Troupe Vertigo acrobats flip and contort.
In Cirque Carnival, Troupe Vertigo's aerialists, acrobats and strongmen perform along with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

As the year winds down to November, indoor events fill the calendar with family-friendly theater productions, ranging from a Broadway musical to a cool scientific inquiry. Early holiday traditions begin to pop up, too, with refreshing outdoor jaunts. These can’t-miss November events for Pittsburgh families and things to do with kids are certain to amuse and divert.

1. Nov. 2: “Dork Diaries,” Carnegie Library Lecture Hall

Author Rachel Renée Russell and illustrator Nikki Russell created the blockbuster “Dork Diaries” series. The mother-daughter team will visit Pittsburgh’s dorkiest fans as part of Word & Pictures programming. Their books, which chronicle the misadventures of middle school students, have been translated into 42 languages, reaching a delighted worldwide audience. Join the Russells in person or virtually. Registration for the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures event is free.

2. Nov. 2-19: “Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play,” Little Lake Theatre

Anne Washburn’s dark comedy examines the evolution of storytelling as the basis of mythology. Here’s the plot: After an apocalyptic event that combines a power grid destruction, a deadly contagion and a near-nuclear meltdown, six survivors gather around a campfire and distract themselves by recalling an episode of “The Simpsons.” Seventy-five years later, these Homer and Sideshow Bob pop culture references become the legends of a generation. Cowabunga! Bart Simpson endures. Best for ages 13 and older. Tickets are $25, $15 for those younger than 16.

Kendall Knotts portrays Helen Keller and Holland Adele Taylor is Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker.” Photo by Laura Slovesko.

3. Nov. 3-12: “The Miracle Worker,” New Hazlett Theater

Prime Stage Theatre Company opens its season with the Tony Award-winning play about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. Helen, deaf and blind from the age of 19 months, is an aggressive handful for her parents, who tend to indulge her demands. Her life changes with the arrival of Annie, a feisty young woman with a stubborn streak that matches her charge. Their volatile relationship is conveyed with drama and humor in a production that is best for ages 11 and older. Tickets include pay-what-you-can dates, as well as sensory inclusive, ASL and audio-described dates.

Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

4. Nov. 9-10: “Giraffes Can’t Dance: The Musical,” Byham Theater

Giles Andreae’s bestselling children’s book presents Gerald the Giraffe who wishes he could dance. He laments that his knees are too crooked and his legs too thin. All the other jungle animals know their special dance, but Gerald is clumsy and awkward. At last, he receives inspiration from an unlikely source that helps Gerald dance to his own tune. This stage adaptation includes puppets, African rhythm and lots of dancing. Tickets start at $30.25.

The players of Cirque Carnival. Photo courtesy of Troupe Vertigo.

5. Nov. 10-12: Cirque Carnival, Heinz Hall

Troupe Vertigo aerialists, acrobats and strongmen are choreographed to live music performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Troupe Vertigo executes their amazing physical feats in front of and above the orchestra. This performance registers high on the wow! scale for all ages. The Los Angeles-based theatrical circus company ignites the imagination with an eclectic mix of spellbinding skills your family is certain to enjoy. Tickets are $25-$105.

Image courtesy of South Park Theatre.

6. Nov. 10-12 and 17-19: “Nanny Claus: The North Pole Nanny,” South Park Theatre

Any story about a nanny is likely to involve kids who are out of control kids and up to all sorts of shenanigans — even at the North Pole. Mother and father Elf are too busy working with Santa to have time to care for their kids. When the naughty antics of the Elf family children cause yet another nanny to quit, Nanny Claus shows up to take them in hand. The musical includes a magical snowman and a visit to Santa’s workshop. This South Park production takes place in the indoor theater. Tickets are $10 for grownups, $6 for students and free for ages 3 and younger.

A visit to the Winter Flower Show and Light Garden has become a holiday tradition for Pittsburgh families. Photo courtesy of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

7. Nov. 17-Jan. 6: Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

The spectacular holiday favorite returns with Holiday Magic, combining a beautiful indoor flower show with a brilliantly lighted outdoor experience. The indoor “Season’s Greenings” theme includes a topiary cat curled up on a succulent armchair in front of a cozy flickering fireplace. Look for whimsical gnomes who use berry garlands, mushrooms and pinecones to decorate a tree. Spend time admiring the miniature Garden Railroad with a look at Pennsylvania through the seasons. Outdoors, wander through the Winter Light Garden where you will find photo ops galore among the bright displays. Timed tickets are required.

Doktor Kaboom! explore the science of Santa. Photo courtesy of Shaw Entertainment Group.

8. Nov. 24: The Science of Santa with Doktor Kaboom!, Byham Theater

Doktor Kaboom!’s holiday extravaganza considers the question: Are science and magic the same thing? Perhaps, he posits, Santa Claus is the world’s greatest scientist. In this surprising program, aimed at kids in grades 2-5, Doktor Kaboom! works to recreate and prove Santa’s magical wonders through basic physics. Don’t worry, the Doktor promises that no holiday icons will be damaged in his presentation. His shows keep kids riveted with science and screaming with laughter. It’s a sneaky way to educate with exhilarating fun. Tickets start at $25.75.

Dress for the weather for your stroll through Dazzling Nights. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Botanical Garden.

9. Nov. 24-Jan. 1: Dazzling Nights, Pittsburgh Botanic Garden

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden will be transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of lights, music and shining forests. The experience includes a field of 2,000 dancing illuminated flowers. Handmade Moroccan lanterns hanging from treetops offer a fiery glow. A walkway invites visitors to hop along interactive lights that turn on step by step. Dress for the weather and plan ahead with comfortable footwear. Timed tickets are $22-$25 for adults, $19-$22 for ages 3-13 and free for ages 2 and younger. On-site parking passes are $15. Off-site parking at CCAC West Hills Center is free with a complimentary shuttle.

Rob McClure, right, reprises his Tony-nominated Broadway role in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

10. Nov. 28-Dec. 3: “Mrs. Doubtfire,” Benedum Center

PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh presents this new musical comedy, based on the film starring Robin Williams about a father who will do anything for his kids. Rob McClure will reprise his Tony-nominated Broadway performance as an out-of-work actor who disguises himself as a Scottish nanny in his starring role portraying “Mrs. Doubtfire.” His co-star (and real-life wife) Maggie Lakis plays the mother. This feel-good, family-friendly comedy is as heartwarming as it is laugh out loud funny. Tickets start at $38.


Nov. 11: STEAM Studio: Harvest Homes, Trust Arts Education Center

Nov. 18: Highmark Light Up Night, Downtown

Nov. 19: Giving Thanks on the Frontier, Oliver Miller Homestead

Nov. 25-Dec. 23: Season’s Greetings Saturdays, National Aviary

Find more things to do in Pittsburgh, including public events, outdoor recreation, live music, movies and festivals.

Sally Quinn is a Pittsburgh-based editor and writer who writes about food, entertainment, kid stuff, pop culture, cocktails!