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How to Plan Your Light Up Night Like a Pro

We've got a few tried and tested ways to enjoy the start of the holiday season without giving yourself a stress headache.

photo by dave dicello

The annual kick-off to the holiday season -- Comcast’s Light Up Night -- is one of the most popular events of the year in Downtown Pittsburgh. That said, transportation and parking can be a nightmare on the evening of festivities, which is set for Friday, Nov. 16.

With multiple road closures and thousands of people coming into the city from every angle, there are few ways around the congestion of Light Up Night. But thankfully, there are some ways to cheat the system.

Parking: Avoid parking garages, park on the outskirts of Downtown

Stick to street parking -- preferably street parking in the North Side or another nearby neighborhood. A short walk across a bridge, trip on the T or Port Authority bus ride will get you Downtown for ice skating, fireworks, food trucks and holiday music. On your way out, you won’t have to sit and wait in the garages and dodge pedestrians.

Get there early

Really early. Like 4 p.m. Traffic tends to begin around 5 p.m. on Light Up Night as the young skaters from the Robert Morris University figure skating academy make their way to the MassMutual ice rink at PPG Place for the annual holiday performance, which is set for 5:30 p.m. If you park Downtown, getting there as early as possible will be your best bet for claiming a parking spot.

Be aware of the times of featured festivities

These are some of the highlighted events to look out for:

  • 5 p.m. — Tree lighting at the City-County building
  • 5:30 p.m. — Tree lighting and ice skating show at PPG Place
  • 7 p.m. —  Lighting of the Highmark tree and a fireworks and laser show at Fifth Avenue Place’s Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue corner
  • 7:30 p.m. —  Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, followed by another laser show at Bank of America Rockin’ Blues Stage, also at the corner of Stanwix and Penn
  • 10 p.m. — Finale fireworks show at Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and Sixth Street

Watch the fireworks from afar

The BNY Mellon Fireworks Finale is always a hit at Light Up Night, and hundreds, probably thousands of people will be huddle around Ft. Duquesne Boulevard to watch the exploding art. But here’s a piece of advice: fireworks are big, and they light up the entire sky, which means you can see them from many different points in the city. Hang out somewhere like the North Shore riverwalk or Station Square to take in the oohs and ahhs of holiday fireworks while also avoiding the heaviest crowds.

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