Courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Downtown Pittsburgh

November 20
11:15 a.m. – 10 p.m.

The best place to get switched on to the holidays is at Friday’s Light Night Up. One of the country’s largest holiday celebrations, Pittsburgh’s locally produced Light Night Up spreads the cheer throughout downtown’s Golden Triangle, Market Square, Cultural District and more—with merriment for all ages.

Courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
Courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the highly anticipated kick-off to the 2015 holiday season also ushers in a monthlong series of programs and events, including many for kids and families.

Illuminating places new and old throughout downtown, the 55th annual installment boasts a few new surprises up its sleeve, including more live music than ever before and an entire Smithfield Street entertainment corridor.

Courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
Courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

Enjoy time honored traditions together, such as eight tree lightings and ceremonies taking place from 11:15 a.m. through 7 p.m., hands-on art and craft projects for children, scenic horse drawn carriage rides, and of course, visits with that holly jolly man in the red suit. Don’t miss synchronized holiday tunes by the Chromatic Quartet barbershop singers and the shimmering ice sculpture displays.

In Market Square, kids can count down with Santa as he flips the giant switch to illuminate the giant 33-foot sphere tree featuring 140,000 lights. Create your own winter nightlight with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, get a festive airbrush tattoo, snap photos with Ice Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy holiday classics performed by Pittsburgh-based bagpiper Nick Hudson.

Making this year’s Light Night Up even more spectacular will be the grand re-opening of the newly renovated PPG ice rink, which will now be 20 percent larger. So lace up and get moving with the glow of the city as your backdrop.

Courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
Courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

If you have budding musicians in your brood, don’t miss the live shows by 30-plus musical acts performing a wide variety of sounds and styles, including national headliners JoJo, along with locals Beauty Slap, Nevada Color, Joe Grushecky, The MCG All Stars and many others.

Still mourning the loss of Kaufmann’s and Macy’s department stores downtown? With a creative twist on one of Pittsburgh’s most cherished holiday pilgrimages, nine windows in the iconic former Macy’s building will be decked out and decorated by local arts groups such as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Already making a list and checking it twice? Score one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers and handmade gifts than at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square, which swings open its doors on Light Up Night. Featuring 30-plus vendors selling international and handcrafted gifts, the charming European-style holiday market remains open through December 23rd.

At 9:30 p.m., bundle up the kids, make your way to The Warhol Bridge and direct your eyes to the skies for Light Up Night’s exhilarating Zambelli fireworks display.

Looking for more fun for kids downtown this holiday season?

Enjoy free hands-on activities for children of all ages during MetLife Holiday KidsPlay, running every Saturday and Sunday from November 21st through December 30th. From comedy to crafts to cinema, MetLife Holiday KidsPlay will set up shop along the 800 block of Liberty Avenue.

KidsPlay. Photo by Renee Rosensteel.
KidsPlay. Photo by Renee Rosensteel.

Laugh until your belly hurts playing holiday-themed games, silly warm-up activities and interactive improv skits led by Arcade Comedy Theater, watch family-friendly short films at the Harris Theater and discover stories together in a special Reading Room presented by The Citizens Bank Children’s Theater Series and EQT Bridge Theater Series. MetLife Holiday KidsPlay will host a special “bonus day” on Friday, November 27th from noon to 5 p.m.

Hop on the free Holly Trolley for a ride to all Kidsplay holiday hotspots. Families can pop in for one activity or visit all participating locations.

View a complete schedule of all Light Up Night activities.

Looking for more events? Read our 11 Pittsburgh events not to miss in November feature.

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 of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.