Pittsburgh prepares for Light Up Night event

Zoe Stratos | opinions editor

Nov. 18, 2021

If Duquesne’s “Night of Lights” wasn’t enough to get you into the holiday spirit, Highmark’s Light Up Night is fast approaching — and it’s bigger, better and brighter than years past. 

For its 60th anniversary, Highmark Light Up Night will be making its long-awaited return on Nov. 20 with live entertainment, holiday shopping, family fun and — of course — the gorgeous display of holiday lights located Downtown.

Cosponsored by the Building Owners and Management Association together with the Golden Triangle Association, the first Light Up Night in 1960 marked the first time in the city’s history when Downtown stores simultaneously revealed their festive store windows, and all exterior decorations were lit up.

Because of Pittsburghers’ love for the holiday spirit, Light Up Night grew from there, making room for celebrity appearances and growing attendance over the span of six decades.

According to the Downtown Pittsburgh Holidays website, Light Up Night has grown from 25,000 attendees in 1997 to a staggering 500,000 in 2016 — billed as “The Biggest Party of the Year.”

For this year’s event, festivities will be scattered throughout the city, starting in the U.S. Steel Tower Plaza for the dedication of the Pittsburgh Crèche.

At 5 p.m., the City-County Building will host the annual tree lighting along with Zambelli rooftop fireworks; at 6 p.m., the Highmark tree lighting along with Zambelli fireworks will be at the intersection of Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue; and at 9:30, the Allegheny Overlook on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard will be the spot to watch the BNY Mellon and Zambelli fireworks finale.

In between the scheduled light up events, live music will be playing at six different venues around the city, including the Highmark Main Stage on Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue and Heinz Hall.

But even before the Saturday festivities begin, Friday, Nov. 19 — known as the Grand Opening Day— will feature the start of the Peoples Gas Christmas Market in Market Square, as well as the UPMC Ultimate Holiday Tree Experience lighting at PPG Place.