August sizzles with things to do on terra firma and in the water, from food and drink festivals to outdoor adventures to the much-anticipated return of beloved summer soirées. Here are 13 events you’ll want to add to your calendar now. Visit each organization’s website and social media for changing Covid protocols.

Photo courtesy of GAMMA Sports.

1. GAMMA Pickleball Classic at David L. Lawrence Convention Center: Aug. 5-7

July was about Picklesburgh, but August is all about pickleball. If you’re hearing the buzz and wondering what all the fuss is about, this free tournament is the perfect place to discover the hottest game in town and the country’s fastest-growing sport. Devotees might not even realize that the sport’s premier indoor tournament takes place Downtown. Join the craze as 1,000 of the country’s top players compete for $30,000 in cash prizes in this tournament run by gear company Gamma Sports. You can even check out their cool facility on Washington’s Landing during this Doors Open tour. If you like tennis, badminton and ping-pong, you’ll love pickleball. It’s easy to learn, social and addictive, and a game of agility and strategy. Beyond the court, GAMMA supports the Parkinson Foundation of Western PA. Ready to grab a racket? Read our Pittsburgh pickleball guide. 

Galaxy Ball
The Galaxy Ball. Photo courtesy of Mark Simpson Photography and True T PGH.

2. Galaxy Ball at the Priory Hotel: Aug. 6

Pittsburgh’s underground ballroom community is ready to reclaim the limelight. After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the one-of-a-kind Galaxy Ball will dazzle with impressive competitions and performances for all to embrace. Blending European style and neighborhood history, the North Side’s boutique hotel provides an elegant backdrop for the festivities presented by True T Pittsburgh. The most creative ballroom participants will compete for $7,000 in cash prizes from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., while internationally renowned ballroom commentators Kevin JZ Prodigy, Gregg Xclusive Lanvin and Vjay the DJ set the scene. Dubbed AstroPunk, this year’s theme merges elements of cyberpunk and AfroPunk to create a “dystopian future where high-tech and low-life combine with the alternative subculture of Black punks.” Buy tickets.

Barrel & Flow Fest
Photo courtesy of Barrel & Flow Fest.

3. Barrel & Flow Fest at The Stacks at 3 Crossings: Aug. 12-14

The country’s first Black beer festival is hopping over the river to a new home along a historic Strip District block. Founded by Day Bracey, the community-fueled event goes far beyond hops, malt and foam. In the transformed open-air plaza along the Allegheny River, the welcoming showcase of Black culinary and cultural creators will embody a spirit of collective creativity. The froth fest kicks off Friday with a daylong conference and an evening bottle share. Saturday is the marquee event: on tap is a staggering lineup of 55 unique releases, 150 vendors, 30 Black-owned breweries and more. Be the first to taste imaginative collaborations handcrafted by Black Viking Brewing x Troegs, Bash Brew x Gooxjy, Coven Brewing x The Undeniable Vixen and many others. Creating the “vibe and imbibe” atmosphere will be live music, DJs, visual art stages and a craft market. Cap off the weekend at the Sunday Brewers Brunch. You’ll have major FOMO if you don’t get your tickets.

Mattress Factory
Image courtesy of the Mattress Factory.

4. ZODIAC: Garden Party at the Mattress Factory: Aug. 12

“What’s your sign/” is the perfect salutation for this summer soirée. Under the Perseid meteor showers and full sturgeon moon, this legendary Pittsburgh party finally returns. Hosted in August for the first time, the stars are aligned for this zodiac-themed garden gala. Nestled within the charming Mexican War Streets, revelers will be treated to fab food, fab drink and fab fashion. Pop into divination stations to get a glimpse of your destiny, consult the tarot and wander through room-sized installations. With event architect Thommy Conroy at the helm, the benefit bash will heat up with performances by Clara Kent, Good Sport, Bjordan and Steel City Kitty, plus music by queer dance party Jellyfish, and the signature art auction. Buy tickets.

5. Asian Lantern Festival at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium: Aug. 12

Real-life animals will converge with those that once roamed the Earth when this stunner returns bigger than ever. More than 50 massive silk and steel handcrafted sculptures will illuminate the zoo’s pathways – some soaring 30 feet high and reaching 100 feet long. Adding prehistoric favorites — colossal dinosaurs — the new lanterns were created this summer by Tianyu Arts & Culture. As dusk descends, the lanterns will glow as visitors encounter Chinese dragons, a gorilla, Koi fish and sea turtles, joined by Ceratops, T-Rex and Stegosaurus. Highlighting Asian culture and history, the lanterns will also highlight endangered species and the zoo’s conservation efforts. Brightening the festival atmosphere will be themed cuisine and cultural performances. Buy tickets.

Venture Outdoors
Big Day Aht. Photo courtesy of Venture Outdoors.

6. Big Day Aht in Pittsburgh: Aug. 12 & 13

Where can you try forest bathing on an urban island, forage for mushrooms — and attend two drive-in film festivals in one weekend? It’s time to get outdoors in a big way. There’s something for outdoor enthusiasts, weekend warriors and couch potatoes alike with 16 adventures spanning unique regional destinations. Mother Nature provides the stunning backdrop as you kayak with Fido, bird-watch in Frick Park, bike to breweries or reel in a big one. New this year are workshops dedicated to skateboarding, rock climbing and mountain biking. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival will inspire you to save the planet with powerful stories about butterflies, ancestral lands and climate heroes. Don’t miss the first-ever No Man’s Land Film Festival championing female athletes. Local filmmakers Danielle and Aubrey of Early Dawn Productions will premiere “A Bitch of a Race” documenting the famed and fierce Pittsburgh alley cat race – The Frigid Bitch. View a schedule.

August Wilson House
Rendering courtesy of the August Wilson House Facebook page.

7. Grand Opening at the August Wilson House: Aug. 13

The first-ever permanent exhibition dedicated to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Hill District native August Wilson recently opened at his namesake center. Now, August Wilson’s childhood home is ready for its next act as a new community hub that will nurture generations of artists to come. Born in 1945, Wilson spent 13 years at 1727 Bedford Ave. with his mother and five siblings. His nephew Paul Ellis led efforts to save the home, obtain landmark status and secure donations from local leaders and Hollywood A-listers alike. The much-anticipated grand opening gala kicks off with a VIP reception at 5 p.m., followed by a Community House Party with dancing and music by UNION, Big Phil, DJ Selecta and Blakk Steel. Pro tip: VIPers can meet Denzel Washington, a huge supporter of the project and Wilson’s work, and Constanza Romero Wilson during an exclusive preview at 1:30 p.m. Buy tickets.

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival
Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival.

8. Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival in West Newton:  Aug. 21-31

Where can you watch sword fighting, sway to naughty and bawdy tunes and munch on steak on a stake — all in the lush Western PA woods? Equal parts time travel, 16th-century amusement park and medieval merrymaking, there’s nothing else like the sights, sounds and scents of the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival. Journey through time and legend as you meander down village pathways to encounter artisans plying ancient crafts, chivalrous knights jousting, rollicking performers making mischief and wafting aromas of roast turkey legs. Calling all knights, maidens, pirates, princesses and wizards to Opening Weekend Aug. 20 and 21. New themed weekends for 2022 include Wine Revelry, Pirate Invasion, and Love and Romance Renaissance Huzzah. Buy tickets.

Union Project
Union Project. Photo by Plant Media Project.

9. EntheoCon at The Union Project: Aug. 20

They had us at psychedelic salon. If you’re interested in exploring the field of psychedelics — from research and academia to science and human consciousness, this first-of-its-kind Pittsburgh event is worth checking out. Aiming to raise awareness and end the stigma of psychedelics through education, community-building and advocacy, EntheoCon will focus on audience immersion and participation. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., participants will shape important conversations surrounding the tenets of connection, healing and integration. Keep the empowering vibes going at the AfterGlow party sponsored by NORML. Buy tickets.

Party at the Pier
Party at the Pier. Photo courtesy of Rose Colored Creative and Riverlife.

10. Party at the Pier: Green Envy at River’s Casino Amphitheater: Aug. 26

Why be green with envy when you can attend one of the summer’s hottest parties? Celebrate Pittsburgh’s vibrant riverfronts and bask in PPG Paints’ 2022 Color of the Year — olive sprig in case you didn’t know — when Party at the Pier moves back to its former North Shore digs. At twilight, pier-goers will step into a verdant, lush and enticing environment draped in greens. Ditch that LBD and muted suit because this year’s fashion-forward theme highlights Riverlife‘s efforts to complete a 15-mile loop of waterfront parks, trails and green space. Think emerald, chartreuse, sage, forest, neon, mint or any green hue you can imagine. Be greeted by pop-up performances, sip bubbly cocktails and savor abundant bites. Take a break from the dance floor to hop aboard the Gateway Clipper for views of riverside improvement projects. Stay in the loop by getting your tickets soon.

Chick Habit
Photo courtesy of Chick Habit and Pittsburgh VegFest.

11. Pittsburgh VegFest in Allegheny Commons Park: Aug. 27

Fill your plate and palate with the power of plants when this one-of-a-kind Pittsburgh foodie fest returns. Eat your way through 130 of the region’s best vegan eateries and see how delicious and ethical plant-based eating can be — from tacos, tater tots and doughnuts, to empanadas, pizza and juices. New and returning fan favorites include Chick Habit, Kung Fu Tea, Shado Beni, Onion Maiden, Chip & Kale, The Chosen Crumb, Con Alma and Pleather Vegan Jerky. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s your chance to savor cashew cheeses, support animal welfare organizations and shop for sustainable goods. Plus, snuggle up with some lovable animals, thanks to Pigsburgh Squealers, Hope Haven Sanctuary and Biggies Bullies. New this year is the Walk with a Doc led by Dr. Natalie Gentile, plus aerial yoga demonstrations with SThiel Pilates & MOVEment Center. To get the first taste before the crowds and nab a swag bag, graze during the VIP hour. Buy tickets.

Steel City Mods vs Rockers
Photo courtesy of the Steel City Mods vs. Rockers Facebook page.

12. Steel City Mods vs. Rockers at Paradise Island Bowl and Beach: Aug. 27

It might not be a tropical atoll, but it is an island and it does have a beach bar. Cruising into Neville Island from noon to 5 p.m. the region’s only event of its kind will recreate the 1960s and 1970s on home turf. If you liked last month’s Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, you can’t miss this convergence of vintage vehicles and rockabilly culture. Whether you’re a Gene Vincent fan or a Yardbirds freak, you won’t want to miss the action. This year’s tiki theme is perfectly paired with the complex, which boasts bowling, ax throwing, arcade games and an outdoor beach bar nestled along the Ohio River. For just $5 at the door, you can watch retro motorcycles, scooters and racers vie for trophies, ogle sleek vehicles, enjoy live music, and shop for goods, gear and gifts.

Pedal PGH
Photo courtesy of BikePGH and photographer Murphy Moschetta.

13. PedalPGH at Southside Riverfront Park: Aug. 28

Cycling and charity converge when Pennsylvania’s largest bike ride rolls again. Whether you’re hopping on two wheels for the first time ever, or are a cycling champ, PedalPGH has a route for you. Pairing biking with city pride, the event offers four fantastic routes showcasing Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, topography and landmarks. The 10-mile course spanning protected bike lanes is great for families and newbies, the 25-mile distance challenges average riders and the 40 mile-trek traverses most sections of the city. Feeling brave? Experienced cyclists will go this distance during the 62-mile metric century ride. Riders get a water bottle, digital guide and snacks at lively rest stops. Quench your thirst and mark your achievements with free brews, food trucks and bike giveaways at the finish line festival. Buy tickets.

For live music, read 19 best concerts in Pittsburgh this August, from Thundercat to Matmos. For family events check out 10 best August events for fun-loving kids in Pittsburgh.

Jennifer BaronArts & Entertainment / Jobs Editor

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.