Create your own Light Up Night agenda for kicking off the holidays in Pittsburgh

See what you want and leave feeling festive.

Jiuguang Wang / flickr
MJ Slaby

Wreaths are hanging and the tree is up, there’s snow in the forecast, too. Like it or not, it’s time for winter and the holiday season to start.

But it can’t start without Friday’s Light Up Night (or this year, Comcast Light Up Night if you want to get technical).

Last year, about 500,000 people attended, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. And this year, the event is during the National League of Cities, so there will be extra officials in town, too.

In a news release Thursday, the Public Safety Department said it’s prepping to “ensure order is kept throughout Downtown before, during and after Light Up Night” and “law enforcement officers will enforce a ‘zero tolerance’ policy regarding any misbehavior by anyone.”

So create your own can’t-miss Light Up Night agenda using this guide. Just pick and choose what you like best in each category for the perfect equation of holiday merriment.

Start with Light Up Night requirements

  • Have a parking/travel plan — like this one from WTAE that lists road closures, bus detours and parking tips — to make sure you get there.
  • Start shopping. You’re going to need gifts, so start at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market at Market Square. (That’s where Santa’s house is, too.)
  • Fireworks (duh). See fireworks launched from a barge on the Allegheny River at 9:39 p.m., per PennLive. If a concert is on your list, stay at one of the stages on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard for a great view, according to the Light Up Night website.

Pick a tree lighting (or two or three)

  • 11:15 a.m. — City-County Building tree lighting. There are new ornaments thins year, one for each neighborhood.
  • 11:30 a.m. — Allegheny County Courthouse tree lighting. (It’s right next door to the City-County building, so an easy two-for-one on daytime tree lightings.)
  • 5:30 p.m. — American Cancer Society’s Tribute of Light/Plaza Tree Lighting at PPG Place
  • 5:45 p.m. — See the illuminated Sphere Tree in Market Square and a light show on the buildings around the square. (Bonus: The light show is every half hour if you miss it the first time.)
  • 5:45 p.m. — Tree lighting at One Oxford Centre and Santa’s arrival (with reindeer!)
  • 7 p.m. — Lighting of the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Unity Tree on the corner of the Penn Avenue Place Building with rooftop fireworks

*Lighting times and locations from Downtown Pittsburgh for the Holidays.

Pick something with ice

Jiuguang Wang / flickr
  • Go ice skating. The MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place, which is between Third and Fourth avenues, is open until midnight, and while you’re there, you can also see the annual Gingerbread House Exhibit and an art display of international holiday folklore. Plus, the rink is open through the end of February.  (Here’s more about hours and prices.)
  • See ice carvings. If you’re not ready to skate, go to Fifth Avenue Place between 5 and 9 p.m. to see the carvings featuring holiday traditions from around the world.

Pick a musical performance (or map out your concert plan)

  • 4:30 p.m. — Roger Barbour Jazz Quartet (Fifth Avenue Place)
  • 5:30 p.m. — Rick Gallagher trio (One Oxford Centre)
  • 6 p.m. — Jimbo and the Soupbones (Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and Ninth Street) or Daily Grind (Ft. Duquesne at Sixth Street) or Jeff Jimerson (Stanwix Street at Penn Avenue) or Gloria Reuben (EQT Plaza, 625 Liberty Ave.)
  • 7 p.m. — Beauty Slap (Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and Ninth Street) or HEAF (Ft. Duquesne at Sixth Street) or Duquesne University Jazz Ensamble with vocalist Natalie Tomaro (EQT Plaza, 625 Liberty Ave.) or Max Leake Quartet (Fifth Avenue Place)
  • 7:30 p.m. — Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers (Stanwix Street at Penn Avenue)
  • 8 p.m. — Gabby Barrett (Ft. Duquesne at Sixth Street)
  • 8 p.m. — Dane Vannatter with the MCG Jazz Quintet featuring special guest Steve Rudolph (EQT Plaza, 625 Liberty Ave.)
  • 8:30 p.m. — O.A.R. (Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and Ninth Street) or Daya (Ft. Duquesne at Sixth Street) or Miss Freddye (Stanwix Street at Penn Avenue)

*Concert times and locations from Downtown Pittsburgh for the Holidays.

Bonus pick(s)

Workers install 16 WindStax mini wind turbines on the Rachel Carson Bridge. The turbines will power a micro grid for a digital art light display on Light Up Night.

Workers install 16 WindStax mini wind turbines on the Rachel Carson Bridge. The turbines will power a micro grid for a digital art light display on Light Up Night.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
  • See the Pittsburgh Crèche at the U.S. Steel Tower. The larger-than-life nativity scene is the only replica of the one in Rome. 
  • See “Energy Flow,” a lighted art installation on the Rachel Carson Bridge. It debuts at dusk (approx. 5:30 p.m.), and sixteen wind turbines will generate the electricity needed for the new LED light installation.
  • Get a free Santa hat. Comcast employees wearing light-up jackets will hand out thousands of free hats, the PG reported.
  • Use #LUN2016 for a chance to have your social media post on one of the large video screens throughout downtown, per the PG.