Point State Park

July 2, 3, 4
Various times

Where can you watch boats race at 100 mph and dip your toes in the sand along the city’s rivers? Along with fireworks, the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta reigns as a quintessential way to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday and take in the city’s stunning location at the convergence of three rivers.

Many may not know that the Three Rivers Regatta is the largest inland regatta in the US and the tri-state region’s largest summer event. Drawing some 500,000 people, the 3-day aquatic happening is marking 37 years of roaring river fun, with a slew of outdoor activities taking place on the river and city sides of Point State Park.

And our Regatta truly does have something for everyone—fun in the water, on land and even in the air. Free and family-friendly, the river revelry boasts world-class entertainment, signature shows, headlining bands, a riverside beach, hands-on art activities and much more.

A major highlight are the Powerboat Championships, where tens of thousands of spectators will watch at the water’s edge as top Superleague drivers ravage the river and scream down the shoreline, in what has become the event’s claim to fame. The largest venue on the powerboat racing circuit—the iconic confluence of Pittsburgh’s three rivers hosts the F-2 North American Championships for the fifth consecutive year. Watch in awe as F-2 tunnel boats explode from 0 to 100 mph in less than four seconds, hit four-plus Gs in course turns and top out at speeds of 130 mph on straightaways. Racing happens all day long on July 4th, and former driver Mike Tilto will provide exhilarating announcements live from the riverbank.

Sandcastle fanatics won’t want to miss the chance to experience the art of world champion sand sculptor Thomas Koet, who along with his award-winning Sandsational sculptors, will construct a remarkable scene right before your very eyes. Acclaimed for creating Pennsylvania’s largest sculpture, Sandsational returns to wow crowds with their silty, gritty natural artwork. Using nothing more than simple tools and innate abilities, the team has already begun the ambitious task of creating the Battle of Ft. McHenry, made famous by Francis Scott Key’s poem (as in the National Anthem of the US). It will take the artists about 11 days to fashion 150 tons of sand into the colossal carving. Viewers can watch as the team works from dawn to dusk, 10 hours each day, to craft the grand sand sculpture.

Wanna bounce? Be a part of history as top athletes in the sport of extreme pogo attempt to break 15 individual world records, including most backflips in a row, most bounces per minute, highest flip and more. Watch as these skillful wiry athletes progress through a series of events and compete for world titles. Find out what it takes to bounce with the big boys in the event’s free Learn to Pogo exhibition area.

Ready for a cool down? Head to the Colcum Kids Zone located on the city side of the Point State Park lawn. Cool off in the misting zone complete with commercial grade fans and a refreshing water spray to help you survive those dog days. Also featured in the Kids Zone will be inflatables, face painting activities, caricature artists and more.

Life’s a beach at the Regatta’s special Beach ‘Burgh get-away, a 200-foot area of sand, palm trees and toys located along the Allegheny River Steps. Don’t miss the always entertaining Anything That Floats show, featuring wacky crafts all competing for charity and a $5,000 cash prize. Additional riverside fun will feature BMX stunt shows, dragon boat races, frisbee dog shows, cross-country cookouts and the PITT Sailing Club Invitational.

Providing your rocking riverfront soundtrack will be live music by Kenny Blake, Steve Augeri, No Bad JuJu, Badboxes, The Delaneys, The Granato Brothers, Beatlemania Magic, Hotel California, and Mt. Lebanon native, the Melanie Meriney Band.

Ready to have a blast? No event in Pittsburgh is complete without fireworks, and the 2014 Regatta will culminate by lighting up your holiday with the EQT Flashes of Freedom Fireworks at 9:35 p.m. Pittsburgh’s official July 4th celebration, and widely considered one of the Top 10 displays in the country, the show is produced by hometown favorite, Zambelli Fireworks, one of the most celebrated names in pyrotechnics. The show will dazzle with its signature musical choreography and sparkling pageantry.

View a map and a complete schedule of Regatta events.

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.