10 Pittsburgh Festivals and Events Not to Miss Each Year

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on June 6, 2024.

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Who doesn't love a good event or festival? In Pittsburgh, we sure have a lot of them covering our local history, traditions, and, of course, just for great fun!

While there is seemingly an event or festival going on most every week of the year, we wanted to share a few that we love and make Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh. This means that the following is not a collection of every Pittsburgh festival or event out there (we share even more on our event calendar), and only just a starting point of a few annual festivities we love the most!

Picklesburgh

Picklesburgh

Pittsburgh may be known as the home of Heinz ketchup, but the city also has a love affair of all things pickles.

Some of the earliest pickle marketing from the city came when H J Heinz introduced the pickle pin as a marketing tactic and gave them away at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Since then, the popularity of the humble pickle has exploded, and today the city celebrates all things pickles at the annual Picklesburgh festival!

Head downtown each summer, typically late July, to enjoy all forms of pickle creations here be it pickles from a barrel, other pickled vegetables, pickle flavored beer, pickle ice cream, pickle themed clothing and other novelties, and so much more. Be sure to check out the pickle juice drinking competition as well, and if you're feeling brave enough sign up to compete for the title of Mayor of Picklesburgh with the fastest chug time!

Picklesburgh takes place over in downtown Pittsburgh each summer, typically at the end of July, and is free to attend.

Three Rivers Arts Festival

Three Rivers Arts Festival

The arts scene in Pittsburgh is truly world class, and we celebrate all things arts, music, and more during the 10-day Three Rivers Arts Festival taking place in early June.

During this festival, the Cultural District of downtown Pittsburgh is home to a lot of fun including a large artist market full of local and visiting artisans, several stages of live music, other themed events, and a whole lot more- all for free!

While the headline performers for the festival generally take place on the final Saturday and Sunday night, be sure to take a look at the schedule as there is a lot of great music and experiences to check out at this one over its entire 10-day run.

The Three Rivers Arts Festival takes place in downtown Pittsburgh in early June and is free to attend.

Barrel & Flow

Barrel & Flow Fest

Barrel & Flow is consistently ranked as the best beer festival in America, and focuses on inclusivity to promote Black breweries, business owners, artists, musicians, and so much more in a single event.

Typically taking place each August in the Strip District, attendees of Barrel & Flow fest can sample loads of beer made from visiting Black owned breweries, collabs between local breweries and Black artisans (with some incredibly inventive flavors being created!), shop from local creators, listen to music, and so much more.

Building community over a beer? It doesn't get much better than that!

Barrel & Flow takes place in the Strip District each August. Tickets are required to attend.

Open Streets

Open Streets

Open Streets is a series of three fun events put on by BikePGH each year over one select weekend date in May, June, and July.

During each event, select neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have their primary business district streets shut down to vehicles to be pedestrian only for walking, running, strolling, biking, unicycling, or whatever form of non-motorized transport you prefer. In the past there have been loops connecting the North Side to the Strip District, Downtown to South Side, loops around the East End, the North Side to the West End, and many, many more.

Along the route, local businesses tend to set up shop outside with fun events, music, and more taking place throughout the day. So hit the Open Streets and check out the fun in the neighborhoods each year!

Open Streets typically hosts three routes over a select weekend date every May, June, and July and is free to attend. BikePGH also hosts a fun city-wide bike outing, PedalPGH, every August, too!

Light Up Night

Light Up Night

The start of the holiday season in Pittsburgh is defined fairly well in Pittsburgh. It isn't Black Friday. It isn't December 1st. It is Light Up Night, taking place the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

During this event, the city kicks off the holiday festivities with lighting ceremonies at the city and county government buildings, the opening of the Christmas Market in Market Square, live music, a ton of food, and of course several fireworks displays for good measure- with a large performance capping off the celebrations at the end of the evening..

Get into the holiday spirit by heading downtown for this annual tradition!

Light Up Night takes place the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year and is free to attend.

Carnegie Mellon's Carnival and Buggy Races

Buggy Races

Most every university has a dedicated reunion weekend with a ton of fun events scheduled. But Carnegie Mellon University goes one step further as they typically time their reunion weekend with their Spring Carnival in April!

While this event has fun carnival festivities that you would likely expect, it is the Buggy Races that stand out as being a unique highlight. This race around the campus has taken place since 1920 where students create an unmotorized buggy cart and race around campus. Over the years, the buggy has evolved from the cart form you may be imagining to aerodynamic machines designed for maximum speed and aerodynamics!

The fun thing about the buggy race is that this one involves not only a team of pushers (they're unmotorized, after all), but a driver, too. Yes, there is a student inside the vehicle, and the teams often try to recruit the smallest students on campus to be a driver in this iconic event! So go cheer on the teams during the races, with finals typically on Saturday morning of Carnival weekend, then head into campus to enjoy all the festivities!

CMU's Carnival and Buggy Races take place in early April. Buggy races generally take place on Friday and Saturday morning while Carnival runs Thursday through Sunday and is free to attend.

Washington & Greene Counties' Covered Bridge Festival

Covered Bridge Festival

You likely know that Pennsylvania is home to numerous covered bridges, just over 200 for those who are curious, with a large quantity being found in nearby Washington and Green counties. Naturally, there is a festival to celebrate them!

Go on a road trip around the two counties to explore nine covered bridges over the two-day Covered Bridge Festival each September. Participating boroughs often host fun vendors, crafts, food, and music at the covered bridge sites and can make for a lot of fun checking out the historical bridges in our area.

But for the biggest celebration, you'll want to head to Mingo Creek County Park near Finleyville as it is home to not one, but two covered bridges, and brings in dozens upon dozens of vendors featuring handmade goods. But be warned, this one is quite popular and traffic can back up quite a bit trying to enter the park- so arrive early for the best experience here (other covered bridge sites are much more accessible)!

The Washington & Greene Counties' Covered Bridge Festival takes place on a Saturday and Sunday in late September and is free to attend.

Beers of the Burgh

Beers of the Burgh

We love good beer in Pittsburgh, so it should be no surprise that not one, but two beer festivals make our list of favorite events. Our second is the annual Beers of the Burgh event which celebrates all things beer made in western Pennsylvania.

Not only does this beer festival have one of the largest number of local breweries taking part (typically 50+ each year), it also takes place at the iconic Carrie Furnace in Rankin. Delicious beer plus the historic backdrop of a former steel mill? It really doesn't get more Pittsburgh than that!

Beers of the Burgh takes place each June at Carrie Furnace. Tickets are required to attend.

Doors Open Pittsburgh

City County Building

Pittsburgh is known for having stellar architecture all over the city, and the local group Doors Open Pittsburgh helps showcase these with frequent events allowing you to get inside buildings that may otherwise not be accessible to the general public.

Their flagship event, Doors Open Downtown, features access to dozens of historic buildings in the Central Business District, including some skyscrapers, and offers a fascinating look into some of the buildings you see every day from the outside but may never have had a chance to go in!

Beyond this one, Doors Open hosts numerous neighborhood tours throughout the year, so be on the lookout for more fun tours beyond the flagship, too!

Doors Open Pittsburgh takes place over a weekend once per year. Dates for the Doors Open Downtown event are subject to change, and in 2024 was at the end of June. Tickets are required to attend.

Vintage Grand Prix

Grand Prix

Love a classic car? Who doesn't! At the Vintage Grand Prix, spanning roughly 10 days in late July and/or early August, you have numerous opportunities to check out classic cars at many events all over the city including a kick-off rally, a car cruise at the Waterfront, a car display downtown, and a culminating race weekend at Schenley Park that is a must-see event!

The final race weekend at Schenley Park truly is the capstone of this one, because beyond seeing dozens of cars parked on the field, watching the timed race around the roads of Schenley Park is truly a lot of fun. But whether you take in just a single event or hit several during the festivities, you won't be wanting for more vintage car fun here!

The Vintage Grand Prix runs for roughly 10 days each summer, typically at the end of July but sometimes culminates in the first weekend of August. Most events are free to attend; however, some receptions and parties may require tickets.

Do you have a favorite Pittsburgh festival or event? Comment below to share!

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