december events

16 things to do in December for Pittsburgh families

Photo above by paje victoria via Unsplash.

This month is so jam-packed with festive events, from small and quiet free events to extravaganzas on some of the city’s biggest stages. We’ve got a big guide to the entire holiday season, as well as a roundup of the best lights displays in town. And keep reading below for great things to do in December (including non-holiday fun) that Pittsburgh families won’t want to miss:

Now through Dec. 23: Holiday KidsPlay, Downtown at Sixth St. and Liberty Ave.

Hands-on craft stations include decorating a holiday pickle ornament and a Mister Rogers’ sweater ornament. A beanbag toss engages math skills and story time will be held on Sundays. This event is totally free and all the details can be found here.

Now through Jan. 1: Holiday Lights at Kennywood Park

What’s better than warm summer days on the Thunderbolt? More than 2 million lights surrounding Pennsylvania’s tallest Christmas tree at our city’s iconic amusement park. Live entertainment is planned and more than 20 amusement rides will be operating. Kids can make reservations for dinner with St. Nick, check out the model trains and send letters to Santa. Holiday Lights runs through Jan. 1. Tickets start at $19.99 with online promotion. (Get details on all the local holiday light displays right here.)

Through Jan. 7: Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show, Phipps Conservancy and Botanical Gardens

Prepare to be dazzled by this year’s theme, Seasons Greetings, which is fully realized in glowing gardens inside and out. Look for whimsical gnomes, a 7-foot-tall talking Christmas tree and the Garden Railroad, which presents Pennsylvania through the four seasons. Timed tickets start at $13.95 for kids, $19.95 for seniors and $21.95 for adults.

holiday events Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of Phipps Conservatory.

Dec. 1-2: Allegheny County Health Department Resource Fair at CLP

If you have questions about resources available to families in this county, folks at this one-stop shop at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Beechview location on Dec. 1 and Hazelwood location on Dec. 2 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. will be able to answer them. There will be information on recovery, health and mental well-being resources. This event is for grownups, but will benefit all families who attend. Info can be found here for the Hazelwood event and here for Beechview.

Dec. 2-17: “A Special Toy,” Gemini Children’s Theater

Fidget and Gidget the Elves are excited to invite kids to an exclusive visit to their workshop to see their brand new, super-duper, electronic toy machine. Pretty cool – but what happens when the machine breaks down? Tickets start at $5.

Dec. 3: Pre-Chanukah Legoland, Chabad of South Hills

This family-friendly event is a great way to celebrate Chanukah with young kids. Admission includes building light-up Lego menorahs, a mystery Maccabee quest, a mega dreidel showdown and a hot dinner. Registration is $13.

Dec. 5: Super Science at CLP

For kids in K-5th grade, these Super Science events are a great free way to explore different types of science and get hands-on with fun materials. Find all the details for this event, which runs from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lawrenceville location, here.

Dec. 7: Menorah Parade and Lights Chanukah Festival, South Hills

This festive parade is a well-loved tradition. The car parade will leave from Chabad of the South Hills and travel across Mount Lebanon, leading to the annual South Hills Lights Festival where fun includes music, a photo booth, latkes and doughnuts. This event is totally free.

Dec. 9: Here Comes Santa Paws: Art Fur Animals, Trust Education Center

At this family workshop, participants will learn to make pet toys to take home or donate to Animal Friends. Registration is $25 for up to six family members.

Dec. 12: Chanukah Grand Menorah Parade

Celebrate the sixth day of Chanukah with the annual Grand Menorah Parade. Vehicles topped with giant menorahs will cruise through Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Find all the details here. This event can be busy, so grab your spot early.

Dec. 15- 17: The Factory at The Andy Warhol Museum

Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the staff open up space for families to create and learn together. Screenprinting is available from 12-4 p.m. and is free to try on paper. Other materials such as bags and shirts are available for a cost. Please check the museum schedule before attending, as sometimes staff changes will affect The Factory.

Photo courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum.

Dec. 16: AWCommunity Day: Holiday Edition, August Wilson African American Cultural Center

The lineup of family-focused activities includes vendors selling jewelry, art and clothing. Enjoy live performances from Alumni Theater Company, Flow Band and Kwanzaa dancers and drummers. Families will be able to learn about Kwanzaa, engage in hands-on activities, and take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Registration is free.

things to do with kids December Pittsburgh
Image courtesy of August Wilson African American Cultural Center.

Dec. 17: Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Sensory-Friendly Nutcracker

This special performance, which will occur at 4:30 p.m., is for guests of all ages who are autistic, have sensory sensitivities, or other unique needs. The performance is relaxed, so guests can move around, stim and engage with the performance however they feel comfortable. Tickets range from $15-50. Find more information here.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

Dec. 20: Teen Time at CLP

It’s no secret teenagers need different activities than younger kids. That’s why the youth specialists at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh have developed Teen Times. This free event is for kids in grades 6 through 12, and meets from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Downtown branch. Find all the details here.

Dec. 26 and beyond: “Titanic” at Rangos Cinema

To pair perfectly with their Titanic exhibit, the Carnegie Science Center will be showing the classic 1997 film on their big, big screen. Tickets are $10 for members and $12 for nonmembers.

Photo by Becky Thurner courtesy of Carnegie Science Center

Dec. 31: First Night, Downtown Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust pulls out all the stops for an exciting First Night celebration of free concerts, crafts, performances and fireworks to usher in the New Year. Details are still in the works, but Kidsburgh will share them as soon as they’re available.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Kidsburgh newsletter so you’re on top of all the best family activities for the new year!