Craziest Christmas Displays in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


If you're looking for some of best places in Pittsburgh and its countryside to take in the electric glow of holiday illumination then you've come to the right place. Pittsburgh has some of the craziest and most beautiful holiday Christmas light displays in the country and if driving through multi-colored holiday light displays set upon acres of winter farmland, and walking through an indoor animated holiday Christmas land and visiting a life-size nativity scene is your idea of a jolly good time then check out these Pittsburgh Christmas wonderlands.

The Wintergarden at PPG Place
The Wintergarden at PPG Place is home to the Spirits of Giving Around the World display, which features 16 life-sized Santa Clauses. Each Santa Claus represents a tradition and culture from select countries around the world. The figures are dressed in the traditional Christmas garb and are displayed in a geographically and culturally correct Christmas scene. From China to Poland to the U.K., these Santa Clauses are indeed life-like and will surely know if you are naughty or nice. Accompanying the Santa Claus display in the Wintergarden is the annual Pittsburgh Community Gingerbread House Contest featuring close to 500 homemade gingerbread displays. To top off the Holiday hullaballoo is the Wintergarden Christmas tree and model railroad display. This is a truly a spectacular display of Christmas spirit in Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Crèche
A gem of the Pittsburgh Christmas season has to be the life-sized nativity scene outside of the U.S. Steel Tower in downtown. Pittsburgh hosts the only Vatican authorized replica of the Nativity Crèche that stands outside Saint Peter's Basilica. During the holiday season, local bands and choirs perform downtown in the Crèche square to celebrate the season. It truly is a beautiful display that reminds us all to keep Christ in Christmas.

Kraynak's Christmasland
To the north of Pittsburgh in Hermitage, Pennsylvania is Kraynak's Christmasland and if you ask visitors sum up the experience most will say it's a tiny "Magic Kingdom" experience. As visitors walk through the 300 foot long Santa Land they are greeted by animated holiday characters set up in different holiday-themed rooms with all of the lighting, holiday accoutrements and music to boot. From Disney's Olaf to the Monopoly Guy and of course the Santa himself, they are all reveling up at Kraynak's.

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has one of the most unique and spectacular light displays in Pittsburgh with their Winter Light Garden. The outdoor and discovery gardens are decorated with brilliant luminous orbs, lighted trees and fountains and a tunnel of lights that replicates a starry winter night. This is truly a holiday winter wonderland and a must see in Pittsburgh.

Holiday Light Drives and Christmas Extravaganzas
It's come to be known that Pittsburghers love fireworks and Christmas Light Displays. So with the holiday fast approaching it's time for a road trip. Here is a list of some of the bigger more popular destinations:

Oglebay Resort Festival of Lights
Oglebay's light extravaganza takes you on a 6 mile drive journey across 300 acres of holiday lights. The Festival of Lights was listed as the 10 Best Christmas Light Displays in the US according to AOL Travel and was also on Travel Channel's Extreme Christmas Celebrations. The Festival of Lights at Oglebay Resort is open through New Year's Day.

Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland
Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland is a three mile trek into Christmas illumination that you will remember all year long. Visit Santa's village for a photo op with Santa or for a ride on the Polar Express train. Shadrack's is open until January 8th and from 6 to 10 P.M.

Kennywood Park Holiday Lights
Kennywood Park, Pittsburgh's premiere amusement park turns on the holiday bliss with its annual Holiday Lights Festival. The Amusement park is lit up with over 2 million holiday lights and includes a lagoon illumination show choreographed to holiday music, a 90 foot Christmas Tree, the Gingerbread Express and more. There are 20 amusement park rides open during the festival of Lights as well the Polar Express: A 4-D Experience. Who says you can't visit an amusement park in the winter?

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Pittsburgh!

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Scott Kozelnik has called the North Hills of Pittsburgh home since 2003. As an historian and writer, he's been published by Arcadia Publishing - Images of America, the West Virginia Encyclopedia and can be found floating out in the blogoshpere. He manages the Pittsburgh.net events blog and social media