Rangos Omnimax Theater. Image courtesy of Carnegie Science Center.

Fireworks aren’t the only thing making Pittsburgh a great place for families this July. There’s an epic pillow fight in Oakland, an OpenStreetsPGH event spanning three Pittsburgh neighborhoods, a 31-hour movie marathon at Rangos Omnimax Theater, a weekend of gaming at ReplayFX and so much more.

Hansel and Gretel. Photo Courtesy of Pittsburgh Festival Opera.

Hansel and Gretel at Winchester Thurston School: July 1-15

Introduce your child to the magic of opera with the fantastical production of Hansel and Gretel. Pittsburgh Festival Opera presents a musical adaptation of the classic fairy tale about two lost children who stumble upon an evil witch’s candy house. Adapted from 19th-century composer Engelbert Humperdinck’s work, the 40-minute opera is sung in English and designed for young audiences. It features colorful costumes and set designs, and great songs that the whole family can enjoy. Guest are also welcome to stick around for fun post-performance activities.

Hansel and Gretel takes place in the Winchester Thurston School’s Hilda Willis Room. Tickets cost $5-10.

Lawrenceville Independence Day Celebration. Photo by Joe Dephillips.

Lawrenceville Independence Day Celebration in Arsenal Park: July 2

Bring the whole family for a day of free entertainment, delicious food and explosive fireworks at the Lawrenceville Independence Day Celebration. Things will get wild for the little ones when they meet furry new friends at the barnyard petting zoo, saddle up for pony rides or check out fantastic creatures at the exotic animal show. Grab a bite to eat from booths catered by neighborhood restaurants, peruse fresh produce at the Lawrenceville Farmer’s Market, or get into the theatrics of KSWA Wrestling. There’s also face painting, balloon artists, youth softball, Little League games and more. And when the sun goes down, settle in for a Zambelli Fireworks show.

The Lawrenceville Independence Day Celebration begins at 11 a.m. in Arsenal Park. Fireworks take place at 9:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Connect 4 at the EQT Flashes of Freedom Kids Zone. Image courtesy of EQT.

EQT Flashes of Freedom Kids Zone at Point State Park: July 4

Head to the Kids Zone for a day of fun, free activities during EQT Flashes of Freedom, the city’s biggest Fourth of July celebration. Before the big fireworks finale in Downtown Pittsburgh, discover a whole host of games, crafts and entertainment tailored for the whole family. Play interactive games like Giant Jenga, Connect 4 and Tic-Tac-Toe, or get your photo taken with Stilt Walking Uncle Sam. Visit the painting booth where kids can design their own fireworks on paper with glue, salt and watercolors. There are also caricature artists, animal balloons, face painting and airbrush tattoos.

Kids Zone activities take place from 12-9 p.m. throughout Point State Park. In addition to all other EQT Flashes of Freedom events, the Kids Zone is free and open to the public.

Brentwood Firecracker 5K. Image courtesy of Brentwood Firecracker 5K.

Brentwood Firecracker 5K Race: July 4

On your mark, get set and go to the Brentwood Firecracker 5K Race. Considered one of the largest 5K runs in Western Pennsylvania (this year is capped at 2,500 entries), the family-friendly event features races for various age groups and experience levels, from age 11 and under to 70 and over. An awards show featuring cash prizes will immediately follow the race in Brentwood Towne Square, where spectators and racers alike can also enjoy live music, refreshments and raffles. Beginning at 10 a.m., there will also be a festive Fourth of July parade going from Brownsville Road to Brentwood Towne Square.

The Brentwood Firecracker 5K Race begins at 9 a.m. in the Brentwood Towne Square. Registration for the 5K closes on race day.

Tropical Forest Congo Festival. Photo by Annie O’Neill.
Tropical Forest Congo Festival. Photo by Annie O’Neill.

Tropical Forest Congo Festival at Phipps Conservatory: July 8

Experience the sights, sounds and cuisine of one of the world’s most botanically and culturally rich rainforest regions during Phipps Conservatory’s Tropical Forest Congo Festival. All day, kids and their caretakers can take part in free crafting activities, pot their own plants and sample tropical food at Café Phipps. There’s also a music and dancing session led by the Camara Drum and Dance troupe and a presentation by Ola Appetit Catering on the regional food of the Congo river basin.

All festival activities are free with regular Phipps admission. Members and kids under 2 enter at no cost.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated...