Light Up Night

Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer Credit: Cindy Deng/Junior Photographer

It’s never too early to get into the holiday spirit. The city of Pittsburgh makes that clear every year when it hosts Comcast Light Up Night. During Light Up Night, all of downtown is decorated with beautiful lights and Christmas trees, Market Square is transformed into a little holiday-themed village, and live musical performances take place down by the bridges.

It’s a wonderful event to attend with friends and family that will definitely help set the mood for the holidays. If you’re planning on attending Light Up Night in the coming years, I have a few tips on how to make the most of your experience, since this was my second time going:

Check the schedule of events ahead of time

Starting at 11:30 a.m., different holiday-themed events take place all over downtown Pittsburgh. You’ll usually find the tree-lighting ceremonies occur in the morning, while all the live musical
performances and fireworks happen at night. Downtown can get really crowded on this day, making it a bit difficult to navigate through the city. It’ll make things a lot easier for you if you know all the event locations and how much time it takes to get from one place to the next.

Dress warm for the weather

Nobody really knows what to expect when it comes to Pittsburgh weather. However, in my Light Up Night experiences, it has been pretty cold both years. Wearing a big jacket, scarf, hat (they usually give out Santa hats, but they won’t keep you very warm), and comfortable shoes is ideal.

Book a reservation for a restaurant downtown way in advance, or eat before going

Almost every restaurant my friends and I passed by was packed. We made reservations to Sienna Mercato about a week before Light Up Night, so we were able to eat there. But even when we were making the reservations, we saw that many other restaurants were already booked, so be sure to reserve spots about two to three weeks in advance. Generally, I find most food places downtown to be pricier, so eating at home or somewhere else beforehand isn’t a bad idea either.

Find some time for ice skating

Every year around this time, PPG Place opens their ice skating rink to the public, where people can skate around a giant Christmas tree. It doesn’t cost too much, and it’s a great opportunity for you and your friends to have fun and possibly try something new. If you decide to go skating, I do warn you to wear long socks because deep ankle blisters are definitely not fun to have.

Embrace spontaneity

Not knowing what to expect during Light Up Night can result in a very fulfilling experience. Although planning your trip ahead of time can make things more convenient for you as you explore the city, the spontaneity can add a lot of excitement.

For example, my friends and I knew that singer Andy Grammer was performing this year, we just didn’t know where and at what time. As we were walking downtown, we began to hear him singing his song “Honey, I’m Good.” My friends and I followed the sound of his voice and ran to the area where he was performing. We even got great spots to take pictures of him on stage. Generally, when it comes to Light Up Night in Pittsburgh, there’s really no harm in not knowing what’s going on and where things are all happening. The downtown area isn’t too big, so it’s not too hard to locate certain events. Just being in the center of all the Pittsburgh holiday excitement makes a very worthwhile experience.