A Year to Remember

Okay, you have to excuse us if we want to hold on to 2011 for a little bit longer. After all, this past year marks the first full 12 months of the wonderfully transformed Market Square and it's new, inviting open piazza makeover.  And what an amazing 365 days it's been. From the opening of new restaurants and businesses to another electrifying, two-day Light Up Night to open a spectacular holiday shopping season, the Square really is at the heart of Downtown's newest renaissance. So as the final moments of 2011's 525,600 minutes tick away, let's take a look at just a few of the Square's more memorable happenings of the year.

The fun kicked off early in the year when more than 1,300 Black & Gold faithful huddled in the Square for the DIGIORNO'S "Go Pittsburgh" High Five Challenge. This early February competition pitted Pittsburgh fans against their cheesehead counterparts in Green Bay in a show of support for their favorite football teams before the big game. Though the Steelers came up short on the gridiron, their fans nabbed the pep rally championship during this showdown.

Just to prove that we are plenty willing to put our stomachs where our mouths are, hundreds of red-hots lovers turned out in late June for the local finals of the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. As the competition chomped through scores of dogs, a pair of wiener winners emerged to represent the region in the grand finale at New York City's Coney Island on Independence Day. Juliet Lee, our local winner got second place in the finals with 29.5 dogs, beaten only by Sonya "the Black Widow" Thomas.

Most days, business casual is the typical fashion statement in the Square. But when a bevy of local models dressed to the nines and strutted their stuff on the catwalk during Pittsburgh Fashion Week's runway romp, the Square earned the title of Style Central. As the  hundreds of people who watched the tented show in the center of the Square will attest,  Pittsburgh Fashion Week — in just its second year — established itself as one of the premier events on the city's social and cultural calendar.

Speaking of stylish, Design Squared opened the doors on home decor trends as interior design professionals gathered in the Square for this primer on the latest trends in kitchen, bath and overall renovation and decorating. Sponsored by local businesses—including the Square's very own SPLASH! and PPG Paints—Design Squared offered free cooking demonstrations from the chefs at NOLA and continuing education credit courses for aspiring and working design pros. Not to mention the live music and gorgeous design items that could be installed in your very own home.

Normally, the Square is a fairly lively place. But every year around Halloween thousands of the walking dead stumble into our favorite spot for a day of spine-chilling, blood-curdling fun during ZombieFest. With costumes and makeup that's just might scare to death the faint of heart, these unborn again creatures fill the Square as part of a daylong fright festival that also benefits the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

With something happening nearly every day in the Square, we just have to mention these favorites such as the Farmers Market, the Carnegie Library's Tuesday Reading Room, Bike to Work breakfasts, the Salvation Army's Most Amazing Race, flash mobs of all sorts, YMCA exercise programs, the Vintage Grand Prix auto show, free concerts sponsored by the Market Square Merchants Association, scavenger hunts and much, much more. In fact, the nearly 50 officially permitted events scheduled during 2011 in the Square are almost twice the amount of permitted events that took place there in 2008— the last full year before the makeover. With 2012 adding an extra day to the calendar, we're not taking a great leap in saying that we'll find 527,040 ways to measure life in the Square next year.

By the way, if you're still looking for that perfect place to bid farewell to 2011, you can check out the options in the Square by clicking here.


Last Minute Gift Shopping on the Square

Okay, maybe you were thinking about a trip to the mall or big box store to finish off your last-minute holiday shopping. But if you're already Downtown, why not head to Market Square?  After all, within just a few minutes' walk from the center of the Square, you'll find everything from the finest men's and women's fashions to the funkiest Black and Gold accessories for the Steelers upcoming playoff run. And if you're a little short on ideas on what to get that special loved one or person who signs your paycheck, just bookmark this handy shopping guide to one of the city's fastest-growing shopping destinations.

Whether you want to dress a special someone for success or outfit them in a more casual style, you'll find plenty to choose from in and near the Square. At its new Fifth Avenue location, Larrimor's continues a 70-year tradition of specializing in quality men's and women's clothing with designer names such as Hickey Freeman, Hugo Boss and Fabrizio Gianni. For a total head to toe ensemble, Larrimor's carries jewelry, shoes, belts, ties and more.

Also new to Fifth Ave., is JoS. A. Banks, where quality clothing comes at affordable prices. With plenty of knowledgeable and ready-to-help staff on hand, JoS. A. Banks is the one-stop shop for the gentlemen looking for a GQ look on a less than Manhattan-priced budget. Located across the street from the new PNC Bank branch office, JoS. A. Banks is part of what is fast becoming Fashion Row for Downtown men.

Just a few steps closer to the Square, Heinz Healy's men's shop is where you'll find a selection of clothing that covers all the bases from Tommy Bahama leisure wear to black-tie formal tuxes. Check out the choice of hats, slacks, shirts and more in this lovingly restored historic store on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Market Street.

Around the corner from Heinz Healy's, you can help that special guy in your life put his best foot forward in a pair of shoes from the Nettleton Shop. A Pittsburgh institution more than 80 years, the Nettleton shop carries quality footwear for men, along with belts, brief cases, wallets and other fine, high-quality leather goods. After a visit to the Nettleton Shop, just about any gent can step out on Pittsburgh's streets in style.

Okay, we've haven't forgotten the ladies. If you cut across the Square towards the gleaming towers of the PPG Plaza, you'll happen to discover Serendipity. A must-stop destination near the Square for more than six years, Serendipity is indeed the place where local fashionistas go to find accessories to express themselves. With the newest, hand-picked handbags, hats and seasonal wear from New York, LA and Paris, Serendipity is one lucky find.

Let's cross the Square again towards Fifth Avenue, with a quick stop in at WEAR on Market Square, one of the smallest shops in city. Tiny though  it may be, WEAR is packed with sunglasses, jeans and other goods loaded with attitude. A big seller this season are the designer Steelers offense and defense wristbands. So whether you're a fan or Troy or Big Ben, you can wear your true colors in style.

And for even more options, check out the shops in Fifth Avenue Place. With a stellar lineup of jewelry, men's and women's clothing, silver and more, Fifth Avenue Place creates  a sophisticated and convenient atmosphere for those who prefer an indoor shopping experience right in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh.

Before we send you on your merry way, keep in mind all those people who make living, working, dining and shopping Downtown a pleasant experience year-round.
Whether it's your stylists, the parking garage attendant, a favorite co-worker or even your favorite waitperson, a gift certificate to one of the many dining spots in the Square is a great way to show you care. For an extra special touch, a bag of fresh roast coffee or European tea biscuits is especially appreciated.

Here's hoping that you have the very best of holidays this year — once you finishing your shopping.


Ring in 2012 in the Square!

When it comes to First Night, our first thought is "What's going on in Market Square on New Year's Eve?" You see, while tens of thousands of revelers ring out 2011 during Downtown's annual year-ending street party, there plenty of space where you can reflect on the past 365 days with family and friends in the cozy comfort of one of the Square's many dining hot spots that are offering special party packages of food, beverages and entertainment. With choices from fine Italian and homestyle Mexican to nouveau Creole accented cuisine and good old American burgers, here's a quick look at what's on the menu for the final countdown to 2012.

You can say "Ciao!" to 2011 at Bella Sera with three seating times for a special five-course, year-ending sendoff with starters like a caviar crepe or roasted corn and grilled shrimp chowder, entrees featuring delicacies from the land, air and sea, and tasty desserts that will have you singing "Auld Lang Syne" to your diet just before you resolve to start a new one on January 1, 2012. Seating times are at 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m., which means you'll have plenty of time to enjoy the festivities all over Downtown. To save seating for any number from two to eight people, call Bella Sera at 412-281-6363.

Of course, the good times will roll at NOLA, where the tastes, sounds and joie de vivre of The Big Easy put the Crescent City of New Orleans on the Market Square map. To usher in 2012, diners can feast on a choice of three- or five-course meals on a prix fixe menu — including a Champagne toast — or four-course a la carte selection that covers all the bases from appetizers to desserts. And for a feast for your ears, the John Gresh Gris Gris Band will serve up a hefty dose of New Orleans-infused blues and rock tunes. For reservations, call 412-471-9100.

Things will get hot, hot, hot at Las Velas as the Square's Mexican cantina provides diners with a bird's eye view of the outdoor fun and a double dose of fun that starts with a special New Year's dinner that features ahi tuna and a spicy surf and turf that features shrimp and steak cooked in tequila. Then, the party really gets started with a Latin dance party emceed by one of New York City's top DJs.  Whether you choose the dinner, the party or both, call 412-251-0031 for reservations.

For a taste of Italia, La Cucina Flegrea promises to serve a traditional multi-course feast of meats, cheeses and seafood from its spacious Graeme Street loft accommodations. Fans of owner Anna Fevola, who recently became a Downtown resident, will attest to the authentic touch she adds to every dish. Save a space at the table by calling 412-521-2082.

Around the Square, just about every eatery will be open beyond normal hours for the First Night Bash, including Primanti's, Moe's, Winghart's, the Diamond Market Bar & Grill, the Oyster House and many others. Even if all you want is a snack, you can grab a large beverage at Dunkin Donuts and get a free donut (before those resolutions kick in!).  So whether you're looking for a leisurely sit-down celebration to cap off the old year or a less formal bite to eat between First Night happenings, there's something on the menu for everyone in the Square.


  Even if Ebenezer Scrooge is getting a rude awakening or three on the stage of the Byham Theater this weekend during a run of "A Musical Christmas Carol," we're happy to say that we've not spotted ghosts of any sort at Market Square these days. Okay, maybe we do get a little spooked at the idea that there are only 16 shopping days left to wrap up our holiday shopping. But that's a story for another blog (hint, hint). Still, we thought we might take a short sleigh ride down memory lane to revisit some of Downtown's most-treasured remembrances of holiday traditions from seasons past.

Just so you know, we really searched around for some really old-time Christmas stories about Market Square.

One reason that we came up with nothing but a lump of coal is that early Americans didn't celebrate the occasion because they considered the custom to be "too English." In fact, the first Congress to serve under the newly ratified U.S. constitution stayed in session on Dec. 25, 1789.

Seriously, can you imagine that? Christmas started to turn a corner in America in the 1820s but it didn't become a big deal celebration until the mid-1800s.  A Victorian Christmas focused a lot on generosity and small family celebrations. Of course, some of our local forefathers probably managed to enjoy the spirit of the season by imbibing the spirits of the season right in our very own Market Square. In the late 1800s maybe even in the Oyster House!
Most likely, these groggy old St. Nick's couldn't remember how they made merry on the morning after. Which is probably why we can't share any holiday tales on the Square.

But it's not our nature to "Bah, humbug" anyone. So let's put on our walking shoes to return to old haunts from holidays of a more recent vintage, when Downtown seemed to have more department store Santas than there are elves at the North Pole. Many of the stores even set up "special" shops where youngsters could buy inexpensive stocking stuffers for Mom and Dad after telling the big guy what big surprises they hoped to see under the tree.

Speaking of stores, everyone lined up back then to "oooo" and "ahhh" at the holiday window displays at Horne's and Gimbel's and Kaufmann's. From Thanksgiving evening to New Year's Day, the fabulous holiday scenes captured the imaginations of everyone from the tiniest tots to the tops execs of the city's Fortune 500 corporations.

Pittsburghers tuned their radios to 1020 AM during the holidays as KDKA DJ Jack Bogut spun his homey tales across the airwaves and raised money for the Children's Hospital Free Care fund as he broadcast from store windows while passersby pitched in for a great cause.

Trees have been a big deal for Downtown also. Check out this beauty at the City-County Building in 1933.

Each year, the biggest tree in town could be found at the corner of Penn and Stanwix clinging to the side of the Horne's store. Wrapped around the intersecting sides of the building, this towering conifer twinkled through the night all season long. Which sort of brings us back to the present because even though the names have changed, the tradition continues as the Unity Tree brightens Gateway Center and the "T" station from its perch on Highmark's Penn Avenue Place Building.

Somehow, we always manage to end up in the Square, where families are creating memories today for holidays of tomorrow, starting with Light Up Night(R) — a Pittsburgh tradition that crosses generations and even centuries — and continuing way past January 1 with the dazzling Eat 'n Park Season of Lights display that paints the Square with thousands of LED lights each evening.

It's never too late to start a Downtown holiday tradition — whether it's Light Up Night(R), the Season of Light, a spin around the skating rink, a ride on a horse-drawn carriage or special memory that's all your own. If you're looking for some ideas, see what these favorite Pittsburghers cherish about Downtown during this festive time of year, in the Holiday Memories section of our website.


Shopping Around the Square

Everyone has a favorite holiday song. Whether it's "Jingle Bells," "Frosty the Snowman," or "The Dreidel Song" they're the tunes that we just can't get out our heads during this time of the year. But when it comes to the soundtrack that we hear while we search for the perfect present for everyone on our gift list, we can't stop humming "You Better Shop Around." And we're here to tell you that shopping around Market Square strikes exactly the right chord during the holiday season.

Now we really don't need to tell you that the Square is one of the hottest dining destinations in the city these days. Honestly, it seems as though another great restaurant opens its doors in the Square every week. But we want to let you in on a really big secret — the Square is the perfect place to start your shopping spree. To make sure you put your best foot forward, there's no better place to start than the Nettleton Shop, where you'll discover some of the finest mens' shoes, boots and leather goods from around the world. Just across the street from the Mancini's/Prantl's shop, the Nettleton Shop's been a family-owned favorite of well-shod Pittsburgh gents since 1927.

For the ladies on your list, WEAR and Serendipity carry some of the trendiest, chicest and most affordable handbags, sunglasses, jeans, hats and other oh-so-cool accessories. Tucked away on Graeme Street, one of Downtown's shortest throughways, WEAR packs a lot of attitude and style into its tiny storefront that's easy to spot from the second floor perch of the new La Cucina Flegrea Italian restaurant across the way. On the other corner, Serendipity fills its spacious showroom in PPG Place with the hippest gear, across from Fat Tommy's Pizzeria.

These days, we're usually in a Market Square state of mind expansion, which means our shopping excursions take us a bit beyond the Square's boundaries. You won't need border crossing papers, though, to visit Heinz-Healy's menswear emporium. From casual to formal, Heinz-Healy's got something for every occasion this holiday season. In fact, this place is so classy that Tony Bennett dropped in to buy a new tie for his recent appearance at Heinz Hall.

You'll want to head up Fifth Avenue for men's clothing at the newly relocated JoS. A. Banks.. For great bargains on quality clothing that looks great at the country club or the executive suite, you can bank on JoS. A. Banks. It's extra helpful if you're shopping for someone who might need to exchange a size in another city.  Just across Fifth, Larrimor's has been outfitting the city's celebs, politicians and everyday people for 70 years. With a large selection of women's and men's apparel, Larrimor's is "one of life's pleasures" during the holiday season.  And if a custom-tailored suit is not on your list this year, do as mom's across the nation - socks and underwear but witha  touch of luxury!

Circling back to the Square, a trip along Wood Street leads to Boutique la Passerelle for women's clothing with a European flair. For a continental look without ever leaving Downtown, Boutique la Passerelle brings the latest fashions from Paris, Milan and other Euro fashion capitals to our fair city at a variety of price points. And J.R. Weldin's, right next door, is the answer for unique paper goods or treats for the knitter in your life.  After a short walk along Forbes, it's back to Square One for some much needed R & R at Zhang's Massage above NOLA with a short neck or foot massage after your day of shopping. And if you realize you've missed some stocking stuffers, or little gifts to make each day of Hanukah special, pop into Nicholas Coffee.  Or rejuvenate yourself at, oh, let's say Bella Sera, Las Velas, Wingharts... or you could just shop around for your favorite dining destination as the Eat'n Park Season of Lights display dances all around you.

Happy Holidays.


’Tis the Season in the Square

Now that the Duquesne Light Light Up Night(R) flipped the switch to "on" for an electrifying Downtown holiday shopping season, you can bet that the city's sidewalks will be busy sidewalks for the next few weeks during this most wonderful time of the year. Which means that every Saturday during the holiday season, Market Square will be at the heart of it all with special events and displays, carriage rides, and some of the newest and most exciting restaurants around town. So while you're checking your gift list a time or two, remember that Saturdays in the Square are a holly, jolly good way to add some cheer to the season.

Once you stash the Turkey Day leftovers in the freezer and recover from the rush and crush of Black Friday bargain hunting, a visit to the Square this Saturday is the perfect place for a little R & R. To help you unwind—and to entertain the youngsters —Eat'n Park's favorite cookie, Smiley, will turn just about any frown upside down this Saturday only, from noon-2 p.m.

  While the kids say hi to Pittsburgh's yummiest mascot, grownups can treat themselves to an al fresco concert with local musicians.  The Pittsburgh Scene and Salvation Army are teaming up make giving even groovier.  Instead of the normal ting-a-ling, the sounds of local musicians will harken ye over to the red kettles. We hope you'll join us as we keep this "pot boiling"— as they say in the Army— to make the season a bit brighter for a those in need.  This weekend they'll be providing come back up music for Smiley from noon - 2 p.m. On the following Saturdays, Dec. 3, 10, and 17, the live music will be an afternoon pick-me-up from 3 - 5 p.m.

We hope you don't have to go dashing through the snow to get to the Square this week. But once you do, there's no better way to rekindle memories of holiday seasons past than on a free horse-drawn carriage ride through one of the oldest sections of Pittsburgh.  Every Saturday up to Dec. 17, you can giddy up and go on a mini tour of the town from 4-8 p.m. The line forms just across from the Square near the PPG skating rink. For the early birds, another free carriage leaves the starting gate at Oxford Centre from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for a jaunt in the Grant Street area, the city's political and legal hub.

Speaking of getting around, the Holly Trolley rolls just the way we like— from one shopping and sightseeing destination to another. Circling around town every 15 minutes, the two trollies loop around Downtown from Fifth Avenue Place to the Creche at the U.S. Steel Plaza and back— with a convenient stop in the Square. It's all aboard for the holidays every Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Now, with free parking at city-owned garages on Saturdays for the holiday season, you can stay Downtown all day long. But even if they fill up, others are still only $5 all day.  Which means you'll have plenty of time to relax with a favorite beverage or two and hot meal in the Square, which is fast becoming the dining center of the city. From All-American burgers and a taste of New Orleans to authentic Italian cuisine and zesty Mexican dishes, the Square serves up something for nearly appetite.

And, yes, it's true that even stop lights blink a bright red and green this time of year, but you can catch one of the most dazzling holiday light shows right in the Square every evening from 5-10 p.m.  That's when nearly 150,000 environmentally friendly LED bulbs dance to the music of your favorite holiday songs during the the Eat'n Park Season of Lights. Specially designed for the Square, the 33-foot tall "tree" made of red and white balls flashes in tune with lights on nearby buildings and lamp posts during special shows on the hour and half-hour.

There's no better place to catch the spirit of the season than with special events in Market Square every Saturday through December 17. Let's make this a truly happy holiday season.


Sparkle and Shine in the Square

You better bet we're making a list — or two — and checking everything more than twice to get ready for the 51st annual celebration of Downtown Pittsburgh's Duquesne Light Light Up Night(R) this coming Friday and Saturday. Always the biggest, brightest and most joyous neighborhood party of the year, Light Up Night(R) officially opens the Downtown holiday shopping season with family activities, food, concerts and an awesome big-bang display by Zambelli Fireworks Internationale called The Pittsburgh Brewing Company 150th Anniversary Fireworks Celebration.  It'll fill everyone with the spirit of the season.

And when you're asking everyone in Downtown to keep the lights on for the party, there's no better sponsor than Duquesne Light to trip the lights fantastic for this high-wattage blast that attracts hundreds of thousands people to just about every nook and cranny of the radiant Golden Triangle. Of course, Market Square will once again be party central during Light Up Night(R) with dozens of hot spots to grab a bite to eat or sip a beverage to help you get your glow on as Downtown transforms into the Center of the Season. If you haven't been back in a while, check out this video on some of the new places opened in 2011.

Since last year's two-day festivities left everyone yelling "Encore, encore," Light Up Night(R) 2011 is another doubleheader with a full slate of activities on Friday evening and all day Saturday.
The stars will be out over Pittsburgh this weekend as some of our biggest performers take the stage.  And one of the biggest is the big guy himself — Santa Claus. This year Jolly Old St. Nick will prove that Mr. Claus is quite the song and dance man during the Celebrate Santa! Stage Show in Market Square, starting at 8:30 p.m. on Friday. With a little help from his friends — including Eat'n Park's Smiley cookie mascot — the merriest elf of them all will entertain the crowd before switching on the Eat'n Park Market Square Season of Lights.  This holiday light show has nearly 150,000 LED lights and stars a 33-foot tall, one ton "tree" made of giant spheres that twinkle, blink and flash along with a synchronized soundtrack of beloved holiday songs.

For a different musical interlude, Etta Cox, Joe Negri, Billy Price, No Bad Ju Ju, Johnny Angel and the Halos and other hometown favorites will perform over the two days, on the Clemente Bridge on Friday evening and in the Square both days. And remember to bring your holiday shopping lists because Downtown's department stores, boutiques and restaurants will be open late just for you. So join us this weekend for Light Up Night(R) as we usher in the Spirit of the Season and Downtown's most wonderful time of the year. For a look a back at last year's 50th Golden Anniversary of Light Up Night, click on the video below.


"A Farewell To Farms"

We need your help to spread a very important message. The Farmers Market sets up in Market Square for its final 2011 appearance this Thursday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Which is why we need your  help in a couple of ways. First of all, we want everyone to crowd the Square to help us bid "Happy Winter" to all our good friends who've treated us to some of the best, freshest and most delicious locally grown and produced veggies and fruits, dairy products, meats, wines, desserts and other garden and kitchen delights. But the end is near. Very near. Which is why we need your help to get out the word that the Farmers Market's last day is here.

So, right now, grab your smart phone, press the home button on your iPad or just start pecking away on your computer. Because we need you to tweet, e-mail, text or reach out to your 100 very best Facebook friends forever so that they don't miss the Farmers Market 2011 curtain call this Thursday. Okay, you can hit the send button.

While the Farmers Market is packing up for the year, you can stock up on ingredients for all those cold-weather, comfort food meals that will be on your menu in the months ahead. For a quick and easy dinner after a long, winter's day, there's nothing faster than dried pastas and tomato sauce. You see, there's a little bit of something for everyone and every taste at the Farmers Market. Beets, carrots, potatoes, onions and other hearty veggies will keep for a long, long time if stored in a cool, dry, dark place. And beans, peppers and brussels sprouts keep their just-picked flavor even when you pop them in the freezer for a few months (just blanche first in boiling water).  It's a great way to enjoy the tastes of summer way past the season.

Let's talk about holidays. The Farmers Market is the perfect one-stop, shopping spot for your turkey day dinner table. From a smoked salmon appetizer to so many varieties of squash for side dishes, there's a cornucopia of choices to celebrate the many blessings of family and friends. Choices that will keep! If you're looking for an alternative to turkey, you can pick up a couple lamb steaks to toss on the grill. And if you're planning for holiday festivities a little further down the road, don't forget to take home some ground lamb for a slow-cooked pot of chili — topped off with some kicking goat cheese (it freezes great!) — for your New Year's Eve party. And while you're reaping the last of the season's harvest in the Square, fill up your reusable shopping bag with a true Pittsburgh favorite — peirogies! And, yes, it's the very last chance to satisfy your sweet tooth with some of the city's absolutely tastiest, freshest dessert table delights from All-American fruit pies to authentic Greek pastries.

So, bring a big bag, maybe a freezer bag (or run to CVS) and join us in the Square this Thursday for the last call for the 2011 edition of the Farmers Market. And get ready to serve some local bounty this holiday season!


Bright Lights, Pretty City

Halloween is so last season. Which is why the Mayor, the King of Fireworks, a half dozen of Pittsburgh's favorite mascots, local celebs and Jolly Old St. Nick himself congregated in  the Highwoods/PPG Place Wintergarden yesterday to announce the electrifying details of the 51st Duquesne Light Light Up Night(R) in Downtown, November 18-19. Now we don't want to keep you in the dark any longer on all the high-voltage happenings that put a spark in the city's annual holiday shopping season, so let's flip on the switch to discover what's in store for Downtown's most brilliant street party of the year.

Just like last year's party, the 2011 edition of Light Up Night will be twice as bright with two days of fun-filled, FREE, top-notch family entertainment, parades, food and holiday shopping throughout Downtown. Of course, Market Square will be at the center of it all. Local musicians like guitar man Joe Negri and and vocalist Etta Cox with hit all the right notes on the Northwest Savings Bank Market Square Stage, where Jeff Jimmerson and Airborne and the Borelli Dance Gallery will get the season off to a rockin' good start. For a full schedule of events on the Northwest Savings Bank stage, just check our online performance schedule for Friday and Saturday. And the party continues with free concerts on the Clemente Bridge, where the NOMaD, Johnny Angel and the Granati Brothers kick out the holiday jams with a mix of country, doo-wop and rock ’n’ roll sounds all night long.

Back for an encore, the Eat'n Park Market Square Season of Lights will will join Carin Mincemoyer's Diamond Diamonds to glow all season long in the Square. Made possible last year through the vision of Colcom Foundation and this year sponsored by Eat 'n Park, once again, nearly 150,000 energy-saving LED bulbs will twinkle throughout the evening on a 33-foot tall sphere tree and decorations on buildings and lamp posts across the Square. From November through January, the Season of Lights will entertain with a synchronized light and music show every half hour. If you missed this multi-megawatt show last year, make sure you stop by the Square to be delighted by the creation of Blachere Illuminations, the same people who made the Eiffel Tower and Disney World's Magic Castle shine. Eat'n Park will light up the Square during the showstopping "Celebrate Santa!" musical extravaganza as the Jolly Old Elf himself takes center stage with the help of some high-kicking elves.

Now there's no better way to wrap up the evening of Light Up Night(R) than with the amazing pyrotechnics of Zambelli Fireworks Internationale. Presented by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, this explosive nightcap will paint the sky with Roman candles, comets, rainbows and other sizzling signature special effects from the first family of fireworks.  Light Up Night is an alcohol-free event but it will also mark the day that Pittsburgh's own launches it's new Amber lager to join standards like Iron City and IC Light.

Okay, are you ready for more? Because there's more!  On Saturday you'll find more music, dance and other entertainment in the Square from Noon - 9 p.m. For the blade runners in the crowd, the second annual Mascot Skate at the Rink at PPG Place is a great way to break the ice, so to speak. One Oxford Centre, Fifth Avenue Place and PPG Place have plenty of activities and entertainers for some family-friendly fun. And holiday shoppers can ride for free on the Fifth Avenue Place Holly Trolley as it rolls along to Downtown's favorite shopping spots from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday will also feature the second annual Horse-drawn Candlelight Carriage Parade with celebrity riders clip-clopping along Grant St., Fifth Ave. and Liberty Ave. from 6 - 8 p.m.

Always a bright spot on the holiday schedule, Light Up Night(R) will help you get your glow on for one of the most joyful seasons of the year.