Light up Night 2022 is almost here: We’ve got details on all the holiday fun Downtown, kicking off Nov. 18-19

Photo above courtesy of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Santa is coming to Downtown Pittsburgh to kick off the holiday season… and so is renowned rocker Joan Jett. Here are all the details on the 61st anniversary of Highmark’s Light Up Night, which happens nearly a week before Thanksgiving this year.

holidays downtown

Friday, Nov. 18: People’s Gas Holiday Market, Merry Karaoke and ice skating at PPG Place and more

On Nov. 18, the fun begins early in the day. Families can explore the People’s Gas Holiday Market beginning at 11 a.m. and shoppers will receive a free stocking stuffer (a buy-one/get-one admission pass for either the Andy Warhol Museum or the Children’s Museum) with their purchases. The 11th annual market will host more vendors than ever before. It will run Mondays through Thursdays from 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. from Nov. 18 through Dec. 24 (but they will be closed Thanksgiving Day.)

Ice skating at the rink at PPG Plaza will also begin at 11 a.m. When you’re ready to warm up, explore the Spirits of Giving from Around the World exhibit inside the PPG Place lobbies. At 4:45 p.m. the RMU Island Sports Ice Figure Skating Show takes over the rink, and you can see the East End Kids perform at PPG Plaza at 5 p.m. Then at 5:30 p.m., enjoy the American Cancer Society’s Tribute of Light ceremony, ahead of the UPMC Ultimate Holiday Tree Lighting at 6 p.m.

Live music will fill the air at Market Square from 11:30 – 4 p.m., and then an open-mic edition of Merry Karaoke begins at 5 p.m. If you’re interested in singing, you’ll get to draw a prize from a grab bag of restaurant gift cards worth up to $500. This open-air karaoke party, hosted by YaJagoff! Media, will begin with a performance by the Pittsburgh Today Live singers, then the public will be welcome to sing from 5:30-9 p.m. Sign up here in advance or walk up for any open slots. And for more musical fun, the Big Blitz Band concert begins at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, in the garden at Heinz Hall Courtyard, Santa’s House will be open from noon through 3 p.m. and also from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. In an effort to welcome all families, Santa’s House sponsor BNY Mellon has arranged for kids to find a Black Santa as well as a white Santa ready to hear their holiday wishes. If parents wish, they can let Santa’s helpers know which Santa their child would like to meet. If families wish to make a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, they are welcome to receive a free photo of their child with Santa (delivered in a keepsake frame), as well as a downloadable file of the image to share. Santa’s House will remain open daily on Wednesdays through Sundays until Dec. 23.

Light Up Night
Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Another option: Families can visit the Holiday KidsPlay Selfie Garden, also in the Heinz Hall Courtyard, where colorful backdrops and life-sized standees of popular characters from favorite shows including “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Donkey Hodie,” “Odd Squad” and “Peg and Cat” will greet them. Snap a few photos and then make your way to the newest attraction…

The indoor Holiday KidsPlay area at Sixth Street and Liberty Avenue (across from Santa’s House), presented by Fred Rogers Productions, the Pittsburgh Pirates and many other community partners will offer lots of free activities. Kids can visit with the Pirate Parrot, decorate a Mister Rogers sweater ornament with a message of thanks, play giant games, sit down for story time and much more. Click here for story time schedules and other details.

There will also be a tree lighting ceremony at noon at the County Courthouse, and the blessing of the Pittsburgh Creche at the U.S. Steel Tower Plaza also happens at noon.

Saturday, Nov. 19: Tree Lighting, Joan Jett and more

Last year, Highmark Light Up Night moved from Friday to Saturday and many families liked that change. So the event is again happening on Saturday, with family programming kicking off at noon and musical performances happening on four different stages Downtown.

Beginning at noon, the Highmark Main Stage will host “The Little Mermen: The Ultimate Disney Tribute Band.” Later in the day, Pittsburgh icons Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers will take over, along with Royce. This stage will be located at the Highmark Holiday Block Party at Penn Ave. and Stanwix Street, where families can win prizes along with enjoying the music.

On the Cultural District Stage, performers will include Miss Freddye, Sierra Sellers Band and Pickup Line. And the Sounds of the Season Stage in Market Square will have live music all day, including jazz music in the evening. A full schedule of performances will be posted here.

And while all that music is playing, the folks from Prantl’s Bakery will be constructing a one-ton burnt almond torte in the Gateway Center lobby. Families can stop in and take pictures beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday. And on Sunday, pieces of the torte will be available for purchase. Proceeds will go to Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.

The night’s big headliner, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, will be appearing at the Xfinity Riverside Stage on Saturday night. Jett will take the stage after a performance by the Mr. Smalls All-Star Rolling Stones Tribute Band.

Tickets for the Light Up Night VIP Experience party at Gateway Center cost $100 and include appetizers, desserts, drinks, and entertainment. The VIP party runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Finally, the big event happens: The official lighting of the City of Pittsburgh’s Christmas tree happens at 5 p.m. on Grant Street, followed by a Zambelli fireworks show launched from the rooftop of the City-County Building.

Get more details (and sign up to sing karaoke!) right here.