September may be a time of transition, but summer’s far from over, so keep those social calendars open and those dance shoes on. It’s one of the city’s biggest months for cool events, so naturally, we can’t stop at 10. Many beloved Pittsburgh festivals are moving to new locations, and we’ve got the deets you need. Read on to score an exclusive discount to one of the year’s hottest parties. And check out our Concert Guide for the scoop on September’s jazz and blues festivals.
1. A Soulful Taste of the Burgh in Market Square: Sept. 2-4
Get a soulful taste of the Burgh at this culinary festival honoring the rich history of Black food businesses that have had a presence in the region since 1795. The free event from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. showcases 50-plus independent food proprietors, including Unique, African Cuisine, Cuddy’s Soul Food, Leon’s Caribbean, Very Vendi and Early Mae Bakery. Additional highlights include a BBQ contest, cultural activities, craft vendors and a Kids Fun Zone. The stage is packed with live music by Chantal Joseph Band, Royce, Pastor Dyreck Tines & the Lemington Chorale, Rodney McCoy, Pittsburgh Jazz All-Stars, Soul Radio Band and more.
2. Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival at Kennywood: Sept. 9
Where else can you ride the world’s oldest wooden roller coasters — and the only Noah’s Ark still in operation — while noshing on Pittsburgh’s favorite finger food? Amusement park thrills meet culinary delights at this pierogi paradise. In a festival first, the event takes place on a Friday night from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. With 100 inventive dishes from 20 vendors, anything goes on a plate — from rogicones, pierogi egg rolls and peach cobbler paczki to Caribbean pierogies and even “Pittsburgh in a Cup.” In between bites, hop on seven classic rides, pop into the Pierogi Market and Biergarten, and paint your own pierogi. Buy tickets.
3. Art for Change at Stage AE: Sept. 9
Persad Center knows that creativity can change lives. The nonprofit’s core fundraiser is also one of the region’s most impressive art auctions. And there’s a lot that’s new this year. Taking place at the North Shore concert venue for the first time, Art for Change will debut five exclusive auction galleries curated by Judy Barie, Madeline Gent, Steve Mendelson, Darrell Kinsel and Rachel Rearick. Also new is a pilot program compensating artists for their submissions. Auction highlights include a photo of Elton John from the Herb Ritts Foundation, work by NYC-based celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz and a piece by renowned artist Keith Haring. Keep the bids going because proceeds support mental health services to the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV/AIDS. Buy tickets.
4. Pittsburgh Irish Festival at Carrie Furnaces: Sept. 9-11
A steel industry landmark seems like a fitting new HQ for one of the country’s leading Irish-American festivals. Pittsburghers can step into the Emerald Isle (without trekking 3,374 miles!) to experience culture, cuisine and lore. New this year is a fifth stage where chefs and bakers will demonstrate recipes for concocting traditional treats. International headliners include Fierce fiddlers The Bow Tides, Celtic harpist Dennis Doyle, Glaswegian siblings The Friel Sisters, Santa Monica’s Gaelic Storm, and Donegal’s sister powerhouse The Screaming Orphans. Sample boxty pancakes and Guinness-infused fudge, visit the Genealogy Pavilion and Cultural Hedge School Stage, cuddle with Irish canines and try ancient Celtic axe throwing. Buy tickets.
5. A Fair in the Park in Mellon Park: Sept. 9-11
Looking for a hip wedding gift? Have a drab wall crying out for a makeover? Seeking artistic inspiration? Don’t miss the Craftsmen’s Guild of Pittsburgh’s signature event returning for its 53rd edition. Showcasing 85 fine artisans and skilled craftspeople from around Pittsburgh and the country, it’s a gathering space where art lovers can spend days exploring handcrafted products representing a wide range of media, including glass, metal, ceramics, fiber, wood, leather, photography, jewelry and more. Along with the juried artisan fair, the free event features a scavenger hunt, food trucks and tented seating areas. Fair hours are 1 to 7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
6. THE BASH at City Theatre: Sept. 10
The bash is back and you don’t want to suffer from FOMO. Flipping the script on the stale fundraiser, the street party benefit will activate City’s Theatre‘s historic South Side campus. Bingham Street will pulse with neighborhood food trucks, signature cocktails, live entertainment, an artisan market, sidewalk games and an epic dance party hosted by 1Hood Media and DJ QRX. BASH-goers will be treated to unique backstage experiences and tours. The festivities will honor City Theatre Director of Production Tony Ferrieri, who has designed 500 shows for Pittsburgh and Off-Broadway stages. Buy tickets.
7. Pittsburgh International Literary Festival at Alphabet City: Sept. 10-21
There’s never been a more critical time to support the City of Asylum’s mission. Just weeks after the horrific Aug. 12 stabbing of novelist Salman Rushdie and the injury of City of Asylum co-founder Henry Reese at the Chautauqua Institution, the Pittsburgh nonprofit announced its 10-day LitFest featuring participants from 15 countries. In-person and online events will promote cross-cultural exchange while exploring identity, marginalization and literature in translation. Featured authors include Neustadt Prize winner Dubravka Ugrešić (Croatia), New York Times bestselling author Gary Shteyngart (Russia) and Woman’s Prize nominee and Pittsburgh-based author Angie Cruz (Dominican Republic). Highlights include a partnership with Ukraine’s Slovo House Kharkiv, a first-of-its-kind panel on the U.S. Cities of Asylum movement and a launch of the Pittsburgh Live/Ability e-book and audio anthology. Just added to the robust roster is a Sept. 10 program celebrating Rushdie, the legacy of his literary vision and advocacy, and the power and necessity of the written word.
8. Art on Fire at The Maverick: Sept. 16
The temperatures might be starting to dip, but it’s always 2,000 degrees in the creative cauldrons at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. The Garfield-based facility sets up shop in East Liberty for the first time for Pittsburgh’s only glass art auction with 100 one-of-a-kind objects — from glass trash to a glass octopus to glass jewelry. Get fired up to support the center’s free public programs and glass education. In addition to live and silent auctions, the unforgettable experience features entertainment and abundant beverages and bites. This year’s honorary artist is Janusz Poźniak, who grew up in the U.K. and started working with glass when he was 19. Buy tickets.
9. Beers of the Burgh’s Rocktoberfest at SouthSide Works: Sept. 17
Look out Pittsburgh, there’s a new brew fest in town. Take all the quintessential elements of Oktoberfest — crisp fall weather, layered clothing (lederhosen optional), outdoor socializing, live music and fresh beer — add in local flavor, and you’ve got Beers of the Burgh’s Rocktoberfest. Featured breweries include Golden Age, Cinderlands, Dancing Gnome, Mindful, Old Thunder, Pittsburgh Brewing and Arsenal Cider. Stay nourished with food truck fare and buy a Rocktoberfest stein to get 4 extra ounces with each pour! Turning the festival vibes up a notch will be six local bands. Buy tickets.
10. Carnegie International at Carnegie Museum of Art: Sept. 23-24
It only comes around once every three or four years, so make plans now to experience one of the most significant presentations of contemporary art. The Burgh’s most anticipated art happening — and the longest-running North American exhibit of international art — returns with work by 100-plus artists and collectives, including historical pieces from international institutions and estates and new commissions. Curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, with Ryan Inouye and Talia Heiman, the exhibition “traces the geopolitical imprint of the U.S. since 1945 to situate the international within a local context.” Embracing the reality that humans’ internal clocks and experiences are different, the show is dubbed “Is it morning for you yet?” Extending beyond the galleries, the Carnegie International will activate the city with five exciting commissions including “an augmented tree that owns its land” planted at CCAC by Berlin collective terra0. Cuban American artist Rafael Domenech kicked off summer by designing an ellipse-shaped pavilion in CMOA’s sculpture court. Pittsburgh artist James “Yaya” Hough is painting a mural in the Hill District where he was born, while Tony Cokes is creating digital billboards on Route 28 addressing topics like racism, evil, imperialism and megalomania. Read NEXT’s insider look at the CI and view a list of participants. And don’t miss the party of the decade when CMOA teams up with NEXTpittsburgh to host a discotheque preview on Sept. 23. Buy tickets (NEXT readers get a discount!).
12. Andy Warhol’s Social Network at The Warhol Museum: Sept. 23
Forget 15 minutes of fame, what would the King of Pop Art think of a world obsessed with 15-second TikTok videos? Long before society was inundated with digital feeds, Warhol was launching a magazine dedicated to interviews with celebrities, artists, musicians and creative thinkers. Now, for the very first time, visitors have the chance to see materials from the museum’s permanent collection that have never been shown together before — including 205 issues of Interview magazine from 1969 to 1987. This cross-section of ephemera presented alongside his portrait commissions and his ventures in television highlight Warhol’s seminal social network of celebrities, social influencers, arts patrons and business elites. Don’t miss the free public party featuring DJ collective Axel F. with music and videos spanning Warhol’s famed days at Studio 54, Area, The Palladium, Mudd Club and Paradise Garage.
13. The Great Race in Pittsburgh: Sept. 24 & 25
If it’s the end of September, it’s time for this beloved Burgh tradition to take to the streets to usher in the fall running season. Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a rookie runner or have the kiddos in tow, there’s a race just for you — with a 10K, 5K, 1-Mile Family Fun Run, Tot Trot and Diaper Dash options. What was established by Mayor Richard Caliguiri in 1977 as a community fun run is now one of the country’s largest 10K races. On Sunday, the 10K begins at 9:30 a.m. in Frick Park at Beechwood Boulevard, and the 5K starts at Fifth Avenue and Atwood Street at 8 a.m. You’ll be psyched to join the Point State Park festivities when you cross the finish line Downtown. Proceeds benefit the Richard S. Caliguiri Amyloidosis Fund. Register now.
14. Bitchcraft Fair at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: Sept. 25
What better way to celebrate the autumnal equinox (Mabon in Wicca culture) than with this bizarre bazaar? Get your spooky season underway early at the Magickal Makers & Mystics Marketplace featuring 300 regional creatives and curators peddling rare oddities, metaphysical supplies and esoteric gifts you won’t find at other craft fairs. From 12 to 6 p.m., shop for prints, pottery and candles, sit for a tarot reading and sip from a cauldron of witchy spirits. Then go glam or ghoulish in the costume photo booth and pop into the Hagwarts School of Bitchcraft & Heathenry to explore magickal topics with mediums and mavens. Witchlings and sorcerer’s apprentices ages 10 and under are free. As the event sages say: “They couldn’t burn us, so join us!” Buy tickets.
For more things to do, check out our Weekly Event Guides and read Farewell summer: 10 September events for kids in Pittsburgh.