A sandwich at Picklesburgh
Picklesburgh. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Whether you’re craving culture, nature or people-watching, July is your month. The summer festival season kicks into high gear with local favorites debuting expanded offerings — plus who doesn’t love tacos, goats and Ferraris?

Check out our July concert guide for all the details about the Pittsburgh Black Music Festival, the newly rebranded North Side Music Festival and more local shows in July. And don’t forget the Fursuit Parade and Block Party on July 1 as part of Anthrocon, featured in our June event guide.

1. Architects of Air: Daedalum at The Backyard at 8th & Penn: July 1

Put down that device, exhale slowly and be transported to another world — right in the heart of the Downtown skyline. It’s the newest public art phenomenon taking over the Cultural District and it’s half the size of a football field. Forget everything you know about inflatable art and bouncy houses and step into a “luminarium.” At the core of the colossal walk-in sculpture designed by Architects of Air founder Alan Parkinson is a maze of 19 egg-shaped domes that create mysterious sight lines and perspectives. Be bathed in multi-sensory light and vibrant color, rest inside glowing orbs and wander down a mesmerizing labyrinth of radiant pathways, tunnels and domes. The main dome features innovative indirect illumination that varies the interior hues based on the sun. The 600-piece pattern of the dome’s ceiling was inspired by the Roman Pantheon and the drawings of Gustave Doré. It’s a spectacle you must see to believe. Tickets.

Fourth of July fireworks
Photo courtesy of VISITpittsburgh.

2. Independence Day at Point State Park: July 4

Give your grill a rest and head to the Golden Triangle’s green jewel, which provides a scenic backdrop for a dramatic light show in the sky. Start your holiday reflecting on the history of Independence Day at the Fourth at the Fort event. At 1 p.m., Fort Pitt Museum staff, scouts and veterans will raise a 36-foot American flag. From 4 to 10 p.m., Point State Park is your July 4th hub with a family-style picnic, demonstrations and local and nationally touring acts rocking three stages. The patriotic festivities include a C-17 flyover, food truck corral, kids activities and interactive displays. After dinner, burn off some calories with Summer Soul Line Dancing. Illuminating the skyline for a jaw-dropping 25 minutes, the night’s main attraction begins at 9:35 p.m. accompanied by a live broadcast soundtrack from TJ the DJ. Don’t dig crowds? Watch the celebration from home via WPXI-TV. For more to do on July 4, head to Carnegie Science Center’s star-spangled Explosive Science event from 6 to 11 p.m. If you’re looking for road trip ideas for the holiday, visit our Outdoor Guides for tons of great ideas.

Fleet Feet Liberty Mile. Photo courtesy of P3R.

3. Fleet Feet Liberty Mile in Downtown Pittsburgh: July 7

Skip happy hour and try something different on a Friday night. Think you have what it takes to sprint a mile during the dog days of summer? Downtown’s only nighttime road race, the exhilarating event showcases a variety of fitness levels. Families are encouraged to run together and there’s a 50% discount for participants 13 and younger. After the 7 p.m. race, watch in awe as the nation’s speediest runners compete for one of the country’s largest road mile prize purses — a whopping $21,000. The USATF-certified course starts and finishes in the Cultural District. Participants can register at one of three levels offering different perks including a race day shirt, finisher’s medal, sunglasses and customizable bib. Register.

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble.

4. Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble at City Theatre: July 7-28

Take your ears to new dimensions when the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble sets up shop at the theater’s historic South Side campus. Stretching the boundaries of the live concert experience, each multimedia performance incorporates immersive sound, lighting and staging technologies. The ensemble brings together artists from around the planet to perform commissions and world premieres every weekend in July. This season’s lineup pairs Pulitzer Prize-winning composers with Grammy-nominated artists. From Thomas Albert’s cinematic score merging jazzy bebop and a Jack Kerouac vibe to surrealist sounds inspired by painter René Magritte to a large-scale palindrome consisting of seven ensemble movements, these concerts will stir your soul. Performances start at 8 p.m. If you’re a newbie, don’t miss the free “First Limers” program! Tickets.

GT40 Green Flag. Photo by Bill Stoler.

5. Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix: July 14-23

You’ll be seeing red this month when the country’s largest vintage race revs up in Western PA. Each year a vintage vehicle is deemed the marquee model — and this year it’s all about Ferraris with the theme of Rosso Corsa, the racing red color made famous by the Italian luxury sports car maker. Showcasing all things that go vroom, the PVGP captivates auto aficionados, speed freaks and curious tourists alike for 10 thrilling days, including brand-new events like the Sewickley Stampede and Corvette Charity Sweepstakes. If you only have one day to catch it, don’t miss the closing Race Weekend in Schenley Park — the country’s only vintage race run on city streets. See classic, antique and exotic vehicles at the International Car Show, grab lunch at the Food Courtyard and shop at the Vendor Village. Additional high-octane highlights include the Kick-Off Rallye, PVGP Historics, Blacktie & Tailpipes Gala, Countryside Tour, and Passport to Elegance. Event schedule.

Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest. Photo by Chris Bowman.

6. Summer Beerfest at Stage AE: July 15

When the mercury is off the charts during the thick of summer, there’s nothing like a cold beer. Luckily for us, Pittsburgh Summer Beerfest is returning to the North Shore to say cheers to its 10th anniversary. In a new twist on the froth formula for its milestone year, Beerfest organizers are heeding the call from fans to add an afternoon session. Instead of two nights, this year’s fest offers one afternoon session and one evening session, both on Saturday. Sip the suds from 200 local, regional and hard-to-find craft beer makers — plus offerings from independent wineries and distilleries. Drink up for the pups, because proceeds benefit Animal Rescue Partners and Biggies Bullies. Tickets.

Picklesburgh. Photo by Renee Rosensteel courtesy of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

7. Picklesburgh on Boulevard of the Allies: July 21-23

Now that Pittsburgh has fallen hard for pickles, there’s no going back. Great news for lovers of the dill delight: Picklesburgh is unveiling a new footprint spanning the Boulevard of the Allies to provide expanded space for vendors, help alleviate overcrowding and accommodate the event’s ever-growing scale and popularity. See for yourself why Picklesburgh was voted USA Today’s #1 Best Specialty Food Festival three times. Look up to spot the signature Heinz pickle balloon floating over iconic PPG Plaza, home to The Kraft Heinz Company — as an homage to their beloved pins and hometown roots. Way more than just pickles, the culinary celebration spotlights international cuisine and handcrafted dishes from chefs who get creative with house-cured pickled vegetables. Gherkin gurus can even compete in a pickle juice drinking contest and shop for funky pickle-themed merchandise. The briny bash includes how-to demonstrations showcasing DIY canning and the farm-to-table movement, plus live music and a Li’l Gherkins KidsPlay Activity Area. Clear your palate and get ready to treat your taste buds to dill-icious delights, peculiar pickled drinks and savory sensations.

Attendees of House Party at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater. Photo by Lindsay B Garvin.

8. House Party at Kelly Strayhorn Theater: July 22

NYC forever has the legacy of Studio 54 but East Liberty has the House Party of the future. Get your Instagram-worthy glam on and get out of the house to support this vibrant cultural institution. The enchanting evening takes its cue from the iconic couture of the Met Gala, plus the nightclub drama of global metropolitan centers. See mesmerizing live performances by video producer and performance artist Cornelius Henke III — aka ProjectileObjects — Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary performance entity slowdanger and multimedia queer-oriented artist Scott Andrew. The experience kicks off with an immersive VIP reception followed by the only dance party in town you need to know about. The “Pay What Moves You” sliding ticket price ($50-$250) is something else to tempt you.

Photo courtesy of Friends of South Side Park.

9. Goat Fest PGH at South Side Park: July 29

Put down that weed whacker and head to the South Side to see nature’s industrious garden helpers in action. They’ve captured the hearts of Pittsburghers and now the highly intelligent and impossibly adorable Allegheny GoatScape crew is back to celebrate the seventh anniversary of this unique festival. See how goats have helped to transform the park — by dining on destructive invasive plants — where volunteers have planted 1,150 native trees and shrubs that mitigate landslides, reduce erosion and improve air quality. Hosted by Friends of South Side Park from noon to 4 p.m., the free fest boasts an artisan market, three hours of live music, summer eats, a petting zoo and children’s activities. While loving on the goats, you can shop at the plant sale, embark on a puzzle adventure and join a photo contest. Park at 21st St & Josephine and hop on the free shuttle.

10. TacoMania Super Fest at SouthSide Works: July 30

Tacos, mariachi and wrestling? Yes, please. If you love its brew fests at the Carrie Furnaces then you don’t want to miss this first-of-it’s-kind street food celebration Beers of the Burgh is producing at the SouthSide Works. So much more than a taco festival, it’s a six-hour chance to savor everyone’s favorite hand-held cuisine crafted by 12 of Pittsburgh’s top taco joints. In between tastings watch a “match made in Hot Metal heaven” as local pros from Enjoy Wrestling heat up the mat. Keeping the soundtrack lively will be a Mariachi band and DJ Samuel Andres. Wash it all down with a refreshing Don Julio margarita and suds from four local breweries. Look for La Palapa, Taqueria El Pastorcito, Tocayo Taqueria, Dos Reyes, Vaya Mexican Street Food, Los Gallitos and many others. Tickets.

See more things to do this summer in Pittsburgh.

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.