14 Pittsburgh holiday light displays that families will love
Photo above by Kelly Sikkema used by permission via Unsplash.
Holiday lights are brightening up the nights all around the Pittsburgh region. If you’re ready to start celebrating, here are 14 merry and bright holiday light displays and events to help kick off this joyful season. (And don’t miss our big guide to holiday events, many of them free, and our guide to sensory-friendly holiday fun.)
On Dec. 10, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will celebrate the coming winter with a family-friendly evening of art-making, exhibits and performances that will glow, spark and light up the dark. This indoor/outdoor event includes a Silent Disco and “Glow Down,” a live competition where artists will create artwork that visually or conceptually “glows.” Free for museum members and anyone under age 2, and just $2 for bigger kids and nonmember adults. Members use code GLOWMEM when reserving tickets. Get tickets here.
Light Up Night came early this year, so Downtown is officially decked out in holiday lights. Make an evening visit to Market Square, see the sparkling tree at the ice rink at PPG Place and much more. You’ll also find a brightly lit tree at the County Courthouse and the Pittsburgh Creche at the U.S. Steel Tower Plaza, plus the Holiday KidsPlay Selfie Garden and Santa’s House in the Heinz Hall Courtyard, and the indoor Holiday KidsPlay area across the street at Sixth Street and Liberty Avenue.
Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland has a new location in Butler this year (Cooper’s Lake campground, about 10 minutes away from their previous location at the fairgrounds). But it’s as fabulous as ever. They’re promising a better layout and drive route, safer entry and exit, and even more lights than before. As you explore more than two miles of holiday lights elaborately choreographed to holiday music played, you’ll discover Shadrack’s new fairy tale theme and travel through a 300-foot color-changing tunnel, among other custom-built light displays. Santa’s Village is open nightly, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., with food trucks, fresh kettle corn and a station where kids can write letters to Santa. Depending on the date you go, prices range from $30 to $40 per passenger car (up to 8 people). Buy tickets in advance or at the booth (note: cash isn’t accepted at the booth). Open through Jan. 1.
Thousands of environmentally-friendly LED lights have once again been lit at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The Zoo Lights Drive-Thru, open Nov. 25 through Dec. 30, has grown to include more than 100 animal lights with new displays, festive music, and holiday treats. Follow the guided audio tour filled with Christmas carols. Timed tickets are $40 per vehicle for zoo members or $50 for nonmembers (includes all riders in the vehicle). The drive takes about an hour. (Note: The zoo’s drive-thru fundraisers have sold out quickly in the past. Book early to avoid disappointment.)
Allegheny County Parks is bringing back their popular Holiday Laser Show. Catch the show this year from Dec. 9 through Dec. 22 at the North Park Pool parking lot. Stay cozy in your car and enjoy this 45-minute light show synchronized with holiday music. You can buy timed tickets (organizers ask that you arrive 30-45 minutes before your time slot to get parked). Shows on Sundays through Thursdays are $20. Shows on Fridays and Saturdays are $25. Space is limited, so consider reserving early.
The heart of this month-long winter festival is a playable and interactive art installation called Impulse, located in Schenley Plaza. This free experience, open Nov. 18 through Dec. 17, includes 15 sound- and light-producing seesaws. Beyond Schenley Plaza, you’ll find buildings, public spaces and unexpected corners throughout Oakland’s business district brought to life by various kinds of light-based art, along with music, entertainment, vendors and games during December. Special events will include a Small Business Saturday celebration and a family-friendly closing weekend. Details here.
The Carnegie Science Center’s Buhl Planetarium is once again offering an incredibly cool Laser Holiday Magic show. Check out the fun daily from Nov. 25 through Jan. 1. Holiday music will fill the air as high-powered laser lights wow kids of all ages. Timed tickets are $2 for Science Center Members and $8 for nonmembers.
Each year, truly magical makeover transforms the normally scary Hundred Acres Manor into the joyous location for ElfBurgh Christmas. Families can drive along Elf Lane and be dazzled by a half-million holiday lights and “Elf actors” helping Santa prep for the big day. Visit Santa’s Ice Castle inside the Elf Forest of decorated Christmas trees. To stay warm (and COVID-safe) kids can even visit with Santa and share their wish lists from the comfort of the car. Open select nights from Nov. 26 through Dec. 23 (get schedule here). Timed tickets are $25 per car. Add a treat bag for an additional $12.
If you grew up with the jokes of Henny Hemlock, the talking Christmas tree, it may be time to bring your kids to enjoy Overly’s Country Christmas in Greensburg, open now through Dec. 30 (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Families can drive through or park and walk directly to the Christmas village. Open since 1956, Overly’s beautiful light displays sparkle with more than a million lights. This nonprofit, operated mainly by volunteers, offers old-fashioned traditions and treats. Sing carols at the bonfire, enjoy the model train display, have your picture taken with Santa (in the days before Christmas), take a wagon ride or shop for gifts in the C. Edgar & Sons General Store. The cost is $25 per carload (eight people or less, cash only) for those who drive or $5 per person to park and walk (again, cash only). Get all the details here.
From Nov. 25 through. Jan. 1 this year, Fun Fore All in Cranberry once again turns their two miniature golf courses into fully playable walk-through holiday light extravaganzas from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). You’ll find tunnels of light and animated themes. Tickets are $15 to play one course, $20 for both courses. Admission includes a treat bag of goodies and coupons. And as they’ve done in the past, 10 percent of all sales will benefit The Highmark Caring Place.
The one-mile cruise through a wooded light display in Clinton Community Park — set up by a team of volunteers with lots of holiday spirit — has been a holiday favorite since 1993. It’s happening again this year (though the former website isn’t up any longer, so find them on Facebook). Set your GPS to 600 Clinton Park Drive, Imperial, Pa., to find this beautiful, one-mile light display through a gorgeous wooded setting. One note from their Facebook post: “We are unable to host walk-thrus and sleigh rides this season.” Proceeds from the $10 admission per vehicle (cash only) are shared with local charities. Open this year through Jan. 1.
Of all the holiday light displays in Pittsburgh, this may be the most remarkable. Running through Jan. 8, this year’s theme at Phipps is arctic adventure, with dripping icicle lights, hanging snowflakes and glowing blue trees. You’ll also find topiaries, exquisitely detailed props and stunning flowers, including amaryllis, orchids and more than 1,600 poinsettias. The fun continues outdoors in the Winter Light Garden, filled with surprises including a tunnel of neon orange and green rope lights alongside planters of gleaming mesh flowers. Admission is $19.95 and up (depending on date/time) for adults, $17.95 for seniors and students, and $11.95 for children (ages 2 – 18). Members and kids under 2 enter free. All member and nonmember tickets must be reserved in advance.
Christmas is back at Kennywood. You’ll find more than two million twinkling lights this year, along with the tallest Christmas tree in the state, as well as holiday foods and drinks, plus a range of rides open for kids and entertainment for all ages. Santa will be there, along with a model train village and more. You can even add on dinner with Santa. Open select nights through January 1. Tickets begin at $19.99 if you buy online.
Stroll through 65 acres of sparkling light displays, including a 30-foot tall holiday tree, interactive displays that light up when you walk on them, a forest of light and fog, and a 65-foot tunnel of light. As you walk, holiday music will fill the air. Dazzling Pittsburgh opens Nov. 27 and runs through Jan. 1 (first entry at 5:30 p.m., last entry at 9:00 p.m.). Timed tickets are $25 for adults and $22 for children 3 and over (kids 2 and under enter free). Limited on-site parking is available for a fee, and free off-site parking includes shuttle service. Visitors parking on-site are asked to arrive 15 minutes before scheduled entry times. Those using the off-site parking shuttle are asked to arrive 30 minutes before their ticketed entry time. Dress for the weather for this nighttime walking experience, which does include stairs at a few locations.