Last Updated on January 25, 2021 by Jeremy
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There are many reasons to love the holiday season in Pittsburgh, and perhaps one of the most amazing ones is your ability to see many beautiful Christmas lights all over the region.
From the holiday displays downtown, to the many drive-thru light shows, and more, there really is no shortage of impressive Christmas lights in Pittsburgh. So in this one, we wanted to curate all the best places where you can see holiday lights and decorations in the region!
Note: Many of the experiences below are drive-thru light displays such that you can enjoy the holiday lights and decorations from the comfort of your own car. However, we felt we would be doing you a disservice if we didn't mention a few other light viewing opportunities that take place outside of your car as well!
Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland
Note: In 2020 the Christmas Village portion of Shadrack's is closed.
Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland at the Butler County Fairgrounds is the most technically advanced drive-thru light show in the Pittsburgh region. The two-mile route features customized light displays where most are synchronized to music that can be enjoyed on your radio. At the end of the tour, visitors have the option to head inside for a small Christmas Village experience as well.
But with its size comes its popularity, and Shadrack's is known to have multi-hour waits at the entrance, and even offers an express pass at an additional fee- so planning your visit accordingly is key. We personally visited after Christmas and drove right in shortly after they opened and enjoyed a relatively brisk drive through the lights in about 30 minutes. However, your experiences will most certainly vary here as this one is quite popular.
Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is located at the Butler County Fairgrounds at 1127 New Castle Road, Prospect, PA and is open from mid-November to early-January. Tickets can be purchased for visits online in advanced but are not timed entry. Note that surge pricing “Anytime Tickets” must be purchased for the two weeks leading up to Christmas and a few days after.
Overly's Country Christmas
Note: In 2020 the Christmas Village portion of Overly's is closed, but they are said to have expanded their drive-through light display.
Overly's Country Christmas in Westmoreland County is primarily designed to be a Christmas village with shops, animal displays, Santa, and more along with beautiful decorations and lights. When you enter the park, you have the option to drive-through a short but festive Christmas light display as well before pulling into the parking lot to start the experience and get into holiday cheer.
Much like with Shadrack's above, Overly's Country Christmas is popular. But coupled with the smaller size of the Westmoreland Fairgrounds there may be waits to enter as the lot only has room for about 175 cars. As such, arriving early to this one is key as the lot tends to turn over just once every 90 minutes or so. When we left after our visit, the line of cars waiting for a spot was quite long!
Overly's Country Christmas is located at the Westmoreland County Fairgrounds at 116 Blue Ribbon Lane outside of Greensburg, PA. Check their social media before visiting as they have been known to close during inclement weather. Overly's is cash only.
Pittsburgh Zoo Lights
In 2020 the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium opened a drive-thru light display to help showcase exhibits at the zoo and (of course) fundraise. This mile-long drive through the zoo does not see any animals, but instead displays (mostly) static animal light displays along the route. This is coupled with a podcast to learn about what you can see when visiting the zoo during the day and is a good option for those with young kids who love animals.
The downside of the zoo light display is its cost. In 2020, the fee to enter was $60 and was twice as much as the next most expensive light show on this list (Shadrack's, above). But beyond supporting the zoo with this fee you also get a timed entry ticket which made accessing the lights a breeze (we were checked in and on property in under 10 minutes). Still, it is quite expensive for what you get.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is located at 7370 Baker St in Pittsburgh. Tickets should be purchased online and advanced for set timeslots. Due to their limited volume, expect these to sell out far in advance for prime hours.
Clinton Christmas Light-Up
The one-mile drive-thru Clinton Christmas Light-Up display has been an annual tradition for western PA since 1993. This one features an array of holiday lights (both static and moving), painted wooden characters, inflatable decorations, and decorated Christmas trees from local sponsors and as memorials to loved ones. While this one is not terribly advanced as far as displays are concerned, it makes up for it in volume as well as ample lights adorning the trees of the park providing a neat depth-of-field you do not necessarily get in other shows nearby.
While a drive through this one can be short (ours was just 15-minutes), if you visit on an off-peak night the workers may let you drive through multiple times to see the lights and get your fill. Couple that with the fact that this one was just $10 in 2020 (the cheapest of any paid drive-thru in this list) with proceeds going to charity, and you can see why many people flock to Clinton, PA for this show!
The Clinton Christmas Light-Up drive-through is located at 600 Clinton Park Drive in Imperial, PA (GPS address), and runs from late November to early January. This event is cash only.
Kennywood's Holiday Lights
Note: In 2020 Kennywood has canceled their holiday lights experience. We expect this to return in 2021.
Our local amusement park transforms itself into a winter wonderland each December for their Kennywood Holiday Lights experience. This one features lights throughout the park, carolers, an array of holiday-themed events each night, a tree lighting ceremony, holiday treats, and so much more.
While many of the rides at Kennywood are closed due to the colder temperatures, some that are opened are decorated for Christmas for an added pop (Noah's Ark is one great example). As such, when visiting for this one you best plan for enjoying the holiday festivities first, as Kennywood's rides are primarily a backdrop to bring it all together!
Kennywood's Holiday Lights experience typically runs between Thanksgiving and New Year's but may have nightly closures due to weather.
North Park's Laser Light Drive-In
North Park offers a holiday-themed laser light show that could be enjoyed from the comfort of your car in 2020. This show lasted approximately 40 minutes and included a fog and laser display set to music streamed over the radio in your car. For its price (which scales on weeknights/weekends and for in-county and out-of-county residents) the show was an exceptional value and perhaps one of the most well-organized holiday events we've been to so far from start-to-finish.
North Park's Laser Light Show takes place in the pool parking lot on S Ridge Drive from December 10th to 20th in 2020. Tickets must be purchased online in advance for set show times. Rates vary on weeknights vs weekends and for county residents and non-residents.
Note: In mid-December 2020 the Christmas Market was shut down for safety reasons.
Our final place to see great holiday lights is in downtown Pittsburgh itself. This one is not a drive-thru light show like the others in this list, but is simply the sheer collection of Christmas lights and displays you can see on foot when exploring downtown. There is the beautiful Christmas tree and ice skating rink at PPG Place, the international Christmas display seen in the walkway between PPG Place and Market Square, the decorations at Market Square's Christmas Market, the Highmark Unity Tree, the massive tree at Point State Park, and the creche at US Steel Plaza to name a few!
So if you find yourself in downtown Pittsburgh during the holidays, especially at night, go for a little stroll to see some of the best decorations and lights out there- for free!
The decorations in downtown Pittsburgh are typically on from Light Up Night (the Friday before Thanksgiving) until the end of December.
Looking for even more Christmas lights? A bit further away from Pittsburgh also includes Oglebay's Winter Festival of Lights in West Virginia and Christmas in the Park in Grove City, PA. These are both a bit outside of the radius we typically cover on this site, but when we make it to them we'll update accordingly! Likewise, Pittsburgh was home to an indoor light experience, Lumaze, in 2019 but did not return in 2020. We are unusure if it will return in 2021 and will update this guide accordingly if it does.
Looking for even more Christmas activities in Pittsburgh? Check our guide out at the previous link which includes a wealth of Christmas experiences- lights and otherwise!