7. National Geographic: 50 Greatest Wildlife Photographs at Carnegie Museum of Natural History: Nov. 16
A giraffe strolling through South Africa’s misty Ndumu Game Reserve. A orangutan climbing 100 feet to grab a fig in Borneo. A cave filled with crocodiles along the Salamat River. Most of us can only dream about experiencing such extraordinary creatures and habitats. But for groundbreaking National Geographic photographers, they’re a remarkable reality documented with unmatched artistic and technical ability. Through the lens of these gifted photographers, you’ll see a pride of lions socializing in the Serengeti and a 16-year-old panda at China’s Wolong Nature Reserve, plus 413,000 sandhill cranes roosting along Nebraska’s Platte River.
8. Comcast Light Up Night Downtown: Nov. 22, 4:30-10 p.m.
Welcome to your official holiday “on” switch. The elves at Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership are gearing up to host the city’s 59th annual Light Up Night festivities, and most events are free – including live performances by renowned musicians and entertainers, tree lighting ceremonies and Holiday KidsPlay activities. Skate your way through the crisp night at the PPG Place ice rink, grab dinner from food trucks and cap off your merrymaking with a spectacular Zambelli fireworks display. Don’t miss the grand opening of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market – inspired by authentic German Christkindlmarkts – where you can shop for artisan gifts and international wares at Alpine-style wooden chalets.
9. Lumaze at 31st Street Studios: Nov. 23-Jan. 4
A wise medium once said: “Go into the light … there is peace and serenity in the light.” Once we “fall back” on Nov. 3, we need all the extra light we can get in western PA. So enjoy the glow when Lumaze debuts in Pittsburgh just in time to provide refuge from the harsh winter elements. Running through Jan. 4, the 100,000-square-foot attraction will transform Lawrenceville’s sprawling 31st Street Studios into an indoor holiday festival. Under one million twinkling lights, Lumaze-goers will encounter fairy tale characters, wander along trails and help Santa find his misplaced presents. Adding to the aura will be live entertainment and bars, vendors, playgrounds and charity fundraisers. Buy tickets.
10. Les Miserables at the Benedum: Nov. 26-Dec. 1
Since its publication in 1862, Victor Hugo’s epic novel, “Les Misérables,” has spawned countless adaptations — from books, games and films, to TV programs and even Japanese comics. On the musical front, it’s a momentous year for the fifth longest-running Broadway show in history, which has racked up eight Tony Awards. Les Mis mania will sweep the region when this brand new 25th anniversary production of Boublil & Schönberg’s legendary musical lands Downtown. Created by acclaimed British theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh, the timeless saga is set against the dramatic backdrop of 19th-century France. Leaving box office records in its wake, the production features new staging, enthralling music and dazzling scenery inspired by Hugo’s own paintings. Buy tickets.
11. Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps: Nov. 29-Jan. 12
Back with its brightest exhibit in 126 years, Phipps is unveiling 10 acres of illuminated outdoor gardens to rescue you from gloomy winter. Wander through a mesmerizing tunnel of lights, snap a selfie in front of icy prism towers and step into floating, frozen forests. The glowing Victorian glasshouse will burst with charming topiary reindeer, a sparkling tree carousel, lush light fountains and much more. Don’t miss the dazzling eight-foot Rainbow Glow Tree with 150 shimmering limbs. Experience the magical tradition in a whole new light by donning a pair of limited-edition holiday hologram glasses that will reveal festive shapes while you peer into all of the spectacular LED displays. Buy tickets.