15 Reasons to Visit Pittsburgh in December – Embracing the Holidays

Last Updated on April 3, 2023 by Jeremy

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While Pittsburgh in December marks the start of winter, the city itself is in holiday mode more than anything. We have just come off the heels of Light Up Night, and our Christmas markets, numerous Christmas events, and other festivities are at their peak.

Of course, as with all of our other monthly recommendations list, we also have a few great places to drink and museums to explore on the exceptionally cold days that are coming into the city because, let's face it, winter is coming and sometimes you just want to be inside.

So if you are looking for things to do in Pittsburgh in December, check out the following options.

Handmade Arcade

Handmade Arcade

If shopping from a Pittsburgh artisan is on your agenda for the holiday season, a trip to the convention center for Handmade Arcade is a must. This annual event features hundreds of local artists showcasing their products and is truly a sight to see. While not every product is Pittsburgh specific (many are), it is a great time seeing and supporting local art!

In 2022, Handmade Arcade takes place on Friday December 2nd (paid preview night) and Saturday December 3rd (early admission paid but otherwise free with pre-scheduled entry time). Get to this one early if driving into Pittsburgh as downtown garages fill up fast!

While in downtown Pittsburgh, be sure to stay a while and have a great meal. Check the previous link for some of our favorite spots!

Christmas Open House at the Cathedral of Learning

Christmas at the Cathedral

The Cathedral of Learning's Nationality Rooms at Christmas is a treat. These themed rooms get added decorations to showcase Christmas traditions from around the world, and is a nice touch on an already impressive scene.

Early in December each year the Nationality Rooms open for a free open house with international foods, dances, songs, and more and adds even more to the fun!

In 2022, the Open House at the Cathedral of Learning will take place on Sunday, December 4th, from 12 to 4 pm.

Maggie's Farm Rum

Maggie's Farm Rum

You likely know about Wigle Whiskey, Pittsburgh's award-winning whiskey distillery, but do you know we have a rum distillery that has been racking up the medals in national contests? Maggie's Farm Rum is located just a few blocks away from Wigle in the Strip District, and is doing for rum what Wigle has done for whiskey.

Even better? The cocktails that Maggie's makes are mostly what we would call boat drinks, and are some of the most delicious we've had in the city. A winning combo if we've ever seen one.

Want to grab a bite to eat after your visit to Maggie's? Check out Kaya just a few blocks away!

Hit Up a Christmas Bar

Miracle Bar

Pop up bars are all the rage these days, and while we personally do not visit these bars most of the year, we make an exception at Christmas. To put it simply, Christmas bars in Pittsburgh must be seen to be believed. 

The most famous bar that you can visit is Miracle on 6th. This is an international pop-up bar that is designed to raised money for local charities and is decorated top-to-bottom with Christmas paraphernalia. You won't find a boring surface here!

National Aviary


Pittsburgh's National Aviary is one of the best in the country, and was recognized by Congress as the country's national aviary in 1993. This non-profit features several walk-through biospheres where you can get up-close-and-personal to the birds in their own natural habitat.

In December, the Aviary hosts holiday decorations as well as events on Saturdays and Late Nights! Holidays in the Garden on December 26th-29th from 5 to 8 pm!

Want to grab lunch after your visit to the Aviary? Check out El Burro, Max's Allegheny Tavern, or head over to Allegheny City Brewing for a beer!.

The Nutcracker by the Pittsburgh Ballet

The Nutcrakcer at the Benedum

The Nutcracker is one of the world's most cherished ballets, and the Pittsburgh ballet's rendition is an annual tradition in the Cultural District. Guests of all ages will be delighted by the stellar dancers in this one as they perform popular songs like the Arabian Dance and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy!

In 2022, The Nutcracker will run from December 9th to 28th at the Benedum Center.

AllClad Seconds Sale

AllClad Seconds sale

The AllClad Seconds Sale is returning to the Washington County Fairgrounds in 2022 to offer steep discounts on the prized (and locally made) dishware.

Seconds, for those who don't know, are any production line items that are not absolutely perfect. In the case of AllClad pots and pans, these could be small scuff marks, misprints on a handle, or other minor aesthetic issues that cause the producer not to want to sell them at full price. So for those who do not mind these, you can often find deals at upwards of 50-70% off! We've personally bought all our AllClad from these sales, and honestly can't even tell you where the imperfection is in any item we own!

In 2022, the AllClad Seconds Sale will be at the Washington County Fairgrounds on December 2nd and 3rd.

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall

Soldiers and Sailors Hall

Oakland's Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall is often appreciated on the outside for its beautiful architecture. But did you know the inside contains a museum focusing on some of the unique aspects of war such as the development of technology and the effects of war on society? Do yourself a favor and check this one out soon!

Looking for more in Oakland? Head to Phipps Conservatory for their Winter Flower Show or grab a meal at Stack'd!

Christmas Markets

Pittsburgh's Christmas Market

We return downtown to focus entirely on the Pittsburgh Christmas Market– the annual holiday tradition that turns Market Square into a beautiful marketplace full of handcrafted wares, festive cuisine, live music, and even a place to meet Santa Claus at Heinz Hall's courtyard nearby- truly a highlight of the holiday season.

While exploring the Christmas Market in Market Square, Grab dinner at Pizzaiolo Primo or the Original Oyster House!

A Musical Christmas Carol by the Pittsburgh CLO

A Musical Christmas Carol

We have a second-holiday show in the Cultural District to highlight, and this one is the Pittsburgh CLO's rendition of A Christmas Carol! Follow along on a musical take on this iconic story with Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and the rest of the cast as they tell this timeless tale- through song!

In 2022, A Musical Christmas Carol runs from December 9th to 23rd at the Byham Theater.

The Model Railroad Museum

Western PA Model Railroad Museum

The Western Pennsylvania Model Railroad Museum is an attraction well worth the visit during its brief operation from mid-November to early-January. This museum in Gibsonia is home to one of the largest model train exhibits in the region, which features the train journey from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland, as it was in the 1950s. Head over to this one to check it all out and see how many landmarks you can spot!

On your way back in to Pittsburgh be sure to stop at Casa Narcisi for a glass or two of wine!

Voodoo Brewery

Voodoo Brewery

Voodoo Brewery in Homestead, the North Shore, New Kensington, and more has an amazing beer lineup including White Magick of the Sun (a spiced Belgian wheat) and KillaPilz (a hoppy lager) as well as numerous rotating seasonal selections, making this brewery's several area locations a must that you'll want to return to many times throughout the year!

Phipps Winter Flower Show – Holiday Magic!

Phipps Christmas Show

We featured Phipps early on in this guide for their Spring Flower Show, and they get a rare second listing during the Christmas season as the conservatory goes all out with their annual Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show which even includes a nighttime light display in their outdoor gardens!

We recommend getting to this one a bit before the outdoor gardens open at 5pm in order to enjoy the stellar lighting of dusk before heading out to the courtyard when dark. After spending time in the garden, return inside to see your favorite rooms at night!

The Phipps Winter Flower Show runs throughout the month of December but closes early on Christmas Eve and is closed on Christmas Day.

Before visiting Phipps, head to Squirrel Hill for a coffee at Commonplace Coffee or lunch at Chengdu Gourmet!

New Hazlett Theater

Hazlett Theater

The New Hazlett Theater is all about the community-supported arts, hearkening back to the days of Andrew Carnegie when this building was his flagship theater and also the location of one of the first of many Carnegie libraries. For some reason we have to think Carnegie would approve of the independent theater that goes on here, and we think you should check out this gem of a location for an upcoming show!

In 2022, the New Hazlett Theater will have Perdita on December 1st and 2nd, Gary Bartz NTU Troop on December 3rd, The Holiday Jamm on December 10th, and Amahl & the Night visitors and the Ballad of the Brown King on December 16th-18th.

After seeing a show, walk over to Federal Galley for a meal!

Ice Skating

Things to Do in Pittsburgh - Ice Skating

Is there any better way to wind down a year than by ice skating? Winter has just begun, the city is getting colder, and Christmas is still in the air. So head out to one of the many Pittsburgh ice skating rinks, such as Schenley Park or the rink at PPG Place, to enjoy the winter season before ringing in the new year!

If you go ice skating in Schenley Park, stick around for lunch at The Porch.

Pittsburgh Discounts and Promotions

In the mood for a sale? Or perhaps you simply want to try out something new? Check out our latest Pittsburgh promotions below!

Steel City ShirtsGet 10% off clothing from Steel City using code: DISCOVERTHEBURGH

Pittsburgh SkylineGo on a day tour in Pittsburgh with one of the many options at Viator!

ColombinoTake 10% off orders from Strip District-based Colombino using code: DISCOVERTHEBURGH

Harvie Food BoxOrder a local food box from Harvie and take $25 off your first order on us!

Are you a local business that would like featured? Get in touch here!

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