Photo by Brian Cohen.

Market Square. Photo by Brian Cohen.

Krampusnacht at Market Square: December 5

Legend has it that Krampus punishes naughty children while his jolly counterpart, Saint Nicholas, hands out gifts to the good. For one night in Market Square, the fearsome holiday figure spreads some joy during Krampusnacht. Named after the ancient European celebration, the event—which is organized by Krampus in Pittsburgh—offers a night of old world festivities and magical surprises for the whole family. Enjoy performers and holiday shops, or stop in at one of Market Square’s many restaurants for a bite to eat.

Krampusnacht takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Highmark Holiday Pops. Photo by Wade Massie.

Highmark Holiday Pops. Photo by Wade Massie.

Highmark Holiday Pops at Heinz Hall: December 9–11, 17–18

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra plays the music of the season for the annual Highmark Holiday Pops at Heinz Hall. Assistant conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong leads such favorites as “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker, “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah, Marvin Hamlisch’s “Chanukah Lights” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The performances include talented guest artists such as Broadway actress Capathia Jenkins, the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, the Three Rivers Ringers, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and Santa Claus. Heinz Hall will also delight attendees with beautiful decorations, including a 25-foot Christmas tree, a large menorah, and the new NRG Gingerbread House located in the Heinz Hall Garden through December 24.

Tickets cost $20 and are also available at the Heinz Hall box office or by calling 412-392-4900.

Image courtesy of the National Aviary.

Image courtesy of the National Aviary.

Disco’s Kids Only Night Out at the National Aviary: December 17

While parents do their shopping, kids can party with Disco the African Penguin during a very special night at the National Aviary. Professional educators and bird experts will welcome kids from kindergarten through grade five for a night of stories, bat feedings, crafts and more. Participate in a scavenger hunt, go on a flashlight hike, or get up close and personal with a penguin.

Disco’s Kids Only Night Out takes place from 5 – 9 p.m. Registration costs $50 per child and an additional $5 for dinner. Space is limited. Those interested can call 412-258-9439 or email

The Muppet Christmas Carol. Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/ Jim Henson Productions.

The Muppet Christmas Carol. Image courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures/Jim Henson Productions.

The Muppet Christmas Carol Pajama Party at Row House Cinema: December 20

Have a most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational time when Row House Cinema hosts a special benefit screening of The Muppet Christmas Carol. Presented in part by the homeless women’s shelter Bethlehem Haven, the family-friendly event gives kids and their guardians a chance to enjoy a holiday classic in their coziest sleepwear. Based on the work by Charles Dickens, The Muppet Christmas Carol stars Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and other felt favorites in the redemptive story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts of Christmas.

The Muppet Christmas Carol Pajama Party begins at 9:20 p.m. Tickets cost $9. Guests who wear their pajamas receive $1 off concessions. Bring a new blanket to donate to Bethlehem Haven and receive a free small popcorn voucher to use on a future visit.

Countdown to Noon. Image courtesy of Children's Museum.

Countdown to Noon. Image courtesy of Children’s Museum.

Countdown to Noon at Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: December 31

Leave it to the Children’s Museum to make New Year’s Eve a celebration for kids and family. Bring the whole family down for Countdown to Noon, a midday New Year’s Eve party featuring a host of fun activities. Kids can make their own festive noisemakers and hats, listen to live music by Lee Robinson and his jazz quartet, and participate in interviews by The Saturday Light Brigade radio host, Larry Berger, and actor, Tim Hartman. And be ready to scream “Happy New Year!” when the clock strikes 12.

Countdown to Noon takes place from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The event is included with regular admission.

Honorable mentions:

The Music of Disney at the Oaks Theater: December 2

How The Grinch Stole Christmas at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont: December 3

Santa’s Live Reindeer & Mrs. Claus at Wholey’s Fish Market: December 3

A Christmas Story with special guest Ian Petrella at Carnegie Museum of Art: December 17

Cool Yule: A Family Fun Day at the Frick: December 17

First Night in the Cultural District: December 31

New Year’s Eve Family Celebration at Phipps Conservatory: December 31

Looking for more events? Check out our 10 Pittsburgh events not to miss in December feature.