Light Up Night is a Pittsburgh tradition where janitors turn on all the lights at once to see which bulbs need to be replaced in downtown office buildings. Like looking at the stars, some point their telescopes towards those bright buildings to glean insights into private office spaces. However, for most, it’s become the winter event promoting restaurants and vendors in the Downtown Triangle.

City of Pittsburgh’s 108th Christmas tree light up at the City-County Building. Credit: Foo Conner / The Pittsburgh Reporter

The City of Pittsburgh’s 108th Christmas tree this year is a 40-foot Blue Spruce donated by the Guardian Angels Catholic Parish of Natrona Heights’ Springdale campus. The traditional ornaments represent all 90 neighborhoods that make up the city. The City-County Building hosts the first stage many from the South Side come to. This year, like years before, musicians dazzled and famous juggler O’Ryan the O’Mazing played background to the man of the hour himself – Santa.

Families crowd the streets. Market Square is filled with vendors such as Keystone Steel Co. and love, Pittsburgh. Though local artists are on display, there are some visiting vendors that will rotate throughout the month. Typically, you can expect to find items in the $50-100 range for Christmas gifts here.

Market Square Vendors Regular Hours: Nov. 17-Dec. 21

  • Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Friday + Saturday: 11 a.m.. – 9:30 p.m.
  • Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Joe Grushecky performs at the 2023 Light Up Night in downtown Pittsburgh. Credit: Foo Conner / The Pittsburgh Reporter

Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers commanded the main stage next to Gateway Station. Grushecky took the time to profess his love for Pittsburgh. He listed some of the great cities of the world where he could play: Los Angeles, New Orleans, NYC. But in his heart, Pittsburgh is the greatest of all – his home. He then lit up his guitar, playing ‘East Carson Street’ from his 2009 album of the same name.

Stevee Wellons, lead singer of Soulful Femme, performs at 2023’s Light Up Night in downtown Pittsburgh Credit: Foo Conner / The Pittsburgh Reporter

In a world of soul-draining concert ticket systems, Light Up Night provides the holiday present of free music. Stages were set up in a familiar fashion, closing off Stanwix Street, Ft. Duquesne Blvd., etc., to accommodate the thousands that came to the city. Though the crowds may look as thick as Monongahela sludge, anyone can walk up to the stage and claim a front row spot.

Overall, the 62nd Light Up Night showcased local musicians and went off without a major incident — a holiday spirit we could use more of.

Foo, editor of The Pittsburgh Reporter, guides our newsrooms and meets neighbors. He shares heartfelt stories often overlooked.