughtful old alchemist Faust, who is desperately trying to save his village from a plague. Augmenting the drama will be live musical accompaniment by Richard Nicol and Steve Rightnour, performing as Pittsburgh Modular and Monorocket. One of only two single-screen theaters in Pittsburgh’s South Hills, The Hollywood is a BYOB venue. Buy tickets.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.