Last Updated on September 11, 2023 by Jeremy
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The Pittsburgh Irish Festival has been an annual tradition in the region since the 1990s and has found a home to celebrate all things Irish culture at the gorgeous Carrie Furnace in Rankin each September.
Whether you want to visit this one to get your fill of Irish food, drinks, shops, or live music, this popular event is one not to miss!
Celebrating Irish Heritage at the Pittsburgh Irish Festival
The Pittsburgh Irish Festival offers a wealth of activities focusing on all things Ireland and Irish heritage.
The festival sprawls throughout a significant portion of the complex at Carrie Furnace and includes several stages, a large vendor area of shops, a sports corner, several bar areas serving Irish beer, cider, and locally made meads from King View Mead, samples of Irish whiskey, both Irish and non-Irish food tents, and more. (With seemingly only one gutter guard shop present, too!)
Guests will do well to allocate a couple of hours at a minimum to explore all of the tents on site, as they are indeed quite vast. However, one we kept returning to during our visit was the Irish dog tent which features a rotating selection of dogs of Irish pedigree for visitors to learn about and, of course, pet!
For us, one of the biggest draws to the Pittsburgh Irish Festival was its array of stellar local, national, and international artists that could be found performing throughout the weekend. Local bands like The Low Kings and Bastard Bearded Irishmen (amongst many others) made their way onto the lineup with other performers like Gaelic Storm. For those who like Irish music, visiting the Pittsburgh Irish Festival for the shows is worth the price of admission alone.
So while we would be the first to admit that we bought our tickets to this one primarily for the music, we have to say we left with quite the full experience all the same!
Logistics to Know for Attending the Festival
Before you head out to attend the Pittsburgh Irish Festival, there are several things you should know in advance.
First, this is a ticketed event with variable pricing based on how far in advance you order (generally prices rise a few dollars the day or two before the start of the event) and what day you visit. We personally until the day of the show to buy our tickets for weather concerns at a slightly higher price point, but bought online to avoid the line at the gate.
Second, there is a nominal parking fee as well. Prepaying online will save a bit of time at the gate, but does not guarantee any form of prime parking access. Getting in early will ensure you can get a better spot as our arrival about 2 1/2 hours after the festival started on Friday resulted in us parking in the furthest spot on the grounds. A golf cart “shuttle” was provided for those who have trouble walking; however, it was only just a few minutes to reach the gate all the same.
Third, although small bags are typically permitted, the line for bag check can get quite long. During our visit, a separate security line for those without bags had no wait whereas the bag check line had a 10 minute wait or so.
Fourth, the Irish food tents are, admittedly, limited, and had a long line of 50+ people per tent during peak dining hours. But at around 8pm the lines became almost non-existent and we were able to walk up and get food without issue. As such, a little planning on your dining schedule could go a long way to avoid the crowds and get your hands on some Shepherd's Pie or other delicious Irish meals.
Finally, it is worth noting that the music schedule covers several stages and acts are staggered throughout the day. So if you are wanting to check out more than one act within a 30 minute or so interval, you may have to miss some of one to make it happen. But keep in mind that some of the most popular acts may play a few times throughout the weekend, too!
Overall, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival is a lot of fun and does a great job in celebrating Irish heritage. Whether you visit for the food, drinks, or live music like us, you will have a wealth of options to enjoy.
The Pittsburgh Irish Festival generally takes place at Carrie Furnace for three days each September.
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