Madison Pastrick | Staff Writer
December is one of the busiest times of the year, and with less than three weeks until break and finals to think about, the holiday season can seem to come and go too quickly to enjoy. That’s why it’s important to put some time aside from cramming to take advantage of the many activities happening all around the city. Here are just a few easy and cheap ways of getting into the holiday spirit that you won’t want to miss.
People’s Gas Holiday Market
From now until Dec. 23, Market Square will be the home of a European shopping village, filled with artisan booths representing countries from all around the world. This holiday tradition was brought to Pittsburgh five years ago, adding cultural diversity to local art and, along with it, daily live performances by a variety of local musicians as. Santa Claus himself will also be in his village workshop and and open for visitors of all ages. Shops open at 11 a.m., so make sure to stop and check out these unique crafts, guarnteed to please anyone on your Christmas list.
PPG Place is an iconic spot during the holidays, home to the newly-enlarged ice skating rink that surrounds a traditional 60-foot Christmas tree. But even if ice skating isn’t for you, inside the PPG Wintergarden are three free exhibits: a display of Santas around the world, an overwhelming variety of gingerbread houses and a classic train model that surrounds yet another beautifully-decorated Christmas tree. The rink will be open until Feb. 26. However the displays within the Wintergarden will be taken down Jan. 7. PPG Place is a close location for anyone looking to celebrate the season or explore some of the many cultures that enjoy this holiday.
Duquesne’s 36th Annual Christmas Ball
The Duquesne Program Council is hosting its annual holiday dance at the Sheraton in Station Square on Dec. 6. This event is semi-formal and has been a part of the Duquesne holiday tradition for 36 years. Ticket prices are $25 for individuals or $200 for a table of 10. This cost includes transportation, entry for the ball and dinner. Join your fellow students for this holiday event sure to start the season off right.
Phipps Winter Flower Show and Light Garden: Days of Snow and Nights Aglow
Though December may bring chilly air and bare trees, there are still ways of enjoying nature’s most colorful features all year round. Phipps Conservatory not only provides this service but also debuts a special exhibit this time of year. The Winter Flower Show and Light Garden are beautiful exhibits, featuring holiday-decorated trees, colorful poinsettias, an interactive, outdoor light exhibit and more. Admission for students is $16.95, and the exhibits are available until Jan. 8.
Pittsburgh’s Holly Trolley & Horse-drawn Carriage Rides
Exploring downtown’s many seasonal decorations is a must; however, it can be difficult to get around the city this time of year. But now, thanks to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, you can still go sightseeing about the city, and in style. Every weekend until Dec. 17, free horse-drawn carriages and trolley rides will be provided for the public all across the the city — Take this season by the reigns and enjoy this wonderful opportunity to go sightseeing. For times and pick-up locations, visit downtownpittsburgh.com and make sure to arrive early, as rides fill up quickly.
Pittsburgh is the proud owner of the only approved replica of the Vatican’s Nativity Scene as in St. Peter’s Square. The Crèche was dedicated in 1999 and stands every holiday season outside of the U.S. Steel Tower. This exhibit is visited by thousands of visitors every year who come to enjoy this realistic depiction of this famous manger.
Pittsburgh Cultural District Shows
Pittsburgh’s Cultural District is always busy this time of year, providing the public with a variety of shows filled with holiday spirit. This season’s highlights include the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater’s “The Nutcracker,” at the Benedum Theater from Dec. 9 to 18, Pittsburgh CLO’s “A Musical Christmas Carol,” at the Byham Theater from Dec. 9 to 23 and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which will be performing at the PPG Paints Arena Dec. 27. For more shows or information, visit www.culturaldistrict.org.
Highmark First Night
There’s no better way to spend New Year’s Eve than in the city, filled with a variety of events including live music, dance, theater, visual arts, comedy, magic, kids’ activities and a signature parade along with two Zambelli Fireworks displays. Starting at 6 p.m. and going until the Future of Pittsburgh Ball counts to midnight, the city is lit up with excitement. Walking about these festivities is free, but entry for events is included within the cost of a $10 button, which you can purchase online at http://firstnightpgh.trustarts.org. First Night is one of Pittsburgh’s biggest events of the year and is sure to end yours with a bang.