Light Up Night 2023 is almost here: Check out our guide to all the fun on Nov. 17-18

Photo above courtesy of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the “Burgh: Downtown Pittsburgh is ready to kick off their annual holiday season festivities. Kidsburgh has all the deets on what’s happening in the city this year for the 62nd anniversary of Highmark’s Light Up Night.

This year Light Up Night will happen on Saturday, Nov. 18, with festivities also happening the night before. Here’s what’s planned:

Friday, Nov. 17: Warm up for the festivities with the opening of the People’s Gas Holiday Market, The Rink at PPG Place and more.

While the tree lighting isn’t until Saturday, the Grand Opening festivities on Friday start the weekend off right. For the 12th year in a row, the Peoples Gas Holiday Market will take over Market Square with handcrafted ornaments and other seasonal items for sale. Note: Santa Claus does not come to Market Square until Sunday, Nov. 24.

The market will be open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Shoppers will receive a limited-edition ornament if they make a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Area Food Bank, and donations up to $5,000 will be matched by the folks at Peoples Gas. There will be live music from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

The UPMC Rink at PPG Plaza will open for skaters at 11 a.m. and the Spirits of Giving from Around the World Exhibit will open in PPG Place lobbies beginning at 9 a.m. At noon, at the U.S. Steel Tower, there will be the Blessing and Opening of the Pittsburgh Crèche.

Round out the day with Merry Karaoke by YaJagoff! Media at 5 p.m. The Pittsburgh Today Live singers will kick off the karaoke festivities. Every singer gets a prize, with the chance to win a $500 gift card. 

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Saturday, Nov. 18: Highmark Light Up Night Festivities

It’s a party all day Saturday — beginning at 3 p.m. with the Highmark Holiday Party at the corner of Penn Avenue and Stanwix Street. At the Harris Theater between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. there will be a viewing of  all-ages short films from the Pittsburgh Film Festival.

Just a short distance away on the Highmark Main Stage, there will be performances by Sing, Sing, Sing! and a Pirates Mini-Fest featuring the Pirates Parrot and Pierogies. There will be face painting, balloon artists stations, inflatables and even the Fanatics-mobile. 

Inside Fifth Avenue Place guests will find the FREEZE! display, which is a collection of intricate ice carvings featuring characters such as Elf, the Grinch, Barbie, Olaf, and many more. Rich Bubin of Ice Creations will also do a live ice carving for revelers to observe. 

Other fun is scattered throughout Downtown. At 6th and Liberty Ave. families can check out the PNC Holiday KidsPlay, which will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be plenty of crafts and games. Just across the street is a selfie garden in the Heinz Hall Courtyard, which has a Fred Rogers theme. In the lobby of the City-County Building guests can find that beloved collection of gingerbread houses that have been built by locals each season and displayed for over 20 years. 

Tree Lightings and Musical Performances

Saturday evening is packed with so much entertainment — multiple tree lightings, musical guests and fireworks. 

There’s no shortage of lovely trees decorated for the holidays in Pittsburgh. Kick off the lights at 5:00 p.m. on Grant Street with the City of Pittsburgh’s Tree and Rooftop Fireworks at the City-County Building. After that, at 6:00 p.m. the tree will be lit at PPG Plaza, which is preceded by a figure skating performance at 4:45 p.m. 

At 7:00 p.m. the famous tree at Penn Avenue and Stanwix Street will light up, followed by Zambelli rooftop fireworks. Musical performances will be on four different stages this year. Guests will feature Sing, Sing, Sing!, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Miss Freddye’s Blues Band, Clara Kent, Mani Bahia, Pickup Line, PennSOULvanians, Orange Music, Gena y Pena, Norm Nardini, and Soulful Femme. 

The headliner for this year is Phillip Phillips, who will perform on the Xfinity Riverfront Stage. After his performance the night will be capped off with a fireworks finale at 9:30 p.m. The Sisters Bridges will also be lit up to showcase the new light installations at 8 p.m. 

All Season Long

Courtesy of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Many holiday events will run all season long, through December 24th. The Rink at PPG Place will be open through early 2024. The Selfie Garden, gingerbread houses, creche, and Santa displays will be available all season. 

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market is open 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Mon-Thurs), 11 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. (Fri-Sat), and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Sun.) from Nov. 17 to Dec. 16 (excluding Thanksgiving Day). It will be 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Dec. 18 to 21 (Mon-Thurs), 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Dec. 22 and 23 and from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Dec. 24. Santa will be at the market from Nov. 24 to Dec. 23. 

Please check the official Downtown holiday website for evolving updates and announcements, and sign up for the Kidsburgh newsletter so you never miss a thing.