Taking place each May, this one offers about eight hours of live music (with many bands inspired by the Caribbean), opportunities to eat street food made from the chefs at the restaurant, and of course, copious amounts of refreshments.
As block parties in the Strip District are few and far between, it is also one of only a few times of the year that a section of Smallman Street is shut down for an entire day- giving you an opportunity to enjoy the Strip District in a completely new way.
How to Get the Most Out of Kayafest
To be honest, Kayafest is a pretty easy festival to approach because the party runs about 10 hours and most all vendors and music will be going on for the duration.
In 2018 the party began at noon, but the live music started at 2pm, leading to perhaps the only consideration you need to have- when to go.
We arrived shortly after the music began and found that the lines for the food, drinks, and other vendors were quite minimal (except for perhaps Millie's ice cream truck which had intermittent long lines throughout the day).
The organizers have several stations for food (all serving the same items), which in 2018 included Kaya dogs and Kaya carrot dogs (topped with avocado, cilantro, and cotija cheese- go for the carrot dog if it returns, trust us), pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, 1/3 rack of ribs, and skewered chicken and pork belly- all between $5 and $10. A good deal for the Strip District!
There were also numerous drink stations that never had a line, but it is worth noting that some stations served just bottles of beer and pre-made rum runners while others had a draft system setup with local favorites such as Full Pint, Fat Heads, and more.
If anything, the drinks were perhaps the only disappointment from the entire event as the options were much more limited compared to the impressive offering found inside Kaya just a few steps away.
Thankfully there are also numerous places for a drink in the Strip District like East End Brewery (which was also unfortunately too packed to get a beer), The Beerhive, or even De Fer Coffee to get away from the heat for a much needed refreshment.
Overall, Kayafest is a really fun event down in the Strip District each year. You may not want to stay at this one all day (or who knows, you might), but if you are looking for a great meal by one of Pittsburgh's best restaurants, listen to some live music, and hang out with a few hundred new friends, well, we highly recommend checking this one out.
KayaFest takes place each May in Pittsburgh's Strip District neighborhood. The dates are announced on Kaya's social media profiles and website.