Christmas in Pittsburgh – The City Comes Alive for the Holidays

Posted By Jeremy in Explore


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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 (featuring Santa), 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!

The Christmas Tree in Point State Park and the Highmark Unity Tree

Highmark Unity Tree in Pittsburgh

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.

Downtown Pittsburgh on Light-Up Night

Christmas Market at Market Square

Pittsburgh Christmas Market

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!

Shopping at Pittsburgh Christmas Market

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

PPG Place Ice Rink in Pittsburgh

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) with Skate with Santa Saturdays (2pm to 4pm) being one of the highlights for the month of December.

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 at PPG Place's Wintergarden

Christmas Wintergarden in Pittsburgh

Each Christmas season PPG Place turns their indoor atrium, the Wintergarden, into a Christmas wonderland with an incredible Christmas tree, an assortment of gingerbread houses made by area children, and a collection of Santa statues from around the world featuring each country's unique holiday tradition.

International Santas in Pittsburgh

This location is a great spot to visit to get out of the cold, and on-site shops sell hot beverages while a small stage hosts local performers to help put everyone in the holiday spirit.

The Pittsburgh Creche at the US Steel Plaza

Pittsburgh Nativity Scene

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 the Miracle Pop-Up Bar

Miracle on Market
During the Christmas season downtown Pittsburgh is also home to a holiday themed pop-up bar that serves winter inspired cocktails in an ambiance that is full of Christmas cheer from floor-to-ceiling.

The bar 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 and location for Pittsburgh's bar varies from year-to-year, and in 2016 was located on Liberty Avenue (named Miracle on Liberty), and in 2017 located at the Original Oyster House in Market Square (named Miracle on Market).

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!

Pittsburgh's Miracle Bar is typically open from 4pm to 2am-ish every night of the week from Thanksgiving to New Years.

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.

Although a busier day, we recommend visiting on Saturdays throughout December as select public garages offer free parking for visitors! Just look for the “free holiday parking” sign out-front to ensure you're at the right lot.(Note- It is not guaranteed that the free parking will return every year, but it has been present in recent years.) If you decide to visit on this day, just be sure to make restaurant reservations in advance, as the free parking and weekend festivities ensures there is never a shortage of visitors downtown!

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!

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1 Comment

  1. My daughter & I visit Pittsburgh every year at Christmas. We love the gingerbread houses the best! But, really, it’s all wonderful. She has told me that day is the best day of the whole year. Better than Christmas day!

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