Are you looking for a full guide to exploring Kennywood Holiday Lights this Christmas season?
Well, look no further!
A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to visit Kennywood Park not only for the first time, but for the opening weekend of their specialty Holiday Lights event.
It is for this reason that I am happy to give you all the details to help you make the most of your time and money for a fun Kennywood Christmas trip!
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2023 Kennywood Christmas Guide at a Glance:
- Meet Santa in Thomas Town
- Dates for Kennywood Holiday Lights: You can enjoy this event from every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from November 24 through December 23 and daily from December 26 through January 1, 2024.
- Be sure to wear some festive and holiday-themed clothing to get the best photos while you’re there
- Don’t forget to check out the incredible food and entertainment at Kennywood for the holidays
- Enjoy the majesty of the Nightly Tree Lighting Ceremony
Keep reading to get a full guide on the best way to explore this Kennywood holiday experience like a pro!
What is Kennywood Park?
For those who aren’t familiar, Kennywood Park is a local amusement park located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Kennywood Park has a long history starting as a trolley park as far back as 1899, earning itself a place on the U.S National Register of Historic Places and the U.S National Historic Landmark District list.
Today, the park continues operation yearly, adding to its roster of classic and thrilling roller coasters and family friendly attractions.
It has a loyal fan base due to its history and ability to grasp the nostalgia factor. Kennywood park has also been featured in several television shows, movies and documentaries due to its impact in the country.
I imagine that we will go into the history of Kennywood Park and its attractions at a later date.
For now, we will be talking about celebrating Christmas at Kennywood and what you can expect when you visit!
What is Kennywood Holiday Lights?
As night falls, the Kennywood Park is transformed with over 2 million sparkling and twinkling lights that sync and dance to classic holiday music.
The event has been nominated for USAToday’s 2022 Best Readers’ Choice Award for The Best Theme Park Holiday event.
This Kennywood Christmas lights event returned in 2022 for the first time since 2019, around the time of the pandemic.
The event boasts limited time specialty food and drink offerings, entertainment and more!
When Does Kennywood Holiday Lights Start?
The Kennywood Holiday Lights dates are from every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from November 24 through December 23 and daily from December 26 through January 1, 2024.
What time does Kennywood Christmas lights start?
With the 2023 Kennywood Holiday Light schedule, you’ll be able to enjoy the event hours from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. OR 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on select days every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during this time period.
This is also the second time in the park’s 124-year history that they will welcome guests in January for the Kennywood lights spectacular!
Kennywood Holiday Lights Price and Tickets
One of the first things you may be wondering is, how much are Kennywood Holiday Lights tickets?
The Kennywood Christmas lights event have tickets that start as low as $34.99 for the event itself. You can get a great single ticket discount here with Undercover Tourist.
It’s even cheaper with a group discount so you have no excuse not to go!
However, there is also a Season Pass offer for as low as 6 payments of $17 a month and includes the:
- Holiday Lights
- Phantom Fall Fest
- Unlimited admission to Kennywood Park
- Discounts on food, merchandise and more!
There are certain things like the Petting Zoo that are a separate charge but nothing expensive for the most part.
Decorations, Shows and Entertainment at Kennywood Holiday Lights 2023
Let’s easily get the main event out of the way and that is the lights!
1. Christmas Lights at Kennywood Park
During my exploration of the park and the lights, I actually ran into two men who helped put up the light displays.
They mentioned it took several days and a lot of hours to achieve the project and I commended them on their efforts.
It was awesome to speak to the locals who helped bring the magic of Christmas to Kennywood Park.
There are over 2 million lights that showcase several whimsical, inclusive and fun tales.
Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!
2. Kennywood Christmas Decorations
On my trip I saw several gingerbread men light displays, Hanukah inspirations, and more holiday displays that gave nods to both Kennywood and Pittsburgh!
Besides the sparkling tree, you can hang out by the waterway and watch the Kennywood lights dance to beloved holiday classics.
3. Celebrity Readings of a Classic Christmas Story
Other awesome entertainment includes Local celebrity readings of classic Christmas stories on select nights.
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4. Local Choirs
Kennywood has local choir groups come in as well to show off their chops at 7 p.m. on select nights (final time pending for 2023).
5. Meet Santa in Thomas Town™
Families with younger ones will be delighted with the opportunity to meet Santa Claus when he arrives in Kennywood Station at Thomas Town.
Or you can stay warm by dancing the night away at Parker’s Dance Party.
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6. Kennywood Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
The highlight is the Tree Lighting Ceremony that occurs nightly. It truly rings in the holiday season and the event as a whole.
Here you can also take photos and interact with various holiday characters and mascots of the Kennywood Park.
7. Write a Letter to Santa
Other Family friendly activities include stopping by to write a letter to Santa or heading over to Kiddieland to interact with the adorable animals at the petting zoo.
8. Christmas Train at Kennywood Park
My personal favorite was exploring the absolutely massive model train sets curated by the Pittsburgh Independent Hi-Railers.
It was immensely well themed and delightful, not to mention the area it is in is a great place to warm up.
Ready to plan your theme park trip? Watch the best vacation planning tips on YouTube. Get started here!
2023 Kennywood Holiday Lights Rides and Attractions at Christmastime
Among the festive entertainment offerings, you will find some beloved family friendly attractions available to ride.
All the Kennywood roller coasters are unfortunately closed due to the cold weather. For those who aren’t familiar, Pennsylvania can get bitterly cold, due to its proximity to the mountains.
So, some rides and attractions, mainly Jack Rabbit, Cranky’s Drop Tower and Spinvasion, will close if it gets below 40 degrees.
What rides are open at Kennywood Holiday Lights?
In the meantime, you can expect to enjoy the following attractions during Christmas at Kennywood:
- NEW! Spinvasion
- Auto Race
- Cranky’s Drop Tower
- Diesel Drivers
- Flynn’s Fire Training
- Ghostwood Estate
- Harold’s Helicopter Tours
- Jack Rabbit
- Journey With Thomas
- Noah’s Ark
- Up to 8 Kiddieland Rides
My Experience on the Rides at Kennywood Park
Among the rides I tried were Ghostwood Estate, a Haunted Mansion blaster game with a whimsical holiday overlay for the event!
I really enjoyed it and had so much fun competing against my friends. And of course, the big kids we were, simply had to ride Thomas the Tank Engine and take a look at some more of the twinkling lights around the park.
Something to note is that the train is accessible for those with mobility issues.
Lastly, all my friends and locals told me I couldn’t leave Kennywood Park without riding Kangaroo!
Kangaroo is a historical last of its kind ride from 1962 that was recently brought back to the park due to public outcry. Theme Park geeks are obsessed with this attraction!
Layout of Kennywood Park
The park’s layout includes:
- Kiddieland one of the first children’s themed area in the world for a theme park
- Lost Kennywood which alludes to the park’s history
- Thomas Town an extension of Kiddieland featuring the famous train
- Steelers Country themed to the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers team
- Area 412 an intergalactic themed area that debuted a third ride in the 2023 season.
Personally, going through Steelers Country as a Baltimore Ravens fan was Rough HAHA! But there is plenty to do and explore at Kennywood.
Kennywood Christmas Food and Drink Offerings
Just for the event, Kennywood has created brand new festive food and drink offerings!
I was able to try a specialty festive inspired alcohol beverage that was soooo good and allowed me to chat with the bartender who told me all about his personal history with the park.
Him and his family worked at Kennywood for over 40 years and even talked to me a little bit about the park’s history (one fun fact that I will share at the end).
Where to find the Kennywood Christmas food and drinks?
- NEW! Lagoon Holiday Shops – Specialty booths around the Lagoon featuring turkey legs, cobbler, fresh donuts, hot drinks & more!
- Kandy Kaleidoscope – An assortment of seasonal sweet treats and more than a dozen homemade fudge flavors.
- Parkside Cafe – Christmas Dinner, seasonal desserts, including deep-dish apple pie (YUM!), and DIY cookie decorating.
- Blizzard Blast Creamery – Seasonal apple cider ice cream and other classic frosty treats.
- Beer Garden – Relax with a seasonal beer, hot toddy, or another specialty drink.
I absolutely lived for the Deep-fried Cheesecake and stopped at Kandy Kaleidescope to try their famous House Made Fudge and Peppermint Marshmallow Sticks.
Sadly, there wasn’t time to check out the famous Potato Patch Eatery but I will make a point next time to find it!
Dine with Santa Claus
An event add on that we had the pleasure of trying was “Dinner with Santa!”
I was entertained by Mrs. Claus, Kenny the Kangaroo (in his festive best), Santa’s elves and of course, Santa as I dined on a delicious festive themed spread of holiday offerings and delectable treats.
It was truly such an enjoyable and memorable addition for families of all kinds as we sang carols and listened to Santa Claus read a Christmas story.
How much is dinner with Santa at Kennywood Park?
The Dinner with Santa Claus event costs $25.99 per adult, $18.99 per child and free for kids under 3.
I personally thought the food was great and highly recommend you try it, especially if you’re coming with little ones.
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My Final Thoughts on Visiting Kennywood Holiday Lights
Myself and my friends all agreed on two things in regard to our experience.
- We knew for sure that we were going to make a point to visit Kennywood Park more in 2024.
- And we all agreed that it was the Team Members that truly made our first visit and overall experiences memorable and fun.
Everyone I spoke to had a history with the park, was kind and always asked if I needed help or assistance.
They were the ones that told me fun facts, gave amazing suggestions on food and attractions and so much more.
A Little Kennywood Park History Before You Go…
My bartender mentioned to me that back in the 1960s, the park used to measure height for rides with cutouts of Howdy Doody and Henry, from an old show.
He also discussed celebrities his family met while working and visiting the park. You could truly see how everyone enjoyed working there, which in turn made me want to come back and explore more.
As far as the Kennywood Holiday Lights event goes, it was whimsical, charming and delightful! Not to mention it was inclusive, family-friendly and affordable.
Have you had a chance to visit Kennywood Park? Share your memories below!
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
About the Author
Victoria is a professional solo traveler here to make your solo trips as stress free AND enjoyable as possible for you.
She has over 5 years of Disney and Non-Disney travel experience and was featured by POPSUGAR as one of the Top 50 Black Disney Creators you should follow.
She is a Proud Native to Baltimore, Md but always will call Disney World home. You can find her at Disney Tea with V.
(Original Article Date: December 6, 2022/Updated by Editor on November 10, 2023)