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Since its inception in 2002 when Downtown hotels held a competition to benefit the Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund, the holidays simply haven’t been complete without the annual Gingerbread House Display & Competition.

Hundreds of delicious gingerbread dwellings – created by talented individuals, families, organizations, students and chefs from the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and the Western Pennsylvania region – will remain on display from Light Up Night (November 22) through early January.

Gingerbread display of a yellow city bridge.

The City of Pittsburgh is proud to serve as the new home of the 17th annual Gingerbread House Display & Competition. The display will open to the public on Light Up Night in conjunction with the 104th lighting of the City of Pittsburgh’s Christmas Tree.

November 22, 2019 – January 3, 2020*
10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Mondays thru Saturdays; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sundays
City-County Building Grand Lobby

*November 27, December 24, and December 31 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day

NOTICE: Guests of the City-County Building are subject to a light security screening. Visitation outside of official hours will required guests to provide photo identification at the building's Ross Street entrance.


DELIVERY DATES - Registration has ended, please be advised the below info is for competitiors who have already entered.

  • Friday, November 15 from 10AM - 9PM
  • Saturday, November 16 from 10AM - 7PM
  • Only registered participants can drop off gingerbread houses on these dates.
  • **Please note we do not have Sunday delivery hours this year**


Every effort will be made to display all entries to their best advantage; however due to limitations of our display areas, detailed interiors or backs of houses may not be visible during display. Most houses will be seen from the front and side viewing. Exhibit will be on display November 22 - January 4 (some houses may be removed prior to January 4 due to deterioration). As we place houses to best fit in the display, we cannot guarantee groups of houses will be displayed together.


Structure should be constructed on a sturdy base - heavy cardboard, foam core, or wood (dependent on weight). If using cardboard, PLEASE cover base with aluminum foil so that moisture from the icing does not soak into it.

Base should not extend more than 3 inches beyond the perimeter of the primary structure. We may not be able to accommodate displays with large yards or areas outside of the primary structure.


Due to limited space, we are NOT able to accept entries that do not adhere to these requirements:


  • Pre-School & Kindergarten
  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
  • Children
  • Family
  • Non-Profit (Adult & Children)


  • Culinary Student
  • High School
  • Professional
  • Individual Adult
  • Family
  • City Departments & Authorities


  • Structure cannot exceed two feet in height. We recommend small to medium size single structure houses (rather than scenes). Single structures with minimal yards are more easily viewed in our display.
  • Due to the weight of the decorated house, as well as environmental conditions in the display areas, we suggest always building an infrastructure for support. This can be built from foam core, heavy cardboard, Styrofoam, or rice crispy treats using a substantial amount of Royal Icing as “glue”. The houses are on display for an extended period of time. The combination of heat, moisture, and weight will cause them to deteriorate if there is not enough support or icing used.
  • No battery or electric components should be included in the structure.
  • Any inedible decorative objects included in your entry will NOT be returned at the end of the display.
  • Use ONLY Royal Icing we cannot accept structures made with egg or butter icing as they quickly turn rancid and soften causing the structure to disintegrate.
  • If baking gingerbread from scratch, bake several days before assembling to prevent shrinkage.
  • Do NOT use anything on your house that requires refrigeration (such as prepared Jello, etc.)
  • Use A LOT of Royal Icing to assemble and decorate. Allow each portion to dry and harden before moving.

Makes about 2 -1/2 cups

  • Mix Together
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Add:
  • 3 - 1/2 oz. of water (slightly less than 1/2 cup)
  • Beat until icing forms stiff peaks & will hold a sharp line when knife is drawn through.
  • Keep covered with damp cloth to keep icing from drying out. Work with a small amount of icing at a time. Store unused icing in a tightly sealed container.
  • *Note: Meringue powder can be found at cake decorating or craft stores.


  • Pre-School & Kindergarten
  • Elementary School (grade 1-5)
  • Middle School (grade 6-8)
  • High School (grade 9-12)
  • Culinary
  • City Departments & Authorities
  • Children
    • 5 & Under
    • 6 - 9
    • 10 - 13
    • 14 - 17
  • Family
  • Adult (18+)
  • Professional
  • Non-Profit Group (Adult 18+)
  • Non-Profit Group (Children)
    • 5 & Under
    • 6 - 9
    • 10 - 13
    • 14 - 17



Enter as a family if family members of varied ages worked on the project together. If the project was constructed by your children and you only provided them with basic instruction and assistance, enter in the individual child category under the appropriate age. If more than one child in your family was involved, they will still enter in the Individual Child category - not the Non-Profit group category. Enter under the average age of the children. Parents can assist children by baking the gingerbread and helping to assemble the structure.

If a few friends work together, they will enter in the Individual Child category under the appropriate age of the majority of the participants. If entering under the Child category, please provide each of the children’s names for recognition on signage.


Various ages; refers to groups such as Girl and Boy Scouts, Youth Groups at churches, etc.


This group includes senior citizen groups and assisted living homes, church groups, family-oriented non-profit groups such as the YMCA, etc.


High School or Post-High School Class or Individual affiliated with a culinary class.


Individuals or businesses who work in the food service industry.


Includes City of Pittsburgh Departments and Authorities —Department of Public Safety, PWSA, URA, etc.


Judges are selected from the local community alongside the Mayor and the President of City Council. Judging will be complete before the exhibit opens. You will be notified if you receive an award and winners will be posted on the event website. Please remember that the judging is subjective. Judges are given these guidelines to follow:

  • Originality & Creativity
  • Difficulty
  • Overall Appearance & Appeal
  • Precision & Neatness
  • Majority of decorations on the house are edible
  • House structure made of edible materials - only infrastructure can be non-edible

Houses will also be reviewed for soundness of structure and adherence to size and construction guidelines. If we must make major repairs prior to judging or your entry does not meet guidelines, it will not be eligible for an award.



Gingerbread display of a yellow city bridge.
Gingerbread display of a yellow city bridge.
Gingerbread display of a yellow city bridge.

Pittsburgh's official Christmas Tree was first erected at the construction site of the City-County Building in 1915. For 104 years since, a beautiful 60-foot live evergreen (the only live tree Downtown!) has graced the front steps of our seat of government.

Visitors will enjoy hundreds of larger than life ornaments, including Pittsburgh’s Coat of Arms designed by Wendell August, and 90 distinct ornaments, each bearing the name of Pittsburgh's beloved neighborhoods. Try to spot your favorite!


Gingerbread display of a yellow city bridge.

DATE: Friday, November 22, 2019
TIME: 4:45 - 9 p.m.
PLACE: City-County Building

The celebration to kick off the 2019 City of Pittsburgh holiday season begins with the lighting of Pittsburgh's 104th Christmas Tree on the Portico of the City-County Building. The Salvation Army Brass Band performs holiday favorites as the crowd gathers along Grant Street. Mayor William Peduto and other guests lead the countdown to illuminate a 60-foot lavishly decorated evergreen at 5:15 p.m.

At 5:45 p.m. the City-County Building doors formally open with a ribbon cutting to unveil the 17th annual Gingerbread House Display & Competition, which celebrates its first year at its new location in the City-County Building's Grand Lobby. A delightful display of hundreds of delicious gingerbread dwellings created by talented individuals, families, organizations, students and chefs fills the Grand Lobby and remains on display throughout the holiday season.

Outside, the musically timed City-County Building Light Show illuminates the Grant Street facade every 30 minutes between 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. The festivities continue outdoors with performances by Pittsburgh Musical Theater's "Extreme Teen Broadway" and CMU Treblemakers A Cappella.


Activities include free guided tours of the historic City-County Building from 6 – 9 p.m.

Pittsburgh's historic seat of government -- designed by legendary architect Henry Hornbostel -- celebrated its centennial in 2017. Learn about the rich culture of Pittsburgh by touring the building's historic State Rooms and rarely seen spaces including the Archival Vault. Click Here to learn more about the history of City Hall.