They say there’s no place like home for the holidays. That’s especially true if your home happens to be Pittsburgh. In late November, the city becomes all aglitter with holiday festivity. There is so much to do and see that it’s tough to choose, but here are our five favorite holiday highlights.

christmas-tree-in-pittsburgh ThreeRivers11 /

1. Lights! On the Friday before Thanksgiving, downtown Pittsburgh is the place to be. The city ushers in the holiday season with “Light Up Night.” There are tree lightings, carriage rides, tasty foods, music, even fireworks. Your family will feel the early warmth of Christmas glow—maybe even catch a glimpse of that chubby old elf in the red suit. It’s a wonderful event for kids of all ages—including grandma and grandpa.

2. Downtown, check out the goings-on at PPG Place, adjacent to Market Square. Lace up a pair of skates and take a spin on the expanded and renovated MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink. The rink surrounds a spectacular 32-foot Christmas tree and buzzes with activity through February.

3. PPG Place is also home to Wintergarden, a magnificent atrium. During the holidays it showcases the creative fancies of local bakers in a regional gingerbread-house competition. Yum! When you see the model trains “choo-chooing” around the track, you may feel just like a kid again.

4. Do you love a parade? You’re in luck!  NBC TV affiliate WPXI sponsors an annual holiday parade on the last Saturday in November.  You’ll see approximately 80 different acts come down the street. Besides big floats and inflatables, you’ll enjoy the brassy rhythms and showmanship of the area’s top marching bands. A celebrity or two is usually on hand to add a dash of star power—past participants include Christina Aguilera, Alex Trebek, and Pat Sajak, to name but a few.

5. Since 1999, Pittsburgh has had the distinction and honor to present the only authorized replica in the world of the famous Nativity scene that stands outside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The Pittsburgh Crèche features 20 figurines in a large scale setting that measures 64 ft. wide by 36 ft. deep and 42 ft. high. This unique attraction offers inspiration and a chance to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. It stays on display from late November through January 8 (Feast of Epiphany).

While Christmas is a special season here in Pittsburgh, you’ll find wonderful events and attractions year round. If you’re new to the area or planning to move here, you may enjoy this post on Pittsburgh’s Top “Don’t Miss” Attractions.