Let’s Take a Day Trip to a Winter Wonderland: Pittsburgh Edition

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the more I appreciate all different kinds of Christmas celebrations. From Light Up Night to skating at PPG Place, Pittsburgh really knows how to ring in the holiday cheer.

Last year, Pittsburgh’s holiday spirit was lacking, with most big events canceled due to COVID-19. Thankfully, this year, we are seeing the return of most of the main events. So, if you are looking to get out of the house, here are some of my favorite events for you to check out this holiday season:

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, at PPG Paints Arena.

Tickets: Prices vary depending on seat selection. Tickets can be purchased via third-party services, such as Ticketmaster.

Hours: Showtimes at 3 p.m. or 8 p.m.

Perhaps one of the most well-known orchestras, Trans-Siberian brings its Christmas concert to Pittsburgh for one of the season’s best shows. This year marks the 25th year of their Christmas Eve & Other Stories show, which combines the orchestra’s rock sound with powerful Christmas ballads. PPG Paints Arena is a cashless venue that prohibits bags larger than 8 inches by  5 inches x 1 inch. Masks are not required for fully vaccinated guests.

Highmark First Night (aka Pittsburgh’s 2022 New Year’s Eve Party): Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at 120 Fifth Avenue Place and throughout the Cultural District.

Tickets: General admission is free. Tickets to select performances will be required. More information will be available via the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust website (trustarts.org) in early December.

Hours: 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.

There will be hundreds of things to see and do, including art shows, live music and delicious food-truck food. More information on the vendors will be available closer to the event date. Parking is always challenging for these kinds of events. If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, I recommend parking at the garages near the stadiums where it will be less crowded and cheaper to park.

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market (Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh): Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, through Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2021 (closed Thanksgiving).

Sky view of the market – Photo from the website

Tickets: No purchase is necessary.

Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Pittsburgh’s Market Square transforms into a winter wonderland for this month-long holiday market. Come check out locally made crafts, eat great foods and listen to live music all month long. Parking is available in the surrounding garages.

Ice Skating at PPG Place: Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, through Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, at 1 PPG Place.

Tickets: $12 for adults and $11 for children (through age 12) and seniors. Skate rental is $6, with a discount available to military and first responders who show a valid ID.

Hours: Holiday Hours (Nov. 19, 2021, to Jan. 9, 2022) are Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m./Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight. Winter Hours run from Jan. 10, 2022, to Feb. 27, 2022. See the website (www.ppgplace.com) for details.

The plaza between Third and Fourth avenues transforms into a 116-foot square ice rink (larger than the Rockefeller Center rink in New York City). Make sure to check out their website for information on skating sessions as well as some discount dates. The rink is open until the end of February. Tickets can be purchased online as well as in person. Masks are required for all visitors. Parking is available in nearby parking garages.

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show: Nov. 19, 2021, through Jan. 9, 2022, at 1 Schenley Drive.

Phipps Conservatory Light and Flower Display – photo from their website

Tickets: $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors and students, and $11.95 for children (2-18). Members and children under 2 are free. Please purchase tickets in advance via Phipps’ website (phipps.conservatory.org).

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

With a theme of Sparkle and Shine, this year’s Winter Flower Show includes holiday trees, topiaries, Christmas-themed props, and, of course, flowers. It features amaryllis, orchids, and more than 1,600 poinsettias. The event is both indoors and outdoors and features a Victorian holiday display, a 9-foot-tall Christmas tree and ice palaces. Make sure you check out Phipps’ website for an aerial view of the light display. Parking is available in nearby lots.

Zoo Lights Drive-Thru at Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium: Select days from Nov. 26 through Dec. 30 at 7370 Baker Street.

Penguin Lights – From Pittsburgh Zoo’s Website

Tickets: Zoo members: $40 per vehicle. Nonmembers: $50 per vehicle. Please purchase tickets online via the zoo’s website (pittsburghzoo.org), as you must choose a timeslot for entry.

Hours: Select nights from Friday, Nov. 26 through Thursday, Dec. 30 from 5:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Estimated drive-thru time: 45-60 minutes.

Grab your ticket to see the lights at the Pittsburgh Zoo. You can listen to a special podcast while you drive through the zoo at night. While the animals may be hard to see, the 80 animal lights and 30 new displays will make up for it. Feel free to plan a day visit to see the animals and then reserve your slot for a night view with lights. Vehicle size is limited to 20 feet long and 6 1/2 feet wide. The zoo recommends that guests drive their smallest vehicle due to the limited pathway size.