A girl happily heads down a bounce house slide.
Bounce houses are part of the excitement at Hay Day. Photo courtesy of Allegheny County Parks.

With school back in session, weekends take on a greater importance. Make the most of your family’s weekend fun with these top September events. Indoors and outdoors, rain or shine, you will find plenty of cool and exciting Pittsburgh activities to keep your family entertained throughout the month.

Racks of ribs on a hot grill.
Racks of mouthwatering ribs are just the start of the Kickoff and Rib Festival at Acrisure Stadium. Photo by Julia Filirovska.

1. Sept. 1-4: Kickoff and Rib Festival, Acrisure Stadium

Get ready for football! Off to an early start this year, the annual Kickoff and Rib Festival welcomes Pitt Panthers and Steelers fans to celebrate the season with live music, racks of savory ribs, games and rides. Acrisure Stadium’s FedEx Great Hall will be open so you can view the Terrible Towel Wall, Hall of Fame Museum, Super Bowl trophies and other Steelers memorabilia. Kids can register in advance for the free Steelers Youth Mini-Camp taking place on Sept. 4. Boys and girls in grades 1-8 can join in drills that include skills for wide receivers, quarterbacks and linebackers. The whole family will enjoy rocking to bands like The Clarks, Billy Price and The Commonheart. Squonk will debut its show, “Brouhaha,” an immersive, outdoor spectacular you won’t want to miss. Check the complete schedule to make the most of the six-day festival, which runs from Aug. 30 through Sept. 4.

During RAD Days, kids can skate on the ice at PPG Paints Arena before the Penguins start their regular season. Photo by Kelly Perkovich.

2. Sept. 8-Oct.17: RAD Days, multiple locations

Families can enjoy 40 days of free entertainment during RAD Days, taking place from Sept. 8 through Oct. 17. More than 70 events and experiences await families looking to explore the excitement offered by organizations that receive funding from the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD). Sports fans can tour Acrisure Stadium and PNC Park or take their skates to PPG Paints Arena and race around the ice where the Penguins play. Look for free days at the National Aviary, Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and many more. Check out the complete list and be sure to make reservations ASAP where required. Spots are likely to fill up quickly!  

The Hexbug Challenge gives family teams the chance to create and compete with creepy, crawly robots. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

3. Sept. 9: STEAM Saturday: Hexbug Challenge, Trust Arts Education Center

Hexbugs return to the Trust Arts Education Center for an all-ages STEAM-centered workshop. Gather your family for the Hexbug Challenge and work together to create a maze that these creepy crawly robots can solve. Teaching artist Carly Weldy will offer guidance as your team discovers other ways your Hexbug might perform. Tickets are $25 per family (up to six members).

Carnegie Science Center’s weekly Wonder Workshops are geared to individual age groups of curious kids. Photo courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

4. Sept. 9-Dec. 16: Wonder Workshops, Carnegie Science Center

Do you have a junior scientist in your household? Carnegie Science Center’s Wonder Workshops are perfect to help kids explore any number of scientific subjects. The Saturday sessions are age-based to make the subjects appropriate for your kids. For example: Kids ages 12-14 years can take advantage of workshops like Basics of Blastoff, where they’ll launch safe indoor rockets, and explore the outer space possibilities in Life on Mars. Youngsters ages 6-8 will build a mini-golf course in Physics of Sports and test solar cookers in Power of the Sun. Participants ages 9-11 will explore how climate change affects our waterways in Go with the Flow. Each workshop costs $16.

Fans of slapstick silliness will love the Three Stooges Festival at the Harris Theater. Image courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

5. Sept. 16: Three Stooges Festival, Harris Theater

Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk! Curly is back with his manic pals, Moe and Larry, for the annual Three Stooges Festival. Test your Stooge knowledge with host Sean Collier’s trivia questions and win prizes. The festival will screen six of the trio’s most hilarious comedy shorts, including “A Plumbing We Will Go,” “Goof on the Roof” and “Dizzy Doctors.” Will the three knuckleheads ever find gainful employment?  Tickets are $15; free for kids ages 12 and younger.

Reckoning: Grief and Light," by Vanessa German, at The Frick Art Museum, is an art installation of three altar pieces makes of blown glass.
“Reckoning: Grief and Light” by vanessa german offers a compelling meditation on grief, love and social healing. Photo courtesy of The Frick Art Museum.

6. Sept. 16: Art & Activism, The Frick Art Museum

vanessa german’s installation, “Reckoning: Grief and Light,” will be the impetus for young artists, ages 11-14, at The Frick Art Museum’s Art & Activism Workshop. Kids will examine and discuss this sculpture while considering the artist’s role in advocating for social change. With that inspiration, participants will create artwork of their own under the guidance of Frick teaching artists. Registration is $20.

12-foot-tall Little Alma was created by Handspring Puppet Company, who brought horses to life in the acclaimed theatrical production of "War Horse." Photo courtesy of The Walk Productions.
The 12-foot Little Alma was created by Handspring Puppet Company, which brought horses to life in the acclaimed theatrical production of “War Horse.” Photo courtesy of The Walk Productions.

7. Sept. 20-21: Little Amal Walks Across America, multiple locations

Little Amal is a 12-foot puppet that represents a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, who has become a global symbol of human rights. Her message to the world is “Don’t forget about us.” Since 2021, Little Amal has traveled more than 6,000 miles through 97 towns in 15 countries. She is now taking her walk 6,000 miles across the U.S., from Boston to San Diego. This September, the puppet is making several stops in Pittsburgh, where you can meet Little Amal and walk with her at community events. At noon on Sept. 20, she will appear at the O’Reilly Theater, then head to Carrie Furnaces at 6:30 p.m. On Sept. 21, Little Amal will celebrate with newly naturalized citizens at the City-County Building at 10 a.m. She’ll head to the Great Lawn on the North Shore to commemorate World Peace Day at noon, followed by a stop at Whitney Park in Wilkinsburg at 5 p.m. Those who care to support displaced refugee children can make donations to the Choose Love Amal Fund.

The “Bluey” animated series has been adapted as a theatrical production with larger-than-life puppets. Image courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

8. Sept. 23-24: “Bluey’s Big Play,” Benedum Center

On a Sunday afternoon, dad decides to take a bit of time off, but Bluey and Bingo aren’t having it. The sisters try their best to get Dad off his beanbag chair with a variety of games and clever ideas. That’s the premise of “Bluey’s Big Play,” a live theatrical adaptation of the popular “Bluey” television series that’s giving American youngsters Australian accents. Characters are brought to life by colorful puppets, along with an original story and music. The production is just long enough for small children, coming in at 50 minutes with no intermission. Tickets start at $36.50. Infants younger than 12 months will be admitted without a ticket but must sit on a grownup’s lap.

The Dollar Bank Junior Great Race includes all ages of kids in individual competitions. Photo courtesy of the Dollar Bank Great Race.

9. Sept. 23: The Dollar Bank Junior Great Race, Point State Park

The most adorable segments of The Dollar Bank Great Race are those involving competitive kids in the Junior Great Race. The Family Fun Run for ages 5-12 includes parents running alongside their kids in the 1-mile race. The Tot Trot welcomes ages 4 and younger to head down a 50-yard walled chute to their own finish line. And even those littles who can’t walk yet can join in the delight of the Diaper Dash. Registration is $10 for each Junior Great Race event. Every participating kid receives a T-shirt and commemorative medallion upon completion of their event. Expect a festive atmosphere throughout the day with craft activities, face painting and snacks.

Kids love the petting zoo that’s part of Hay Days. Photo courtesy of Allegheny County Parks.

10. Sept. 23 and 30: Hay Day, Allegheny County Parks

Revel in a harvest season party! Hay Day is on the calendar, rain or shine, for Sept. 23 at Hartwood Acres and Sept. 30 at South Park. The free family-focused festivities offer hayrides, a barnyard petting zoo and bounce houses. Kids will love the inflatables, puppet show, magician and balloon artist. Games and giveaways will add another level of hilarity. Food and beverages will be available for sale from food trucks and vendors, such as Ekernally Yours, Bruster’s, Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck and Tambellini’s. No registration is required.

Bonus events

Sept. 7-24: “Lord of the Flies,” Little Lake Theatre Company

Sept. 8-10: Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Carrie Blast Furnaces

Sept. 10: Grandparents Day, Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium

Sept. 23: Story Saturday: “A Dress with Pockets,” Carnegie Museum of Art

Sally Quinn is a Pittsburgh-based editor and writer who writes about food, entertainment, kid stuff, pop culture, cocktails!