Winter Entertainment Guide: All the kid-friendly shows and events coming to Pittsburgh this winter
It’s that time of year, when parents can’t just yell “Go outside!” when the kids get bored/irritating/out of control. (Well, we can, but it might be 55 degrees and sunny, or there might be a howling snowstorm happening, or maybe pouring rain — or all three in a single afternoon during a Pittsburgh winter.)
So, it’s a good idea to have some creative ideas in your back pocket to keep restless kids entertained. There are plenty of things going on, even as COVID continues, and we’ve rounded up the top kid-friendly show and events scheduled from now until early March. (Of course, COVID restrictions are still in place, and you’ll have to check – and check again — for cancellations or postponements and make your own decisions regarding what amount of risk fits your comfort level.)
Jan. 8, Hockey is for Everyone Day: South Park Ice Rink, South Park.
This full day of fun starts with a “try hockey for free clinic” at 10 a.m. and includes public skating sessions throughout the day. You can also watch games by Special Hockey (teams for those with disabilities) teams Steel City Icebergs and South Pointe Grizzlies and blind hockey with the Pittsburgh Rhinos.
Jan. 15, Mascot Skate: Schenley Park Skating Rink, Oakland.
The annual Mascot Skate at the Schenley Skating Rink brings together iconic Pittsburgh characters like Kenny Kangaroo from Kennywood, the Penguins’ Iceburgh and the Pirate Parrot, for a twirl around the ice and a big celebration of sports fandom in Oakland. Tickets are sold online only.
Jan. 15-16, “Trolls Live!,” PPG Paints Arena, Uptown.
Trolls Live! Brings all the characters from Dreamworks’ popular “Trolls” movies to life for a live-action show on-stage in Pittsburgh.
Jan. 15-16, Locomotion Weekend at the Carnegie Science Center, North Side.
Kids love trains (blame Thomas?). And the Carnegie Science Center’s Miniature Railroad & Village has the most amazing layout in town – an entire room dedicated to a tiny historic Pittsburgh, from giant steel mills and Fallingwater to Forbes Field. That makes it the perfect place for this annual event, which brings together all the major train hobbyist groups in the region, from the Fort Pitt Hi-Railers to the Train Collectors Association, who all come and show off their trains.
Jan. 15-30, “The Jungle Book,” Gemini Theater, McKees Rocks.
The beloved tale of young Mowgli, raised by wolves in the jungle, comes to live to become master of his own fate and bring harmony back to the jungle.
Jan. 23, Sensory-Friendly Hour at Phipps Conservatory, Oakland.
Together with the Autism Connection of Pennsylvania and Let’s Move Pittsburgh, Phipps is hosting a special event walk through the Conservatory for those with sensory concerns and their families. Lights and sounds will be minimized.
Feb. 2 and March 2, Early Childhood Activities at the National Aviary, North Side.
Discover the world of birds in a morning of activities designed especially for kids ages 2-5. This event includes storytimes, puppet shows, puzzles and other sensory activities, as well as a chance to see the Aviary’s beautiful birds up close.
Feb. 2, 9, and 16, “Let’s Move” Winter Explorers Playful Pop-ups at the Phipps Conservatory, Oakland.
During this event, you can virtually travel through Pennsylvania’s forests in winter to learn about the animals who call it home – and see how they hide from predators and adapt to their surroundings. Play games and have fun moving during a virtual Winter Wonderland Forest Expedition, Virtual Hiking Excursion and Icy Exploration.
Feb. 5, “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live!,” Byham Theater, Downtown.
It’s fitting that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood would live on through the animated exploits of one of its greatest characters — the lovable, inquisitive Daniel Tiger. This live stage show recreates the Emmy Award-winning PBS series for preschool-age children.
Feb. 11-13, “Alice in Wonderland,” Benedum Center, Downtown.
Lewis Carroll’s beloved, dreamlike fairytale of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland have been brought to the stage many times before, but this one is musically-inclined, set to a manic soundtrack of Tchaikovsky.
Feb. 12-13, “A Midsummer (Actor’s) Nightmare,” Gemini Theater, McKees Rocks
A group of actors has gathered to rehearse Shakespeare, when suddenly the director announces that they have less than an hour before their first show! So the actors turn to the audience for creative help in getting their show off the ground. This show was designed for kids 12 and up, and their grownups. But all ages are welcome.
Feb. 12-13, “Cirque Mechanics in Birdhouse Factory,” Byham Theater, Downtown
This highlight from the EQT Bridge Series was inspired by many things, including the incredible murals artist Diego Rivera, the outrageous illustrations of cartoonist Rube Goldberg and the slapstick humor of Charlie Chaplin’s film “Modern Times.” These inspirations bring art to ‘Birdhouse Factory,’ but the folks at the Cultural Trust tell us that true essence of the show comes from the incredible circus performers you’ll see. All ages are welcome.
Feb. 15, “Blippi: The Musical,” Benedum Center, Downtown.
The goofy, energetic character blue-and-orange-clad Blippi (Stevin John) claims to have been inspired by Mister Rogers, and also in an effort to remedy the lack of good content on YouTube for young children. Now, Blippi is coming to town (played by a different “dynamic stage performer”) in a touring musical show that includes singing, dancing and flying confetti.
Feb. 19, Tropical Forest Hawai’i at Phipps Conservatory, Oakland.
Tour America’s favorite tropical paradise without leaving wintry Pittsburgh. Your whole family can explore the rich history, culture and fragrant flora of the Hawaiian islands. The entire 12,000 square-foot Tropical Forest Conservatory will be given over to plant species like the koa tree, from which everything from surfboards to ukuleles are made.
Feb. 19-20, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (The Musical!),” Byham Theater, Downtown.
Mo Willems’ beloved Caldecott-winning picture book “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” comes to life in this live-action musical. The Pigeon just won’t take NO for an answer, but you can give it to him anyway.
Feb. 25-26, “Return of the Jedi” with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Heinz Hall, Downtown.
A screening of the complete film (the one with Ewoks and Jabba the Hutt), with composer John Williams’ immortal score performed live by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
March 3-5, “Disney on Ice presents Let’s Celebrate,” PPG Paints Arena, Uptown.
All your favorite Disney characters (yes, including Elsa and Olaf) will be out on the ice in a live-action extravaganza of singing and skating.
March 12-13, “Zoo U. All About Alpacas,” Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Highland Park.
Learn all about the furry South American mammals from a certified alpaca herd manager. The first class takes place at the Pittsburgh Zoo and the second involves a field trip to an alpaca farm in Claysville, PA. Transportation provided. For students in grades 9-12.
Through March 28, “Monster Fish: In Search of the Last River Giants,” Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Oakland.
The National Geographic Society presents this exhibition about the giant (and rare) monster fish that still swim through the rivers of our world, as they have for thousands of years. Featuring giant, life-size sculptures of the fish, as well as video and hands-on interactive activities.