First Night

6. WYEP’s Holiday Hootenanny at Stage AE: December 8

Fans of caroling, karaoke, and open mic nights should mark their calendars for this hip holiday happening. Don’t delay purchasing tickets to WYEP‘s 8th annual Holiday Hootenanny, because this December favorite has fast become a Burgh tradition and often sells out. Whether you grew up dreaming of snow while listening to holiday standards by Bing Crosby or Johnny Mathis, you’ll enjoy singing along with local music luminaries—all backed by the talented Holiday Hootenanny House Band—as they reinvent classic holiday tunes for two worthy causes. Equal parts live revue and benefit concert, WYEP’s impassioned Hoot knows well that holiday traditions around the globe would not be the same without music. With guitarist Nathan Zoob at the Hoot helm, the epic concert features Bill Deasy, Brooke Annibale, Norm Nardini, Casey Hanner, Clinton Clegg, Morgan Erina and many others. The merrymaking kicks off at 7 p.m. with a set by DJ Selecta. Bring a gift card to donate to the Veterans’ Leadership Program of Western PA. All proceeds benefit WYEP. Buy tickets.

Work by Keith Hershberger.

7. Highland Park Pottery Tour: December 10 & 11

Throughout the charming, tree-lined East End nabe, potters’ wheels are spinning, kilns are firing and studios are being arranged for this one-of-kind, community-wide open house. Back and even bigger, the Highland Park Pottery Tour will showcase work by 25 diverse ceramicists at six distinct locations, including the Union Project. Tour-goers can pop into intimate home and studio spaces to learn about the ceramic art form, enjoy refreshments, and buy pieces directly from local makers. Meet Highland Park’s prolific potters as you hear the story behind each unique object. Wares for sale include mugs, bowls, platters, vases, teapots, wall art, ornaments and more—with prices ranging from $10 to $200. A wide range of techniques and styles will be showcased, such as porcelain, earthenware, stoneware, sgraffito, glazed and wood firing. View a list of participating artists and a tour map.

Prince Rama.

8. Pop Cabaret and Prince Rama at The Warhol Museum: December 16

In case you missed the opening in October, you have two terrific chances to check out The Warhol’s new My Perfect Body exhibition while immersing yourself in a night exuding cutting-edge culture. Featuring 200 artworks, the first-of-its-kind comprehensive show explores Warhol’s focus on the human body and delves into his personal struggles with physical appearance. First up at 7 p.m. is Pop Cabaret, a provocative variety show exploring the pains and pleasures of having a physical body. More than 15 performance artists will present music, dance, stories, fashion, and some surprise spectacles. A unique collaboration between The Warhol and Carnegie Mellon’s School of Art, Pop Cabaret reinvents the museum’s intimate theater as a playground and performance space for student-led solo and group productions. The fun continues at 10 p.m with the “Body Beats Dance Party” featuring Brooklyn-based duo, Prince Rama. Led by charismatic sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson, Prince Rama’s hypnotic psych-dance concert will be accompanied by a mesmerizing light installation by artist Kevin Clancy, local DJs, and interactive performances by Activated Anamorphs. Buy tickets.

Sean Jones. Photo by Jimmy Katz.

9. Sean Jones Quartet at The August Wilson Center: December 17

Fans of traditional and contemporary jazz should not miss this distinct chance to be among the first to hear the latest sounds from Grammy Award-winning trumpeter and composer—and longtime Pittsburgher—Sean Jones. Now chair of the Brass Department at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music and represented by Addeo Music International, Jone will be in town to share a very special preview of his highly anticipated release, Live at the Jazz Bistro. Jones’ new work was recorded at the famed St. Louis venue, which hosts an award-winning concert series showcasing living legends and rising stars in its newly renovated and remodeled intimate performance space. One of the most prolific and sought after trumpeters, arrangers and band leaders on the contemporary jazz scene, Jones served as lead trumpeter for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra working with Wynton Marsalis. Buy tickets.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

10. Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2017: December 31

Help turn our collective calendars forward—and celebrate the city’s rich cultural nexus—at Highmark First Night Pittsburgh 2017. Hop on the bus or T before or after making the party rounds, or make an entire evening of it from 6 p.m. to midnight. The region’s largest single-day celebration, First Night boasts 100-plus events at dozens of indoor and outdoor locations within the 14-block Cultural District. Unveiling a new theme of “Pittsburgh: The Next 200 years”—inspired by the city’s bicentennial—the arts-focused family-friendly NYE bash offers something for every reveler. There are 23 vouchered shows, including an engaging reading led by The New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Auxier. New highlights not-to-miss are the First Night Comedy Showcase and 3-D Live First Night Extravaganza. Always a visual highlight is the FedEx Ground Parade, which is debuting giant new puppets created by artist Cheryl Capezzuti and the public. Sure to heat up downtown and warm all souls will be Highmark Stage headliners The Nigel Hall Band, making their Pittsburgh debut. Led by prolific Grammy-winning keyboardist and vocalist Nigel Hall, the group’s diverse sound includes groovy soul, sultry ballads, pitch-perfect vocals, gritty R&B, and funky rave-ups. First Night’s varied musical lineup spans all genres, with sets by Jim Donovan & Sun King Warriors, ViRAGO, Dwayne Dolphin, Brooke Annibal, Meeting of Important People and many others. Crowds will be dazzled by live ice carvings, fire dancers, Unsuk Bellydancers, and even a fire-breathing dragon. Open to students in grade 6–12, First Night’s Sing-Off Competition will be judged by Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer, Smokey Robinson. First Night culminates with the dramatic countdown to midnight, 1,000-pound ball raising, and spectacular Zambelli fireworks finale. View a complete schedule and buy a button here.

Check out more events every week in NEXTpittsburgh, including these coming up in December:

Attack Theatre’s Unbolted: December 1 – 3
Pittsburgh Glass Center’s Holiday Glass Sale: December 2 – 4
Black to the Future 12th Anniversary Celebration for New Voices for Reproductive Justice at WQED: December 3
Pittsburgh Record Fest at Spirit: December 3
Pittsburgh’s 4th Annual Holiday Book Sale at the Catholic Youth Association: December 4
Tameka Cage Conley and Jason Mendez’s Redemption: Sons at The New Hazlett Theater: December 8
PRINTWORK 2016 Opening Reception at Artists Image Resource: December 9
Climactic: Post Normal Design Opening Reception at Carnegie Mellon’s Miller Galley: December 9
Tamara Tunie: Legends from the ‘Burgh at City Theatre Company: December 9 & 10
Punk Rock Flea Market at The Mister Roboto Project: December 10
Crafts and Drafts Holiday Market at East End Brewing Company: December 10
Holiday RAWK Artist Showcase at XTAZA: December 15
HughShows’ Secret Santapalooza III at the Kollar John Slovak Society: December 17
Pittsburgh Opera’s New Year’s Eve Gala at Carnegie Music Hall: December 31

Looking for events for families and children? Check out our 10 great family adventures in Pittsburgh this December feature story.

Jennifer BaronArts & Entertainment / Jobs Editor

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...