Although the weather in western Pennsylvania can be quite dreary and wet during Thanksgiving, the people of Pittsburgh never let it stop them from celebrating with turkey feasts, group runs, holiday lights, and events aplenty. Temperatures typically fall anywhere between 20 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but snow, ice, and sleet have fallen on the holiday in the past. It's best to keep an indoor alternative on standby in the case of canceled outside plans.
In 2020, many Thanksgiving events have been altered or canceled. Check the websites of organizers for updated information.
Make a Pittsburgh-Style Thanksgiving Feast
Thanksgiving foods in Pittsburgh are similar to that of every other American city except for the addition of haluski, a Slavic egg noodle and cabbage dish that is popular in the region. A traditional Pittsburgh Thanksgiving would not be complete without it, so don't miss out on trying this local classic.
From November 20, 2020, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will put on its highly anticipated annual exhibit of wintry florals and artful LED light displays with detailed props and bedecked trees. Imagine walking through thousands of poinsettias and a canopy of twinkling lights in the conservatory's iconic glasshouse; this year's "home for the holidays" theme will feature plant iterations of household objects like chandeliers, armchairs, and mantels.
Witness the World's Largest Pickle Ornament
The world's largest pickle ornament—OK, so it's more like a giant Heinz pickle balloon decorated as an ornament—will make its debut at EQT Plaza on Black Friday 2020. Made by the same people behind Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade inflatables, the pickle is 35 feet long and adorned with lights galore. It's slated to set a Guinness World Record.
Not keen on cooking the biggest meal of the year at home? Pittsburgh is home to countless restaurants that will remain open for the holiday—some serving up classics, others giving the American feast a bit of international flair. Some of the best include the buffet at the Grand Concourse, an upscale eatery housed in a former train station; the ever-luxurious LeMont Pittsburgh; or The Wooden Nickel, with its comfort food menu staples and homey feel.
Shop the Peoples Gas Holiday Market
Inspired by authentic German Christkindlmarkts, Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square consists of dozens of charming wooden chalets lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, selling holiday gifts and foodstuff alike. Visits from Santa are normally included, but in 2020, in-person meet-and-greets will be replaced by virtual Santa Zoom meetings. Live musical performances are scheduled from around noon every day of opening weekend. The European-style shopping village will open on Black Friday—November 27—and close on December 23.
Run the YMCA Turkey Trot
Almost as woven into tradition as the ceremonious consumption of the turkey itself is the pre-feast run, in many cities. After all, jogging in faux bird feathers and the like is a fun—if eccentric—way to kick the notoriously self-indulgent holiday off. In Pittsburgh, the YMCA Turkey Trot gets blood pumping (while also raising money for charity) on Thanksgiving morning. It usually features a Double Gobble 5K plus a 5-mile race for adults, and a mile run/walk for families, but in 2020, it will all be held virtually during the week of November 23.
Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
November's food-driven holiday is a popular time to give back. You can spend it serving meals at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen—for example, Jubilee Soup Kitchen, Community Kitchen Pittsburgh, or Light of Life—or delivering groceries to senior citizens and the needy. Keep in mind that most of these slots fill up as early as September, so prospective volunteers should book early.
Watch the WPXI Holiday Parade
November 2020 would have marked the 40th anniversary of this festive procession, but it has been canceled. WPXI's annual Holiday Parade typically brings together dozens of floats, local high school bands and dance groups, equestrian units, regional and national celebrities, balloons, and more for a grand overtaking of Liberty Avenue the Saturday following Thanksgiving.
Join in on Light Up Night Celebrations
A mini version of the nationally televised New York City event, Light Up Night is a Pittsburgh tradition featuring not just a tree lighting but also light shows on the City-County Building every 30 minutes after the main event. The festivities are spread throughout various venues in the city, in fact, and feature popular artists performing on different stages, food trucks, fireworks, and more. In 2020, Light Up Night has been canceled.
Admire the Holiday Lights at Kennywood
Kennywood is an amusement park located in Mifflin, just southeast of Pittsburgh, and every year around Thanksgiving, it becomes illuminated with nearly 2 million twinkling lights—not to mention the tallest Christmas tree in the entire state of Pennsylvania. Thanksgiving weekend kicks off more than a month of festivities: light shows, visits from Santa Claus, live music, and Christmas-fied classic rides. In 2020, however, the event has been canceled.