How to Celebrate Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh: Events and Things to Do

Elevated view of the Pittsburgh skyline at sunset
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Whether you're traveling to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to spend time with family for Thanksgiving, get away from it all for the holidays, or you're stuck working, there are plenty of great activities, events, and dining destinations worth exploring on your trip. From fun-filled festivals perfect for a day spent with family and friends to volunteer opportunities across the region, there's no shortage of activities.

The weather in Pittsburgh can be quite chilly and wet during Thanksgiving. Traditionally, temperatures over the holiday week range from highs between 42 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (6 and 13 degrees Celsius) and lows between 22 and 30 Fahrenheit (-5 and -1 Celsius). Additionally, snow, ice, and sleet have all fallen on Thanksgiving in the past.

Aerial view of Phipps Conservatory at sunset
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Thanksgiving Events in Pittsburgh

If you're looking for something to do either on the big day or over the subsequent weekend, the city of Pittsburgh and surrounding communities host a variety of festive fall events. From the annual holiday parade and Turkey Trot to the Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at the Phipps Conservatory, there are many interesting events coming to the city this Thanksgiving:

  • WXPI Holiday Parade: Featuring dozens of floats, local high school bands and dance groups, equestrian units, and some of the city's favorite radio and TV personalities, this annual parade is the biggest event of the month and takes place on Saturday, November 30, 2019.
  • YMCA Turkey Trot: This annual event takes place on the holiday itself. Hosted by the local chapter of the YMCA, this race for charity features a Double Gobble 5K plus a 5-mile race for adults, and a 1-mile run/walk for families. All guests are encouraged to dress up like turkeys.
  • Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden: Starting on the day after Thanksgiving, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens open its winter exhibit, which features artful LED light displays with detailed props, numerous poinsettias, and decorated trees like the more than 8 feet tall Rainbow Glow Tree, which features over 150 colorful limbs.
  • Comcast Light Up the Night: This festival takes place at various venues in downtown Pittsburgh on Friday, November 22, 2019, and features a variety of popular artists on different stages, food trucks, fireworks, annual tree lightings, and more.
  • Kennywood Holiday Lights: Opening night on Friday, November 22, 2019, kicks off more than a month of festivities at this traditional amusement park, complete with light shows, Santa Claus, and live music. After enjoying some classic rides, you can stroll through over two million Christmas lights and view the state's tallest Christmas tree.

Thanksgiving Cooking and Dining Options

If you plan on making pumpkin or apple pie from scratch, a trip to a local Pittsburgh-area farm where you can pick your own pumpkins or apples might be a fun family activity as well as the best option to stock your Thanksgiving table. Most of the farms have fresh corn and other veggies grown throughout the year that you can pick up. However, many stores also offer pre-assembled pies that are ready to pop into an oven for Thanksgiving Day.

When planning your Thanksgiving meal, nothing says Pittsburgh more than an offering of haluski, a Slavic egg noodle and cabbage dish popular in the region. For those new to the area or visiting for the holidays, a traditional Pittsburgh Thanksgiving might not be complete without it.

On the other hand, if you don't feel like cooking this year, an abundance of restaurants in Pittsburgh are open on Thanksgiving Day and many will be serving their own holiday feasts. You might even get lucky and score a locally-made, authentic haluski to complete your meal.

Volunteer Opportunities

On a day to offer thanks, giving back to the community can help others feel cared for during a time when they are less fortunate.

If you're visiting for the week and want to get involved in the local community, there are a number of holiday volunteer opportunities available in the Pittsburgh area. From serving meals at the homeless shelters around town to delivering groceries to disabled residents and senior citizens, you can make a big difference this holiday season by volunteering through one of these local organizations.

Start Christmas Early

If you're already over all the fuss of Thanksgiving and ready for the Christmas holiday spirit, there are various places, events, and attractions around the Pittsburgh area that start celebrating the holiday as soon as the Thanksgiving table's been cleared.

Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holiday traditions are apparent all over the greater Pittsburgh area. Some of the top spots for holiday and winter fun include the Miniature Railroad & Village, local museums, and holiday light displays such as the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights—which opens their doors for the season to dazzle visitors and residents alike.

It's also easy to get a Christmas tree in and around Pittsburgh. Scouts, civic, and booster organizations, garden centers, and home improvement centers all carry a large variety of holiday trees for your home. Some of the best and freshest trees, however, come from the local Christmas tree farms.

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