Spirited Festivals Mark Start of Holiday Season
Oct 31, 2017 05:15PM
By Shari Berg
A tree display at The Hosanna Industries Festival of the Trees, photo courtesy of Marta Greca
Even before the first snowflake falls, the desire to light up the night, sit on Santa’s knee or take horse-drawn carriage rides through downtown streets can be fulfilled. November kicks off the holiday festival season in Pittsburgh, and there are a lot of activities from which to choose.
One of the most popular holiday attractions is the Hosanna Industries Festival of the Trees, now in its sixth year. The three-day event kicks off at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16 at Quality Gardens, located at 409 Rt. 228 in Valencia. Tickets for the kick-off night are $25 per person, and only 100 tickets are available on that night.
Amanda Becker, a mission worker at Hosanna Industries, said that those who choose to attend the Nov. 16 event will have the first opportunity to inspect the trees that will be available for purchase. The remaining two days of the event are free to attend, with hours on Friday, Nov. 17 from 5-8 p.m. and on Saturday, Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Last year, the event featured 60 trees, all of “small, manageable size,” according to Becker. “We’ve sold all of our trees for the last few years, and we expect to do so again this year,” she said. More than 600 people attended last year’s event, raising $13,000 to benefit Hosanna Industries. They hope to raise $20,000 this year.
This year’s event will offer a variety of themed trees. Among the offerings are Rubber Ducky; Disney; I Love New York; Stained Glass; 12 Days of Christmas; Starry Night and Baking.
One of the most popular themes last year was the stained-glass tree, which featured handmade ornaments crafted entirely out of stained glass. “It was really quite remarkable,” said Becker. “Most of our trees feature hand-crafted ornaments.”
Another popular festival in the North Hills is the Beaver County Festival of Trees. The festival will be held daily from Nov. 23 through Dec. 3 at the Lodge at Bradys Run Park. The event will be open from 5-9 p.m. on Nov. 23 and Dec. 1, and noon to 9 p.m. on the remaining days. Ticket information can be found on the festival’s website at www.beavercountyfestivaloftrees.org.
On Saturday, Nov. 25, festival goers can enjoy Breakfast with Santa, scheduled for 8:30-11 a.m. Breakfast consists of pancakes, sausage, milk and juice, and costs $10 per person. “The breakfast will feature Beaver County-produced maple syrup,” said festival Assistant Chair Amy Tyger.
Children 3 and under are free, and breakfast attendees are encouraged to bring their own cameras to capture a special moment with Santa. Reservations are required for this portion of the festival, with limited seating available. Call 724-201-1797 to RSVP.
New this year is Armed Services Appreciation Day, which will be held on Sunday, Nov. 26. Members of the armed services who show military-issued identification at the door will be admitted for $5. Also new this year is an art mural contest. Local school districts’ art departments were invited to create murals for the event; winners will receive a donation to their art department.
Next year, the festival will undergo a name change. “The event will be called the Beaver County Christmas Extravaganza, because we’re not just about trees and wreaths anymore,” said Tyger.
For those who wish to celebrate the season in the city, PPG Place is hosting numerous events in November and December.
• Free horse-drawn carriage rides: Saturdays from Nov. 18 through Dec. 16, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.; complimentary rides are available that depart the Fourth Avenue side of PPG Place Plaza.
• Annual Gingerbread Display/Competition and Train Display: From Nov. 17 through Jan. 6, 2018; a magnificent display of delicious dwellings created by individuals and organizations will be on hand. There is no charge for admission; however, donations will be accepted to benefit Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh’s Free Care Fund.
• Spirits of Giving from Around the World: From Nov. 17 through Jan. 6, 2018, the splendor of the holidays comes alive through this enchanting display, featuring life-sized Santas and original paintings depicting holiday celebrations across the globe. A 32-foot tree surrounded by gingerbread houses is featured as part of this event. The event is free. No reservations are required.
Light up Night 2017 also will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17 at PPG Plaza, Wintergarden and Two PPG Place. This 57th annual event will feature free events, including music from local and national artists, an unveiling of the city’s holiday decorations, family-friendly activities and a special bridge-lighting ceremony. The evening will be capped off with a special fireworks display. More information about Light Up Night is available at www.visitpittsburgh.com.