The dog days are here and they’re calling us all to get outdoors for the return of food, music and pop culture celebrations, Pittsburgh’s newest festival and even some extreme recreation. Here are 11 events you can’t miss this month.

Taco Takeover
Photo courtesy of Taco Takeover.

1. Taco Takeover at the Carrie Furnaces: August 1

Sorry pierogi, August is all about tacos. Lovers of the tortilla-filled wonder will flock to the National Historic Landmark where dozens of Pittsburgh’s premiere mobile cocinas will showcase their best takes on the handheld street food — from the traditional and authentic to the eclectic and unexpected. The roster of mouth-watering mobile food purveyors includes Curbside Cocina, La Palapa, Taquitos, Cool Beans Taco Truck and Tocayo Taqueria. Along with mountains of tacos, there will be a free shuttle from The Waterfront, live music, brews and margs, ice cream and tours of the giant blast furnaces. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets to create a picnic area on the grass. Buy tickets.

2. Millvale Music Festival: August 6-7

The return of outdoor music festivals feels like a gift from summer to the people of Pittsburgh. For these two dog days of summer in August, the place to experience and support the region’s live music scene will be along the Allegheny River in Millvale. Clubs, bars, parks, restaurants, breweries, churches, community centers and creative spaces will be filled with the sounds of 250 local bands — representing all genres under the sun — who have been itching to perform live again. For its biggest incarnation yet, the community festival will feature 24 stages throughout the borough, along with a pop-up Roadkill Mobile Art Gallery, comedy and spoken word performances, food trucks and more. For a sneak peek of the sounds, check out this Spotify playlist.

Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

3. Asian Lantern Festival at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium: August 14

See one of Pittsburgh’s top destinations in a new light. Shining a spotlight on conservation, community and diversity, the festival’s debut will welcome visitors on select nights through Oct. 30. The glow of 50 towering wildlife-themed lanterns will illuminate the entire site creating a captivating evening experience. Handcrafted from steel and silk, the towering sculptures will embody three interconnected themes: the zoo, the conservation of global species and Asian culture. As dusk takes hold, the lanterns will start to glow — with one even soaring 30 feet high. While strolling winding pathways, festival-goers also will enjoy culturally-inspired cuisine and live entertainment from Taiko drummers, Asian dance groups and origami artists. Buy tickets.

Photo courtesy of PulpFest.

4. PulpFest at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Cranberry: August 19-21

Did you know that one of the country’s two leading pulp magazine conventions is headquartered in Pittsburgh? Mystery, science fiction and intrigue will converge for three days when PulpFest returns. Pulp magazines — fiction periodicals named after the cheap paper on which they were printed — are the main attraction, but there’s so much more to feast your eyes on. Discover how these “throwaway magazines” inspire writers, artists, directors, gamers, designers, and creators of all ilks. Peruse the dealers’ room packed with pulps, vintage paperbacks, true crime mags, genre fiction, first-edition hardcovers, dime novels, original art, comic books, old-time radio shows, games, film serials and more. Pop culture lovers will bond at panel discussions, readings and talks. New this year is a program honoring legendary women editors. Get hardboiled and register here.

Little Italy Days
Photo courtesy of Little Italy Days.

5. Little Italy Days in Bloomfield: August 19-22

Get ready to live “La dolce vita” for four festive days in Pittsburgh’s very own Little Italy. Bloomfield’s Liberty Avenue commercial corridor could really use a boost after a year of shutdowns, and the return of Little Italy Days is your chance to support independent businesses while celebrating the region’s largest heritage festival. Eat your way through a street fair of scrumptious foods that’s 10 football fields long, watch pizza stretching demos and catch 30 acts on three stages. You’ll be transported to the Old Country with authentic Italian accordion music, opera singers, traditional dancing and much more. Don’t miss the excitement of the celebrity bocce tournament and the dramatic Italian procession.

Photo courtesy of Pogopalooza.

6. Pogopalooza in Market Square and Wilkinsburg: August 20-22

After the Olympics mania fades, keep the adrenaline pumping with extreme pogo. Yep, there really is a Pogo World Championships, and yep, it’s really taking place in Pittsburgh. Watch in awe as the planet’s top pro pogo stick athletes perform gravity-defying tricks and flips 10 feet into the air. The eye-popping action kicks off Friday in Market Square, where high jump competitors will attempt to set a Guinness World Record by soaring over an 11-foot bar. Over the weekend, Xpogo’s Wilkinsburg HQ will host world championship competitions and never-before-done stunts in a custom-built pogo park. The exhilarating event also includes a Bounce Off Contest for kids, an open jump area with pogo sticks for the public to try and food trucks. Register for free.

Picklesburgh. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

7. Picklesburgh in Downtown Pittsburgh: August 20 & 21

Nothing can sour this summer’s pickle party. The biggest dill Downtown will be when this savory sensation makes its triumphant and tasty return. A brand new 35-foot Heinz pickle balloon will fly high over the 7th Street Bridge and the briny fun will extend along Ft. Duquesne Boulevard. Way more than just gherkins, the beloved culinary celebration will showcase dill-ectable international dishes and artisan cocktails featuring pickled ingredients, the farm-to-table movement and the rising popularity of canning. Watch pickle juice drinking contests (gulp), join DIY cooking demos and relish all the fun with pickled-themed merch and live music. You’ll soon discover why Americans consume 26-billion pickles a year (aka nine pounds of pickles per person)!

Pittsburgh Juice Company bottles. Photo by Kate Hellett courtesy of VegFest.

8. Pittsburgh VegFest in Allegheny Commons Park: August 21

Experience — and taste — the power of plants when this one-of-a-kind Pittsburgh foodie fest returns to the North Side. The collective hunger has been growing since the event was canceled last year due to the pandemic, and now VegFest’s vendors are ready to host this herbivore’s paradise. Showcasing the city’s best vegan cuisine, the free event also features live music and a small business market with local artisans, nonprofits and wellness organizations. Plus, lots of quality time with some very cute animals, thanks to Pigsburgh Squealers, Misfits Coven, Great Pyrenees Club and Biggies Bullies. You’ll feel so good when you consume from purveyors such as Onion Maiden, Pittsburgh Juice Company, Allegro Hearth Bakery, Viridis, Shado Beni and Sugar Spell Scoops.

PedalPGH. Photo by Murphy Moschetta courtesy of BikePGH.

9. PedalPGH: August 26-29

Pennsylvania’s largest bike ride rolls again. Whether you’re hopping on two wheels for the first time ever, or are a cycling warrior, PedalPGH has a route for you. From a leisurely loop along flat riverfront trails to an epic 62-mile challenge, the event’s four fantastic routes showcase Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, topography, landmarks and views. As a hybrid event, in-person riders can join the festivities on August 29, or ride virtually anytime between August 26 and 29. The event raises funds for BikePGH. So choose the route that’s best for you, and receive your limited-edition gear, digital ride guide with audio navigation and sweet giveaways. Register here.

Party at the Pier
Party at the Pier. Photo by Maranie Staab.

10. Haute on The Highline Party at the Pier: August 28

Your wardrobe misses you. Don your finest summer chic, reboot your social life and get “hautedoors” to help protect Pittsburgh’s riverfronts. For the much-anticipated return of one of the summer’s hottest parties, Riverlife is taking the celebration to higher ground. One of the Burgh’s coolest new mixed-use developments, the converted train terminal features an acre of outdoor space, an elevated park overlooking the Mon and an office and retail complex on the South Side. While looking and feeling fab, you’ll be supporting Riverlife‘s Completing the Loop project — which is connecting a 15-mile, 1,055-acre Downtown riverfront amenity. The main event heats up with riverside music, dancing and festivities, boxed treats, libations from Sly Fox Brewing and cocktails from Wigle. Buy tickets.

Rock, Reggae & Relief
Photo by Scott Kostelnik courtesy of Rock, Reggae & Relief.

11. Rock, Reggae & Relief in Downtown Pittsburgh: August 28

Global and local musicians are banding together to lend a helping hand at a time when Pittsburgh needs it most — after the pandemic has devastated the region’s hospitality industry while also causing countless families to face food insecurity. A lineup of reggae icons and local luminaries will bring feel-good vibes — and a do-good spirit — to rock out along Forbes Avenue. Featured performers include legendary Jamaican band, The Wailers, and Grammy-winning musician, farmer and philanthropist Jason Mraz. Joining them for the outdoor fest will be Michael Glabicki’s Uprooted, Johnny Jensen and Roots of Creation. Don’t miss the after-party with Ras Prophet. Proceeds will benefit the Community Takeout program, a partnership between the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, 412 Food Rescue and the Piatt Family Foundation. Buy tickets.

For more events go here.

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.