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What To Do In Pittsburgh Over Thanksgiving Break

Yinz guys ready for break?

With Thanksgiving break just around the corner, students are headed back home to take a break from the death march academic rigor of being a college student at the end of the semester. Wherever you’re headed during this much-needed week of relaxation, we hope you find something that’ll have you recharged and ready to finish out the rest of the fall semester.

For those of us setting our sights on Pittsburgh during the break, we’ve put together a list of some of the things to do in and around the city and get you off the couch and out of the house.

Events & Attractions

Light Up Night — Saturday, November 18

This is an absolute must-attend event for any Pittsburgh holiday. The city’s “Light Up Night” is a time-honored, annual tradition that features all sorts of fun holiday events throughout the city for family and friends to enjoy. From food and drinks, live music, and entertainment, to, of course, tree lightings and ceremonies, there will be tons of festivities taking place in and around downtown to get you into the holiday spirit.

Watch as the Sister Bridges are lit with over 600,000 LED lights, see Pittsburgh’s official Christmas tree on display, or hear live music at one of the event’s many pop-up concert venues. There’s something for everybody at Light Up Night. Make sure to stay for the fireworks show, too!

Ice Skating At The Rink At PPG Place

Ice skating in the city is something you can’t miss, folks. Located at Market Square in the heart of the city, this pedestrian-focused area for shops and restaurants transforms into a charming winter wonderland just in time for the festivities. It also features ice skating around a 65-foot tree at The Rink at PPG Place that is soon to be lit for “Light Up Night.”

The ice skating rink officially opens for the season at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 17. All skating sessions are offered for one hour and 45 minutes. Folks can buy tickets at the event, but we’d recommend buying them online in advance so you can avoid lines on busy ice skating days.

Phipps Conservatory Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show & Light Garden

Phipps Conservatory is the city’s world-class horticulture hub located in Pittsburgh’s vibrant Oakland neighborhood. While the botanical gardens are a sight to see at any time of year, Phipps during the holiday season is even more remarkable and will kick off just before Thanksgiving break.

Opening on Friday, November 17, “Holiday Magic!” is one of the city’s crowning family traditions during the holidays. This year’s event is sure to impress, with many new experiences and features slated to make a debut during this year’s “Holiday Magic!” From the Winter Flower Show, with holiday trees and 21 varieties of poinsettias, to the conservatory’s celebrated Winter Light Garden with colorful light shows lining its many gardens are sure to excite guests with a holiday touch. Tickets are available for purchase online and students can take advantage of the conservatory’s discounted student pricing.

Pittsburgh Zoo Drive/Walk-Through Zoo Lights

The Pittsburgh Zoo will continue the holiday festivities with its drive-through “Zoo Lights” event this holiday season. “Zoo Lights” features more than 150 animal-themed light displays, coupled with festive music and holiday treats. Food, beverages, and gifts are available for purchase at outdoor kiosks during the event. New this year are special walk-through dates where folks can take a stroll and enjoy the lights on display at their own pace.

Folks can purchase a ticket for a time-limited drive-through experience. Ticketed dates will begin on Friday, November 24. If the walk-through experience is more your style, the event will only be offered on November 22 and 23 of Thanksgiving break, so plan ahead! Tickets are also available online.

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden Dazzling Nights

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden will return with its “Dazzling Nights” experience for the second year. Located in the Collier Township/Bridgeville area of Western Pennsylvania, the garden is located outside of the downtown settings of some of the other holiday events, however, it’s an event you shouldn’t miss.

Featuring a mile-long adventure through flowers bright with lights and color, Moroccan lanterns hanging from treetops, music, and light shows, the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden will have plenty to keep you entertained during the event. Make sure not to miss a photo op at the garden’s 30-foot-tall stained-glass tree or its light show at the outdoor Lotus Pond which will be synchronized to music.

The event will kick off on Friday, November 24, with tickets on sale online and general admission and all-inclusive packages for sale. Tickets are offered on a timed entry basis, and slots are filling up fast!

Concerts & Performances

The Flying Dutchman At The Benedum Center — Sunday, November 19

Taking a break from the holiday spirit is Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman.” With Pittsburgh Opera and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the story of “The Flying Dutchman” was adapted for opera by Wagner in 1843 based on a satirical novel written by Heinrich Heine. Audiences will follow “The Dutchman” to see if the hand of his bride is enough to free him from his curse to eternally roam the seas.

The showing will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 19, during Thanksgiving break. Tickets are available online, and discounts for Penn State students, faculty, and staff are also available. More information is available here on discounted rates.

Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage At The Palace Theatre — Tuesday, November 21

The award-winning story written by Charles Schulz has been a holiday tradition that has stood the test of time for over 50 years. Live on-stage at the Palace Theatre, located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, outside of the city, is an adaptation of the holiday favorite with all the Peanuts characters we know and love. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will be on stage at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 21, with tickets on sale here.


Pittsburgh Steelers — Sunday, November 19

The Turnpike Rivalry is in full swing, folks. The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Cleveland Browns at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 19, in an away matchup at Cleveland Browns Stadium. While the game is away, a day of Thanksgiving break spent on the couch, watching one of the oldest rivalries in professional football means the day certainly will not go to waste.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins will host a few matchups during the break at PPG Paints Arena:

  • Sunday, November 19 vs. Vegas Golden Knights
  • Wednesday, November 22 vs. New York Rangers
  • Saturday, November 25 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Thanksgiving break will be a busy week for Pittsburgh Penguins hockey. While the team has faced its fair share of hurdles this season, the group will enter Thanksgiving break on a hot streak, so any of these matchups could be exciting games to watch.

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About the Author

Luke Pieczynski

Luke is a sophomore DUS premajor hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, and is one of Onward State's social media editors. He can often be found in the Starbucks line waiting for a nitro cold brew, or listening to one of Dua Lipa's latest releases. He's a fiercely loyal Sheetz Freak and will not settle for another Pennsylvania gas station. Please send your best political thriller to him on Twitter @lukepie11 or to his email [email protected].

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