Christmas Story
Sebastian Madoni and Jamie Agnello in Pittsburgh Public Theater's "A Christmas Story." Photo by Michael Henninger.

What’s going on this week in Pittsburgh, Dec. 19-25? Find out here. Visit each organization’s website and social media for Covid protocols and updates due to severe weather predicted for this weekend. Know of a cool event? Email us.

Monday, Dec. 19: Roger Humphries Big Band Holiday Concert at the O’Reilly Theater
8 p.m.

The BNY Mellon Presents JazzLive series ushers in the holiday week with help from one of Pittsburgh’s most esteemed musical luminaries. Percussionist extraordinaire, Roger Humphries has performed with legends like Ray Charles, Stanley Turrentine and Dizzy Gillespie. Joining the Roger Humphries Big Band to perform holiday classics and favorites is powerhouse vocalist Anita Levels. Buy tickets.

Tuesday, Dec. 20: Opening Day at Boyce Park Ski Slopes
3:30-9 p.m.

Let it snow! The best way to welcome winter in the region is to let gravity do its thing while zooming downhill at the Boyce Park Ski Slopes, which open for the season today. The great news is that the lodge will be open this year, including concessions, indoor restrooms and equipment rentals. If you’re a ski newbie, book a one-hour private lesson. Buy lift passes.

Fusion Illusion
Photo courtesy of Fusion Illusion.

Tuesday, Dec. 20: Fusion Illusion at Liberty Magic
5 p.m.

Experience Pittsburgh’s next generation of jazz talent during this free concert in the Cultural District. Formed in 2021 by CAPA High School senior Henry Schultz and Duquesne University student Brandon Terry — who played together as part of Funky Fly Project — Fusion Illusion made their auspicious debut opening for Chaka Khan at the Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival. The 6-piece progressive jazz fusion band also features Jacob Zang (guitar), María Castellón (bass), Alex Perez (trumpet) and Letizia Collini (vocals).

Straight No Chaser
Straight No Chaser. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Tuesday, Dec. 20: Straight No Chaser at the Benedum Center
7:30 p.m.

Think a male a cappella group can only mean college students in blue blazers, ties and khakis singing traditional tunes? Think again, because this 25th-anniversary celebration featuring Straight No Chaser will be “neither strait-laced nor straight-faced.” So watch — and listen — in awe as this singing phenomenon blends nine unadulterated voices to create enduring and captivating sounds, extraordinary music and one very moving concert event — plus a sense of humor. Buy tickets.

Wednesday, Dec. 21: Winter Wishes Yule Cone Workshop at 3 Rivers Outdoor Company
6-8 p.m.

Join 3 Rivers Outdoor Company and Thrive On Health to welcome the winter solstice and reconnect with the cycles of the seasons. Gather around the campfire to enjoy seasonal beverages, make wishes for the new year and participate in a Yule Wishing Cone Workshop led by massage therapist and reiki practitioner Kelly Bender. Buy tickets.

Wednesday, Dec. 21: Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra Holiday Concert at Pittsburgh Playhouse
7 p.m.

Internationally acclaimed trumpeter Sean Jones — who’s now lead trumpeter with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra — returns to the Burgh to spread holiday cheer through music. A cherished Pittsburgh tradition, this year’s holiday celebration showcases Grammy-nominated jazz artist Kim Nazarian. For tonight’s family-friendly performance, the orchestra will perform a unique new twist on holiday classics. Buy tickets.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Thursday, Dec. 22: Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Downtown Pittsburgh
11 a.m.-9 p.m.

With extended hours just added for today, you can find all of those last-minute shopping needs and feel the warmth of the cozy alpine chalets. Add an international flair to your gift-giving with everything from Peruvian textiles and German ornaments to Kenyan jewelry and Austrian strudel. With products of all kinds made right here in the Burgh, plus holiday attractions and activities nearby, this iconic market has your gift list covered and wrapped up with a bow. Due to severe weather conditions predicted, the market will be closed on Dec. 23 and 24.

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.

Thursday, Dec. 22: Dazzling Nights at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
5:30-9 p.m.

The region’s newest holiday light attraction glows with 65 acres of light experiences within a landscape that was a coal mining site. As the daylight hours diminish, you’ll channel your inner hygge to imagine what it would be like to walk into the aurora borealis. Trek through a forest of light and fog, snap a selfie in front of a 30-foot holiday tree and wander into a 65-foot-long tunnel. Making the evening complete will be holiday tunes, toasty drinks and decadent nibbles. Buy tickets.

Photo courtesy of Phipps.

Thursday, Dec. 22: Phipps Virtual Stories with Santa
6 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Santa doesn’t just read gift lists — tonight he’s taking a break from prepping toys to lead a virtual story time. Before getting nestled all snug in their beds, children are invited to log on for this winter-themed story read by Kris Kringle Santa himself. Curl up with a blanket and listen to “The Polar Bear Who Saved Christmas” written by Fiona Boon and illustrated by Clare Fennell. Register for free.

Thursday, Dec. 22: Holiday Drive-in Laser Show at North Park
6 p.m.-9:45 p.m.

After debuting to sold-out crowds during the pandemic, the county’s one-of-a-kind laser show benefiting the Kane Foundation is back. Park the car at the North Park Pool lot to experience lasers synchronized with holiday music broadcast via 87.9 FM. Attendees can sit in or outside their cars. Space is limited so get tickets soon.

Thursday, Dec. 22: Late-night Cereal Cinema at Row House Cinema
9:20 p.m.

Who doesn’t love cereal for dinner? Skip the popcorn for this late-night, all-you-can-eat buffet of classic cereal. It’s perfectly paired with the holiday classic directed by Jim Henson’s son Brian. Crunch away as the inimitable Muppets perform the classic Dickens tale, with Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit. Buy tickets.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Friday, Dec. 23: “The Nutcracker” at the Benedum Center
2 p.m. & 7 p.m.

You can’t let the holiday season slip away without experiencing Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s rendition of this timeless classic. And it’s a milestone achievement because this is the 20th year that PBT is performing “The Nutcracker” based on the choreography and concept by the organization’s former Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr. It takes 150 costumes, 1,500 accessories, 100 artists and 30 sleight-of-hand tricks to make this magic happen. Add in Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, the vision of Emmy-winning designer Zack Brown and the iconic Kaufmann’s clock and you’ve got one enchanted evening. Buy tickets.

Friday, Dec. 23: Holiday Lights Tour in Downtown Pittsburgh
5-7 p.m.

From the world’s largest pickle ornament to the only authorized replica of the Vatican’s Nativity scene to a towering Christmas tree surrounded by an ice rink — Downtown Pittsburgh is a winter wonderland best experienced on foot. Bundle up for an open-air holiday stroll led by Walk the Burgh Tours. While strolling amidst festive holiday lights and decorations, you’ll learn about the city’s history, public plazas and landmark architecture. Wrap up your fun with a visit to a very unique gingerbread house display and the festive Peoples Gas Holiday Market. Buy tickets.

“A Musical Christmas Carol.” Photo by Matt Polk.

Friday, Dec. 23: “A Musical Christmas Carol” at the Byham Theater
7 p.m.

If you love him in his many star turns on Broadway — or as September in the sci-fi television series “Fringe” — you can’t miss Michael Cerveris in the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge. The two-time Tony-winning actor — whose dad lives in the North Hills — is one of today’s top musical theater performers, so it’s a new take on a Dickens’ classic that’s not to be missed. Buy tickets.

Photos are by Michael Henninger. 

Friday, Dec. 23: “A Christmas Story” at the O’Reilly Theater
8 p.m.

We could all use some comic relief from 9-year-old Ralphie Parker. Laugh your way through winter with this timeless holiday comedy directed by Michael Berresse. Inspired by Jean Shepherd’s account of his 1940s upbringing in the Midwest, the script is written by Philip Grecian. Buy tickets.

Saturday, Dec. 24: Saturdays with Santa at Heinz History Center
10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Heinz History Center is teaming up with Kris Kringle to give local kids an early present. This month, kids ages 17 get in for free and can stop by the Great Hall for a photo with jolly Saint Nick while sitting in a replica of the chair from Kaufmann’s Santaland. See artifacts that highlight the region’s holiday traditions — including the mailbox where Pittsburgh children sent their gift lists to the North Pole — and explore how Western Pennsylvanians have celebrated Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali and Kwanzaa over the years.

Neapolitan presepio
Neapolitan presepio, ca. 1700–1830, Carnegie Museum of Art. Photo by Tom Little.

Saturday, Dec. 24: Art Chats: Neapolitan Presepio at Carnegie Museum of Art
10:30 a.m.–noon

Add some culture to your Christmas Eve with a visit to one of the city’s most breathtaking holiday displays. Pop into the Scaife galleries for a docent-led Art Chat, experience the ornate tableau through the eyes of artisans and collectors and discover why the presepio is one of the world’s finest nativity scenes. Buy tickets.

Buhl Planetarium
Laser Holiday Magic at Buhl Planetarium. Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

Saturday, Dec. 24: Laser Holiday Magic at Buhl Planetarium
4 p.m.

Twinkly lights are cute but pulsing lasers are awesome. Treat your eyes to a visual feast in one of the most technologically advanced planetariums in North America. The whole family will want to sing along to this festive laser celebration featuring traditional and contemporary versions of beloved holiday tunes set to dazzling laser choreography. Buy tickets.

The UPMC Rink at PPG Place
Photo courtesy of The UPMC Rink at PPG Place.

Sunday, Dec. 25: Ice Skating at The UPMC Rink at PPG Place
11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Did you know that Downtown’s ice rink is 67% larger than the storied one at Rockefeller Center? And that it’s two-thirds the size of a regulation NHL rink? Glide your way through the holidays under the glow of a 66-foot tree boasting 10,000 LED lights and shimmering glass reflections of PPG Place. While there, peer into the windows at Two PPG Place to see the enchanting Spirits of Giving display with life-size Santas, original paintings and Christmas folklore depicting holiday celebrations around the globe. Buy tickets.

Sunday, Dec. 25: Chinese Food and Movies on Christmas at Row House Cinema
8 p.m.

This movie marathon is here to keep you merry. Five must-see holiday classics — “The Polar Express,” “White Christmas,” “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Gremlins” and “Die Hard” — will screen on Christmas Day so you can pop in for some or all of the flicks. Movie-goers can order food from Zen Asian Bistro that will be brought to their seats, and pick up libations from Bierport next door. Buy tickets.

Find more things to do in Pittsburgh, including holiday events, live music and family activities, here.

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.