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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.

After 16 dazzling years at Highwoods Properties’ PPG Place Wintergarden, the City of Pittsburgh will now sponsor Downtown’s annual Gingerbread House Display & Competition. The iconic holiday staple will move to the Grand Lobby of the historic City-County Building on Grant Street.

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.


Competitors can keep up to date with what’s happening in 2019 by joining our eblast mailing list

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The 17th annual Gingerbread House Competition is open to individuals, families, organizations, students and chefs from the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and the Western Pennsylvania region.

Entries will be on display at the City-County Building beginning on Light Up Night (Friday, November 22) and continuing through early January.

Professionals! We are looking for professional bakers who can provide the City of Pittsburgh with a replica of the City-County Building. Please download this form if you are interested.

NOTICE: Please download the Gingerbread Display Information Packet. You will need to have these materials to submit your entry.

Have you downloaded your Display Identification Form from above? Click the button below to register online:

Sorry the competition entries are now full.



  • Friday, November 15 from 10AM - 9PM
  • Saturday, November 16 from 10AM - 7PM
  • **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.

Have Questions?

For questions regarding the Gingerbread House Competition, email:

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Cute Gingerbread Man