For more ways to explore ethnic culture in Pittsburgh this month, visit the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh for these events: Voyage to Vietnam exhibit, Mariachi Fiesta performance and Dia de los Muertos crafting in the Studio.

Holiday Show at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum. Photo courtesy WPMRM.

Holiday Show at the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum. Photo courtesy WPMRM.

Trains, trains and more trains!

If you have model train fans in your family, November is the BEST month ever. On November 14th, the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum, one of the oldest in the nation, opens for the holiday season. Kids will enjoy the interactive train displays on the lower level (including Thomas the Train sets), where they can push buttons and make the trains go. There are also wooden train tables perfect for even the youngest fans.

But the most amazing aspect of the museum is the “A Railroad Journey in Miniature” display upstairs that recreates Pittsburgh as it would’ve been around 1952 or 1953. After a two-year project to improve display lighting, the museum will now feature a day-to-night simulation where the landscape goes from bright daylight through sunset to full moonlight over a period of about 45 minutes to an hour. The popular Friday night Steam at Twilight event will return as well as an updated scavenger hunt.

Can’t get enough of trains? Try these options happening in November: Greensberg’s Great Train and Toy Show at the Monroeville Convention Center, PPG Place Wintergarden train display, Carnegie Science Center’s Miniature Railroad and Village and the Phipps Garden Train.

Light Up Night festivities. Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Light Up Night festivities. Photo courtesy Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Head downtown to welcome the holiday season at the 55th Annual Light Up Night

Light Up Night is truly a magical night in the city and a holiday tradition for many families. One reason why? All the fun activities are free. More details for this year’s event will be announced on November 5th, (stay tuned for an update) but we know that all the family favorites are set to return.

The event will take place on November 20th and highlights include a Holly Trolley, horse-drawn carriage rides, a Kidsplay area for children of all ages which includes arts and crafts, theater games, short films and more. Plus, this night marks the opening of the expanded ice skating rink at PPG Place and the Spirits of Giving Around the World Santa display (along with model trains, gingerbread houses and free concerts). Don’t forget the reindeer petting zoo, Peoples Gas Holiday Market, fireworks and Santa. It’s definitely a not-to-miss, try-at-least-once kind of event.

For even more holiday season kick-offs around the city in November, try these small-town events: Beaver Light Up Festival, Winter Wonderland at West End/Elliott Overlook, Oakmont’s Hometown Christmas, Pine Holiday Dazzle and the Harmony German Christmas Market.

Family Day arts and crafts. Photo courtesy The Mattress Factory.

Family Day arts and crafts. Photo courtesy The Mattress Factory.

Explore contemporary art at the Mattress Factory’s Family Day on November 27th

Don’t want to go shopping on Black Friday this year? Spend the day after Thanksgiving at the Mattress Factory’s Family Day instead. Kids can go on an interactive scavenger hunt through three buildings of site-specific works that often fill up and transform entire rooms.

Other creative activities include playing with light in the Mini-Factory, weaving a collaborative string installation and making a patterned sphere. Get your face painted and enjoy a treat from the hot cocoa bar, too. All activities are free with admission. Check out the museum’s Mini-Factory educational program on November 14th if you have children ages three to five who’d like to learn about art concepts through storytime and collaborative, hands-on projects.

Pittsburgh mascots. Photo courtesy WPXI Holiday Parade.

Pittsburgh mascots. Photo courtesy WPXI Holiday Parade.

Celebrate being Pittsburgh Proud at the WPXI Holiday Parade

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Pittsburgh’s holiday parade tradition. On Saturday, November 28th from 9 to 11 a.m., the WPXI Holiday Parade will wind its way through the city with a “Pittsburgh Proud” theme (wear your black and gold). Presented by Pittsburgh Public Schools, the parade will celebrate all the people, places and things that make Pittsburgh special.

In addition to parade essentials like marching bands, balloons, floats and dance teams, the 2015 parade will feature appearances by Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, and World Cup soccer champ Meghan Klingenberg. Fans of The Voice will enjoy hearing finalist Chris Jamison sing to the crowd. The World Famous Harlem Globetrotters will perform cool tricks along the parade route and all the mascots from Pittsburgh’s sports teams will be weaving through the crowds. Don’t forget to wave to Santa Claus!