Shadow or no shadow, February is shaping up to be a month of blockbuster events — from the Queen of Soul to the King of Vampires. We found so many cool things to do during the coldest and shortest month of the year that we couldn’t limit ourselves to just 10.
1. Apsáalooke Women and Warriors at Carnegie Museum of Natural History: Feb. 4
Courage, craftsmanship and culture converge in this remarkable exhibition focused on the Apsáalooke people (also known as the Crow) of the Northern Plains. The exhibit celebrates the Apsáalooke’s bravery in battle, unrivaled horsemanship and innovative beadwork — all centered around women. Via historical accounts, contemporary stories and stunning objects, visitors will delve into the origins and views of this Native American community known for its matriarchal society. It’s a rare chance to see war shields that play important cultural roles along with horse regalia and a 9-foot tipi. Augmenting the show are 20 works of contemporary art, including paintings, photography, innovative beadwork and high-end fashion. Buy tickets.
2. I Made It! Mine at The Block Northway: Feb. 4
Skip the cliché chocolates and roses, and select something handcrafted for your sweetie, BFF, colleague, teacher or neighbor. This nomadic market has a wide selection to choose from and everything is made by hand. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the one-day pop-up marketplace takes over the mall’s South Corridor with 100 local vendors. The juried mix of goods spans everything from artwork in a variety of media, clothing, toys and home decor, to pop culture products, pet treats and small-batch foods. Shoppers can keep the day festive with Wigle Whiskey cider pours and Boyd & Blair vodka cocktails. Open from noon to 5 p.m., the event also features Farmer’s Market purveyors and children’s activities.
3. Crafts and Drafts: Local Love at East End Brewing: Feb. 5
Celebrate locally made products, pints and pizza when this seasonal-themed market moves the makers indoors at the Larimer beer mecca. Your special someone or BFF deserves some local love this season. As you sip, shop for handcrafted jewelry and accessories, home goods, artwork and more. Pop into the Record Alley, where Flipping Records will sell vinyl and tapes, and event organizer Matthew Buchholz will spin heart-melting love songs and sell his Alternate Histories wares.
4. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s “Dracula” at the Benedum: Feb. 10-12
Go from “Will you be my Valentine?” to “I vant to suck your blood!” this Cupid season. It’s the first time Michael Pink’s ballet sensation has been staged in Pittsburgh and you only have four chances to catch the riveting production. “Dracula’s” powerful choreography, gothic scenery and spine-tingling storytelling make for the perfect precursor to Valentine’s Day. Created by the British choreographer, director and producer, “Dracula” is heightened by Philip Feeney’s score, costumes and sets by Tony-winner Lez Brotherston and lighting by Emmy-winner David Grill. Speaking of blood, you can make a difference by donating to the American Red Cross on Feb. 3 at PBT’s Studios. Buy tickets.
5. SEXY TIME: A Vintage, Adult-Themed Pop-Up Mini Market at Lorelei: Feb. 11
Conversation hearts are cute but what if you’re looking for more of an R-rated Valentine’s Day experience? Get flushed (and not just from the wine) when Pittsburgh Vintage Mixer hosts its second adult-themed pop-up market. Curating a selection at Lorelei — an Alpine wine and cocktail bar, beer hall and bottle shop all under one roof — the mischievous market is open from 4 to 9 p.m. The playful vibe will be hot in the city as you peruse all things “tawdry, kitschy and sex positive.” While you sip, shop for lingerie, leather, vintage Valentines Day’s cards, naughty nostalgia, risqué records and scandalous gifts. DJ Formosa provides the sultry soundtrack and Lorelei offers delicious food pairings with its creative drink menu.
6. Black History Month at Heinz History Center: Feb. 11-22
The are many ways to honor Black history around the region this month and all year long, but make sure to add this free African American Program series to your calendar. On Feb. 15, a free online screening of “Torchbearers” reexamines Pittsburgh’s struggles during the golden era of civil rights. Featuring interviews with trailblazers such as the Rev. Leroy Patrick, the late NAACP Executive Director Alma Speed Fox and historian Larry Glasco, the film includes rare archival footage, plus a score by Emmy-winning producer Emmai Alaquiva. Narrator Chris Moore and producer Minette Seate will lead a post-screening conversation. Not to miss Feb. 17 is the ninth annual Black History Month Lecture featuring Claude Johnson author of “The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era.” Additional programs include docent-led exhibit tours and a webinar for teachers and students about the youth-run organization Hill City.
7. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. An Aretha Franklin Tribute Concert at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater: Feb. 11
Celebrate Black History Month, show your R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and pay tribute to the Queen of Soul herself — who was also a committed civil rights activist. After the sold-out success of last year’s Prince tribute concert, Dwayne Fulton will bring the house down in honor of Aretha. The Minister of Music and Fine Arts for Mt. Ararat Baptist Church convenes prominent Pittsburgh musicians for this one-night-only production kicking at 8 p.m. Featured vocalist Anita Levels joins a 10-piece ensemble showcasing keyboardist Chuck Anderson, guitarist Gary Howard, bassist John Hall, saxophonist Lou Harris and drummer Alex Hines. Lending their powerhouse voices to the show are vocalists Krystyn Kirkland, Keesha Sheffey and Timothy Woodruff. With a “pay what moves you” sliding scale for tickets, it’s one concert that won’t break the bank.
8. Laced/Unlaced at Pittsburgh Opera: Feb. 13
Every opera is augmented by extravagant haute couture and impressively intricate wigs. Now you can add some sizzling style — with a hint of scandal — to your mundane Monday at the chic Bitz Opera Factory. Leave your inhibitions at home to experience the “elegance of accessible luxury” produced by the winning team of Pittsburgh Opera, Skye Douglass’ House of Couture Designs and the Pulchra Intimates luxury boutique. Equal parts opera production and runway show, the scintillating evening features hair styling by Ron Booth and Izear Winfrey and signature cocktails from Mindful Hospitality Group. Pittsburgh Opera’s award-winning Resident Artists will perform and strike a pose on the runway. Buy tickets.
9. Cupid’s Undie Run at McFadden’s: Feb. 18
Pittsburghers love wearing shorts in the middle of winter — so why not make it even more scant by removing another layer? Pre-game February’s Polar Bear Plunge by joining hordes of cold-weather champions to help find a cure for neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder affecting 1 in every 3,000 children. Pittsburgh’s favorite pantless party kicks off at noon with drinking and dancing at the North Side Irish saloon, followed by a super “brief” mile(ish) fun run to jog it out and bare it all for a cause. There will be warmth in numbers — plus plenty of time to generate heat at the epic post-run dance party. After all, who doesn’t love a race requiring zero training and zero expensive running gear? Register now.
10. Tropical Forest Hawai‘i Festival at Phipps: Feb. 19
February in Hawai‘i? These lush festivities could not arrive at a better time. As winter finally decides to descend on the Burgh you’ll be transported to one of the planet’s most ecologically diverse and culturally rich places. Explore Phipps’ signature Tropical Forest Hawai‘i exhibit with four hours of engaging activities. Get a bug’s eye view of rare plants from the archipelago, savor delectable Hawaiian-inspired cuisine and watch eye-popping performances by Tuika’s Polynesian Island Magic. Pot a plant, make a lei and learn how to care for stunning orchids. Watch dances from the Hawaiian Islands and then learn some of the moves on the spot. Buy tickets.
11. Pittsburgh Winter Beerfest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center: Feb. 24 & 25
It’s a good thing Dry January is over because Pittsburgh’s largest craft beer convergence is back. Lovers of craft beer and canines can sample a staggering variety of 400 local, regional and hard-to-find beers from 130 breweries. Keep filling that souvenir beer mug because proceeds benefit Animal Rescue Partners and Biggies Bullies. Beyond brew, the frothy festivities offer on-site music, karaoke, games and a silent disco to entertain imbibers. There are three sessions (and five ticket options) to chose from: Friday evening for the happy hour lovers, Saturday for the day drinkers and Saturday evening for the party people.
12. Coldest Night of the Year Walk at Stage AE: Feb. 25
Bundle up during the coldest time of year to help Pittsburgh’s unhoused community. Meeting up on the North Shore, walkers will raise critical funds to support Bethlehem Haven’s continuum of care for people experiencing homelessness and seeking self-sufficiency. Joining cities across North America, the Pittsburgh event runs from 4 to 7 p.m. and includes 5K and 2K walk routes. Building much-needed empathy, the walk also sensitizes participants to the realities that some people encounter every single day. Walkers who raise $150 or more receive a signature event beanie. Register now.
Find more things to do in Pittsburgh, including weekly events, live music and family activities, here.