Kennywood's 'Holiday Lights' Shine

Move over, chestnuts roasting on an open fire—the Potato Patch is open!


Photo by Dave DiCello

There are plenty of Pittsburgh traditions to embrace each holiday season: Light Up Nights, The Nutcracker, The Rink at PPG Place. Still, one iconic locale has always remained shuttered: Kennywood. 

‘Til now, that is. This month, guests will receive their first-ever glimpse of the park as a winter wonderland—complete with lights, caroling, seasonal snacks (think kettle corn and s’mores) and Potato Patch fries.

“People have never seen Kennywood lit up like this,” says Jeff Filicko, Kennywood’s public relations manager.

During the 100-plus years of operation, Kennywood has never opened for the holidays. So, why now?

“This is something we’ve talked about for many years,” Filicko explains, “especially since we’ve opened [during] weekends in September and October. Halloween Fright Nights have been very successful—this was their 10th season.”

Kennywood’s Holiday Lights festivities are limited to the front half of the park, mostly around the lagoon near the Jack Rabbit and The Racer. There will be hundreds of thousands of lights on display, including 68 8-foot LED Christmas trees (accounting for more than 18,000 individual lights). 

Rides like the Log Jammer and the roller coasters can’t operate during the winter, but a number will be running: the Merry-Go-Round, the Kangaroo, the Paratrooper and several attractions in Kiddieland. Having received a fresh holiday makeover, The Olde Kennywood Railroad will also be in operation this winter.

New attractions—from a look at It’s a Wonderful Life, courtesy of the Jimmy Stewart Museum, to an ornate model-train display—have also been brought in specifically for the event. Additionally, local choirs and bell-ringing groups, who enthusiastically volunteered to be a part of the experience, will be present to perform various holiday tunes.

“The same day that we announced the event, people started coming to us,” Filicko says. “There’s been a great deal of interest.”

That’s not to imply that turning Kennywood into a winter wonderland has been effortless. To make it happen, the park staff purchased a dazzling array of holiday décor and made tough decisions about which rides could operate—and those were just the most obvious hurdles.

With all the changes, big and small, it’s certain that people will see the classic landmark in a new light. Milk and cookies may become a thing of the past once Santa tastes Potato Patch fries.

>>Info:
4800 Kennywood Blvd., West Mifflin

Dec. 2-18: Fri.-Sun., 5-9 p.m.
Tickets: $12.99
Info, tickets: 412/461-0500, kennywood.com

Hot Reads

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Review: Cafe Zinho

Review: Cafe Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.

The 412

Oi, Who’s Ready for Manchester City vs. AC Milan at Heinz Field?

Oi, Who’s Ready for Manchester City vs. AC Milan at Heinz Field?

The English Premier League champions will face off against the Italian giants this Sunday.
Underrated Stuff We Love: Pittsburgh’s Porch Culture

Underrated Stuff We Love: Pittsburgh’s Porch Culture

You never know who you’ll meet right outside your door.
Travel + Leisure Says PNC Park Has One of the Best Views in America

Travel + Leisure Says PNC Park Has One of the Best Views in America

No, not just one of the best views at a ballpark — best views period.
Thrival Festival is Like Coachella for Cool People

Thrival Festival is Like Coachella for Cool People

Moby, Portugal the Man will headline the music and innovation festival Sept. 13-14 at Bakery Square.

Hot Reads

From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Review: Cafe Zinho

Review: Cafe Zinho

Seasoned chef and entrepreneur Toni Pais continues to impress folks who dine at his longstanding Mediterranean establishment, Café Zinho.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.
City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

City Guide: 200+ Fun Things to Do (No Matter Where You Are)

We explore every inch of Allegheny County (and beyond) for a look at the communities where we live, work and play.
6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

6 More Things You Might Not Know About Pittsburgh

PittGirl's at it again — this time with a list of a half-dozen fun facts you'll want to mention at your next cocktail party.
'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

'Which Neighborhood Should I Live In?'

We pick the perfect neighborhood for six breeds of ’Burgher.