From out-of-town destinations to favorite destinations right here in the city, Pittsburgh is filled with incredible holiday light displays. Check out our top 10 places for holiday light experiences this year.
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, which bills itself as “the most immersive drive-through Christmas experience on earth,” is open at the Big Butler Fairgrounds through Jan. 2. You’ll drive through more than 2 miles of holiday lights elaborately choreographed to holiday music played on your car’s radio. Along with a 300-foot tunnel of lights and a 50-foot tall, brightly lit tree display, check out the all-new Santa’s Beach Party display. (Sadly, Santa’s Village will be closed again this season due to Covid risk, but the organizers are hopeful it will open next year.) Depending on the date you go, prices range from $25 to $40 per vehicle.
Thousands of environmentally-friendly LED lights turn the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium into a winter wonderland at the Zoo Lights Drive-Thru, open through Dec. 30. You’ll find more than 80 animal lights, including 30 new displays this year. A guided audio tour lets you sing along with Christmas carols as you check out the zoo in its holiday splendor. Timed tickets are $40 per vehicle for zoo members, $50 for nonmembers. The drive takes about 45 to 60 minutes. (Note: The zoo’s drive-thru fundraisers have sold out quickly in the past. Book early to avoid disappointment.)
Allegheny County Parks continues its creative programming for families with this year’s Holiday Laser Show, running from Dec. 1-22. Head to the North Park Pool parking lot, where you can watch the 45-minute spectacular from the safety and warmth of your car. You can buy timed tickets (organizers ask that you arrive 30-45 minutes before your time slot) to check out fabulous laser lights coordinated with holiday music. Admission per vehicle for county residents is $20 ($25 for non-residents). Space is limited, so consider reserving early.
The Buhl Planetarium at Carnegie Science Center is home to the dazzling Laser Holiday Magic show, running through Jan. 2. Laser choreography is set to a crowd-pleasing mix of traditional and contemporary versions of beloved holiday music. Timed tickets for Science Center Members are just $2 each. Nonmembers can pay $8 to see the laser show, or add it on to Science Center general admission for just $5.
This is the time of year when even Hundred Acres Haunted Manor isn’t scary. For the second year in a row, the Manor plays host to a cheery ElfBurgh Christmas, now through Dec. 23 on weekends (and weekdays Dec. 20-23). 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 Ice Castle through the Elf Forest of decorated Christmas trees. Kids can give Santa their wish lists without leaving the car. Timed tickets are $25 per car. Add a treat bag (a drawstring bag that includes a coloring book, 2021 Elfburgh Christmas ornament, storybook, Christmas plushie, and coupon for a free donut and coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts) for an additional $12.
Kids can crack up listening to corny jokes from Henny Hemlock, the talking Christmas tree, over the car radio now that Overly’s Country Christmas in Greensburg has a drive-through option. Or families are welcome to park and walk directly to the Christmas village. Open since 1956, Overly’s beautiful light displays sparkle with more than a million lights. They’re open in the evenings on Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 9, then open Dec. 20-23 and Dec. 26-Dec. 30. The cost is $20 per carload for those who drive or $5 per person to walk. (Military, first responders and healthcare workers are invited to visit for free on Dec. 9, 20 and 28.) Keep in mind: Overly’s is cash only.
Through Jan. 3, Fun Fore All in Cranberry turns their two miniature golf courses into fully playable walk-through holiday light extravaganzas. You’ll find tunnels of light and animated themes. Tickets are $15 to play one course, $20 for both courses. Admission includes a treat bag of goodies and coupons. And as they’ve done in the past, 10 percent of all sales will benefit The Highmark Caring Place.
The 1-mile cruise through a wooded light display in Clinton Community Park has been a holiday favorite since 1993, and it’s billed as “the best kept holiday secret in Pittsburgh.” Set your GPS to 600 Clinton Park Drive, Imperial, to find this beautiful, 1-mile light display through a gorgeous wooded setting, all constructed and manned by volunteers. Proceeds from the $10 admission per vehicle (cash only) are shared with local charities. Open this year through Jan. 2.
Of all the holiday light displays in Pittsburgh, this may be the most remarkable. Running through Jan. 9, this year’s theme at Phipps is Sparkle and Shine, and includes new displays of holiday trees, topiaries and flowers including amaryllis, orchids and more than 1,600 poinsettias. The outdoor Winter Light Garden will be filled with luminous orbs, sparkling trees and fountains, a tunnel of lights and an all-new ice castle display. This year’s attractions also include a Victorian holiday display with oversized topiary ornaments and an 8-foot decorated tree rotating in a chiming music box, as well as a 9-foot-tall holiday tree surrounded by other decorated trees floating on the reflective Victoria pond. And nontraditional displays offer a color scheme inspired by iridescence in nature, featuring trees decorated with ornaments arranged in a gradient of colors from blue to green to yellow to pink. Admission is $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors and students, and $11.95 for children (ages 2 – 18). Members and kids under 2 enter free. All member and nonmember tickets must be reserved in advance, and masks are strongly recommended for all guests and required for unvaccinated guests ages 2 and up.
After a decade, Christmas at Kennywood has become a tradition for many families. You’ll find a million twinkling lights and the tallest Christmas tree in the state, as well as holiday foods and drinks, plus a range of rides open for winter thrill-seeking. Weather depending, the Auto Race, Gran Prix, Ghostwood Estate, Merry-Go-Round, Noah’s Ark, Pirate ship, Thomas Town and Kiddieland will all be open, as will the Jack Rabbit on nights when it’s more than 40 degrees. Local dance and music groups will perform and a holiday light show at the lagoon is set to a lineup of holiday songs. Open select nights through January 2. Tickets begin at $19.99.
This article first appeared in Kidsburgh.org, a media partner of NEXTpittsburgh. Sign up here for Kidsburgh’s free newsletter filled with local resources and expert advice on raising healthy, thriving kids in southwestern PA.