Before getting consumed by the holiday hustle and bustle, take time to experience world-class arts and culture offerings, get active outdoors in the crisp fall weather and find handmade gifts for everyone on your list. There are so many ways to explore the city this November that we couldn’t limit ourselves to just 10 picks.
1. “The Wiz” at the Benedum Center: Nov. 1-5
If you love the 1978 film starring Diana Ross, you can’t miss this all-new Broadway tour. The remarkable cast features Alan Mingo Jr (“Kinky Boots”) as The Wiz and Nichelle Lewis making her debut as Dorothy. Featuring a book by William F. Brown and a Tony-winning score by Charlie Smalls, the show is directed by Schele Williams and complemented by an all-star production team. Tickets.
2. “Velvet Vignettes” at Kingfly Spirits: Nov. 2
Fans of David Lynch and contemporary dance will love this sultry night in the Strip District. The movement and the spirits will flow when Attack Theatre takes the show on the road to Kingfly. The production features singer, songwriter and actress Rebekah Del Rio, who makes a mesmerizing cameo in Lynch’s 2001 noir film, “Mulholland Drive” and performs in “Twin Peaks: The Return.” Equal parts art salon and happy hour, the one-night-only dance experience will explore sublime, surreal and mysterious themes. From 5:30 to 7 p.m., Kingfly’s mezzanine will morph into the “Bang Bang Bar” of “Twin Peaks” fame. Make it a Lynchian weekend when Attack also appears in Del Rio’s No Hay Banda event at Row House Hollywood on Nov. 4. Tickets.
3. Highmark Blues & Heritage Festival at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center: Nov. 3-4
Kicking off November’s live music calendar, this homegrown festival is the place to be for fans of blues and roots music. World-renowned bluesmen Bobby Rush and Eric Gales share the headlining spotlight with two members of Latin music royalty — percussionist extraordinaire Pete Escovedo and Buena Vista Social Club singer Omara Portuondo. It’s a rare chance to catch these living legends, so get tickets now.
4. Pittsburgh Pet Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: Nov. 3-5
Did someone say rabbit hopping, dachshund races and freestyling frisbee dogs? You might not know that the country’s largest Pet Expo takes place in Downtown Pittsburgh — but now that you do, you need to experience it. Whether you pop in few a few hours of pet therapy or embrace all three days of animal action, there are creature comforts to delight all ages, with two acres of pet-related experiences, 250 exhibitors and numerous shelter and rescue organizations. Tickets.
5. Hometown-Homegrown at Heinz History Center: Nov. 4
The pierogi, the pickle, the Big Mac and the Klondike — Pittsburgh knows how to create iconic foods. Eat your way through Pittsburgh’s past, present and future when this foodie favorite returns to mark its 10th edible edition from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Savor delights from 40 diverse vendors — from Pittsburgh staples like Isaly’s to emerging businesses such as All Things Empanada and Oakmont Olive Oil. Chris Fennimore demonstrates how to bake Mister Rogers’ beloved banana bread and Chef Alekka teaches you how to craft that elusive perfect pie crust. Tickets.
6. Slovak Heritage Festival at the Cathedral of Learning: Nov. 5
Head to one of the city’s most iconic landmarks to explore Slovak culture, cuisine, crafts and history. For its 33rd annual event, the free festival includes lectures, workshops, performances, vendors and displays. Sample delicious haluski and halupki, shop for authentic gifts, watch folk dancing ensembles and more. Travel to different regions of Slovakia through the evocative music of accordionist and singer Alena Kotlan and fujara player Ben Sorensen. The keynote speaker is Donald Warhola, who will share cherished memories of his very famous uncle Andy. Joe Bielecki will talk about the Sokol Movement — from its founding in 1862 in Prague to its arrival in the U.S. — and how the all-ages gymnastics organization has evolved. Information.
7. EQT Pittsburgh 10 Miler starting at Station Square: Nov. 5
Running around a track gets the muscles moving but running in this Pittsburgh-themed race will have your heart pumping with yinzer pride. The crisp fall weather is idyllic for running season so lace up and take your place at the 7:30 a.m. starting line joining 5,000 participants from 26 states and five countries. The hyper-local Tour de Burgh-style course keeps runners motivated with a route traversing three scenic bridges, dramatic Downtown views and landmarks. Themed miles are dedicated to Mister Rogers, the military and first responders, and the City of Champions. Running not your speed? Join P3R’s first-ever 10K walking division. Register.
Keep running, help fight food insecurity and get moving before that Thanksgiving feast during the lively YMCA Turkey Trot on Nov. 23. Register.
8. Three Rivers Film Festival and Pittsburgh Shorts: Nov. 8-19
Spanning eight exciting days, the Three Rivers Film Festival showcases 22 thought-provoking indie features at the Harris, Pittsburgh Playhouse, Lindsay Theater and Waterworks Cinemas. The fab opening night party is a must, featuring the premiere of Cody Hartman’s “Unsinkable,” the Titanic drama made right here in Pittsburgh (perfect timing with the Titanic exhibit at Carnegie Science Center!). After Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster hit, everyone knows Barbie, but do you know the story of the first Black Barbie? Documentarian Lagueria Davis reveals the fascinating history through the eyes of Mattel employees, including her 83-year-old aunt. There’s so much to do beyond the silver screen, with premieres, meet-and-greets and receptions. Showcasing 119 “little gems you can’t see anywhere else,” including “Chiller Theater” selections, Pittsburgh Shorts is up next, with a script competition, readings by Pittsburgh actors and a conference featuring Steve Stark and Justine Bateman. Schedules and tickets.
9. CRAFTED at Contemporary Craft: Nov. 10
Cut through the holiday shopping noise and forget the latest tech gadgets, devices and distractions. The best gifts truly are handmade and one of the best places to find them is at Contemporary Craft in Lawrenceville. Kick off the magic of the gift-giving season with the nonprofit’s annual shopping event. A highlight will be the gorgeous selection of mugs and drinkware made by 30 artists from across the country curated exclusively for the 2023 holiday season. While shopping from 5:30 to 8 p.m., sip festive cocktails and nosh on snacks. Tickets.
For more handmade gifts, check out I Made It! for the Holidays on Nov. 11 at The Block Northway.
10. Winter Wonderland Gala and Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps: Nov. 16 & 17
Before tackling that never-ending holiday to-do list, experience a doubleheader weekend of “winter magic.” First, raise a glass to the institution’s milestone 130th anniversary at the Conservatory’s first gala in four years. Step into the grand glasshouse to be the first to see the brand-new Holiday Magic! Winter Flower Show. Featuring live music by the Boilermaker Jazz Band and interactive magic with Jon Tai, the Winter Wonderland Gala supports vital horticultural research, education and outreach. On Saturday, kick off the season at this beloved Pittsburgh tradition where you’ll be mesmerized by marvelous metallics, twinkling trees and fantastic flowers through Jan. 7. Get into the spirit with 21 varieties of poinsettias, a 10-foot red anthurium tree and exquisitely detailed props. Inside and out you’ll be bathed in spectacular lights, including glowing orbs, giant gift boxes and simulated fireworks – all crafted using energy-efficient LEDs. Tickets.
11. Light Up Night in Downtown Pittsburgh: Nov. 18
Did you know that the very first Light Up Night was held Downtown on Nov. 21, 1960, and was reported to be the first of its kind in the country? Produced by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Highmark Light Up Night returns for its 62nd edition as a part of an expanded celebration. Join revelers to experience heartwarming traditions and new attractions, from dramatic tree lightings to the culminating Zambelli Fireworks display. A main attraction since 1999, the colossal Pittsburgh Crèche is the only authorized replica of the nativity featured in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Shop during the grand opening of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market and glide around The UPMC Rink at PPG Place.
12. Dazzling Nights at Pittsburgh Botanic Garden: Nov. 24
The region’s newest holiday light attraction — which debuted last year — is back bigger and brighter than ever through Jan. 1. Pittsburgh Botanic Garden is wondrous during all four seasons and now it’s the place to make new holiday memories, connect to nature and embrace your inner hygge. As the daylight diminishes, be dazzled by millions of lights illuminating a landscape that was once a toxic coal mining site. Journey through a field of 2,000 flickering flowers, feel the fiery glow of Moroccan lanterns and hop across an interactive walkway. Enter a scintillating tunnel of giant stars, snap festive photos in front of a 30-foot stained glass tree and sway to the soothing sounds of holiday music. Head to the Lotus Pond for a laser show featuring 100 beacons of light dancing 10 feet into the air. Making the evening complete will be sweet treats, libations and holiday merchandise in the Forage & Finds Gift Shop. Tickets.
13. FashionAFRICANA’s Africanism Gala at Pittsburgh Public Theater: Nov. 25
There’s a brand new gala in town and it promises to be one of the year’s most style-forward events. With rock star designer Kiya Tomlin chairing the inaugural AFRICANISM event, this is one haute couture happening you can’t miss. Featuring music and dance performances and an after-party with DJ Femi, the showcase of African-inspired fashion is hosted by 54 committee members all selected for their commitment to advancing Black creatives. The number 54 was chosen to embody the 54 countries in Africa. Receiving the inaugural AFRICANA Icon Award is acclaimed costume designer Paul Tazewell of “Hamilton” fame. Tickets.
14. Suite Life at Kelly Strayhorn Theater: Nov. 25
Celebrate the theater’s history-making namesakes — two Pittsburgh cultural hall of famers — with the music of composer Billy Strayhorn and the imagery of performer Gene Kelly. Led by pianist Alton Merrell, the who’s who of musical royalty features Dwayne Dolphin (bass), James Johnson III (drums), Colter Harper (guitar) and jazz singer Joshua Banbury. A Thanksgiving weekend tradition, the theatrical night begins with a VIP reception at Duolingo’s East Liberty HQ at 5:30 p.m. Tickets.
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