Even if you can’t make it to New York City’s Times Square to watch the ball drop, you can still have a rocking New Year’s Eve right here in Pittsburgh with the city’s own celebrations and parties. Parties aboard the three rivers or with exotic animals at the local zoo rival celebrations of larger cities and offer something for partygoers of all ages from children to teens and even adults. Here are the best family friendly New Year’s Eve parties and activities happening in Pittsburgh.
Gateway Clipper New Year’s Eve Dinner
Gateway Clipper Fleet
350 W. Station Square Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Hours: Dec. 31 – 6 p.m.
Price: $50 per person
Ring in 2013 aboard Pittsburgh’s iconic riverboat during the Gateway Clipper’s New Year’s Eve dinner cruise. Set sail on the city’s breathtaking three rivers during this two-hour cruise, which features a scrumptious dinner buffet and musical entertainment. Pittsburgh’s First Night activities are within walking distance from the ship’s dock near Station Square. Reservations for the New Year’s Eve dinner cruise are required and may be made by visiting the Gateway Clipper’s website or by calling the boat’s sales office at (412) 355-7980.
Noon Year’s Eve Celebration
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
One Wild Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Hours: Dec. 31 – 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Price: $10 adults/$9 seniors 60 or older and children ages 2 to 13/free for children younger than 24 months
If you have an animal-lover in your house, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s Noon Year’s Eve Celebration is the place to be this year. Count down to 2013 with a noon ball drop that rivals Time Square’s celebration, sign the zoo’s ReZOOlution banner, and ring in the new year with all your child’s favorite animals. Radio Disney will be on hand to provide live entertainment. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s Noon Year’s Eve Celebration is included in the price of the zoo’s general admission.
Highmark First Night Pittsburgh
downtown locations and the Cultural District
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Hours: Dec. 31 – 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Price: $8 all-access buttons in advance/$10 night-of
Highmark First Night Pittsburgh is the city’s most popular and largest New Year’s eve event with more than 50 indoor and outdoor venues throughout downtown Pittsburgh and the Cultural District, welcoming thousands of visitors to holiday-themed attractions and celebrations. This event brings First Night fun for the entire family with fireworks presented by Zambelli, a countdown to midnight and raising of The Future of Pittsburgh Ball and the First Night parade. With more than 150 individual events, including live music, dance and theater, comedy and visual arts, there’s an age-appropriate activity for every member of your family. Purchase an all-access pass button for $8 in advance at Giant Eagle, the Theater Square Box Office or through the First Night website. Buttons are also available for $10 the night of the event.
Overly’s Country Christmas Light Display
116 Blue Ribbon Lane
Greensburg, PA 15601
Hours: Dec 31 – 5:30 p.m.
Price: $10 per car or van
If the chaos of Christmas prevented you from taking the annual drive to see Christmas lights, consider taking a New Year’s Eve ride through a holiday light display. Overly’s Country Christmas was named one of American’s best outdoor light displays by Good Housekeeping making its light display one of the best family friendly New Year’s Eve activities in Pittsburgh. Old-fashioned holiday charm combines with breathtaking light display and a Christmas Village where your family may join in on a variety of winter traditions to ring in the New Year. Activities include singing Christmas carols near the bonfire, shopping for post-Christmas deals in C. Edgar & Sons General Store and playing with a model train display.
The Rink at PPG Place
3 PPG Place
410 Market St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Hours: Dec. 31 – 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Price: $7 adults/$6 children and seniors
Get a group of your friends together and lace up your ice skates for a spin around the beautiful ice rink in PPG Place. There’s nothing more romantic than sharing a New Year’s Eve kiss under the stars at downtown’s only outdoor ice skating rink that houses a breathtaking 60-foot Christmas tree in the center of the ice that rivals that of New York’s Rockefeller Center’s tree. Ice skating at The Rink at PPG Place is a fantastic option for teens looking for a group activity this New Year’s Eve. Don’t worry if you’re not up to par on your double toe loop or stopping. Schedule a 20-minute group lesson for three or more of your friends for just $40.
Jessica Wasik lives in Pittsburgh where works as a full-time figure skating coach sharing her passion with todays generation of young skaters. A graduate of Robert Morris University with a degree in English Studies, Jessica is also a contributing writer for Allegheny West Magazine. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.