Garden Railroad: Our National Parks at Phipps Conservatory by Phil Johnson II/VisitPITTSBURGH
Garden Railroad: Our National Parks at Phipps Conservatory by Phil Johnson II/VisitPITTSBURGH

November is nearly halfway over, but there are still plenty of interesting events to put on your calendar.

One of the best things about Pittsburgh is how much is always happening in a city that is not exactly that large. Sure, Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in Pennsylvania, and it’s one of 30 cities that, according to the Associated Press, doesn’t require the name of a state to identify it. But with a population of just over 300,000, Pittsburgh is a distinctly mid-sized city … though it has big city happenings! 

Such happenings include some cool events happening this November. Keep reading to learn more, and then start planning your trip to Pittsburgh!

Three Rivers Film Festival

Thursday, Nov. 10 to Wednesday, Nov. 16

Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Film Festival has been going strong for more than 40 years, showing a bevy of films that delight attendees whether they prefer local flicks, indie films, foreign-language films, documentaries, or experimental movies. This year, the festival—the largest film festival in Western PA—will screen 18 films across the city at Harris Theater, the Pittsburgh Playhouse, and The Tull Family Theater. You’ll come for the movies, but stay for fascinating discussions with directors, cast, and crew.

On closing night, you can channel last month’s Halloween energy for a showing of the cult classic Creepshow, which was filmed in Pittsburgh! Tickets range from $15 per screening to $150 for a pass for the entire festival.

Pittsburgh Shorts Film Festival

Thursday, Nov. 17 to Sunday, Nov.  20

Even after the Three Rivers Film Festival closes, film junkies have another opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Shorts Film Festival begins screening its bite-sized films the day after Three Rivers closes, with dozens of movies and documentaries that are around thirty minutes or less. All films will be shown at downtown’s Harris Theater. Tickets cost $15 per screening (which include a handful of short films) or $125 for an all festival pass.

Light Up Night

Saturday, Nov. 19

Light Up Night by Jiuguang Wang

On a Saturday in late November, Pittsburgh celebrates the start of the winter and holiday season with its annual Light Up Night. This year’s festival, the 61st Light Up Night, will bring thousands to downtown Pittsburgh to watch the lighting of the city’s giant holiday tree, which will be surrounded by merrymakers on the ice skating rink throughout the season. Light Up Night also includes music, food, the downtown holiday market, a light show, visits with Santa Claus, a fireworks finale—and more!

Pittsburgh Indie Rock Fest

Saturday, Nov. 12

If you’re a fan of local music—and a fan of supporting local music—you just may want to head to the Pittsburgh Indie Rock Fest in mid-November. This annual music festival, highlighting indie acts from across Pittsburgh, is in its sixth year. For just $15, you can see a broad lineup of independent musicians on Saturday evening at Thunderbird Café and Music Hall in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. All proceeds go to the musicians!

Note that this event is 18+.

Pittsburgh Polishfest

Sunday, Nov. 13

Cathedral of Learning by Don Burkett

Polish immigrants to Pittsburgh have had a distinct impact on the city and its culture—and not just via pierogies. The annual Pittsburgh Polishfest honors this history with food (including pierogies), music, dancing, folk art, games, cooking demonstrations, and more. Travel to this year’s festival to enjoy all that Polish immigrants have given Pittsburgh! The celebration will be held in the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus. Tickets are completely free!

Broadway in Pittsburgh at the Benedum Center

Hadestown: Tuesday, Nov. 15 and Sunday, Nov. 20

Les Misérables: Tuesday, Nov. 22 through Sunday, Nov. 27

Benedum Center by Jody Mader/Pittsburgh Cultural Trust

You don’t need to go to New York to see Broadway shows—you can instead travel to downtown Pittsburgh and enjoy a show at the historic Benedum Center, a beautiful building that is core to Pittsburgh’s performing arts scene.

In November, the Benedum is presenting two Broadway shows, Hadestown and Les Misérables.

Hadestown, a musical that reimagines two romances of Greek myth—the love between Orpheus and Eurydice and that of Hades and Persephone—will enchant its audience with its jazzy, folk tunes. The performance runs between Nov. 15 and Nov. 20.

The Broadway classic Les Misérables then comes to the Benedum’s stage to share an epic story of love and redemption set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. Les Misérables in Pittsburgh will run Nov. 22 through Sunday, November 27.

Tickets for both of these shows can get pretty pricey, so we recommend checking prices now if you’re at all interested in either of them!

Phipps Conservatory

Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden

Friday, Nov. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 8

Later this month, Phipps Conservatory will undergo a holiday makeover with the launch of this year’s Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden. By day, explore the winter flower show; the gardens at the conservatory will display Christmas trees, vibrant flowers, and more than a thousand poinsettias. Then, at night, the light garden will glow. You’ll find traditional holiday displays like snowflakes and bejeweled trees, but you’ll also be dazzled by colorful narwhals and unicorns exploring an arctic wonderland!

Alongside Holiday Magic!, you can explore the rest of the Phipps Conservatory. One major highlight is the Garden Railroad: Our National Parks exhibit displaying some of the most famous U.S. national parks in miniature, complete with working toy trains. This exhibit just opened last month and will be on view for the foreseeable future.Phipps Conservatory tickets must be reserved in advance, and tickets for Holiday Magic! went on sale this week.