Winter entertainment guide: Cool, crazy fun for Pittsburgh kids
The Kidsburgh lineup of winter events packs December with holiday excitement, but there’s plenty more in January and February.
Read on with pen in hand to mark your calendar for cool new shows – like Cirque du Soleil on ice – and the ultimate in silliness with crazy futuristic jugglers or new adventures for the likes of Skippyjon Jones.
And be sure to check the Kidsburgh events listings as new programming is announced.
Through Dec. 17: Santa Trolley, Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, Chartiers Township. Celebrate the season on the trolley with Santa, sing along with Christmas caroling, make a craft in the Events Room and interact with the Lionel Trains in the Visitor Center, on designated Saturdays and Sundays.
Through Dec. 23: Holiday Lights, Kennywood Park. Tour Kennywood Park decorated for the holidays, with performances by local choirs, Santa Claus, Gingerbread Express train, and light show themed to holiday music.
Through Jan. 7: Winter Flower Show and Light Garden: Holiday Magic! Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Oakland. Colorful displays feature 2,000 poinsettias, decorated and illuminated trees in seasonal vignettes including an extravagant winter feast, Santa’s workshop, and New Year’s Eve celebration.
Through Jan. 15: “A Very Merry Pittsburgh,” Heinz History Center, Strip District. A new exhibition features historic toys from the 1940s to 2000 and original artifacts from Pittsburgh’s holiday history. The event includes an interactive kids’ area with classic toys. A daily visit to Santa Claus is planned from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Christmas Eve.
Dec. 1-31: Holiday Magic Laser Show, Carnegie Science Center, North Shore. Experience the magic of the holiday season with a little science at this holiday laser show featuring traditional holiday tunes.
Dec. 1-27: “The Nutcracker,” Benedum Center, Downtown. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s annual holiday production features Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, 100-plus dancers, a giant Christmas tree, the Sugar Plum Fairy and a turn-of-the-century setting incorporating Pittsburgh landmarks and historical figures.
Dec. 2-17: “Sleeping Beauty Holiday,” Gemini Children’s Theater, McKees Rocks. A magical holiday adventure with Sleeping Beauty and all her friends in an interactive production.
Dec. 2-17: Weekend breakfast or Lunch with Santa, Pittsburgh Zoo, Highland Park. Kids will get into the holiday spirit with Santa, make a holiday craft, decorate a sugar cookie, and meet Zoo animals.
Dec. 3: Children’s Gingerbread Class, Fairmont Pittsburgh. The class includes instruction by the hotel pastry team, all materials, an apron, and refreshments.
Dec. 7-17: “A Christmas Story,” The Theatre Factory, Trafford. All Ralphie wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder BB gun, but with bullies, bad grades, bothersome siblings, a broken lamp, and a bunny suit, it seems like the world is against him.
Dec. 7-23: Midnight Radio, Bricolage. Experience a 1940s radio program as part of the live audience with a performance of “A Christmas Story.” Watch foley artists create sound effects, react to the “applause” sign, and enjoy a chuckle at the Pittsburgh-themed commercials.
Dec. 8-23: “A Musical Christmas Carol,” Byham Theater, Downtown. Pittsburgh CLO’s holiday production of Charles Dickens’ classic featuring Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and other colorful characters and the season’s favorite yuletide melodies, starring Broadway’s Patrick Page as Scrooge.
Dec. 8-9: “Twas the Night before Christmas.” Greensburg Civic Theatre’s wild holiday adventures of a mouse, an elf and a spunky little girl on their quest to find out why Santa missed their house last year.
Dec. 8-10: “A Christmas Story the Musical,” The Lamp Theatre, Irwin. Stage Right’s retelling of the classic holiday TV movie.
Dec. 8: Polar Express Sleepover, Carnegie Science Center, North Shore. Families can enjoy a special evening of fun and the modern holiday classic “The Polar Express” in 3-D in the new Rangos Giant Cinema. The sleepover includes a late-night snack, themed activities, a planetarium or laser show, and a live theater show and breakfast the next morning.
Dec. 9: Cool Yule Family Day, The Frick, Point Breeze. Families can enjoy stories, interactive tours and holiday art-making at this annual celebration of the season.
Dec. 9-10: “The Nutcracker Ballet,” The Palace Theatre, Greensburg. Laurel Ballet Company and Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra offer a magical, musical trip to the land of the Sugarplum Fairy, waltzing snowflakes, and enchanted toys.
Dec. 17: Holiday Family Workshop: Build Your Own Gingerbread House, The Frick. Adults and children work together to create confectionary masterpieces to take home. A quick tour of Clayton’s holiday finery is included in this special family event.
Dec. 20-24: “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” Heinz Hall, Downtown. The Grinch discovers there’s more to Christmas than he bargained for in this heart-warming holiday classic, featuring Max the Dog as the narrator in this PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh production.
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Family Celebration, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Schenley Park, Oakland. Family-friendly event featuring a variety of activities for children to welcome 2018 includes an early countdown at 8:45 p.m.
Dec. 31: Countdown to Noon! Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, North Shore. Billed as Pittsburgh’s best bedtime-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, this party takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., featuring live music by Lee Robinson and Iska Band at noon.
Dec. 31: First Night Pittsburgh, Cultural District. This annual family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration covers 14 square blocks of Downtown with indoor and outdoor entertainment and activities, two fireworks displays, and parade. First Night buttons on sale for $10. Kids 5 and younger are free.
BIG FUN STUFF
Dec. 2: “Frozen Sing Along,” Carnegie Science Center, North Shore. Two special sing-along showings of Disney’s megahit movie, “Frozen,” shown in the new Rangos Giant Cinema, featuring a hot chocolate bar and fun photo opportunities in the lobby before the show.
Dec. 2: “Half-Pint Prints,” The Andy Warhol Museum, North Shore. Families work with artist educators to create silkscreen prints during this drop-in silkscreen printing activity for children ages 1 to 4.
Dec. 9: Patterns, Mattress Factory, North Side. Kids ages 3-5 and their parents or caregivers can explore how artists use this technique to make us laugh, feel and think about our surroundings in a Mini-Factory hands-on learning program.
Dec. 10: Family Zumba with Let’s Move Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory, Schenley Park, Oakland. Free family-friendly Zumba class led by a certified YMCA instructor.
Dec. 15-16: “Water on Mars,” August Wilson Center. This presentation of the EQT Bridge Theater Series offers a trio of futuristic jugglers with glow-in-the-dark props and electro-pop music.
Dec. 16: Scribble Machine Wrapping Paper, Mattress Factory, North Side. Visitors of all ages can experiment with projects inspired by current exhibitions, artists, and ideas in this ARTLab program.
Dec. 26: The Harlem Globetrotters, PPG Arena. The “Ambassadors of Goodwill” compete in two antic-filled games. Gosh, who will win?
Dec. 26-30: Family Fun Days, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Schenley Park, Oakland, featuring a variety of engaging educational activities, filled with adventure and fun.
Dec. 28: History at Play Workshop, Heinz History Center, Downtown. Kids ages 8-11 are invited for a fun exploration of historic toys and games in the History Center’s new A Very Merry Pittsburgh exhibition and design their own game in the Discovery Place.
Jan. 1: MessFest, Carnegie Science Center, North Shore. Join in on a truly messy way to kick off the New Year! Kids can get slimy, yucky, ooey, and gooey as they learn about science. Includes live demonstrations, planetarium shows, and other activities.
Jan. 6-7: Locomotion Weekend, Carnegie Science Center, North Shore. Engineers of all ages will enjoy operating train layouts and special hands-on activities. Bring your own model trains for a free checkup at the “Loco Doctor” table, which includes basic repairs, cleaning, and oiling.
Jan. 7-14: “Skippyjon Jones Snow What,” multiple locations through the Citizens Bank Children’s Theater Series. Starring the beloved Siamese cat who thinks he’s a Chihuahua.
Jan. 10-Feb. 14: Habitation with Suzanne Werder, Mattress Factory, North Side. For students in grades 3-5, this after-school program’s Winter Session on Wednesdays focuses on habitats, spaces where animals and people live.
Jan. 10: Hop Into History: Discovery Place, Heinz History Center, Downtown. A fun exploration of the past through music, dance and games designed for 2-5-year-olds and their caregivers.
Jan. 15: Martin Luther King Birthday Bash, Mattress Factory, North Side. Check out the museum’s installations, participate in hands-on workshops and celebrate the life of this admired figure.
Jan. 17-21: “Cirque du Soleil Crystal: A Breakthrough Ice Experience,” PPG Paints Arena, Uptown. Watch world-class ice skaters and acrobats challenge the laws of gravity with never-before-seen acrobatics performed on ice.
Jan. 20-Feb. 4: “Wizard of Oz,” Gemini Children’s Theater, McKees Rocks. Everyone is invited to “Shakedown” the yellow brick road in the classic, full-length, interactive, musical story of the Wizard of Oz.
Jan. 27: NFL Play 60 Training Camp, Heinz History Center, Downtown. Parents and kids of all ages can wear their favorite jerseys and enjoy five floors of football-related activities at the sixth-annual training camp, featuring speed, accuracy, and agility drills, healthy cooking demos, and a touchdown dance contest.
Jan. 27-28: “The 13-Story Treehouse,” August Wilson Center, Downtown. Live action, puppetry, music, and animation are used to bring the 13-Story Treehouse to life with a funny cast and magical moments of theatrical wizardry in this EQT Bridge Theater Series production.
Feb. 5: Hollywood Special Effects Show, Byham Theater. Kids can learn the secrets of movie magic by specials effects teams behind such films as “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Dark Knight Rises.”
Feb. 9-11: “Peter Pan Junior,” The Lamp Theatre, Irwin. Stage Right presents the timeless classic of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
Feb. 9-11: Monster Jam, PPG Paints Arena. Bring earplugs for this monstrous exhibit of automotive power and excitement.
Feb. 10: “Fiddlesticks,” Heinz Hall, Downtown. Fiddlesticks will introduce you to his favorite animal friends, featuring Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals” performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Cartoonist Joe Wos will be doing live drawings as the orchestra performs.
Feb. 10: Tropical Forest Cuba, Phipps Conservatory, Schenley Park, Oakland. Catch the grand opening of a new installation that showcases the island nation of Cuba featuring a variety of rare plant species and special activities.
Feb. 14: Hop Into History: Make It Pop, Heinz History Center, Downtown. Kids ages 2-5 and caregivers explore the past together through music, dance, and games in this hands-on session.
Feb. 16-25: “Swan Lake,” Benedum Center, Downtown. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and the PBT Orchestra present the classic love story based on a Russian folk tale of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s curse, set to Tchaikovsky’s score.
Feb. 22-25: Disney on Ice Presents: Reach for the Stars, PPG Paints Arena. From classic Mickey and Minnie to favorites from “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “The Little Mermaid,” this dazzling show has it covered.
Feb. 23-24: “Carnival of the Animals,” Byham Theater, Downtown. Circa Carnival comes to town with whimsical tales of creatures of land and sea who tumble, fly, leap and spin their way through many wondrous worlds. Part of the Citizens Bank Children’s Theater Series.
March 2-3: “Feathers of Fire,” August Wilson Center. EQT Bridge Theater Series updates classic shadow puppetry with digital media in this Persian epic.