The Frick Pittsburgh
The Frick Pittsburgh

What’s going on this week in Pittsburgh, December 27-January 2? Find out here.

Be sure to pack your mask and visit each organization’s website and social media for Covid safety protocols. Know of a cool event? Email us.

Monday, Dec. 27: Holiday Lights Tour in Downtown Pittsburgh
5-7 p.m.
From the world’s largest pickle ornament to a 66-foot Christmas tree to the only authorized replica of the Vatican’s Nativity scene — Downtown Pittsburgh rocks the holiday season. Enjoy this evening walking tour as you learn about the city’s history and visit public plazas and landmark architecture. Buy tickets.

Tuesday, Dec. 28: Holiday Kidsplay Selfie Garden at the Heinz Hall Courtyard
11 a.m.
It’s not too later to create that holiday family portrait. The elegant outdoor Heinz Hall Courtyard has been transformed into a TV dreamland for kiddos with backdrops and characters from shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Odd Squad,” “Peg + Cat” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” While there, check out the sidewalk games and visit the world’s largest pickle ornament nearby at EQT Plaza.

The Frick Pittsburgh
Photos courtesy of The Frick Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, Dec. 28: Winterfest at The Frick Pittsburgh
12-7 p.m.
We might not have snow but a new winter wonderland is taking shape in Point Breeze. With the debut of Winterfest, The Frick Pittsburgh is extending its evening hours to offer much-needed cheer with illuminated towering trees, winter gardens aglow and holiday decor. Slide across a pop-up ice skating rink on the great lawn, relax during a horse-drawn carriage ride and join outdoor walking tours. The weeklong celebration will also feature delectable treats, storytimes and wintertime characters.

Wednesday, Dec. 29: Free admission at the Senator John Heinz History Center
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Give your kids the gift of art. Kids 17 and under get free admission to the Heinz History Center, where it’s the perfect time to see A Very Merry Pittsburgh featuring keepsakes, artifacts, films and ephemera showing how Western Pennsylvanians have celebrated Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali and Kwanzaa over the years. Be transported to the bustling holiday season in Downtown with decorations from iconic department stores windows like Kaufmann’s, Macy’s and Gimbels.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Wednesday, Dec. 29: Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker at the Benedum Center
2 p.m.
The Sugar Plum Fairy is floating across the stage — and the glistening snow is swirling down — to once again captivate ballet lovers with 150 roles and costumes. A showcase of dance and stagecraft, “The Nutcracker” features Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, choreography by Terrence S. Orr and costumes and sets by Emmy-winning designer Zack Brown. Buy tickets.

Wednesday, Dec. 29: Holidays in the Garden at the National Aviary
5-8 p.m.
Avian lovers are invited to explore tropical habitats at night, see birds roosting in lush tree canopies, stroll amidst festive lights and décor, and participate in activities. The after-hours bird bash includes dance and music performances, hot chocolate and hot apple cider and a holiday menu. Buy tickets.

Photo courtesy of Immersive Van Gogh.

Thursday, Dec. 30: Lifeway Kefir Immersive Yoga at Lighthouse Artspace
8:15 a.m.
Release that holiday stress while being immersed in some of history’s most unforgettable paintings. The Immersive Van Gogh exhibit has teamed up with Lifeway Foods to offer yoga inside the art attraction — where 500,000 cubic feet of animated projections highlight 40 Van Gogh masterpieces. Participants receive a Lifeway Kefir and can spend time in the exhibit after the class. Buy tickets.

Thursday, Dec. 30: Ice Skating at The UPMC Rink at PPG Place
11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Did you know that Downtown’s rink is 67% larger than the legendary one at Rockefeller Center? Help the rink celebrate its 20th year in operation while making new memories. Glide in the glow of a 66-foot tree boasting 10,000 LED lights and shimmering glass reflections of PPG Place. While there, check out the Spirits of Giving display in the Two PPG Place windows to see 16 Santas representing holiday traditions around the globe. Buy tickets.

Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

Thursday, Dec. 30: Zoo Lights Drive-Thru at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
5:15 p.m.
It’s the last night to experience a beloved holiday tradition. Traverse through the popular destination all aglow after-hours as you stay cozy in your car. Thousands of eco-friendly LED lights — along with 80 animal displays, characters, carolers and 30 new features — will transform the park into a beaming winter wonderland. See all times and buy tickets.

Thursday, Dec. 30: The Hip Hop Nutcracker at the Benedum Center
7:30 p.m.
What happens when the Sugar Plum Fairy meets a rap star? Remix your holidays with this contemporary spectacle performed by all-star dancers, a DJ and a violinist. Innovative digital graffiti and visuals will transform the setting from 19th-century Germany to bustling NYC.  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.

Friday, Dec. 31: Countdown to Noon at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
No need to wait until midnight — celebrate New Year’s Eve at this bedtime-friendly event with activities for the whole family. Create glowing light objects in the MAKESHOP, see performances by Lee Robinson & Band and Confluence Ballet and create a wish for 2022 on a disappearing water painting wall. Buy tickets.

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of the the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
Photo courtesy of the the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

Friday, Dec. 31: Highmark First Night Pittsburgh
6 p.m.-12 a.m.
For the first time, the region’s largest arts-focused New Year’s Eve celebration is completely free. Spanning the 14-block Cultural District, the six-hour shindig will take place on four stages plus multiple art galleries and performance spaces. Encounter 50-foot inflatable rabbits created by Australia’s Parer Studio and see dazzling shows by ZUZU African Acrobats, Steel Town Fire and Ice Creations. 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 welcome back the event’s signature parade with 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 2022.

Friday, Dec. 31: Highmark Holiday Pops Online Concert
8 p.m.
Staying indoors and cozy for NYE by logging on and taking your seat in the front row for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s sparkling celebration of carols, classics and singalongs. And yes, even jolly St. Nick. Conducted by Byron Stripling, the virtual concert features vocalist Vanessa Campagna. Watch for free.

Saturday, Jan. 1: Christmas Bird Count at Latodami Nature Center
8-11 a.m.
Calling all bird nerds to get out there and help thousands of volunteers across North America count birds in North Park. Celebrating its 122st annual event, the Christmas Bird Count is an early-winter bird census that provides valuable documentation of bird species. Register for free.

Photo by Paul g. Wiegman.

Saturday, Jan. 1: Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps
9:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Start the New Year out with radiance. Phipps has pulled out all the stops — and switched on all the lights — to revive its beloved tradition. With new indoor exhibits plus glistening outdoor displays, it’s the perfect place to banish the winter doldrums. Be transported to December 1893 — when Phipps first opened — to see colossal ornaments, an 8-foot rotating tree and a chiming music box. Buy tickets.

Saturday, Jan. 1: Winter Ice Rink at SouthSide Works
12-8 p.m.
Great news for ice skaters — there’s a brand-new rink in town. After all the holiday hubbub fades, take some time to find your footing on the glistening ice (the spot is open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day). The newly-opened rink located at the North Lot on S. Water St. next to Hyatt House. Buy tickets.

Saturday, Jan. 1: Holiday Lights at Kennywood
5-10 p.m.
Who said the week after Christmas is boring? Kennywood is offering extra after-Christmas bonus nights – the first time the amusement park is welcoming guests in January in its 124-year history. Gaze up at Pennsylvania’s tallest Christmas tree, nibble on seasonal snacks, enjoy Lagoon light shows, see the massive model train display, and visit the petting zoo. Weather permitting, the Jack Rabbit will become the first Kennywood coaster to operate in winter. Buy tickets.

Photo courtesy of Kennywood.

Sunday, Jan. 2: Laser Holiday Magic at Buhl Planetarium
4 p.m.
Twinkly lights are cozy but pulsing lasers are awesome. This holiday tradition will feel even more epic now that Buhl Planetarium is one of the most technologically advanced planetariums in North America. Socially distanced and family-friendly, the festive laser celebration features contemporary pop and traditional holiday tunes set to dazzling laser choreography. Buy tickets.

Sunday, Jan. 2: Dasher’s Light Show at Pittsburgh Mills
5-11 p.m.
By day it’s a mall, but by night it’s a glowing winter wonderland in Tarentum. Drive through luminous light tunnels and festival snowmen all set to synchronized to holiday music — without having to stand in lines. Buy tickets.

For more things to do, read 12 January events not to miss in Pittsburgh.

For live music, check out The 20 best concerts for December and January in Pittsburgh.

For family events, see 10 can’t-miss January events for kids in Pittsburgh (plus one for moms).

Jennifer BaronEvents & 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.