As always, the new year ushers in a new set of events to look forward to, and Pittsburgh’s got a lot to offer in 2016. From music to biking to sightseeing, the Steel City has it all. While some of these events will require tickets, many are free and family-friendly. So, without further ado, check out our master list of the events we’re most excited about.
Pittsburgh Bicentennial Celebration
Just under a century ago, Joseph Armstrong, then the mayor of Pittsburgh, ordered the construction of the imposing City-County building to commemorate the city’s hundredth birthday — and buried a time capsule somewhere under the floors of its vast halls. The search for the capsule, as well as a parade, a host of events taking place in a number of city neighborhoods and a festival at Point State Park. Make sure to bring friends and family downtown to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our fair city.
On the first Friday of each month, businesses all along the Bloomfield-Garfield stretch of Penn Avenue open their doors to artists and patrons alike. Sponsored by the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative, the Unblurred gallery crawl has gained quite a bit of traction among the youth of Pittsburgh. Every sort of art is represented at Unblurred, from traditional to dance to music. Additionally, the monthly event is family-friendly. And, of course, it’s free. An eclectic mix of storefronts and local artists makes for a can’t-miss monthly event.
Lawrenceville Art All Night
Have you ever made your way through a gallery crawl and longed to display one of your own pieces? If yes, then Lawrenceville’s Art All Night is the perfect event for you. Anyone and everyone is invited to submit a single piece of artwork to be displayed somewhere in the neighborhood for one night only. Art All Night has amassed a following of thousands, so it’s guaranteed that your work won’t go unseen. The event is free, so break out your paintbox, invite your friends and keep checking the Art All Night website for the official dates.
At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 1, hundreds of runners will take off with the pop of the starting gun, beginning the annual Pittsburgh Marathon. The next 26.2 miles will be a test of strength, determination and endurance for runners, and an opportunity to pass out water and cheer on loved ones for spectators. But that’s not all that’s offered with this event, sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods. If you’re looking to give back to your community, consider signing up as a volunteer and help out with set-up, maintenance and cleanup.
Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer
Twice a year, a plethora of businesses offering a wide selection of beautifully curated vintage items come together at the Teamsters Temple in Lawrenceville to cater to Pittsburghers with a flair for style. Vendors including Highway Robbery Vintage, Kicky Feet Vintage and LeMix Antiques have offered clothing in retro styles as well as unique furniture. Though each Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer event lasts only one day, the organizers hold a $15 Night Owl party the evening before the sale, featuring live music, drinks and a presale on many unique items.
Have you ever wanted to enjoy a crisp beer while gazing at a pride of lions? Located at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Zoo Brew offers an opportunity for adults to go on a field trip, too. A ticket to this event is a promise of beers, food, live music and, of course, full access to the zoo. In the past, the craft beers have included favorites such as 21st Amendment, Duck Rabbit, Flying Dog and the Church Brew Works. You’ll have to leave the kids at home for this one, though, because the $63 event is 21+ only.
Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival
The Three Rivers Arts Festival has long been a pinnacle of Pittsburgh summers. And there’s no secret as to why — who wouldn’t be interested in ten whole days of free music and art? Though the festival’s headliners haven’t been announced yet, past acts like Neko Case, Jenny Lewis and Jeff Tweedy prove that Pittsburgh’s arts scene is a draw for big names. Music isn’t the only draw to the festival, though. Dozens and dozens of artists displaying a huge variety of work will grace the lawn of the Point as well. It’s undeniable that there’s something for everyone at the Arts Festival.
Vintage Grand Prix
If vintage automobiles pique your interest, then head down to Schenley Park this July to watch over 2,000 cars traverse the winding Serpentine Drive — so many, in fact, that it’s the largest vintage race of its kind in the entire country. Best of all, the race is free to spectators; it’s the perfect opportunity to get the whole family together, fill a picnic basket, grab a blanket and set up at the park for the day. If you’re interested in learning more about vintage cars, the Grand Prix hosts a series of events leading up to the race, including a black tie gala and a showing of the cars on Walnut Street in Shadyside.
Three Rivers Regatta
Pittsburgh has no shortage of outdoor family-friendly events, and the Three Rivers Regatta, sponsored by EQT, is one of the most exciting. A celebration of the rivers and the boats that travel it, the Regatta draws a huge crowd each year to celebrate the Fourth of July with music, food, events and an impressive fireworks display. If you’re inclined to head down to the Point to check it out this summer (and we recommend it), you’ll find a wide variety of entertainment, including jet ski stunts, frisbee-fetching dogs and a line of Pittsburgh’s favorite food trucks.
Pittsburgh may be one of the hilliest cities in the United States, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out and about on your bicycle. The annual celebration of BikeFest Pittsburgh is entering its 12th year, and all are invited to propose events, attend cycling-related events and take part in a massive group bike ride. The event usually lasts about a week and a half, so don’t worry if you can’t make it every single day. But you should check out as many events as possible — what better way to stay fit than taking in the Pittsburgh skyline on two wheels?
Open Streets PGH
Open Streets PGH gives everyone a chance to catch a glimpse of the city at a slower pace. This past summer, sections of Penn Avenue, Butler Street and a number of offshoots were closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians and cyclists full run of the road. But Open Streets is much more than its name implies, and offers fitness events including bikram yoga, roller disco and salsa dancing. As an offshoot of the international program Ciclovia (“bike path” in Spanish), which promotes bicycling as a healthier, more environmentally sound alternative to auto travel, Open Streets aims to get us all up and moving on select summer Sundays.
Thrival Innovation & Music Festival
With past headliners like Panic! at the Disco and Portugal. The Man and Manchester Orchestra, there’s no doubt that Thrival’s fourth annual music festival will be one to watch for this year. The festival takes place at Almono, a previously industrial strip of land repurposed for eco-friendly development. Last year, the festival was attended by over 7,000 people, and this year, attendance is expected to be even higher. Ticket prices increase as the event draws nearer, with limited presale tickets at $25, early-bird tickets at $30 and $45 admission during the day of the show, so make sure to stay updated.
Mattress Factory Urban Garden Party
It’s no surprise that the Mattress Factory’s yearly fundraiser is fairly off-the-wall in terms of entertainment. Last year’s theme was M for Mattress Factory, which left partygoers a lot of room for creative improvisation. This year, the theme has not yet been announced, but it’s fair to assume that it will be something equally intriguing. People of all ages (well, as long as they’re over 21), occupations and lifestyles will be attending this can’t-miss event. Tickets are between $110 and $300, and the event includes food, drinks and live entertainment.
Steel City Big Pour
2016 will mark the tenth anniversary of Construction Junction’s rollicking Big Pour event, featuring music, art, food and, of course, lots and lots of craft beers. Located in the warehouse of one of Pittsburgh’s coolest reuse-and-vintage emporiums, Big Pour is one of the most popular events in the city. Ticket prices range between $80 and $125, with tickets for designated drivers offered at much lower rates. Keep an eye on the Construction Junction website for updates if you’re interested, because the event is usually sold out within minutes.
The six-year-old VIA collective is well-known for a number of events, but the most undoubtedly anticipated is the VIA music festival, which features a number of musicians and artists playing at venues scattered across the city. With a focus on shining a light on local creatives and helping them to hone and broadcast their various crafts, the VIA collective aims to bring Pittsburghers of all ages and backgrounds together for a full week of performances and workshops. Last year, headliners included MC Lyte, Lower Dens and Jessy Lanza. Admission prices vary; many events and workshops are free, but others can range from $7 to $30.
Do you need a new set of organic knitwear? A handcrafted moss terrarium? How about some one-of-a-kind jewelry made from circuit breakers? Look no further than Pittsburgh’s famous Handmade Arcade, which features dozens of artists offering their wares for sale at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown. The Arcade will be entering its twelfth year, and has gained national acclaim from publications like Conde Nast Traveller and Buzzfeed. No matter your taste in art, Handmade Arcade will be sure to offer up something to delight you.
Pop-up markets are gaining traction in Pittsburgh, and Night Market aims to bring handcrafted items, food and fun to those who make the trip down to the downtown area. Three times a year, the market will be held in the evenings in Downtown Pittsburgh, with a wide variety of vendors selling everything from food to jewelry. Night Market is just another reason that Pittsburgh’s downtown area is quickly becoming a prime destination for residents and tourists alike.