Pittsburgh Botanic Garden's Dazzling Nights

Winter Wonderland Event Guide

by Emma Honcharski


November 17, 2023

As the holiday season approaches and the days get shorter, it’s just as important as ever to create room for joy and ease in our schedules. Coming together and celebrating all that we have to be grateful for can happen in all kinds of ways – through experiencing nature, learning new skills, supporting artists in our region, and connecting over food and the earth. 


A visit to Phipps Conservatory in the winter can feel like a vacation, and the Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden take things to the next level. Starting on November 17, Phipps will transform into a winter wonderland with the theme of “Seasons Greenings,” featuring holiday trees adorned in jewel tones, plus orchids galore. 

If you’re over the whole turkey preparation process, we don’t blame you. Seven Springs Mountain Resort hosts a Thanksgiving Buffet on November 23 for the whole family, so you can ski, snowboard, or hit the spa right up until dinner time. And even if the weather is variable, there’s indoor axe-throwing, mini golf, aquatics, and bowling. 

It really does feel like the most wonderful time of year at the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden during Dazzling Nights, which starts on November 24. Explore the grounds with 2,000 illuminated flowers, a light show at the Lotus Pond, a tunnel of giant stars, and a 30’ stained glass tree. The event runs through January 1. 


After Thanksgiving, somehow it feels like it’s already time to prepare for Christmas and Hanukkah. Whether you’re in need of decorations, a gift to give, or to learn a new craft, Contemporary Craft is hosting local fiber artist Erin Carolson for a Crafts & Drafts: Needle Felted Wool Ornaments Workshop on December 1. Make a woolen ornament shaped like your favorite cookie cutter. Who knows where your felting journey will take you!

If you’d rather leave the handmade crafts to someone else, fear not. Handmade Arcade’s Holiday Market is the largest market in the region, with over 275 vendors, makers and artists. The event takes place on December 1 and 2 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Get your holiday shopping finished with in one day while supporting local artists. 

Just because the days get shorter doesn’t mean we can’t still get outside. Learn more about lichen, an often overlooked but extremely important part of our ecosystem, with naturalist educator Stephen Bucklin on a nature walk at Allegheny Commons on December 9. We could all use the opportunity to slow down with a hand lens!  

Later in the week, find yourself at Allegheny Commons again for Stephen Bucklin’s “Birding Pittsburgh’s Parks.” Beginners welcome to this monthly event. Register for the early morning event on December 11 here. 

Leading up to Christmas can be a hectic time, but it’s always worth it to slow down and connect with the change of seasons, as we officially shift into winter. Join Venture Outdoors for a Winter Solstice night hike on December 21 at Frick Park. Plus, a full moon on December 26 will keep the skies – and our hopes for the new year – bright. 



Emma Honcharski is a regular contributor to The Green Voice