What To Do In Pittsburgh Over Thanksgiving Break

Although we all absolutely love our time here in State College, most students are undoubtedly eyeing up the first break in the semester.

If you’re heading back to your hometown for Thanksgiving, sleep as much as you can, catch up on your favorite TV shows, and forget about the finals week that is slowly approaching us. Still, you’ll probably want to get up to something, right?

For those of you traveling back to Pittsburgh, we have compiled a fun-filled and professional list of what you can plan to do downtown.

Events & Attractions

Light Up Night — Saturday, November 20

Pittsburgh will hold its first “Light Up Night” in two years. The tradition has lived on throughout many households since November 21, 1960. This is a highly anticipated event with different locations of food trucks, events, concerts, and lighting ceremonies. For the Light Up event itself, you can place yourself anywhere downtown to watch the city turn into a wonderland. From PPG Place to the corner of Macy’s, you are mesmerized by Pittsburgh’s environment. Luckily, the entire night is a free event.

Ice Skating At The Rink At PPG Place

Ice Skating at The Rink is a rite of passage when you’re downtown. With the iconic tree in the middle of the rink, you have to live out your winter fantasies over break. The rink will officially open Friday, November 19, at 11 a.m. You can order online and pre-paid tickets here. You can also buy tickets once you arrive at the rink. As a bonus, many different coffee shops and bakeries are located around the rink.

Phipps Conservatory Holiday Magic

This is an absolute must on the list. If you had to choose one thing off the list to complete, it would be this event. Phipps Conservatory on a regular day is beautiful. To add the holiday spirit and decoration, it doesn’t get better than that. On top of the gorgeous flowers, plants, and wreaths displayed, there is a light show to assist the entire experience. Tickets to the event are on sale today. The great aspect of this event is you can choose any day or time that works best for your schedule.

Carnegie Museum Of Natural History & Art

Now, this might seem very obvious, but there is no holiday relation to both recommendations. When you’re in town, you have to stop by and check out the exhibits within the two museums. They change frequently and offer unique experiences each time you visit. If you’re visiting there as a student, your ID will earn you a discounted $11.95 ticket. The museums are options to visit no matter when you’re in town. Plus, you can scope out Pitt’s territory just down the block.

Concerts & Shows

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

Nothing screams the winter season like Cirque Dreams Holidaze performance. In Pittsburgh, there are many signs that the holidays are near. The gingerbread houses are put on display at PPG Place, the Christmas Village comes to town, and Cirque Dreams Holidaze arrives. At 7:30 p.m. on Friday, November 26, the Benedum Center will be in full swing with a holiday circus tapestry. On Saturday, November 27, there will be shows at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. You can purchase your preferred tickets here.

Strauss Family Favorites — Friday, November 26 & Sunday, November 28

With holiday classics on the way, the Pittsburgh Symphony invites incredibly talented performers to its stage, especially for Thanksgiving weekend waltzes, polka, and more. At Heinz Hall, Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony will perform Strauss favorites alongside 18-year-old Spanish violinist María Dueñas. If you have an urge to listen to some polka or unbelievable instrumentalists, purchase tickets here.


Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Wednesday, November 24, vs. Vancouver Canucks
  • Saturday, November 27, vs. Montreal Canadians

You can never go wrong with the Penguins. When in the city, you eat, sleep, breathe Pittsburgh sports. The team brings consistent excitement, a stacked team, and an all-around good time at PPG Paints Arena. The environment during the games is extremely friendly and makes for a great break activity. To add, you can finally see Jake Guentzel and Sydney Crosby in the flesh. You can find tickets to the matchups here.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Over break, the Steelers have two away games. On Sunday, November 21, the Steelers will be in Los Angeles. The following Sunday, November 28, the Steelers will be in Cincinnati. Of course, that doesn’t stop the gathering of fans downtown. Many sports bars will be streaming the games and serving better-than-average bar food to go along with it, including…

  • Primanti Bros — Market Square
  • The Yard — Market Square
  • City Works — Market Square
  • Jerome Bettis Grill — North Shore by Stage AE
  • RedBeard’s Bar & Grill — Mount Washington

These locations are still top-notch to visit with or without a game on. Pittsburgh pride is present all day long, so don’t be afraid to show up whenever you please.

Heading home to Philly for fall break instead? Check out our list of events, shows, and games throughout the City of Brotherly Love.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

‘It Was A Pretty Memorable Experience’: Penn State Club Baseball Wins Back-To-Back National Titles

After winning the Club Baseball World Series in 2023, the team repeated in 2024.

Penn State Student Leaders Pen Funding Request To Pennsylvania Government Officials

The students argued an investment in Penn State by state government leaders was an investment in Pennsylvania.

Looking At Penn State Football’s 2025 Recruiting Class After A Wild Official Visit Weekend

Two flips, three commitments, and a lot of Twitter notifications. Here’s what happened and what’s to come for the Nittany Lions.

Other posts by Larkin

The Songbird Found Her Song: Larkin Richards’ Senior Column

“Being a storyteller has been intertwined with me since the beginning of time, and Penn State gave me every opportunity to bring it to the surface.”

Dear Seniors: It’s OK To Enter A Season Of Waiting

The Art Of NurSing Brings Joy & Music To Local Nursing Homes