Last Updated on December 11, 2020 by Jeremy
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If you're looking to experience some holiday cheer this year, you should definitely plan a visit to downtown Pittsburgh where you'll find an incredible collection of Christmas displays, a European winter market, and so much more!
So what all can you expect to enjoy when heading downtown for the holidays? The following are some of our favorites from our latest visit!
Note: We have tried to update this article to reflect the closures for 2020; however, some activities mentioned below may not return until 2021.
The Christmas Tree in Point State Park and the Highmark Unity Tree
When it comes to Christmas tree spotting, you do not have to go far in downtown Pittsburgh to find some of the very best. From the Highmark Unity tree, to the large electronic tree at Point State Park, and the countless others on display in storefronts and hotel lobbies, you could quite easily spend an entire day wandering around the city checking out this one beloved Christmas decoration.
Head down starting the Friday before Thanksgiving (traditionally known as Light Up Night) to check out all of the trees!
Christmas Market at Market Square
Note: The Christmas Market was closed in mid-December 2020 for safety.
The holiday season in Market Square brings the best of European Christmas markets to the Burgh! Over a dozen themed booths are constructed in Market Square for the holidays and feature an arrangement of European gifts, Christmas decorations, snacks, a music stage, and yes, even Pittsburgh holiday themed items!
For the kids, Santa has made Market Square his home and there is never a shortage of visitors looking to visit Saint Nick day or night.
Ice Skating at PPG Place's Courtyard
The courtyard of PPG Place is transformed into an ice skater's paradise with one of the region's largest rinks featuring a stunning Christmas tree at its center. Special skating opportunities are available throughout the season (ending in late-February).
For those who do not wish to try ice skating, PPG Place also offers free horse-drawn carriage rides around downtown for those wanting something a little different!
Gingerbread Houses and International Santas
For many years, PPG Place offered wonderful Christmas decorations with International Santas and dozens upon dozens of gingerbread houses in their stunning Wintergarden atrium. In 2020, the Santas are visible in a window display that can be enjoyed outdoors on the walking path between PPG Place and Market Square. The gingerbread house exhibit appears to be virtual this year and we hope it will return in person in 2021.
The Pittsburgh Creche at the US Steel Plaza
The Pittsburgh Creche is one of the largest nativity scenes you'll probably ever see. It is located in the plaza of the US Steel Building in downtown Pittsburgh and measures roughly 64 feet wide by 36 feet long and features 20 life-sized figures.
This creche in particular holds an important distinction in that it is a replica of the nativity scene featured at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and is the only authorized replica in the world!
So while you are exploring all of the Christmas displays in downtown, do yourself a favor and make a detour a few blocks east to check out this beautiful display- you won't regret it.
Grab a Drink at Miracle on 6th
During the Christmas season, downtown Pittsburgh is also home to a number of holiday-themed pop-up bars that serve winter-inspired cocktails in an ambiance that is full of Christmas cheer from floor-to-ceiling.
The most popular is part of an international chain of pop-ups, known as Miracle bars, that appears in 50 cities around the world (but is primarily US-based). The name often reflects the location with Miracle on 6th!
The menu is the same at all pop-ups nationwide, but the bartenders are local, the cocktails are strong, and a cut of the profits go to support local charities- typically 412 Food Rescue. Just be sure to plan for a line as this one is popular any night of the week!
Visit Downtown Pittsburgh for Christmas
When it comes down to it, downtown Pittsburgh is one of the region's centers for holiday cheer, and no matter when you wish to visit there will be something available for all to enjoy.
For more information about hours and events, check out the holiday section of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership website.
For those who have visited the Christmas displays in downtown Pittsburgh, what is your favorite feature? Comment below to let us know!
For more Christmas activities in Pittsburgh, check out the Kennywood Holiday Lights, A Musical Christmas Carol by the Pittsburgh CLO, Phipps Winter Flower Show, or visit the Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum. Or, for more things to do in Pittsburgh in December that are not necessarily holiday based, click the previous link!