The holiday season in the Burgh is being reimagined in so many creative, inventive and resourceful ways this month. Let the celebrations come to you and experience local parks, museums and attractions in new ways with these top 11 December events.

 1. LiftOff Pgh Virtual Summit: December 1-16

Blast off into 16 days of innovation. Think of it as a “digital kitchen table” where you can gather with leaders across Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurship, education and health sectors  — including CEOs, researchers, investors and policymakers. Access webinars, workshops and networking sessions, chat with exhibitors in real-time, check out interactive displays and more. The conference culminates with a live broadcast featuring Shankar Vedantam, host of NPR’s The Hidden Brain podcast. Register to receive your kit filled with conference activities and mystery objects.

The Brazilian Project
Terreno Comun: The Brazilian Project. Photo courtesy of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

2. AW Studio Sessions: December 3 & 17, 7 p.m.

Presenting a wide range of Black musical traditions, the August Wilson African American Cultural Center’s new streaming series features intimate studio sessions recorded live with some of today’s top talents in jazz, blues, R&B and soul. Don’t miss the kick-off concert, Terreno Comun: The Brazilian Project, led by acclaimed jazz pianist Orrin Evans. On December 17, singer Leela James will present a special concert celebrating the release of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Netflix. Buy tickets.

City Theatre
Photo courtesy of City Theatre Company.

2. City Theatre’s Claws Out Holiday Drag Musical: December 4, 5, 8, 12 & 19

Shake up your favorite seasonal cocktail — and the holidays — with this world premiere show. A model for how theater companies can adapt to produce art during the pandemic, “Claws Out” was created specifically for the digital stage by Monteze Freeland and Shua Potter, who also star in the show. Set in the icy North Pole and packed with pop-culture references, the drag musical depicts an epic showdown between Mrs. Rachel Claus and rookie Roberta. Check out the virtual events, craft activities and games. Buy tickets. 

Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Williams. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

4. Women of Broadway with Vanessa Williams: December 5 

Fans of Vanessa Williams won’t want to miss this chance to see the award-winning Broadway, TV and silver screen star perform a mix of Broadway show tunes and pop songs. During the virtual cabaret show — which will be streamed live from the Shubert Virtual Studios on Manhattan’s West Side — Williams will also share personal life stories with audiences. Buy tickets.

Engine House 25 Wines
Engine House 25 Wines. Photo courtesy of Doors Open Pittsburgh.

5. Doors Open Virtual Tours: December 7, 14, 21

Take a holiday staycation by touring three of Pittsburgh’s most unique destinations. First up is a festive look at Downtown’s Peoples Gas Holiday Market and traditional German Christmas markets around the globe. Next, don’t miss the chance to gawk over one of Pittsburgh’s most eccentric mansions. Home to an eye-popping collection of antique music machines, the Bayernhof Museum features a rooftop observatory, indoor cave, pool and waterfall, 10 fireplaces, and more. Then, say cheers with vintner Duane Rieder, who will lead a virtual tour of Engine House 25 Wines just in time for the holidays. Buy tickets.

Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol, “AW Talks – Letter to Man Ray for Luciano Anselmino Speaks 12/28/76 Color,” 1976, © The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.
Andy Warhol, “AW Talks – Letter to Man Ray for Luciano Anselmino Speaks 12/28/76 Color,” 1976, © The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA, a museum of Carnegie Institute. All rights reserved.

6. I Just Want to Watch Online Screening Series with The Andy Warhol Museum: December 10-12

Who needs Netflix when you can watch films made by the King of Pop Art? This is a rare chance to see iconic films, video diaries and television projects Warhol created between 1963 and 1987 — including works never seen before. Hosted by film curator Greg Pierce, the series will provide viewers with exclusive access to new HD versions. Fascinating celebrity guests will share perspectives on Warhol’s influence and legacy within the context of contemporary art, experimental cinema and pop culture. Buy tickets.

7. Pittsburgh Opera’s Online Holiday Bazaar: December 10-12

Add some opera to your holiday season. To support its Resident Artists program, Pittsburgh Opera is taking fundraising festivities online. This multifaceted celebration will feature a free live-streamed Holiday Hoopla production, a three-day online Holiday Marketplace and a VIP virtual cocktail party. The concert will lift spirits with fun and festive holiday songs, while the market will showcase dozens of cool gifts, including culinary and cultural experiences and international excursions that can be enjoyed post-pandemic. Register here.

8. Holiday Laser Show at North Park: December 10-20

What do you get when you mix a laser show, a scenic park and a drive-in movie theater? Find out during this first of its kind attraction. We could all use a good reason to leave the house and this holiday spectacle can be safely enjoyed from the comfort of your vehicle. Cruise into the North Park pool parking lot where a dazzling 45-minute light show synchronized to holiday music will make your spirits bright. 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.