Headed to Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night? We’re here to help you prepare |
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Headed to Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night? We’re here to help you prepare

Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Santa Claus waves to the crowd at the PPG Rink after a tree-lighting ceremony held there during Pittsburgh's annual Light Up Night on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.

If you’ve ever been to Light Up Night in Pittsburgh, you know it can be a little overwhelming. The crowds, particularly in Market Square, are wall to wall. But if you’re in the holiday spirit, it’s definitely worth making the trip. Comcast Light Up Night will kick off around dusk on Nov. 17. Here are some tips to help you navigate the crowds and still keep your Christmas cheer. Remember, all the entertainment and activities are free.


The early forecast is for highs in the upper 40s and lows just about 40, with no rain. Not bad for mid-November. The one good things about crowds of people is that they throw off lots of body heat. So dress in layers, so you can shed or pile on as needed.


Light Up Night will have not one, but three different fireworks displays, because, well, this is Pittsburgh.

Spectators watch fireworks over the Unity Tree on the corner of Penn Avenue and Stanwix Street during Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night on Nov. 18, 2016.

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7 p.m.: Highmark Unity Tree Lighting, on the corner of the Penn Avenue Place Building, followed by rooftop fireworks.

8:30-8:45 p.m.: Fireworks close out the 19th annual NRG Santa Spectacular in Point State Park (not officially a part of Light-Up Night, but happening at the same time, with local entertainment from 5-8:30 p.m.).

9:38 p.m.: BNY Mellon Fireworks Finale, best viewed from along Ft. Duquesne Boulevard between 6th and 9th streets.

Fireworks reflect in the Allegheny River on Light Up Night 2012.

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There will be four stages set up for Light Up Night, each with music starting at 6 p.m.

EQT Jazzmasters Stage, EQT Plaza: 6 p.m., Django Festival All Stars; 7 and 8 p.m. MCG Jazz All Stars

Total Sports Rockin’ Blues Stage, Stanwix Street at Penn Avenue: 6 p.m., Jeff Jimerson and Airborne; 7:30 p.m., Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, 8:30 p.m. Lyndsey Smith and Soul Distribution

BNY Mellon New Music Stage, Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and 9th Street: 6 p.m., Emerson Jay; 7 p.m., Buckle Downs; 8:30 p.m., Maggie Lindemann

Comcast Main Stage, Ft. Duquesne Boulevard at 6th Street: 6 p.m. Meeting of Important People; 7 p.m., JD Eicher; 8:30 p.m. Andy Grammer

Singer-songwriter Andy Grammer

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Grammer, a nationally known singer-songwriter, is having a busy month. Besides headlining Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night, he’s preparing for the release of his third album, “The Good Parts,” on Dec. 1 and a tour supporting it next year, and he’ll perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade next week.

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: Starting at 7 p.m., the symphony will perform several free 30-minute sets featuring holiday classics at Heinz Hall.


There are non-musical activities throughout downtown Pittsburgh, many indoors where you can warm up. Here are the highlights:

Sarah Scharding and Regina, a Percheron, which is a breed of draft horse, take holiday visitors on a horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown Pittsburgh on Dec. 20, 2014).

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One Oxford Center: Santa will arrive and light the tree at 5:45 p.m. From 6 to 9 p.m., visitors can see live reindeer and participate in children’s activities like face painting, or you can hop a free horse-drawn carriage ride on Fourth Avenue. TIP: Lines are usually pretty long for the carriage rides, but start to drop off later in the evening.

Fifth Avenue Place: The Fifth Avenue Freeze is a display of Arctic animals carved out of ice. From 5-9 p.m., children can create their your own Northern Lights display with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh or get an airbrush tattoo. There also will be live music from 4:30-9 p.m. TIP: The food court will be open and is a great place to sit down for a little rest.

Skaters take to the ice around the Christmas tree at PPG Place on Light Up Night 2012.

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PPG Place: The ice rink is open from 11 a.m.-midnight on Nov. 17, with a special RMU Island Sports Center figure skating show from 4:45-5 p.m. The plaza around the rink will host the American Cancer Society’s Tribute of Light from 5:30-6 p.m., with more than 300 people carrying Tribute of Light Memorials, dedicated to someone touched by cancer. TIP: During the peak hours of Light Up Night, the ice rink is very crowded. Come early or stay late to get a little breathing room on the ice. And remember, the rink is open all winter.

Brittany Bolen of Jeannette takes a selfie in front of the tree in Market Square with daughter Bre, 3, during Pittsburgh’s annual Light Up Night on Nov. 18, 2016.

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Market Square: The 6th annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market will be open starting at 11 a.m. until the festivities wrap up on Nov. 17. The market, which offers unique gifts from around the world, is open daily, except Thanksgiving, through Dec. 23. At 5:45 p.m., Santa will flip the switch for the BNY Mellon Season of Lights Display, which dances around the buildings on the square. The light show repeats every half hour alternating with holiday tunes by barbershop singers Vocal Confluence. TIP: Don’t try to shop at the market on Light Up Night. It’s just too crowded. Go to see the lights and the illuminated metal trees, but come back another day to shop.


7 a.m.-midnight: Northbound Stanwix Street from Liberty Avenue to the entrance to the Ft. Duquesne Parking Garage and Ft. Duquesne Boulevard Eastbound from 6th Street to 9th Street

9 a.m.-midnight: Ft. Duquesne Boulevard, both directions between 6th Street and 9th Street (Clemente and Carson Bridges to remain open); and 7th Street and 8th Street from Ft. Duquesne Boulevard to Penn Avenue. Parking lot and garage access will remain open to and from Penn Avenue only.

4 p.m.-midnight: Market Square, Market Street, Graeme, and lower Forbes Avenue. Upper Forbes will remain open through McMasters Way for local traffic only; also, 4th Avenue from Stanwix Street to Wood.

6 p.m.-midnight: Stanwix Street, both directions, from Liberty Avenue to the entrance of the Ft. Duquesne parking garage, and Penn Avenue from 5th Street/Cecil/CLO Way to Liberty Avenue Extension.

Access to and from the Goodyear, 8th Street and Penn Avenue parking lots and the Theater Square parking garage will be from Penn Avenue only.

The Clemente Bridge will be closed to pedestrians and vehicles during the fireworks (approximately 9:15-10 p.m.)


The Pittsburgh Parking Authority operates 11 parking garages in the Downtown area. Check out all locations on the authority’s website. There also is parking on the North Side.


The Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership has everything you need to know about Light Up Night and the whole holiday season. Details:

Susan Jones is the Tribune-Review features editor. Reach her at 724-850-1272, [email protected] or via Twitter @SusanJonesTrib.

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