Ring in 2015 with a month full of terrific cultural events and happenings all around town—from sketch comedy to comfort food. Bid adieu to 2014 with our top 8 events not to miss in January, the second in our new monthly series. For more details, check out our events section each week.

The Second City: Marlena Rodriguez, Alan Linic, Lisa Beasley, John Thibodeaux, Liz Reuss, and Scott Morehead.

1. Pittsburgh Public Theater presents The Second City: January 6 – 10

We can’t think of a better way to welcome the New Year than by LOLing with legendary comedy troupe The Second City. They’ve launched the careers of Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell and Gilda Radner—to name a few—and now their talented touring show rolls into town for just five nights. Their first show about Pittsburgh since 2008’s Three Rivers Runs Through It, Chicago’s comedy superstars are gearing up to take the Burgh by storm with N’at’s All Folks!, a brand new sketch comedy and improv show directed by Anthony LeBlanc. The irreverent and celebratory roast will have you cracking up via witty jabs and clever commentary featuring local Steel City politics, our world-famous approach to speaking n’at (dubbed “America’s ugliest” accent in 2014), and of course, plenty of sports talk and black and gold humor.

In addition to the local angle, The Second City will perform favorites from their beloved and inimitable repertoire of fast-paced sketch comedy, wacky songs and trademark improv. A who’s who of comedy’s latest best and brightest, the cast features Marlena Rodriguez, Alan Linic, Lisa Beasley, John Thibodeaux, Liz Reuss, and Scott Morehead, along with music director and onstage accompanist Dane Halvorson. A cash bar will be open in the theater’s main lobby. Purchase tickets.


2. Pittsburgh Restaurant Week’s Winter 2015 Celebration: January 12 – 18

This month, let top chefs cook for you. Discover local fare at Pittsburgh Restaurant Week’s 2015 Winter Celebration, where you can savor new dishes and great eateries without breaking the bank. Celebrating “New Dishes for the New Year,” Restaurant Week highlights the wide variety of dining options that Pittsburgh has to offer, drawing patrons from all around the city and surrounding areas. For its 2015 showcase, the highly anticipated culinary celebration spotlights unique local restaurants and invites diners to enjoy new and innovative dishes and fine dining. All participating restaurants will offer three-course fixed-price meals or specials that range in price from $20.15 to $35.15. So whether you’re a city, suburban or rural dweller, head into Pittsburgh to stroll the business districts and enjoy unique and accessible meals.

Participating restaurants—which span many city neighborhoods—include everything from Butcher and the Rye, Arpino Trattoria, Avenue B, Seviche and Tender, Cioppino, Habitat, Isabela On Grandview, Meat & Potatoes, Root 174 and Verde Mexican Kitchen & Cantina (and many more!). Newly expanded for Winter 2015, participating restaurants now have the option to extend their week-long celebration to include extra bonus days. Also new this year is a special preview weekend running January 9-11th. Don’t miss Restaurant Week’s festive dish-preview Kickoff Party (purchase tickets) on January 8th, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Pittsburgh Opera in the Strip. Attendees will eat for a cause at the kickoff bash, which supports Animal Friends via charity raffles. The Winter 2015 installment also features an invitational food blogger dinner and a private Wrap Party with participating restaurant owners and chefs. View the most up-to-date listing of participating restaurants.


3. Strip District Music Festival: January 17

Music festivals are not just for summer anymore. And the Strip is not only about food. 80 bands, 16 hours and 11 venues (and counting!) will make for a great way to spend one very rocking January day in Pittsburgh’s unique Strip District. The debut of this multi-venue, music-based winter festival aims to generate neighborhood excitement and promote awareness about Pittsburgh’s vibrant music community during a time of the year that is generally regarded as a slow period for events.

Showcasing both the recent growth and resurgence taking place throughout the Strip District, as well as connecting music fans to new venues local and regional musicians, the mini-fest runs from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Featuring a wide range of musical genres, styles and sounds, performers include everyone from Cello Fury and Ferdinand the Bull, to Beauty Slap and The Red Western. Added bonus? The pay-what-you-want festival features a unique donation based online payment system. View a complete schedule of bands and list of venues.

4. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 19


There are many ways to celebrate and honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and not just on one day. Here are a few suggestions for meaningful and free events happening around town on Monday, January 19th—from East Liberty to the Northside.

One is the Kelly Strayhorn Theater‘s sixth annual East Liberty Celebrates MLK event. Offering pay-what-you-can admission, East Liberty Celebrates MLK runs from noon to 4 p.m. and is open to all ages. During this time of protests and conversations, the Kelly Strayhorn takes inspiration from the themes of resilience, hard work and determination found in the profound and relevant messages of Dr. King’s powerful words. Continuing the theater’s centennial season, the afternoon of activities and performances invites visitors to participate in projects led by Repair the World Pittsburgh, Assemble, Union Project, Fair Housing Partnership, Reading Is Fundamental, Center for Victims, Pittsburgh Cares and the YMCA Westinghouse Lighthouse Project. Attendees will also enjoy lively performers by Dreams of Hope, 1Hood, TCDC, Hope Academy and Soundwaves.

MLK Day for web event

Next, head to the nearby Union Project for the organization’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration, “Exploring Our Differences, Together.” The free all-ages event runs from 3 to 7 p.m. and centers on exploring “differences with unarmed truth and unconditional love in the spirit” of Dr. King. The welcoming gathering hopes to inspire a more inclusive and just community. The event will begin with an open discussion featuring community leaders who will facilitate a dialogue about race, cultural identity and disabilities. Next, small group activities will engage attendees in an exploration of the “complex and subtle nature of belonging and dis-belonging.” Participants can also visit the Union Project’s studios to participate in hands-on clay activities. The celebration will culminate with a free community meal.

On Friday, January 23rd, the Coro Center for Civic Leadership will present their 2015 MLK Jr. Leadership Awards at the New Hazlett Theater from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The awards ceremony will celebrate MLK’s values-based leadership, and will honor individuals and organizations throughout the region that “lead from their values in the service of building a more inclusive democracy.” For 2015, the three award categories are: the Distinguished Individual Leadership Award; the Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award; and the Distinguished Organizational Leadership Award. Winners will be announced at the event. Purchase tickets for the Coro event.

Cultural District logo stop sign_Medium
Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

5. Gallery Crawl in The Cultural District: January 23

New year, new you, new art. Bundle up and head Downtown for the winter edition of the Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District. Continuing its 10th anniversary season, The Cultural Trust’s signature quarterly showcase features a free night of immersive art, music, performance, film screenings and more. The winter installment features programming at 25 arts venues (23 of them are indoors!) peppered throughout the District between 5:30 and 10 p.m.

Attend openings at Wood Street Galleries, SPACE, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, Catholic Charities and 707 Penn to experience the latest in contemporary art. Join in the fun during the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council’s scavenger hunt, peruse pieces for your own walls at the 5th annual “bad art sale” at Shaw Gallery, shop under the stars at the Night Market and enjoy select happenings at Crawl After Dark locations. Warm up with live musical entertainment, including jazz and R&B by Velvet Beast at Backstage Bar, neo-soul and funk by Aaron Abernathy and DJ Nate da Phat Barber at the Trust Education Center, steel pan sounds at Urban Pathways and DJ Strawberry Christmas at SPACE. Look for the bright green Gallery Crawl sidewalk signs identifying participating locations to start your culture jamming.

Tangela Large
Tangela Large in Mr. Joy

6. City Theatre premieres Mr. Joy, January 24 – February 15

Kick off the New Year with a powerful world premiere play debuting at City Theatre’s Mainstage. Penned by award-winning author, singer and composer Daniel Beaty, Mr. Joy explores the healing process of an entire neighborhood. Theater-goers will be transported to a Harlem community that is suddenly disrupted when a shoe repair shop run by a Chinese immigrant does not open its doors after being a neighborhood pillar for decades. Find out what transpires when residents ask: “What happened to Mr. Joy?” From 11-year-old Clarissa, a budding shoe designer, to Bessie, a “gangsta granny,” the moving solo show follows nine different customers as they reflect on the shop owner’s impact on the community and they all strive to dream again. Making her City Theatre debut is Tangela Large, who stars in all of the play’s roles.

Winner of an Obie Award for Excellence, NAACP Theater Awards and more, Beaty has worked internationally with artists such as Ruby Dee, Mos Def, Tracy Chapman and Phylicia Rashad. Celebrating City Theatre’s 40th anniversary season, the compelling new work is directed by Lou Jacob, who returns to the company after working on Robert Hewett’s The Blonde, The Brunette and The Vengeful Redhead in 2009. Special events in conjunction with the play’s run include Sipping Sunday on January 25th, Sunday Talkbacks on February 1st and 8th and a Greenroom Young Professional’s Night on February 6th. View a complete performance schedule and purchase tickets.

7. Winter Weather Permitting debuts at The New Bohemian, January 25

Weather Permitting, photo by Ray Gerard.

Sundays this winter are about to get a lot more fun, thanks to Weather Permitting’s new winter series. The brainchild of Bloomfield-based DJ, event producer, designer and dad Pete Spynda—who is also the force behind popular local events such as Pandemic and the Pittonkatonk Brass Festival—Winter Weather Permitting kicks off on Sunday, January 25th. After transforming Shadyside Nursery into a family-friendly venue for music and merrymaking for the past two summers, Weather Permitting is now setting up shop inside one of the Burgh’s most distinctive spaces. For his latest series, Spynda is teaming up with The New Bohemian—which is housed in a former Czech Catholic built in 1900 which sits adjacent to the 16th Street Bridge along the Allegheny River on Pittsburgh’s historic Northside.

The cozy indoor edition offers a unique creative space for music fans to gather and mingle, warm up with live local music, eat and drink, and even let their kids run around in a safe space that’s open and accessible to all ages. The inaugural winter concert welcomes The Working Poor, The Pressure and Charlie Hustle & the Grifters. The fun kicks off at 3 p.m., and also features The Steer and Wheel food truck, beer from Rock Bottom Brewery and activities for kids. Admission is $10; kids are free. Next up for the winter series are events on February 8th and March 8th.

Sister Corita Kent
Corita Kent, things go better with, 1967, courtesy of Corita Art Center, Los Angeles.

8. Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent opens at The Andy Warhol Museum, January 30

You likely know her iconic work–from her 1985 love stamp to her bright bold posters conveying social messages. Now for the first time Pittsburghers can explore the life and legacy of pioneering American artist Corita Kent (1918–1986). The first museum show to survey Kent’s 30-year career, Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent runs at The Andy Warhol Museum from January 31st through April 19th. Don’t miss the free public opening on Friday, January 30th, from 7 to 10 p.m. Part of The Warhol’s ongoing Good Fridays series, the exhibition opening will also feature live music by DJ Huck Finn and a cash bar.

More than 200 prints are featured in the one-of-a-kind exhibition, including Kent’s early abstractions, text pieces and lyrical works, along with ephemera such as cover designs and documents. Also featured will be rarely shown photographs that Kent used for teaching and documentary purposes. A designer, educator, feminist and activist for civil rights and anti-war causes, Kent developed inventive silkscreen and serigraphy techniques, creating thousands of posters, murals and serigraphs that reflect her passion for both faith and politics, and embody messages of love, peace, hope and community. One of the most popular graphic artists of the 1960s and 1970s, Kent’s designs address universal questions and issues from a particularly turbulent time in history, yet they continue to influence artists today and possess a timeless relevance and power.

Kent’s signature style combines bold bright imagery with provocative texts—culled from variety of cultural sources, including ad slogans, grocery store signs, poetry, scripture, newspapers and song lyrics. Her clever “textual amalgams” juxtapose the secular and the religious, pop culture and fine art and pain and hope, and often incorporate poignant quotes from literary and cultural visionaries, such as Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, e. e. cummings and Gertrude Stein.

Looking for family activities in the New Year? Check out our Top 10 Family Adventures this January in Pittsburgh feature.

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.