Pittsburgh’s holiday markets offer a joyful alternative to “add-to-cart” | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh’s holiday markets offer a joyful alternative to “add-to-cart”

click to enlarge Pittsburgh’s holiday markets offer a joyful alternative to “add-to-cart”
CP Photo: Yash Mittal
Peoples Gas Holiday Market

A spot of holiday shopping, a delicious bite, a warm drink, and most importantly, liberal amounts of joy. Winter markets in Pittsburgh are about the most soul-warming things, where the city awakens to the spirit of the season. Wrap up in warmth as you explore enchanting displays of twinkling lights, and uncover one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers. Swap the virtual carts for genuine connections with fellow Pittsburghers.

Whether you have a serious list or you’re just looking to window shop, here are some winter markets to check out over the next few weeks:

12th annual Peoples Gas Holiday Market

Continues through Sun., Dec. 24. Hours vary. Market Square. 28 Market Square, Downtown. downtownpittsburghholidays.com/holiday-market

Immerse yourself in the 12th edition of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market, a favorite for Pittsburghers and visitors alike. The cherished tradition metamorphoses Downtown into a Bavarian-inspired Christmas wonderland. Don’t miss this legendary market, where you’ll encounter the heady aroma of roasting chestnuts and toasty hot toddies.

Inspired by the legendary German Christkindlmarkts, and with plenty of Pittsburgh flair, the market offers a shopping experience like no other. Wander through charming Alpine-style chalets, each brimming with unique gifts. Don't miss the chance to marvel at the world's only approved replica of the Vatican’s Nativity Scene, nestled at the U.S. Steel Tower. See live performances, relish all-day happy hours, witness spectacular Zambelli firework displays, and skate around the holiday tree at the UPMC Rink at PPG Place. The market opened on Nov. 17 and continues spreading joy through Christmas Eve (closed on Thanksgiving Day).

click to enlarge Pittsburgh’s holiday markets offer a joyful alternative to “add-to-cart”
Photo: Joey Kennedy
Activities at Handmade Arcade

The Handmade Arcade 2023 Holiday Market

Dec. 1-2, Hours vary. David L. Lawrence Convention Center. 1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Downtown. handmadearcade.org

Prepare for a vibrant celebration of artistry and craftsmanship at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Dec. 1-2. This gathering showcases over 275 talented makers and artists, establishing itself as the region's largest holiday market. Explore a captivating array of unique art, sustainable fashion, quirky home decor, and handmade treasures.

What sets Handmade Arcade apart is the opportunity to engage in hands-on handmade activities. From crafting LED gift bags to exploring the magic of typewriters, there's a whole spectrum of fun to be had. Witness live art creation, from large-scale silk screening by Artists Image Resource to mesmerizing glassblowing demonstrations by the Pittsburgh Glass Center. These activities not only provide insight into the artistic process but also allow you to connect with the artists themselves. Mark your calendar, and be prepared for a day filled with inspiration, shopping, and a dazzling display of artistic brilliance. Just remember, it's a cashless setup for food, drinks, and parking.

The Holiday Open House at the Nationality Rooms

Sun., Dec. 3, 12-4 p.m., University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Free. nationalityrooms.pitt.edu

Get set on a cultural odyssey at the 32nd Nationality and Intercultural Exchange Programs Holiday Open House on Dec. 3. This immersive event, set in the Nationality Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh, showcases a rich tapestry of traditional holiday decor from various countries. Marvel at the intricate details representing German, French, Chinese, English, Russian, Yugoslav, African, Indian, Japanese, Welsh, and many more nationalities that call Allegheny County home.

And it’s not just Christmas — there are beautiful paper lanterns that embody the upcoming Lunar New Year, or rangoli, an art form in the Indian subcontinent that is synonymous with the recently concluded Diwali. Indulge in traditional treats, groove to world and holiday music, and explore handcrafted treasures at the Cathedral of Learning Commons. St. Nicholas himself will make an appearance for photos with little ones and families. The best part? It's an open and free event for everyone.

Krampus Holiday Marketplace

Sun., Dec. 3, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monroeville Mall. 200 Mall Circle Drive Monroeville. $5-10, free for children under 12. timespacetoys.stores.turbify.net

For those whose vibe is a little more Grinch-y or Nightmare Before Christmas-y, there’s the Krampus Holiday Marketplace, an annual festival of shopping and crafts that adds a little spookiness to the holiday. While Santa may reward good little children, Krampus harkens back to an old world tradition in which a horned creature descends upon the naughties and swats them with sticks. Look out if you’re on that list, then, as Krampus is set to appear at Monroeville Mall, ready for photo ops.

The Lawrenceville Cookie Tour

Dec. 9-10, 12-5 p.m., Butler Street, Lawrenceville. Free. lvpgh.com/cookietour2023

If you've never witnessed a 30-block-long cookie table, now's your chance.

Embark on a sweet adventure at the 2023 Lawrenceville Cookie Tour on Dec. 9 and 10. The legendary Lawrenceville cookie tour features our two favorite things about the holiday season: shopping, and indulgence.

The Cookie Tour started as a cozy holiday open house at Jay Design Soaps & Gifts on a frigid Pittsburgh day in 1997, and from there, this tradition has now grown to include numerous businesses. Cookies were integrated into the event in 2000, but the essence of the event remains the same: celebrate the holidays and support local businesses. It has undeniably grown in scale over the years, but it is still a labor of love, orchestrated by a dedicated group (a cookie-munity?).

Even through the pandemic, the community powered through, and came out even stronger. Today, there are over 50 businesses on board. The shopping opportunities range from ceramics at Gabopp studio to cool vintage finds at Thriftique to getting a feel of the real estate market at Howard Hanna. The eclectic mix of stops is endearing and truly reflects the commercial melting pot Lawrenceville is. Expect to stroll down Butler Street, sampling any and all manner of cookies, sipping a drink, and buying those hip holiday gifts. The icing on the cookie — it's a free event, and each business sets its hours, but generally, you can enjoy it from 12-5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

click to enlarge Pittsburgh’s holiday markets offer a joyful alternative to “add-to-cart”
CP Photo: Jeff Schreckengost
East End Brewery Crafts and Drafts

Holiday Crafts and Drafts

Sat., Dec. 16, 12-4 p.m., East End Brewing Company. 147 Julius St., Larimer. instagram.com/eastendbrewing

What makes holiday shopping just a little bit more enjoyable? Beer. Lots of beer. And pizza. Happily, the folks at East End Brewing offer it all at their annual Holiday Crafts and Drafts event.

The brewery always hosts a bevy of vendors, and this year is no different, with some highlights including screen-printed clothing and accessories by garbella, cold processed soap and bath bombs by Pittsburgh Worsh Company, handmade jewelry by Luster, vintage vinyl from Mostly Records, handmade beauty and self-care products from Lovett Sundries, knickknacks and doodads from 1Fly Chicken, and tons more.

click to enlarge Pittsburgh’s holiday markets offer a joyful alternative to “add-to-cart”
Photo courtesy of Queer Craft Market

Queer Craft Market Winter Bazaar

Sun., Dec. 17, 3-7 p.m., Union Project. 801 N Negley Ave., Highland Park. instagram.com/queercraftmarket

Pittsburgh’s beloved Queer Craft Market embraces holiday vibes in December with its Winter Bazaar. This market celebrates small artists and craftspeople making and selling a diverse range of homegoods, artwork, zines, embroidery, and more. It’s the perfect place to pick a few last-minute gifts, support local artisans, and bolster Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ community all at the same time.

click to enlarge Pittsburgh’s holiday markets offer a joyful alternative to “add-to-cart”
CP Photo: Jeff Schreckengost
Rossi's Flea Market

Rossi's Flea Market

200 Loews Dr, North Versailles. rossisfleamarket.com

While it’s not exactly an undiscovered gem, Rossi’s, a quintessential Pittsburgh flea market, is the place to go when you want to buy things you didn’t even realize you needed. Think Christmas sweaters for your furry friends, rare books, or even vintage, pleather skirts that look fresh off the runway.

This is one of the few large markets in the city that’s open on the weekends all year long and has a different charm every season. This indoor and outdoor market is a thrifter’s delight and the perfect rainy-day pick-me-up. There is a diverse range of rotating vendors offering trending items, collectibles, local art, and more. What Rossi’s excels at, though, is vintage finds at accessible price points: exquisite silver jewelry, vinyl, retro toys, and even Pittsburgh memorabilia.

Explore unique shops in Rossi's historic building, indulge in delicious food at their skylit atrium or outdoor tables, and relish in free family-friendly activities, which range from car cruises to seasonal events like a meet-and-greet with elves, and more. Also, you'll be supporting small, local businesses while shopping sustainably and getting great bargains.