It's never a good thing to counter-program against Thanksgiving. Unless, of course, you're the NFL.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy your turkey, your football and your family!
FRIDAY AND SUNDAY
Every family has its own Thanksgiving tradition, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the family that calls Heinz Hall home, is no exception.
This weekend marks the fifth anniversary of music director Manfred Honeck's Thanksgiving concerts. Hear Austrian pianist Till Fellner on Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 and Strauss polkas and waltzes, among other works. Children ages 3-12 attend free of charge.
The shows are 8 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $25.75-$109.75; www.pittsburghsymphony.org or 412-392-4900.
A number of holiday exhibits and events begin this weekend:
* Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will open its Winter Flower Show and Winter Light Garden Friday, featuring glass installations, enchanting LED lights and thousands of festive flowers.
* Kennywood has taken all the scary Fright Nights stuff away and decorated the park for the Christmas holiday. There will be a light show set to music, carolers, performances by local choirs, holiday foods, a model train exhibit, petting zoo, visits with Santa Claus and some rides.
Elves at the Palace
Another alternative to Black Friday shopping is Westmoreland Cultural Trust's family holiday production of Theatre IV's "The Shoemaker and the Christmas Elves" at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday at The Palace Theatre in Greensburg.
Theatre IV, based in Richmond, Va., performs this story -- with music, book and lyrics by Paul Deiss -- of two Christmas Elves sent to work for a poor cobbler before they become true Christmas Elves in the North Pole. Not knowing how to make shoes, the Christmas Elves make toy dolls for children. All kindnesses are repaid in a happy finish.
Tickets are $8 and $9 and sold through The Palace Theatre Box Office at 724-836-8000 or www.ThePalaceTheatre.org. Tickets will also be sold one hour prior to each show (cash only for door sales).
One week after Light Up Night, it's time to gather in Downtown again for the annual My Macy's Holiday Parade.
It will feature high school marching bands, floats and appearances by Eric Martsolf (Brady Black on "Days of Our Lives"), singer Peter Rivera (of Rare Earth), Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. (season six of NBC's "America's Got Talent"), Phil McKeon (from the sitcom "Alice"), Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Olympic Gold Medalist gymnast Carly Patterson.
It will also feature the King family of Freedom Farms in Butler and the reality show "Farm Kings," Pajanimals, Calliou, Yogi Bear and an a cappella group Double Shot. It begins at 9 a.m. Saturday at Liberty Technology Center, 2200 Liberty Ave., Strip, and proceeds to Liberty Avenue to Grant Street, right onto Fifth Avenue, left onto Liberty Avenue and left onto Stanwix Street.
It will air on WPXI-TV and an encore presentation will air on PCNC later that day at 6 p.m. Information: www.pittsburghparade.com.
Sean Jones, a Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer from Pittsburgh, joins vocalist Carolyn Perteete and the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra for a tribute to Pittsburgh legend Billy Strayhorn at 8 p.m. Saturday at Kelly Strayhorn Theater.
"Suite Life: A Billy Strayhorn Birthday Bash" will feature an 18-piece instrumental and vocal ensemble performing his music as well as jazz favorites by other composers.
Strayhorn, who began his musical studies as a youth in Pittsburgh, joined Duke Ellington's band, where his collaborations included "Take the A Train" and "Lush Life."
It's at 5941 Penn Ave., East Liberty, at 8 p.m. Saturday. The $75 VIP tickets include a pre-show reception at 6 p.m. with the Strayhorn family featuring a duet with Mr. Jones and Herman "Soy Sos" Pearl. Tickets: $15-$75; www.kelly-strayhorn.org.
Branson on the Road: Christmas, featuring cast members and performers from the PBS show "Kelly's Kountry Junction," is a concert in the tradition of Grand Ole Opry traveling road show and the Louisiana Hayride.
It stops at the Palace Theatre in Greensburg with singer-songwriter guitarist Debbie Horton, who played with Johnny Cash and hosted her own show at the old Boxcar Willie Theater in Branson; musician and arranger Donnie Wright, whose credits include The Grand Ole Opry, The Presley's Show in Branson, and The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas; and bassist-singer Brian Capps.
The show is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25-$35; 724-836-8000 or www.ThePalaceTheatre.org.
For this year's holiday show, singer and showman Mark Milovats wanted to take his audience to a warm faraway place.
And so the theme is "Christmas in Hawaii." It will include traditional favorites from his "Just in Time for Christmas" CD and pop standards from his forthcoming "On Top of the World" album.
He will be joined by his 16-piece Big Band Orchestra, musicians from Elvis Presley's and Boots Randolph's Las Vegas Hilton band, his Santa Belle Dancers, The Duquesne University Dance Team, Polynesian Dancers and the Elfin Ensemble Children's Choir. Hosting will be Rocky Bleier, Shelly Duffy from 100.7 FM, and University of Pittsburgh football announcer Pat Bostick.
The concert is at the Byham at 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $39.75 at pgharts.org or by calling 412-456-6666. It benefits Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Children's Miracle Network, and Latrobe Area Hospital.
The Oliver Miller Homestead will pay tribute to its namesake's Scottish heritage with Scots Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
The Homestead will feature Scots dancing, games, food and talents. The Scots Dancers will perform traditional dances in the barn, and guests will be invited to join in the fun.
A Scots Tea will be on display in the keeping room with more food being prepared in the open-hearth fireplace, outdoor bake oven and fire pit. Historic crafts such as spinning, weaving, quilting and blacksmith work will be demonstrated. Tours of the Stone House, Log House, springhouse, forge and barn will be given throughout the afternoon.
The Oliver Miller Homestead is a historic landmark on Stone Manse Drive, just off the circle in South Park. Admission is $2. Information: www.olivermiller.org or 412 835-1554.
NEED TO KNOW
* A Family Day will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Westmoreland Museum of American Art at its temporary location, 4764 state Route 30, east of Greensburg. The free event will include entertainment by Stage Right, the Greensburg school for the performing arts and professional theater company; art activities for children and adults; a scavenger hunt; a 20 percent discount at American Marketplace in the museum shop; cookies and punch. Information: 724-837-1500 or www.wmuseumaa.org.
* Singer-songwriter Vanessa Carlton, best known for the single "A Thousand Miles," performs at Club Cafe at 7 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $20 to $22; www.clubcafelive.com.