family events in Pittsburgh

December is here! 12 family events in Pittsburgh you won’t want to miss this month

This season was made for celebrating, and there are plenty of cool events on tap — many of them free. Check out this lineup:

Thursday, Dec. 1 through Saturday, Dec. 17: GLOWLAND, various times

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.

Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3: Canonsburgh’s Old Fashioned Christmas, various times

This two-day holiday event has been named by VisitPA as Pennsylvania’s most “Hallmark Movie-esque” location. Come visit Christmas in a bygone era. There’s a tree lighting, parade, skating rink, gift market, and of course – Santa himself. This event is free

Christmas in Canonsburg.

Sunday, Dec. 4: Ross Park Mall Sensory-Friendly Santa, 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. 

In partnership with Autism Speaks, Ross Park Mall is offering a chance to see Santa in a calmer and more subdued environment. There will be photo opportunities and lots of fun to be had. Pre-registration is required for all participants. 

Sunday, Dec. 4: Kate’s Kids Book Bash, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

This free book festival happening at the Kingsley Association will feature 25 children’s authors and illustrators signing their books and meeting with kids and families. Book sales by Riverstone Bookstore’s pop-up shop. Crafts, story times, and not one, but two, dogs. Find out more details about this free event here


Sunday, Dec. 4: Azure Pittsburgh free holiday concert with Chatham Baroque, 2 p.m.

Azure Pittsburgh recognizes that autism and related challenges can present barriers to attendance and engagement in a formal concert setting. So they program high-quality performances, while taking care to consider and remove as many barriers as possible to create a sensory-friendly environment. On Dec. 4 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., they bring Chatham Baroque to the Tull Family Theatre to share the music of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Don’t miss this celebration of family traditions from a range of countries. Details here. (Note: Parking is free in Sewickley on Sundays in metered municipal lots and on the street.)

family-friendly events this weekend in Pittsburgh
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Culture Trust.

Thurs., Dec. 8 (and Sunday, Dec. 18): First Night Parade Workshop

One of the coolest and most creative holiday things to do in Pittsburgh is helping build puppets for the First Night Parade that will close out 2022. A hands-on creative workshop welcomes the whole family to pitch in on Dec. 8 at the Neighborhood Museum of Play in Beaver Falls and/or on Dec. 18  at the Braddock Battlefield History Center. Registration is free, but required to save your space.

Saturday, Dec. 10: The City of Pittsburgh’s Skate with Santa

On Dec. 10, the big man himself is hitting the ice to create some holiday memories. Families can register here for tickets to ice skate with Santa at the Schenley ice rink from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bop along to holiday music while Santa leads the party. Appropriate for all ages. 

Monday, Dec. 12: Parents as Allies free workshop and lunch event, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

This one is for parents, but kids will benefit in so many ways. This Parents as Allies event dives deep into recent research on building true engagement between families and the schools their kids attend. You’ll hear the latest from researchers at the Brookings Institution on what parents and teachers worldwide believe is the purpose of education and on the kinds of tools we can use to deepen family-school engagement. This free workshop includes lunch. Learn more here and register here.

Image courtesy of the August Wilson Center.

Saturday, Dec. 17:  AWCommunity Day: Holiday Edition

The August Wilson African American Cultural Center hosts the AWCommunity Day: Holiday Edition on Dec. 17 from noon through4 p.m. The lineup of family-focused activities includes a Kwanzaa celebration and a visit by Santa himself – with brown skin. Many activities will be held outside the August Wilson Center for African American Culture on the plaza and sidewalk. Click here for more details about the event. Admission is free.

Saturday, Dec. 17: Reindeer on the Roof,  various times

The reindeer are back on the rooftop at Hotel Monaco on Saturday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Dec. 18. Guests who are having brunch at The Commoner can head up to visit the stars of Santa’s sleigh for just $10. Those looking to skip breakfast and make a beeline to the top can meet & greet with Santa’s reindeer for $12. Complimentary hot chocolate and cider available for all guests. Reservations are recommended.

Tuesday, Dec. 20: Grand Menorah Parade, 5 p.m.

Celebrate the third day of Chanukah with the annual Grand Menorah Parade, happening this year on Dec. 20 at 5 p.m. Vehicles topped with giant menorahs leave the Rodef Shalom parking lot and head to Fifth Avenue for a cruise through Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Join the party at the parade’s end with entertainment, latkes and donuts. Free.

Saturday, Dec. 31: First Night in Downtown Pittsburgh, 6 p.m. to midnight

Ring in 2023 at this family-friendly event. From fireworks and a singing competition to an ice maze, the incredible sight of stilt-walkers and so much more, this celebration will make kids of all ages smile. Get all the details here.

Want more family events in Pittsburgh in December? Our big holiday events roundup can be found here, and we also have the scoop on sensory-friendly events happening all around town. Also, check out our guide to holiday lights displays you won’t want to miss during the holidays and sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.