Festivals are not just for summer anymore. From distinctly different film festivals to horticulture, horror and home decor — March in Pittsburgh is a study in contrasts. It’s shaping up to be an exciting month, so whether you’re heading to the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade revelry on March 11 or hiding under the covers until the vernal equinox, we’ve got 11 terrific ways to surge into spring. And don’t miss our Weekly Event Guides for more things to do in Pittsburgh.
1. History Uncorked: A Beautiful Night in the Neighborhood at Heinz History Center: March 3
Leave that LBD and tux in the closet, and instead, button up your favorite cozy cardigan and lace up those comfy sneakers. Pittsburgh’s premiere young professionals party pays tribute to one of the Burgh’s, and planet’s, most famous neighbors. Make like Mister Rogers and mingle with thousands of neighbors during block party-inspired activities. You might need to take off that cardigan because things will heat up during the dance party hosted by DJ Bamboo, DJ Arie Cole and DJ Cake. Test your 412 knowledge with the Trivia Jockeys, sit for tarot card readings and bid on cool auction items. You can even step into The Neighborhood of Make-Believe while exploring six floors of dynamic exhibitions, including Ron Donoughe’s must-see “90 Neighborhoods” paintings. Buy tickets.
2. Fran Lebowitz at Carnegie Music Hall: March 3
Don’t even think about staying home when you can spend the evening with the inimitable Fran Lebowitz. The New York Times has called her a “modern-day Dorothy Parker,” she’s the subject of films directed by Martin Scorsese for HBO and Netflix and she’s one of the planet’s most insightful social commentators. A fixture on the NYC art scene since the 1970s, the iconoclastic author, public speaker and sometimes actor graces Carnegie Music Hall with her presence for this special event presented by Sewickely’s Penguin Bookshop, which will be on-site selling books. Snag tickets before they’re gone.
3. Horror Realm at Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South: March 3-5
George Romero launched an entire genre of horror film in Pittsburgh and the auteur’s archival collection is housed at Pitt. Meanwhile, Tom Savini’s Special Make-Up Effects Program is headquartered at the Douglas Education Center in Monessen and Buffalo Bill’s house from “The Silence of the Lambs” can be booked for overnight stays in Perryopolis. So is it any wonder that the Burgh is home to this long-running convention of creep? Run by uber fans, the terror fest features vendors peddling DVDs, artwork, apparel, collectibles and memorabilia, toys, books and comics, artwork and more. Gore gurus gather to play gruesome games, meet slasher celebs, and participate in contests, photo opps and panel discussions. The macabre merrymaking also features a zombie film festival, scarey-oke party, bad movie bingo and horror match games. Buy tickets — if you dare.
4. Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: March 3-12
With spring around the corner, the season of decorating, gardening and remodeling is here. The country’s largest home event is the best place to hatch new projects, and finish old ones. So before making a zillion trips to Home Depot and struggling through YouTube videos, talk face-to-face with the pros all in one place. Spanning 10 acres, the 41st-anniversary event features 1,500 exhibits showcasing the latest products and services. Inherited a family heirloom? Meet with expert appraiser Dr. Lori from the Discovery Channel’s “The Treasure of Oak Island,” who will assess items on-site. See showtimes and buy tickets.
5. Carnegie International Film Festival at Carnegie Museum of Art and Row House Cinema: March 3-12
You have a month left to experience one of the globe’s most significant contemporary art exhibits (check out our step-by-step guide to visiting the Carnegie International) which only comes around once every three or four years. This festival curated by Rasha Salti is a fantastic opportunity to go beyond the gallery walls to the big screen. Examining Cold War geopolitics, the festival amplifies contemporary cinema practice from Central America as well as Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Lebanon, France and the U.S. Film-goers will see “a version of history that challenges the impunity of the victors, confronts imperial powers with their legacies of devastation and forges their own paths for repair.” See showtimes and buy tickets.
6. ICON: Dolly Parton event at the Hard Rock Cafe: March 8
We can’t think of a more fun way to honor International Women’s Day. Call her the Queen of Country, call her The Book Lady or call her “Aunt Granny” — just be there to party down and pay respect. International Dolly Parton tribute artist Karen Hester sings her way into your heart during this shindig hosted by drag queen Alora Chateaux. Walk the pink carpet and strike a pose, sip signature cocktails and indulge in delectable Dolly desserts. The Women Who Rock Pop-Up Shop will be on-site with info about its new partnership with Hard Rock Cafe. Dolly devotees will nab a Made In PGH gift bag and proceeds benefit Magee-Womens Research Institute. Buy tickets.
7. Lights! Glamour! Action! at The Pennsylvanian: March 11
No need to travel 2,427 miles to Tinsel Town because the Pittsburgh Film Office (PFO) is rolling out its giant red carpet Downtown. On the eve of the 95th Academy Awards, the PFO turns its lens on the region’s thriving entertainment industry. Recent productions include TV shows “Mayor of Kingstown” and “American Rust” and films “A Man Called Otto,” “The Pale Blue Eye” and “The Deliverance.” The enchanted evening includes music by Beauty Slap, red-carpet interviews with Dixie Surewood and an Oscar Fashion Show with Brian David Design. Sip #RatedPGH themed cocktails, participate in an Oscar ballot contest and savor decadent cuisine. Buy tickets.
8. Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival at multiple venues: March 16-April 2
How does change impact humanity? This year’s Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival uses cinema to tackle big questions surrounding the concept of change and how it shapes reality. Through the perspective of 12 award-winning films, the three-week festival asks all of us to reflect on our relationship with change. After transitioning to a virtual experience engaging audiences across the globe via a digital forum, the film festival welcomes cinephiles in-person to McConomy Auditorium, the Harris Theater and the August Wilson African American Cultural Center. Audiences will experience stories representing diverse cultures and 20 countries — from the struggles of a Palestinian man living in Haifa to a woman’s eight-year journey back to Seoul, to issues of identity, family and displacement faced by an Eritrean-American teen in gentrified Seattle. Special guests, catered receptions and a short film competition augment the presentation. See showtimes and buy tickets.
9. Spring Flower Show: Five Senses of Splendor at Phipps: March 18
Awaken your senses and shake off hibernation just in time for the spring equinox. Tens of thousands of spring blooms in a rainbow of shades — from lilies, amaryllis and petunias, to daffodils, tulips and hyacinths — will make you feel renewed. Unwind beside a bubbling serene stream, bright red footbridge and Japanese-style garden. Enjoy a sea of white, peach and pink blooms in the Victoria Room and listen to the iconic springtime songs of birds chirping overhead. Go behind the scenes of the flower show with Yinzer Backstage Pass. Tickets are available starting March 6.
10. Pittsburgh Humanities Festival in the Cultural District: March 24-26
Public radio legend Ira Glass. Hip hop star Monie Love. Mayan bioengineer Jorge Jimenez. Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. These are some of the inspiring voices that will spark community connections when this festival takes discussions out of siloed academic campuses and brings them to accessible Downtown spaces. International figures join local thought leaders to lead a curated mix of intimate conversations. The thought-provoking lineup kicks off with Friday’s mainstage event, The Legacy of Women in Hip Hop, featuring DJ Perly, graffiti artist Juliandra Jones and street dancer Teena Marie Custer. The night culminates with music by Grammy-nominated rapper Monie Love, DJ Perly and local female emcees. Not to miss is Saturday’s featured program, An Evening with Ira Glass: Seven Things I’ve Learned. Additional sessions explore fascinating topics from Flamenco culture, fascism and voguing, to “how the Steelers saved Pittsburgh” and virtual reality Shakespeare. All events include Q&As inviting community members into the conversations. Buy tickets.
11. Banksyland at a location TBA: March 31
It may seem antithetical to mount a physical exhibition of site-specific temporary work by the world’s most elusive street artist, but anyone intrigued by Banksy can’t miss it. Dubbed “Unauthorized and Unmasked,” the 32-city internationally touring exhibit immerses audiences in the creative practice, mystique and cultural impact of the pseudonymous England-based street artist, activist and director. The Pittsburgh exhibit features 80 works, including studio creations, salvaged street pieces and never-before-seen immersive installations at a secret Downtown location that will be announced to ticket holders. Produced by One Thousand Ways, the multimedia experience aims to bring guerrilla art to viewers who would otherwise never have the chance to encounter it. The three-day show offers a means-based ticket program and includes an audio guide and gift shop. It’s expected to sell out, so get tickets now.
Find more things to do in Pittsburgh, including weekly events, live music and family activities, here.