Short List: December 31 - January 6 | Featured Events | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Short List: December 31 - January 6

Public ice-skating rinks; First Night on New Year’s Eve; Steve Byrne at the Improv; The Wizard of Oz as a stage musical


Thu., Dec. 31 — Outdoors

From the heart of Downtown to far-flung ’burbs, there are plenty of places to ice-skate around here, some of them year-round. But your best bargains are likely at three long-running public rinks — all outdoors, as nature intended: Schenley Park, North Park and South Park. And with Schenley’s rink finally opening Dec. 22 (11 days later than planned, due to warm temperatures), all three are operating. Admission at each is just $3-5 depending on your age, and skate rental is $2-3 a pair. (Prices at North and South parks are for county residents.) For a fee, the rinks even offer lessons. While their hours vary daily, the North and South park rinks operate six days a week, and on four of them, they’re open from before noon until 9 p.m. or later. Schenley’s rink is open daily, starting as early as 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and staying open until 11:30 p.m. three nights a week. Weekly specials at Schenley include: discounted sessions for college students; Thursday Family Skate Nights (with one youth admitted free with each adult admission); and adults-only sessions three nights a week. All three rinks are also open on both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, though in some cases with limited hours. Bill O’Driscoll Schenley: 412-422-6523 (Overlook Drive, Oakland). North Park: 724-935-1280 (McCandless Township). South Park: 412-833-1499 (South Park Township).

Photo courtesy of Renee Rosensteel

Thu., Dec. 31 — Festival

Safe to say that Highmark First Night Pittsburgh, in its 22nd year, is Pittsburgh’s biggest New Year’s Eve party. The family-friendly, alcohol-free, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust-organized festival draws some 40,000 Downtown for live music, street performers, comedy, theater, dance, arts and crafts, and more. And 90 percent of the attractions are indoors. Between the kids’ fireworks at 6 p.m. and the big pyro show at midnight, your First Night button gets you bands from local openers Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution to the headliner, reggae legends The Wailers. Other live music includes the Appalachian-inspired vocals of The Early Mays, and established local talents from Joy Ike and Brooke Annibale to jazz bassist Dwayne Dolphin, jazz singer Tania Grubbs, and River City Brass. All evening, check out art shows from the closing night of India in Focus exhibits, at Wood Street Galleries, to new shows at 707 Gallery, 709 Gallery and 937 Liberty Ave. The Harris Theater runs classic movie trailers dating to the 1970s. At 8 p.m., the big community-style parade on Penn Avenue includes marching bands, art cars, fire trucks and giant puppets. Take Latin American dance lessons, hang a promise on the Children’s Museum’s First Night Resolution Tree, and watch live ice-carving alongside the fire dancing of Steel Town Fire at Eighth Street’s Fire & Ice Plaza. First Night buttons are available at Giant Eagle, and by phone, online and at the Theater Square box office. Some indoor shows (including sets by the Billy Price Band, and improv comedy) require free vouchers, available online and at the venues. A VIP package includes priority seating. Bill O’Driscoll 6 p.m.-midnight. Downtown. $8-10 (free for kids 5 and under). 412-456-6666 or

Thu., Dec. 31 — Comedy

If it seems like Steve Byrne performs here a lot — well, he did grow up here. The Hampton High grad’s comedy career has taken him around the world, and through three seasons of TBS’s Pittsburgh-set Sullivan & Son. With that sitcom on the books, Byrne’s on tour, ringing in New Year’s with two shows at the Pittsburgh Improv, then four more sets this weekend. Tonight’s specially priced shows include either champagne and a carnation ($40) or, for $75, dinner with champagne and dessert. Bill O’Driscoll 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Also Fri., Jan. 1-Sun., Jan. 3 ($20). 166 E. Bridge St., The Waterfront, West Homestead. 412-462-5233 or

Fri., Jan. 1 — Festival

Just as some of their elders made a mess of things last night, on New Year’s Day kids get their annual chance to turn Carnegie Science Center into a sloppy playground. For the ninth annual MessFest, all four floors of the Center will be the province of slime, muck and goo, as symbolized by that is-it-liquid-or-is-it-solid perennial favorite Oobleck. At the Egg Drop, see if you can design a package to protect a raw egg from a steep plummet. See explosive presentation Kaboom!, get into your guts with  “It’s Alimentary, Watson,” and try finger-painting, making handprints and more. Dress to get messed. BO 10 a.m.-5 p.m. North Side. 412-237-3400 or

Fri., Jan. 1 — Outdoors

Skip the hair of the dog and start 2016 on the right foot with one of two New Year’s Day hikes. City-dwellers can find a brisk four- to five-mile outing in Frick Park: the New Year’s Resolution Hike, courtesy of Venture Outdoors. If you’d prefer to get out of town, Jennings Environmental Education Center hosts the one- to two-mile First Day Hike on its Oakwoods Trail. Alex Gordon Jennings: 1-3 p.m. (Slippery Rock; free; 724-794-6011 or Venture Outdoors: 1-4 p.m. (Squirrel Hill; $10; reservations at 412-255-0564 or

click to enlarge Lunar Excursion Module, Cartier Paris, 1969; - PHOTO COURTESY OF NILS HERMANN, CARTIER COLLECTION © CARTIER
photo courtesy of Nils Hermann, Cartier Collection © Cartier
Lunar Excursion Module, Cartier Paris, 1969;

Sat., Jan. 2 — Art

There’s water on Mars, and Star Wars is back in theaters: It’s a good time for stargazers and lovers of space. Celebrate the intersection of pop culture and space-exploration with Out Of This World: Jewelry in the Space Age, in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Wertz Gallery. It’s the final weekend to get up close with nearly 200 pieces of jewelry and assorted objects inspired by space culture, from Jules Verne to Sputnik. AG Noon-5 p.m. Exhibit continues through Sun., Jan. 3. $11.95-19.95 (free for kids under 2). 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-622-3131 or

Sun., Jan. 3 — Music

For the third year running, the holiday season closes with a free performance from chamber choir Voces Solis, presenting Magnificat: Contemporary Lesson and Carols at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall. The elite ensemble’s Yuletide Concert features compositions by Arvo Pärt, Henry Purcell and more. If you’re a fan of choral music and haven’t witnessed Voces Solis in person, this performance leading off 2016 is a great place to start. Post-concert dessert offerings and a peek at the restored historic library are a bonus. AG 3 p.m. 300 Beechwood Ave., Carnegie. Free. 412-276-3456 or

Tue., Jan. 5 — Exhibit

It’s the final few days for Holidays at the Frick, the Frick Art & Historical Center’s annual round of themed tours and special events. The program centers on Clayton, the historic family home of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, done up as it would have been for an early-20th-century Christmas. A generation of locals has enjoyed seeing the live greens, poinsettias and formal dinnerware that marked the occasion for a rich family of that era, on self-guided or docent-led tours. Holidays at the Frick continues through Jan. 10; reservations are recommended. This year, a focus on porcelain complements the neighboring Frick Art Museum’s exhibit, Forbidden Fruit. Also explore the newly expanded Car and Carriage Museum. BO 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (open till 9 p.m. on Fri., Jan. 8). 7227 Reynolds St., North Point Breeze. Clayton tours: $10-12 (free for children 16 and under). 412-371-0600 or

Wed., Jan. 6 — Words

Arguably the most widely and favorably reviewed novel from a Pittsburgh resident in 2015 was West of Sunset (Penguin). Stewart O’Nan’s searching evocation of the twilight days of F. Scott Fitzgerald is new in paperback. The acclaimed author’s national book tour begins tonight, at the Barnes & Noble in West Homestead, with a reading. The tour also includes a Jan. 25 stop at Sewickley’s Penguin Book Shop. BO 7 p.m. 100 W. Bridge St.,The Waterfront, West Homestead. Free. 412-462-5743 or

Wed., Jan. 6 — Stage

A Monroeville native and three Point Park University alumni are among the ensemble in this new stage-musical adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. Opening in Pittsburgh tonight at Heinz Hall, the award-winning production offers all the favorites from the original film, as well as new numbers by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber. The production, featuring Sarah Lasko as Dorothy, has been touring the U.S. since 2013. The eight performances here, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, are part of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series. AG 7:30 p.m. Continues through Mon., Jan. 11. 600 Penn Ave., Downtown. $31-$78. 412-392-4900 or

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