If the temps are any indication, September has become the new August in Pittsburgh. School might be back in session for many, but September’s awesome event lineup proves that summer fun is far from over. There’s so much to do in fact that we could not limit our guide to just 10 things. We organized the best into four event categories so FOMO is out of the question.
FESTIVALS & FAIRS
Pittsburgh Soul Food Festival in Market Square: Sept. 1-3
Savor a “soulful taste of the Burgh” — literally. Making mouths water, local and national food purveyors turn Downtown into a showcase of traditional American soul food and ethnic cuisine. Honoring African-American food pioneers while highlighting today’s top culinary entrepreneurs, the fest turns up the heat with a tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop featuring Miami rap icon Trina. The soul sensation continues all weekend with music, cultural activities and vendors. Not to miss are the BBQ and mac and cheese competitions.
ReelAbilities at Pittsburgh Playhouse: Sept. 7–13
Be uplifted by the region’s only festival exploring and celebrating the lives, stories and experiences of people living with disabilities on film. For its 11th anniversary, ReelAbilities showcases five feature films and 14 shorts. Three nights of in-person festivities include after-parties, filmmaker Q&As and an art exhibition. Not to miss is the Pittsburgh premiere of “Abled: The Blake Leeper Story,” which includes a Q&A with the remarkable Paralympic runner. Schedule and tickets.
Pittsburgh Irish Festival at Carrie Blast Furnaces: Sept. 8-10
Traverse the Emerald Isle (without trekking 3,378 miles!) to experience culture, cuisine and lore surrounded by a steel industry landmark. So much is new for the luck of the Irish this year. Take a virtual reality tour of the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, explore traditional sports like hurling, camogie and Gaelic football and make music in the interactive Steeltown Acoustic Instruments Experience. Laugh your arse off with comedy shows, watch baking demos and try ancient axe throwing. Schedule and tickets.
Pittsburgh Art Book Fair at Carnegie Museum of Art: Sept. 9 & 10
Artists, designers and bookworms will converge for this first-of-its-kind celebration of printed matter. Surrounded by the museum’s world-class collection, the free fair showcases 60 local, national and international artists. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees can meet artists, creatives and small press publishers, connect with fellow book enthusiasts and shop for an incredible range of print media. Go beyond the page to explore book making and publishing during discussions and workshops, including a conversation led by Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Erin Zona and Imin Yeh.
A Fair in the Park at Mellon Park: Sept. 8-10
For three days in September, one of Pittsburgh’s green space jewels is also one of its most esteemed art fairs. Going strong for 54 years, the event showcases 85 artisans selling one-of-a-kind pieces in a range of media, including glass, metal, ceramics, fiber, wood, 2D, leather, jewelry and more. The weekend features food trucks, Calliope House music, Creative Citizens Studio activities and a scavenger hunt exploring local landmarks. Hours.
Pittsburgh County Fair at Allegheny Commons Park: Sept. 17
Who says Butler County gets to have all the fun? It might be in the city but the inaugural Pittsburgh County Fair has all the ingredients for a fantastic summer day. An urban agricultural celebration of all things handmade and homegrown, the inaugural fair is produced by Ferment Pittsburgh and Grow Pittsburgh. Channel your inner farmer, forager and fermenter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Meet local farmers and makers, enter the Best Tomato in Pittsburgh Contest and much more.
5Point Adventure Film Festival at 3 Rivers Outdoor Co.: Sept. 22
Looking for adventure on and off the big screen? Party with ASCEND, 3 Rivers Outdoor Co. and The Watersmith Guide, which are presenting films from the Westfjords of Iceland, America’s oldest trail race and the streets of Manchester, England. Meet a Latino conservationist making fly fishing more inclusive, women pushing the limits of freeriding and a trans woman navigating the culture of skateboarding. The fest includes local bites and suds, outdoor games, eco-vendors and shop discounts. Tickets.
Pittsburgh Dragon Boat Festival in North Park: Sept. 30
Cheer on dragon boat paddlers, race with your own team and support breast cancer survivors on an idyllic autumn day. Around scenic North Park Lake, spectators will experience dragon boat racing as community, sports and youth teams — as well as breast cancer survivors with Pittsburgh. Starting at 8:30 a.m., the exhilarating event features entertainment, food trucks, a parade and vendors.
THE BASH at City Theatre: Sept. 9
Forget cocktail attire, this night calls for cookout chic. Rewriting the book on the nonprofit fundraiser, City Theatre is taking the party into the streets. A chill, late summer vibe descends on the company’s historic campus for a block party featuring street food stations and craft cocktails inspired by the new season’s plays. Celebrate this South Side gem with performances and music by Ben Brosche, Dwayne Fulton Funk Factory, DJ Clara Kent, Brian Quijada, and DJ Bay. The festivities include lawn games, photo booths, an artisan marketplace, silent auctions, and a dance party. Tickets.
FlyBy 5K at Pittsburgh International Airport: Sept. 16
Why run around a track when you can run along a runway? A running (or walking!) experience you literally can’t get anywhere else, this one-of-a-kind course lets participants run right through the airfield and taxiways. It’s fun and easy for anyone to earn their wings at this family-friendly race, with a 5K course, a 2-mile fun run/walk and event festivities. Proceeds benefit the Allegheny County Airport Authority Charitable Foundation. Register now to take flight.
Art on Fire at Rockwell Park: Sept. 22
Pittsburgh Glass Center’s most important fundraiser brings the heat with its showcase of the magic made within 2,000-degree creative cauldrons. For the first time, Pittsburgh’s only glass art auction sets up shop in the recently renovated Rockwell Park. Get fired up to buy gorgeous glass art while supporting free programs and glass education. Tickets.
Art for Change at Stage AE: Sept. 22
Where can you bid on an iconic Herb Ritts photo of Madonna, enjoy a fab fete and support Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV/AIDS? New for Persad’s benefit bash are expanded auction galleries, a memorial section honoring the legacy of local trans pioneer Wendi Miller and a marquee presentation of 50-75 donated pieces. The live auction boasts signature works from Baron Batch, Burton Morris, Ellen Chisdes Neuberg, Tavi, Mia Tarducci, Mark Zets, and more. Tickets.
Dream City Magic at the Wilkinsburg Train Station: Sept. 23
It’s been a long wait since the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation’s last benefit bash in 2018, but the party returns at a breathtaking new location: the restored Wilkinsburg Train Station. Step into the Dream Room for an enchanted evening of magic, music and more. Celebrated magician and storyteller Jon Tai and INEZ and her band the Homewood Sound Machine will perform. Tickets.
The Great Race in Pittsburgh: Sept. 23 & 24
Race into fall at one of Pittsburgh’s most beloved running events. What Mayor Richard Caliguiri established in 1977 as a community fun run is now one of the country’s largest 10K races. Whether you’re a rookie runner, veteran athlete, or have a toddler in tow, there’s a race perfect for you — with a 10K, 5K, Family Fun Run, Tot Trot and Diaper Dash. Proceeds benefit the Richard S. Caliguiri Amyloidosis Fund. Register.
RAD Days at 70-plus venues: Sept. 8-Oct.17
Where can you create spooky sound effects, hear the story of a Holocaust survivor, and join a parade with a 12-foot puppet — all for free? Make that 75 rad things to do over the next 40 days. It’s that most radical time of year when Allegheny County’s amazing cultural, recreational and historical attractions open up for free. You can even skate on the ice at PPG Paints Arena. Schedule.
Pooches in the Pool & Dormont Doggie Dip in Allegheny County: Sept. 4
The only consolation on the saddest day of the year — when pools close for summer — that our four-legged besties get to jump right in after us. This Labor Day tradition invites the region’s fur babies to cool off in county pools from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Boyce Park, North Park, Settlers Cabin Park and South Park. Register. Over in Pennsylvania’s largest pool, the Dormont Doggie Dip allows pups to make a splash from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Register.
Find more things to do in Pittsburgh, including outdoor recreation, farmers’ markets, music festivals, movies and family activities.