Our big winter guide: 66 family-friendly events in Pittsburgh throughout the winter season
Photo above courtesy of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
Winter officially begins Dec. 21 and runs through March 19, bringing thoughts of curling up on the couch under a comforter. But there’s no need to hibernate during the winter season in Pittsburgh. We’ve gathered dozens and dozens of fun and exciting events for families that will keep you busy and motivated until spring rolls around.
Here are the highlights of family-friendly events in Pittsburgh this season.
Through Dec. 28: “The Nutcracker.” Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents its annual production that draws families year after year to its enchanting story, exquisite costumes and stunning sets. Catch a sensory-friendly performance on Dec. 27. Tickets start at $29, with sensory-friendly tickets priced from $20. Benedum Center. (What’s it like to dance in this remarkable show? Get the inside scoop right here!)
Dec. 30-Jan. 1: Dinosaur Adventure. This all-new exhibit features life-sized dinosaurs that come alive with movement and roars. Activities include fossil crafting, Jurassic jeeps, themed obstacle courses and taking a ride on a dinosaur. Admission is $35 for ages 2-12, $25 for ages 13 and older, and free for those younger than 2. Monroeville Convention Center.
Through Dec. 30: Zoo Lights Drive-Thru. Stay cozy and warm in your car as you drive through more than 100 animal light displays while listening to festive music. Tickets are $50 per car. Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
Through Jan. 1: Dazzling Nights. This walk-through journey includes interactive lights, a 65-foot tunnel of light and a forest of light and fog that gives the impression of walking through the aurora borealis. Timed tickets are $20 for kids, $22 for their grownups, free for ages 2 and younger. Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.
Through Jan. 1: “Humpback Whales 3D.” This immersive ocean adventure invites the audience to dive head-first into the mysterious realm of 55-foot, 50-ton aquatic mammals. Admission is $7. The Rangos Giant Cinema at Carnegie Science.
Through Jan. 8: Holidays at the History Center. The Great Hall has been transformed into a winter wonderland that showcases our region’s holiday traditions and memorable objects from Kaufmann’s Santaland. Kids ages 17 and younger receive free admission to the History Center and Fort Pitt Museum.
Through Feb. 25: Penguins on Parade. Crowds gather on Saturdays and Sundays to watch the penguins waddle in their personal tuxedo style. Check ahead for weather conditions to prevent disappointment. Free with zoo admission. Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
Through March 12: “Train Time.” Go behind the scenes to the inner workings of the modern railroad. Admission is $7. The Rangos Giant Cinema at Carnegie Science Center.
Dec. 21: Winter Solstice Night Hike. Venture Outdoors guides lead a three-mile hike through dark woodlands, under sparkling stars. Registration is $10. Frick Environmental Center.
Dec. 26: Harlem Globe Trotters. Those masters of basketball and zany comedy return for their annual Pittsburgh visit. Tickets start at $24. PPG Paints Arena.
Dec. 26: Sensory Friendly Hours. Tours and quiet rooms will be available for visitors before the museum opens to the general public. Admission is $5.95 for kids, $9.95 for their grownups. Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Dec. 28: Dahntahn Holiday Cheer Hike. Keep up a brisk pace covering four to five miles in a Venture Outdoors hike that passes by holiday attractions Downtown. Warm-up stops will be offered if needed. Registration is $10. The hike begins at Omni William Penn Hotel.
Dec. 29: Tracks, Scat and Home: Finding Signs of Life in the Winter. This day camp explores the meadow, gardens and woodlands to find signs of winter wildlife. Best for kids ages 6-12 with an accompanying grownup. Registration is $45. Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.
Dec. 29-30: Holiday Dreams: A Spectacular Holiday Cirque. Acrobats, comedians, daredevils and aerialists perform amazing feats in this holiday-themed performance at the Benedum Center. Tickets start at $45.
Dec. 31: Countdown to Noon. Celebrate the upcoming new year with noisemakers and themed activities. Jazz quartet Lee Robinson and ISKA will provide background music in the Garage. Timed tickets are $16 for kids and seniors, $18 for grownups, free for those younger than 2. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
Dec. 31: Highmark First Night 2023. Don’t miss the family-friendly celebration that takes over the Cultural District on New Year’s Eve. All First Night activities are free! Get all the details right here. Downtown Pittsburgh
Jan. 2-Feb. 24: “Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation.” Earth has over 500 active volcanoes. This film explores everything from the ancient destruction of Pompeii to the 2018 Kilauea eruption in Hawaii. Admission is $7. The Rangos Giant Cinema at Carnegie Science Center.
Jan. 3-8: “Hairspray.” You can’t stop the beat with this raucous teen musical that will have you bopping in your seats. Tickets for the Tony Award-winning show start at $35. Benedum Center.
Jan. 4, 11, 18 and 25: Seedlings: Winter Wonderland. Kids ages 3-6 will examine different outdoor nature themes every week with a youth educator. Registration is $15. Pittsburgh Botanic Garden.
Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5 and May 3: Early Childhood Mornings. Little learners enjoy engaging mornings with art activities, sensory play and books to read. Free with general admission. The National Aviary.
Jan. 5-8: Cirque du Soleil: “Corteo.” Cirque du Soleil brings its trademark magic with elaborate acrobatics and humor. Tickets start at $45. PPG Paints Arena.
Jan. 7-March 18: Saturday Crafternoons. This weekly drop-in STEAM program is for kids ages 5-11 years old. Free. Assemble Pittsburgh.
Jan. 7-8: Great Train Show. More than 80 exhibitors from across the country will operate model train displays and offer workshops and demonstrations. Admission is free for ages 11 and younger, $12 for grownups on Saturday (which includes Sunday admission), $11 for grownups on Sunday. Monroeville Convention Center.
Jan. 8: Abbott & Costello Double Feature. The second-annual Januscary Film Festival offers a family-friendly, double-feature screening of “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.” Be a hero and treat your kids to old-school comedy. Kids ages 12 and younger are free! Harris Theater.
Jan. 8-March 26: Mr. Messado’s School of Magic for the Young and Young at Heart. Superstar magician Mr. Messado brings his fresh take on magic to the younger crowd and their grownups on Sundays. Teens and adults will be amazed by his feats. Tickets start at $25. Liberty Magic.
Jan. 9-March 19: Girls Maker Night. This after-school STEAM program for girls in grades 5-9 runs every Monday. Registration is free. Assemble Pittsburgh.
Jan. 11: “Dragons and Mythical Beasts.” This Olivier Award-winning show arrives from the West End of London to astonish kids with monstrous creatures like the Stone Troll, a not-so-sweet Tooth Fairy and a fearsome dragon, all created through life-like puppetry. Tickets start at $29. Benedum Center.
Jan. 11, Feb. 20, March 8, April 12 and May 10: Sensory Friendly Mornings. Activities include touchable biofacts like eggs and feathers, plus interactive play spaces. The live immersive bird show uses consistent lighting and volume levels, setting the stage for an engaging experience for all guests. Guests can borrow Sensory Bags from Kulture City with helpful items like headphones and fidget toys. National Aviary.
Jan. 12-15: Locomotion Weekend. Along with other activities and railroad exhibits, the Locomotion Weekend includes screenings of “Rocky Mountain Express” in The Rangos Giant Cinema. Activities are free with general admission. The film admission is $7. Carnegie Science Center.
Jan. 13-16: “Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer.” This performance tells the life story of civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer whose activism was infused with spirituals, protest songs and conviction. Tickets are $40. August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
Jan. 14-Feb. 4: Teen Job Shadow. Teens ages 14-18 with a passion for working with animals go behind the scenes on four Saturdays with National Aviary experts learning about animal care and conservation. Registration is $299 for this series of four educational sessions. National Aviary.
Jan. 14: “Llama, Llama – Live!” The Children’s Theater series opens its season with this storybook favorite, brought to life on stage. Tickets are $12. Byham Theater.
Jan. 16: Stephen Sharer: Share the Love Music Tour. The YouTube sensation brings his family fun experience that includes interactive singing, dancing and the chance to appear on stage. Tickets start at $29.50. Heinz Hall.
Jan. 21-22: “Paw Patrol Live! The Great Pirate Adventure”: The Paw Patrol pups are back to save the day, live on stage. Tickets start at $42.25. Benedum Center.
Jan. 21, Feb. 4 and 18, March 11 and 18: Hip-Hop Music Camp. The four-session camp covers the history and evolution of hip-hop, lyrical content, plus the connection between August Wilson and hip-hop music. Camp concludes with a live performance. Registration is $15 per session. August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
Jan. 20-29: “Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.” The Prime Stage Sprouts Series presents the courageous journey of Harriet Tubman. Called the American Moses, the production is filled with spiritual songs. A sensory-inclusive performance is planned for Jan. 28 and an audio description performance will be on Jan. 27. Best for elementary school kids and their grown-ups. Tickets start at $8. New Hazlett Theater.
Jan. 24: Machine de Cirque: “La Galerie.” Seven zany acrobats and one electrifying musician set off an explosion of color – and a lot of popcorn. Expect dizzying feats, astonishing discoveries, poetic liberties and a serious dose of silly good fun. Tickets start at $35. PNC Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Jan. 28-29: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Akaban” in Concert. Watch this magical movie on the big screen while the Pittsburgh Symphony performs John Williams’ impressive score. Tickets start at $45 at Heinz Hall.
Feb. 1-2: Step Afrika! This vibrant performance comes from the first professional dance company dedicated to the tradition of stepping—a polyrhythmic, percussive dance form that uses the body as an instrument. Tickets start at $31, with $10 pricing for the student matinee. Byham Theater.
Feb. 1-19: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Harlem.” Pittsburgh Public Theater’s hilarious retelling of Shakespeare’s comedy draws upon the art and music of the Harlem Renaissance. Tickets start at $32. O’Reilly Theater.
Feb. 4-6: “Rapunzel.” The classic tale is brought to life with song, magic and spectacle. Best for kids ages 3 and older. Tickets are $12. Byham Theater.
Feb. 4 and 18: Beat ‘Em Bucs Guided Tours. Relive some of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history by discovering the stories of the Pittsburgh Pirates and their five World Championships. Included in general admission. Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at Heinz History Center.
Feb. 4, March 25, April 8, May 13, June 3: Youth Writers Camp. Campers will analyze August Wilson’s “Joe Turner Has Come and Gone” and produce original writing related to the play’s topics of self-identification. Registration is $15 per session. Held via Zoom sessions from August Wilson African American Cultural Center.
Feb. 5-Sept. 3: “Opposites Attract: A Mo Willems Exhibit.” Kids can explore the complicated yet simple concepts of opposites in a new exhibit based on the words and images Willems’ recent book, “Opposites Abstract.” Included with general admission. MuseumLab.
Feb. 8: Theater Arts Workshop – Middle School and Feb. 9 and 10: Theater Arts Workshop – High School. Kids will work with theater professionals in hands-on sessions that cover set and light design, costume, playwriting, stage combat and acting. Registration is $150. Byham Theater.
Feb. 9-10: 2023 College Fair: Representatives from schools across the country come together to present their educational options. It’s a great opportunity for high school kids to gather information to make the best decisions. Registration is free. David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Feb. 10-12: Monster Jam. Roaring, crashing 12,000-pound monster trucks tear up the dirt in intense competitions of speed and skill. Tickets start at $26. PPG Paints Arena.
Feb. 10-12: Jurassic Quest. Skyscraping, animatronic dinosaurs bring supersized family fun. Get up close to life-size, realistic dinos and ancient ocean dwellers. Admission is $22 for ages 2-adult, $19 for seniors. Add-ons are available. David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Feb. 10-12: “Dracula.” Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre presents this spine-chilling dance drama filled with blood lust and suspense. Best for ages 14 to adult. Tickets start at $29. Benedum Center.
Feb. 11: Fun with Fabric and Image Transfers. This workshop at the Trust Arts Education Center will show how to transfer images onto fabric and embellish them with embroidery to create a small stuffy to take home. For ages 12 to adult. Registration is $25. Trust Arts Education Center.
Feb. 16-19: “Disney Beauty and the Beast Jr.” Based on the long-running Broadway show, this “Jr.” adaption presented by Pittsburgh Musical Theater is perfect for a young audience. Ticket prices have not yet been announced. Gargaro Theater.
Feb. 17-19: Blue Man Group. This crazy new tour from the men in blue is a family-friendly experience that’s full of drumming, splashes and comedy. Tickets start at $36.25. Benedum Center.
Feb. 18: Arts All Around Us Concert. This Pittsburgh Symphony concert for kids covers dance, visual arts and lots of music. Show up an hour early for hands-on activities and special guests. Tickets start at $16. Heinz Hall.
Feb. 21-26: “Beetlejuice.” This irreverent musical with its wild sets and a devilish rogue in the starring role is based on Tim Burton’s 1988 movie. Despite the ghostly themes, at heart, it’s a story about family connections. Best for ages 10 to adult. Benedum Center.
Feb. 22-26: “Newsies.” Based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899, this musical tells the story of Jack Kelly, a rebellious newsboy who dreams of a life as an artist away from the big city. The Feb. 25 performance will be ASL interpreted and audio described. Tickets start at $23. PNC Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Feb. 23-24: Danny Carmo’s Mathematical Mysteries. This spectacular performance shows where math, theater and digital technology collide to create a fun and interactive performance that proves how understanding math can be fun. This Bridge Theater Series show is best for ages 7 and older. Tickets are $12. Byham Theater.
Feb. 25-26: Flamingo Fest. Wear your finest pink attire for the return of Flamingo Fest. Kids can make a fun flamingo craft, learn about all things flamingo and meet the flock in the newly renovated Wetlands habitat. Free with general admission. The National Aviary.
March 2-5: Disney on Ice presents “Into the Magic.” Your kid’s favorite Disney characters – like Elsa, Moana, Mickey and Minnie – will take to the ice in a spectacular, colorful show. Tickets start at $26. PPG Paints Arena.
March 4: Let’s Act! Creativity at Play. Families come together in this play-based workshop that uses theater and improvisation games to promote problem-solving, team building and creative thinking. Best for ages 3 and older. Registration is $10. Trust Arts Education Center.
March 4: Sew It With Words. Using the embroidery features of the sewing machine, students will create a small pouch or pillow decorated with a mantra or saying of their choice. Some sewing experience is helpful but not required. For ages 14 to adult. Registration is $25. Trust Arts Education Center.
March 9-11: Le Patin Libre. This contemporary ice-skating company from Montreal has developed a new work, “Carte Blanche,” specifically for Pittsburgh. Tickets start at $15. The UPMC Rink at PPG Plaza.
March 9-April 2: “Once.” This Pittsburgh Musical Theater tells the story of a young Dubliner who gave up on love and music, and the girl who inspired him to dream again. Tickets are $40. Gargaro Theater.
March 3-12: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” On a rainy day in London, four children step through a magical wardrobe — and so it begins. Prime Stage Theater presents the beloved C.S. Lewis story. A sensory-inclusive performance is planned for March 11, with an audio-description show on March 12. Tickets start at $18 with a pay-what-you-wish price on March 3. New Hazlett Theater.
March 15-19: “Men on Boats.” This Jacklyn Backhaus play tells the mostly true story of an 1869 expedition when a one-armed captain and a crew of insane yet loyal volunteers set out to chart the course of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Tickets start at $35. Highmark Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse.
March 18-19: Penguin Palooza! Kids can meet the colony of African Penguins in Penguin Point, watch a fun feeding and talk with experts to find out what makes penguins so unique. They can make penguin crafts, too. Included with general admission. The National Aviary.
March 19-20: “Big Bubble Bonanza.” Mixing comedy, music and interactive bubble magic, bubble-wrangler Jeff Boyer engages and delights all ages in a sensory-friendly bubble extravaganza. Tickets are $12. Byham Theater.