6. Night at the Tropics at the National Aviary: July 9
You don’t have to trek 6,000 miles to Bora Bora to experience the island life. Escape to a remote tropical paradise in our own backyard at the National Aviary‘s signature benefit bash. The mercury will rise and the flames will soar as artists from Tuika’s Polynesian Island Magic fill the Aviary’s grounds with festive Hawaiian music, hula dancers and fire performers. Gala-goers will have the rare chance to explore the Aviary’s world-class exhibits at night, and experience exclusive interactions with beautiful, rare birds not regularly on view—including Franklin the Spectacled Owl, Goliath the Pygmy Falcon and Red the Scarlet Macaw. Plus, we love any excuse to hang with the world’s most adorable baby sloth, Valentino, who will be among the night’s special guests. Heating up the dance floor will be entertainment by DJ Loyal and live music by The Lava Game, while 30 of Pittsburgh’s top restaurants and bakeries will craft summery bites and specialty cocktails. This is a party with a purpose, because all proceeds support the Aviary’s education, medical and conservation programs. Buy tickets.
7. Picklesburgh on the Rachel Carson Bridge: July 15 & 16
Did you know that the first Heinz pickle pins were given away at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and that the tiny plastic souvenir is one of the longest-running, most successful promotions in history? Take that, pierogi. For two savory days, Pittsburgh will become Picklesburgh, when the second annual celebration of the briny sensation occupies the scenic Rachel Carson Bridge (just look for the giant flying Heinz pickle balloon!). Back with expanded hours, Picklesburgh will feature all things gherkin—international dishes, house-cured veggies, artisan cocktails, farm-to-table fare, pickle-themed merchandise, live music, a “Li’l Gherkins” activity area, and even a pickle juice drinking contest. Pickling perfectionists and newbies alike will love the newly expanded demonstrations led by rock star chefs, local cooking clubs and brine-loving bartenders. Produced by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and free for all ages, the homegrown happening will also showcase the city’s deep and delicious pickle roots—from its popularity within regional ethnic communities and its early commercial production by Heinz, to hot new trends coming out of our nationally celebrated foodie town. Americans reportedly consume 26 billion pickles a year, so yes, this is a big dill. View a complete schedule.
8. Polish Hill Arts Festival: July 17
Go for the pierogies, stay for the view. What began in 2008 as a sleepy happening dubbed “Art What You Got” has evolved into Polish Hill’s largest civic event—and one of the Burgh’s most unique arts festivals. With its signature funky vibe, the family-friendly fest welcomes residents and visitors alike to its HQ at the intersection of Brereton and Dobson Streets. The ninth annual installment will feature live music by Love Letters, Come Holy Spirit, Eye Roll, and Truth and Rites, and activities led by Citiparks, West Penn Rec Center, Carnegie Library, and Dreams of Hope. The food options are always a draw and this year don’t miss Apteka’s vegan Eastern European cuisine, Leena’s Palestinian delights, and Leona’s ice cream sandwiches. More than 30 artists will line the streets selling original work in a range of media, sizes and prices. What is especially wonderful is that many artists and musicians featured are people who call Polish Hill home. This is the kind of relaxed day when attendees can make new friends, purchase affordable handmade art, and see firsthand how community arts engagement is having a lasting positive impact.
9. Third Thursday: CINEMA at Carnegie Museum of Art: July 21
What would you create if tasked with making an original two-minute film? See how artists around the globe rose to the ambitious challenge, making movies that are a mere 120 seconds long when Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA) presents its quirky 2-Minute Film Festival. They may be brief, but these films sure deliver in terms of imaginative filmmaking. Teaming up Row House Cinema and its adjacent Bierport bottle shop, CMOA is has expanded the event into a weeklong festival. After receiving 200 submissions from 40 countries and 18 states—including 40 flicks made right here in Pittsburgh—CMOA and Row House curated the lineup, while a team of judges from WQED, Steel Cinema and Pittsburgh’s 48 Hour Film Project will select award winners. Don’t miss the July 15 kick-off party at the Lawrenceville-based film and beer mecca, where the festival will run from through July 21. The cinematic celebration culminates at CMOA’s Third Thursday party on July 21, with screenings, an awards ceremony and groovy entertainment by EyeJay the DJ. Film fanatics can strike a pose on the red carpet, grab grub from a late-night café menu and explore the museum’s exhibitions after-hours. Buy tickets.
10. ReplayFX Arcade & Gaming Festival at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: July 28 – 31
Whether you can’t put down that vintage Atari joystick, dream of setting a pinball world record, or have already sewn your cosplay outfit, you don’t want to miss ReplayFX. Blast off to other-worldly galaxies and relive the glory days of old-school arcades when the gaming gurus behind the Replay Foundation and Professional & Amateur Pinball Association bring the planet’s largest public collection of pinball, arcade, tabletop, and console games to the Burgh. Gamers from around the cosmos will converge to enjoy 750 arcade and pinball machines, and 2,000 retro console and tabletop games. Replayers can also check out new products by game developers, attend seminars, browse merch in the marketplace, compete in wacky daily challenges, and watch the world’s top players compete in the Pinburgh Match-Play and Donkey Kong World Championships. The family-friendly gathering also features a lively cosplay contest, inflatable obstacle courses, hands-on activities, and 200,000 square feet of live entertainment by musicians, magicians and more. So whether you’re a Frogger or a flipper player, you won’t want to miss this one-of-a-kind gamer’s paradise. Buy tickets.
Check out more events every week in NEXTpittsburgh, including these coming up in July:
The Birds and The Beers at the National Aviary: July 1
Pittsburgh’s Bicentennial Birthday Bash at the Senator John Heinz History Center: July 8
SouthSide Works Exposed: July 8 — 10
Ignite + Imbibe at Pittsburgh Glass Center: July 16
Mary-Louise Parker at Carnegie Lecture Hall: July 27
Pittsburgh VegFest at Allegheny Commons East: July 30
Looking for live music? Read our Everything you need to know about Pittsburgh concerts in July feature.