9. Made & Found Holiday Market at Spirit: Dec. 19
This thoughtfully curated market arrives at the perfect time for the eternal holiday procrastinators. Setting up shop from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lawrenceville, Made & Found returns to in-person programming with a holiday market showcasing the region’s top vintage boutiques, independent makers and small brands. With approximately 34 vendors, it’s possible to peruse all the goods in-depth, take your time with making selections and talk with artists and shop owners firsthand — without feeling overwhelmed by the selection or the space. From leather goods, vintage denim, minimalist home decor and letterpress designs, to holistic body care, eco-fashions, small-batch ceramics and hand-poured coconut candles, it’s the kind of market where you’ll want to buy something from every seller. And you’ll leave feeling good about supporting sustainable small businesses.
10. Winterfest at The Frick Pittsburgh: Dec. 28, 12-7 p.m.
There’s a new winter wonderland to escape to this season. With the debut of Winterfest, The Frick Pittsburgh is extending its evening hours and illuminating its towering trees to offer much-needed seasonal cheer. Warm your spirits by strolling the grounds to admire the winter gardens aglow with holiday decor. Take in the scents of fresh, live greenery decorated according to the Frick family’s Gilded Age tradition and don’t miss the kissing ball under Clayton’s Porte Cochère. Glide across a pop-up skating rink on the great lawn, relax during a horse-drawn carriage ride and join an outdoor walking tour. Running through Jan. 2, the weeklong celebration will also feature delectable treats, winter-themed storytimes and appearances by imaginative characters from Anima! X and I Believe in Fairies Productions. While there, don’t miss the new exhibition, Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement.
11. The Hip Hop Nutcracker at the Benedum Center: Dec. 30
What happens when the Sugar Plum Fairy meets a legendary rapper? Remix your holidays with this contemporary dance spectacle. Directed and choreographed by Jennifer Weber, this fresh new twist on the iconic classic is performed by all-star dancers, a DJ and a violinist. And it’s all set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. Join Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince as they embark on an epic adventure battling a gang of mice, visiting the land of sweets and learning the true lessons of the holiday season. Innovative digital graffiti and visuals will transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story from traditional 19th-century Germany to vibrant and bustling New York City. With an opening set by hip hop pioneer MC Kurtis Blow, this is one holiday mash-up you don’t want to skip. Buy tickets.
12. Highmark First Night Pittsburgh: Dec. 31
Why does it feel like 2021 lasted for one second yet also for an eternity? For the first time, the region’s largest arts-focused New Year’s Eve celebration is completely free from 6 p.m. to midnight. Spanning the 14-block Cultural District, the six-hour shindig will activate four stages plus multiple art galleries and performance spaces. Encounter 50-foot inflatable rabbits created by Australia’s Parer Studio, see dazzling shows by ZUZU African Acrobats, Steel Town Fire and Ice Creations, and check out new VIP experiences. Highlights include performances by The Byron Nash Trio, River City Brasstacular and Nay Hundo, a Family Activity Tent and even a Baby Rave. Revelers will rejoice in the return of the signature parade featuring giant jubilant puppets from Studio Capezzuti. It wouldn’t be NYE with the Future of Pittsburgh Ball climbing 75 feet into the air to light our way into January. Aspiring stars in grades 6-12 can apply for the Williams SING-OFF Competition featuring celeb judge Adam Pascal. Check out the full lineup here.