Whether it’s outdoor fun, holiday movie events or a party with a penguin, Pittsburgh offers plenty of fun for you and your family this December.

The Nutcracker. Photo by Rich Sofranko.

The Nutcracker with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre: December 2-27

The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents the 15th season of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at the Benedum Center. A cast of dancers brings to life the magical story of a young girl who dreams of joining a Nutcracker Prince in battle against the Rat King. The production will dazzle with elaborate costumes and Victorian party dresses, special effects and colorful set pieces and drops, including a growing Christmas tree and snow flurries. Throughout the show, spot Pittsburgh landmarks and cameos by local celebrities.

The 26-performance run includes a student matinee performance on December 2, as well as a sensory-friendly performance adapted for patrons with special needs on December 27. Tickets start at $28 and are also available by calling 412-456-6666 or by visiting the Box Office at Theater Square.

Hands-On Handmade. Photo by Joey Kennedy.

Hands-on Handmade at Handmade Arcade: December 3

Handmade Arcade is more than a great place to find locally-made crafts and gifts from 150-plus sellers. It also offers a free all-ages activity area for kids and families. Located adjacent to the vendor market, Hands-on Handmade features short and daylong drop-in projects, demonstrations, mini-tutorials, make-and-take activities, games, performances, and large-scale art installations. Kids can fashion tree branch ornaments with Pop Craft, take part in community mural-making projects, create art from old robot parts with Sarah Heinz House, and so much more. Puppeteer Mike Mascaro will also entertain crowds with his 10-foot-tall dancing puppet.

Hands-on Handmade takes place during Handmade Arcade on Saturday, December 3 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Discount Shelf by Cavan Bonner. Photo by Madison Hack.

EQT Young Playwrights Festival at various locations: December 3-4

Teen talents from all over Pittsburgh will strut their stuff during the EQT Young Playwrights Festival. Presented by City Theatre, the event showcases six professionally-produced world premiere plays written by local middle and high school students. An ensemble cast will perform all the roles in productions such as Endangered Hope, the story of rare birds trying to survive a harsh winter, and The Magic Pencil, a tale about a cursed writing implement with ties to the Salem Witch Trials. The festival also includes a romantic comedy, a look at the life of books, and heartwarming tales about family, friendship and pierogies.

Public performances take place from December 3-4 in City Theatre’s Lester Hamburg StudioTickets start at $15. Audiences under 18 may reserve $10 tickets in advance for all performances. A free reading of three Honorable Mention plays will take place on December 9 at 7 p.m. at the Lester Hamburg Studio.

Reindeer Ball. Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Mercy.

Pittsburgh Mercy’s 13th annual Reindeer Ball: December 4

Do some good for children in the community during Pittsburgh Mercy’s 13th annual Reindeer Ball. The spectacular holiday gala offers an evening of fun for young children and families and benefits Pittsburgh Mercy child and adolescent services. Mingle with holiday characters and storybook friends, including Bad Kitty, Curious George and Poky Little Puppy, and see a performance of the holiday revue Alice in Winterland by RWS & Associates. There’s also holiday craft-making, balloon and caricature artists, and great food for the whole family, as well as a visit from Santa Claus.

Pittsburgh Mercy’s 13th Annual Reindeer Ball takes place on December 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh Hotel. Tickets cost $100 per adult and $50 per child.

Candy Cane Walk. Image courtesy of Venture Outdoors.

Holiday walks with Venture Outdoors: December 4, 11, 17

Bundle up and head outside for some festive, family-friendly walks with Venture Outdoors. On December 4, search for treats during a Candy Cane Walk in Schenley Park. On December 11, go on a scavenger hunt in Highland Park to find all the pieces needed to build a gingerbread house. On December 17, the fun continues with the Twinkle Lights and Hot Cocoa Walk, an evening stroll through Downtown Pittsburgh that includes gazing at sparkling lights and decorations and warming up with some hot cocoa at a local coffee shop.

Registration is required for all walks and spots are going fast.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...