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11 can’t-miss Pittsburgh holiday events for kids

holiday performances
Melanie Cox McCluskey
November02/ 2016

Shopping lists, visits to Santa and festive parties make the holiday season the brightest – and busiest — time of the year. For a relaxing way to enjoy the holidays with your family, these Pittsburgh holiday performances for kids will keep the whole crew entertained. Performances with sensory-friendly options for special-needs kids are noted here, too.

Fancy Nancy the Musical

holiday performances
Image by James Orr

The family matinees at the Little Lake Theater Company in Canonsburg are a hassle-free way to explore the world of theater with your kids any time of year, but this month’s production of Fancy Nancy the Musical promises to be especially charming, with local children (and one young-at-heart adult) making up the cast. Young theatergoers can practice their etiquette and fanciest vocabulary words at a posh post-performance tea party with the cast on Nov. 5, Nov. 12 and Nov. 19. Matinees begin at 1:30 p.m., with additional performances on Nov. 13 and Nov. 20; special Thanksgiving weekend performances at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Nov. 26. Little Lake will also offer a family-friendly comedy version of A Christmas Carol throughout December.

Santa Spectacular at Point State Park

holiday performances
Image courtesy of CBS Radio Pittsburgh

Head to Point State Park on Nov. 18 to celebrate the season with live entertainment and photos with Santa Claus in his workshop. The Santa Spectacular showcases local groups performing on the main stage, including the North Star Kids, Standtastics, East End Kids, Michele’s Dance Center, Pittsburgh Heat and Jeter Backyard Theater. Performances begin at 5 p.m.; fireworks start at 8:30 p.m. All activities are free and open to the public.

A Very Electric Christmas

holiday performances
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

Lightwire theater illuminates the Byham Theater for A Very Electric Christmas, about a young bird named Max who gets blown off course when flying south for the winter and lands at the North Pole. As Max tries to make his way home, he encounters friendly caroling worms, dancing poinsettias, Nutcracker soldiers, mischievous mice and an evil Rat King. Presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the electroluminescent characters of A Very Electric Christmas perform in complete darkness at 7 p.m. Nov. 25 and 2 p.m. Nov. 26.

Holiday KidsPlay

holiday performances
Photo by John Altdorfer

This free event in Downtown’s Cultural District offers live performances and puppet-making workshops from noon to 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 19 through Dec. 17, with a special bonus day on Black Friday, Nov. 25. Stop in at Arcade Comedy Theater’s Penny Arcade on Dec. 10 for the Winter Cheer Show, a one-of-a-kind show created on the spot using the audience’s ideas. Before the show, the audience participates in “collaboration stations,” using crafts and literary prompts to help generate ideas to use in the show.

A Christmas Story: The Musical

holiday performances
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

The cult holiday classic that’s inspired dozens of memes and ugly sweaters is coming in musical form to the Benedum Center from Nov. 22 through Nov. 27. A Christmas Story is based on the beloved 1983 movie and adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette. Kids from any generation can relate to Ralphie Parker’s quest for an air gun from Santa, and parents will adore reliving Ralphie’s desperate attempts to get it. If you like watching this whimsical bit of 1940s nostalgia on TV, you’ll love sharing the live version with your kids.

The Nutcracker

holiday performances
Image by Rich Sofranko

Visions of the Sugar Plum Fairy, a larger-than-life Tannenbaum and a Land of Enchantment are sweet holiday memories for many parents who grew up watching The Nutcracker, and The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s 15th anniversary production is the most polished and professional in town. Set in turn-of-the-century Pittsburgh, this magical adventure offers astounding magic tricks and radiant scenery set to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score from Dec. 2 through Dec. 27 at the Benedum Center. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will host three sessions of the family-friendly “Poinsettias and Pointe Shoes” on Nov. 18; a sensory-friendly performance of The Nutcracker at the Benedum is scheduled for 2 p.m. Dec. 27.

Rockin’ Christmas on Ice Skating Show

holiday performances
Image courtesy of RMU Island Sports Center

Inside the RMU Island Sports Center on Neville Island, local ice skaters perform a Rockin’ Holiday Ice Skating Show to the tune of favorite rock and pop hits and traditional Christmas song. Performers from the center’s Figure Skating Academy, skating school and synchronized parody ’80s songs with a heavy helping of Christmas cheer. See Santa skate to ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” and witness of mashup of Black Sabbath’s “Crazy Train” with the Polar Express. An open skate with cast members follows the shows on Dec. 3 and 4.

Pittsburgh Mercy’s 13th Annual Reindeer Ball

holiday performances
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Mercy

Not only does the Pittsburgh Mercy’s 13th Annual Reindeer Ball raise money for Pittsburgh Mercy child and adolescent services, but this holiday children’s gala is also bringing in “Alice in Winterland” for the musical revue. New York City-based entertainment company RWS & Associates presents “Alice in Winterland” at the ball, which also features holiday characters, singing, dancing, holiday craft making, balloon and caricature artists and Santa Claus. Since its creation in 2003, the gala has raised nearly $970,000 for Pittsburgh Mercy child and adolescent services. Best for families with children 10 and under, this year’s event is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh Hotel, Downtown.

Musical Christmas Carol

holiday performances
Photo courtesy of the Civic Light Orchestra

A Musical Christmas Carol is a time-honored story based on Charles Dickens’ classic tale about Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and of course, The Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future. For many kids, A Christmas Carol is their first introduction to Dickens’ socially aware work, and the Civic Light Opera‘s production adds dazzling special effects and holiday charm. Girl Scout Pizza Parties are scheduled for Dec. 9 and Dec. 18. Please note that while half-price tickets for kids 3-14, children under 3 are not permitted in the theater. Catch the 25th anniversary of this production from Dec. 9 through Dec. 23 at the Byham Theater.

Chatham Baroque PB&J: Sing We Noel

holiday performances
Image courtesy of Chatham Baroque

Sing We Noel is Chatham Baroque’s holiday edition of its monthly Peanut Butter & Jam Sessions for preschoolers and their caregivers. This good old-fashioned sing-along mixes carols with live instrumental music for a fun, lively and educational morning. Performances last about 35-45 minutes with breaks for interactive singing, dancing, playing, stories and wiggling. Showtimes for Sing We Noel are at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 17 at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

holiday performances
Photo courtesy of Trans-Siberian Orchestra

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra returns to Pittsburgh on Dec. 27 as part of its 2016 World Tour with a performance of “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve,” a rock opera that follows the adventures of a runaway who breaks into an abandoned vaudeville theater the night before Christmas. The show is based on a 1999 TV special, with a full rock band and live narrator bringing the journey to life on stage. Showtimes at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.

Need even more ideas for entertaining your kids? Check out NEXTpittsburgh’s 10 great family adventures in November and free things to do with kids in Pittsburgh (that adults will love too).

Melanie Cox McCluskey

Melanie is the editor of Kidsburgh and a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, NEXTPittsburgh, The Pittsburgh Anthology and Pop City. Before returning to her Pittsburgh roots, Melanie worked as a copywriter in New York City. She currently lives in Mt. Lebanon with her family.

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