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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The holiday season officially kicked off Friday night in Pittsburgh.

Hundreds of thousands of people flocked into Downtown Pittsburgh to take part in the plethora of Light Up Night activities and entertainment.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

The holiday-themed festivities got underway at noon at the US Steel Tower as The Pittsburgh Crèche, the only authorized replica of the display in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, was dedicated.

Between music, entertainment, food, shopping and plenty of tree lighting ceremonies, there was a little something for everyone at the 58th annual Comcast Light Up Night.

“We come down here every year for my birthday; no place we’d rather be,” said Pat Dawson of Irwin.

The Allegheny County Christmas tree at the Courthouse and the City Christmas tree by the Mayor Richard Caliguiri statue on Grant Street were lit up earlier in the afternoon.

“[Friday] really kicks off at the City-County Building and the Courthouse,” said Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership President and CEO Jeremy Waldrup. “We will be lighting those around 4:30 p.m., then we will kick over into Market Square.”

In Market Square, the BNY Mellon Season of Lights Sphere tree, with its 150,000 LED bulbs, is now shining brightly. The Peoples Gas Holiday Market is also open for business there, too. And Santa Claus will be there, taking up residence at Santa’s House.

KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:


One Oxford Center began their festivities with a tree lighting at 5:45 p.m. Free horse-drawn carriage rides are available there throughout the season, or you can meet Santa’s reindeer.

KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:


Then, thousands gathered in the Golden Triangle at 7 p.m. to see the Highmark Unity Tree, on the old Horne’s building, lit up. There were fireworks, a brand new Laser Show and music in addition to the tree lighting.

“I have been coming here since I was a kid,” said Carmen McKinley, of Pittsburgh. “It’s the spirit of Christmas. If you come to Light Up Night, you know what’s coming next.”

Watch The Unity Tree Lighting:

If music is your thing, stages were set up in Market Square, as well as three others on or near Fort Duquesne Boulevard.

There was the Comcast Main Stage at Fort Duquesne and Ninth Street where headliner, A Great Big World, rocked the stage at 8 p.m. There’s also the BNY Mellon New Music Stage at Fort Duquesne and Sixth Street.

Over at Stanwix Street and Penn Avenue, local favorites like Jeff Jimerson and Airborne and Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers performed on the Bank of America Rockin’ Blues Stage.

KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:


There was also the EQT Jazzmasters Stage on Liberty Avenue.

“The activity really starts happening on our music stages. We have the Bank of America stage right at the Unity Tree, the Comcast Stage, and the BNY Mellon stage on Ft. Duquesne Boulevard, both with new and old music,” said Waldrup.

KDKA’s John Shumway Reports:


Warming stations and hot chocolate were also available. And Heinz Hall hosted 30-minute mini-concerts, performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. All of it free for your listening pleasure. So were all of the events, except for the 30 food trucks.

Separate from the Light Up Night fun, Pittsburgher and American Idol contestant Gabby Barrett performed at the NRG Santa Spectacular in Point State Park. A fireworks show wrapped up the night there at 8:30 p.m.

Web Extra Santa Spectacular Fireworks:


And, don’t forget about the grand finale. What’s Light Up Night without Zambelli Fireworks?

Watch them here:

“We will close out the evening at 10 p.m.; it’s about a 25-minute show. So every kid will get their fill of fireworks for the rest of the season,” said Waldrup.