Beat end-of-semester stress with Pittsburgh holiday markets and activities

By Sarah Demchak, Staff Writer

The holiday season has begun, along with the end-of-semester cramming sessions. Take a break from school stress and partake in some holiday fun during these last few weeks on campus.

The Pitt News compiled a list of nine different holiday markets and activities students can enjoy throughout Pittsburgh.

Peoples Gas Holiday Market

This is one of Pittsburgh’s biggest and most well-known holiday markets, located at the center of Downtown in Market Square. The market offers a plethora of vendors, ranging from global artisans to local makers — making for a perfect place to find a Christmas gift.

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Alongside the “Christkindlmarkt-esque” shops, the Holiday Market hosts a Santa Zoom for those wanting to meet Santa Claus while also staying safe from COVID-19. Lastly, people can take a fun selfie with the World’s Largest Pickle Ornament on Liberty Avenue. The Holiday Market is open now through Dec. 23 and is free to attend.

The UPMC Rink at PPG Place

Bend your knees! For those looking for some adventure and exercise this holiday season, the UPMC Rink offers ice skating on their big rink — it is 67% larger than the Rockefeller Center rink in New York City.

It is open now through Feb. 27. On Wednesdays, the rink offers half price tickets to students for $5.50 with their Pitt IDs. The rink is also open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years for those staying on campus during winter break.

Kennywood Holiday Lights

For those looking to reminisce about driving around looking at neighborhood holiday lights, Kennywood can fill that void. Grab a group of friends and take a stroll through the park to admire the millions of lights.

After taking a walk to see all the glowing decorations and tall trees, people can meet Santa Claus, watch a magic show, listen to the choir and enjoy the rides. Kennywood Holiday Lights is open right now on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 22 and every day from then until Dec. 26. Tickets cost $20.99 at the gate, $18.49 online for Fridays and Sundays, $19.49 online for Saturdays, $17.99 at participating Giant Eagle locations and $14.99 with a personal care item donation to 412FoodRescue at the gate.

Holidays at the Carnegie Museum of Art

If Kennywood’s decorations are too “childish” for students, they can take the quick trip to the Carnegie Museum of Art to check out their iconic, big and beautiful holiday trees for $11.95 with Pitt ID. Along with these holiday decorations, the museum offers live music free with admission, the Neapolitan Presepio free with admission, a gift-making workshop for $35 and a holiday photoshoot for $75 — bring friends to send out a family Christmas card — between now and Jan. 10.

A Creepy Christmas at ScareHouse

A Creepy Christmas is definitely a more strange way to celebrate the holiday season, but exhilarating nonetheless. For those still in the Halloween spirit, ScareHouse is offering a Christmas-themed haunted house with evil elves and creepy toys in Pittsburgh Mills. This attraction is only open on Dec. 10, 11, 17 and 18, and the $20 tickets must be reserved beforehand.

Highmark Holiday Pops

For music lovers, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is performing at Heinz Hall from Dec. 10 to 19 to celebrate holiday joy this season. The orchestra will be playing all the popular, classic songs, carols and sing-a-longs. The performance features Byron Stripling, Vanessa Campagna, Christopher Sanders and even Santa Claus, with tickets starting at $22.

Phipps Conservatory’s Winter Flower Show 

Phipps is hosting its annual Winter Flower Show this year, after going on a one-year hiatus. This year’s theme is “Sparkle and Shine” — thus, the conservatory is filled up with lights, holiday trees, floral delights, topiaries and detailed props indoors and outdoors. Additionally, the conservatory uses energy efficient LED lights to create their displays, which promotes sustainability practices and holiday fun. This event is running from now until Dec. 26 with reserved tickets costing $17.95 for students.

Joy of Cookies

What’s better than free food? College students must venture into Lawrenceville to experience Joy of Cookies, their annual street festival. This event is held on Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Butler Street. People can walk down the shop-filled street and sample 40 different cookies from each vendor. If you fall in love with a cookie, you can buy a whole package as a gift or just for yourself.

Highmark First Night Pittsburgh

After finding the perfect gift, sitting on Santa’s lap and enjoying all the winter activities with friends, head over to the First Night celebration — an open festival full of exhibitions, events and activities. This event offers students a grand party to kick off 2022 in the Cultural District. The celebration is free and full of activities for everyone to enjoy — from live music and fireworks to magic shows and comedy acts. The six-hour event starts on Dec. 31 beginning at 6 p.m.