This article first appeared in Kidsburgh.org. which is published by NEXTpittsburgh.
Stringing lights on our windows and rooftops brightens our neighborhoods with a comforting glow. That magical quality of lights can be seen on a grand scale with these holiday light destinations around Pittsburgh. This year’s lineup includes laser spectaculars along with traditional drive-thru favorites. Pick one, or a few, to keep spirits soaring this season.
1. Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland runs through Jan. 3 at the Big Butler Fairgrounds, one of seven locations across the country. The 2-mile, drive-through light show is elaborately choreographed to holiday music played on your car’s radio. Cruise through a 300-foot tunnel of lights and have a chuckle over the comical interpretation of “12 Days of Christmas.” Santa’s Village will not operate this year due to Covid restrictions.
2. Zoo Lights Drive-Thru
Thousands of LED turn the Pittsburgh Zoo into a winter wonderland of delight at Zoo Lights Drive-Thru which runs through Jan. 3. A guided audio tour sets the tone as you sing along with Christmas carols and check out the zoo, all decked up in holiday splendor. Timed tickets are $60 per vehicle. Warning: The zoo’s drive-thru fundraisers have sold out quickly in the past. Book early to avoid disappointment.
3. Holiday Laser Show
Allegheny County Parks continues its creative programming for families in 2020. The latest is the Holiday Laser Show, running from Dec. 10-20. Head to the North Park Pool parking lot, where you can watch the 45-minute spectacular from the safety and warmth of your car. The laser action is coordinated with holiday music. Admission per vehicle for county residents is $15 for Thursdays and Sundays, $20 for Fridays and Saturdays. Get your advance tickets early for the limited spaces.
4. Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights, just across the border in Wheeling, W. Va., is one of the largest light exhibits in the country. The 6-mile, drive-through display covers more than 300 acres with lines of lights and 90 features, running through Jan. 10. New this year is the big green monster (whose heart is two sizes too small) and the Magical Mansion Light Show. The $25 donation per vehicle includes a season pass for return visits and a coupon rewards book for savings throughout the property.
5. Laser Holiday Magic
With the re-opening of the Buhl Planetarium at Carnegie Science Center comes the return of the dazzling Laser Holiday Magic, running through Jan. 1. The enchanting laser choreography is set to favorite put-you-in-the-mood tunes like “White Christmas,” “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “March” from “The Nutcracker.” Laser show timed tickets are $7. Expect safety protocols, including limited seating.
6. ElfBurgh Christmas
Hundred Acres Haunted Manor throws off its creepy persona to reveal its sweet side with ElfBurgh Christmas, running through Dec. 23. This drive-thru holiday attraction sends families along Elf Lane, guided by a half-million lights, past vignettes of Santa’s helpers preparing for the big day. Then, head to Santa’s Castle through the Elf Forest of decorated Christmas trees. Kids can give Santa their wish lists without leaving the car. Timed tickets are $22 per car. Add a treat bag from Santa for an additional $5.
7. Overly’s Country Christmas
Kids will have to listen to those corny jokes from Henny Hemlock, the talking Christmas tree, over the car radio this year. Overly’s Country Christmas, operating through Dec. 30, moved to a drive-thru only light display for the first time in its 64-year-old history. There are a few new light features, conceived and built by community volunteers. The village and light displays sparkle with over a million lights. Overly’s charitable nature continues with donations benefitting several organizations through Share the Magic. Admission is $20, which includes a pair of 3-D glasses. Check the daily schedule here.
8. Fun Fore All’s Holiday Lights Mini Golf
Through Jan. 2, kids can play at two 18-hole golf courses under the bright glow of Fun Fore All’s Holiday Lights Mini Golf in Cranberry. Fun Fore All’s two courses are all glammed up to a shimmering, playable walk-through display with tunnels of light and animated themes. Tickets are $10 for one course, $15 for both courses. Admission includes a treat bag of goodies and coupons. Ten percent of all sales benefit The Caring Place.
9. Clinton Christmas Light-Up Celebration
The one-mile cruise through a wooded light display in Clinton Community Park has been gaining a reputation as a holiday favorite since 1993. On a slow night, you’ll be allowed to take a second lap to get the most out of the experience. Clinton Christmas Light-Up Celebration’s entire set up is constructed and manned by volunteers. Proceeds from the $10 admission per vehicle, cash only, are earmarked for area charities. The display operates through Jan. 3.
10. Keystone Safari
Families have walk-thru and drive-thru options at Keystone Safari in Grove City. Stroll along zoo paths, decorated with nearly a million lights, and visit with the resident reindeer and other animals. The expected camel and carriage rides are canceled this year, but Keystone Safari added a new Drive-Thru Bethlehem Nativity. Over 15 acres, visitors will see wandering shepherds, donkeys and cattle, as well as the Three Wise Men and their camels. Walk-thru admission is $12 for ages 3 and older; drive-thru is $8 per person; a combo ticket is $17. The park operates Fridays-Sundays, except Christmas Day, through Dec. 31. Check the schedule here.
For more holiday happenings, go here.