October rocks, with heavy hitters like VIA, Maker Faire and Reel Q, plus tacos galore, the cult of Lebowski, dogs in costume, and even some yinzer gore. It was a challenge to pick just 12, so check out our events section each week for more.

DogtoberFEST

Courtesy DogtoberFEST.

1. DogtoberFEST at The Waterfront: October 1

Whether you’re ready to add a canine companion to your clan or are looking for a festive fall outing for your favorite four-legged friend, head to The Waterfront for an afternoon celebrating all things canine (and some cats too!). Pittsburgh’s largest animal adoption event, DogtoberFEST will feature 64 shelters, breed-specific rescue groups and vendors. Attendees can meet adoptable dogs, shop for pet-themed products and doggie goodies at a specialty vendor market and bake sale, pick up resources from vets and trainers, and more. The free, outdoor festival will also feature live music by The Real Deal, search and rescue demonstrations led by Nosework, and a recreational enrichment trail for pups. If your dog loves to don garb, don’t miss the Pooch Pride Parade Costume The free furry fun is presented by the Coalition to Adopt, Rehome and Match Abandoned Animals and Robinson Animal Hospital.

Smithfield United Church of Christ

Smithfield United Church of Christ. Amy Cicconi Photography.

2. Doors Open Pittsburgh: October 1 & 2

If you’re like us, you’ve strolled the streets of downtown, looked up to spot a carved gargoyle, intricate spire, or green roof and thought to yourself: I wish I could go inside. Now you can. Swinging open the doors to some of Pittsburgh’s most iconic structures, this first-of-its-kind event features behind-the-scenes access at 40 downtown buildings—including historic landmarks and off-the-beaten-path gems. From private clubs to chic hotels—it’s your chance to experience Pittsburgh’s storied structures, rich architectural heritage, and diverse urban landscape. Peer into the magical “forever mirrors” at the Benedum Center, wander through the Allegheny Harvard, Yale and Princeton Club—originally built in 1894 as workers’ row houses—and explore ornate, early-19th-century masterpieces erected by industrialists like Henry Clay Frick. Inside the Flemish Gothic Union Trust Building, you’ll experience the awe-inspiring central rotunda, 10-story atrium and breathtaking Tiffany glass dome. Bask in the Beaux-Arts splendor of The Pennsylvanian, tour an aquaponics site and enjoy rooftop access at the convention center. Don’t just walk past quickly without noticing, look up and go on in. Download the event guide.

Pittsburgh Taco Festival

Pittsburgh Taco Festival.

3. Pittsburgh Taco Festival at Hop Farm Brewing: October 2

The city’s love affair with the small but mighty traditional Mexican dish will be on the front burner at the first of what we hope will be an annual affair. Bringing 20 top taquerias together, the highly buzzed about Taco Festival will feature everyone from Edgar’s and Round Corner Cantina, to La Palapa and Mission Mahi. Boasting one of the largest selections of tacos in the Burgh, the event will also feature a Chihuahua costume contest and a taco-themed mercado. Slinging the goods at Hop Farm Brewing—because nothing tastes better with tacos than beer—the festival offers two afternoon sessions with live music by DJ Mateo and Gavas Beat. The brainchild of Pittsburghers Craig and Bridget McCloud—self-professed taco lovers who operate Popsburgh, a food cart selling handmade Mexican paletas—the event celebrates the couple’s favorite handmade street food. Dig in for a cause because this tasty fest benefits Allegheny CleanWays’ mission to eliminate illegal dumping and littering. Buy tickets now because this foodie fiesta is expected to sell out.

UpPrize

UpPrize finals event. Photo: Erika Gidley.

4. UpPrize networking event at AlphaLab Gear: October 6

Have a grand idea and want to take it to the next level? UpPrize, the social innovation challenge created by The Forbes Funds with partners BNY Mellon and Bridgeway Capital, is back after its stellar debut last year. You’re invited to share your best and brightest solutions and help NEXTpittsburgh launch the latest round during this free networking event. Called “the networking event of the year” by AlphaLab Gear‘s Ilana Diamond, the night will feature great food, local craft beer, and the chance for citizens, cohorts, organizations, and others to envision solutions addressing two challenge areas: access to healthy food and innovative technology. Imagine yourself in a room packed with entrepreneurs, nonprofits, funders and techies—with every chance to talk social innovation and network for all you’re worth—and you’ve got the picture. Applications will be accepted between October 1 and November 30. Each challenge offers a $350,000 award. Finalists will be selected by January 2017.  This is close to being filled so hurry. Learn more about UpPrize. Register now.

Aye Nako

Aye Nako from Brooklyn.

5. VIA Music & New Media Festival: October 6 – 9 at Ace Hotel

For four days Pittsburgh will be at the epicenter of experimental music and audiovisual culture. It’s fitting that for its 7th ambitious edition, the previously nomadic VIA Festival will make the city’s newest boutique hotel its flagship laboratory for cutting-edge audio and visual presentations. VIA and East Liberty have a collaborative history, with the festival popping up in its formerly vacant urban spaces and running an underground venue at 6119 Penn (RIP). The thoughtfully curated fest features 40-plus artists and 15 main events, highlighting unlikely pairings in sound, new media, performance and technology. Staunchly multi-disciplinary, multi-sensory and multi-format, the star-studded lineup brings together legends and legends in the making—several making their Pittsburgh debut—such as Cannes winner Giant, Rihanna collaborator Sam Rolfes, iconic rapper Rakim, and South Bronx pioneers ESG. Free highlights include a discussion with landmark black female artists, a master class with Brooklyn performance duo Fluct and a hands-on coding and digital drawing game titled Exquisite Donut. What sets VIA apart in a sea of festivals? Its commitment to including local artists, and rich opportunities for attendees to be active participants in featured artworks. Projecting out from Ace, VIA also offers satellite events at non-traditional spaces such as pop-up galleries, theaters, libraries, universities and more. View a schedule and buy tickets.

King Cobra

King Cobra, Justin Kelly (2016).

6. Reel Q Film Festival at the Harris Theater: October 6 15

Get ready to strike a pose at Reel Q. Boasting standout performances from Madonna to James Franco to Isabella Rossellini, Pittsburgh’s annual presentation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cinema returns for its most star-studded festival in Reel Q history. Spanning film, television and Broadway, this year’s festivities bring 10 days of diverse programming to downtown’s Cultural District. We all know about the Material Girl, but what about the talented male dancers who performed with the pop icon? Reel Q kicks off with a bang, presenting the behind-the-scenes story of the dancers who performed with Madonna during her legendary 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour. Don your 1980s-era garb, because the film will be followed by a Madge-themed after-party at Bricolage. Reel Q wraps with a stellar pairing of Oscar-nominated actor James Franco and Golden Globe winner Christian Slater, who star in Justin Kelly’s 2016 film, King Cobra—a gripping true story about a murder scandal that rocked the adult entertainment industry. Reel Q also features themed shorts, French cinema, 20th-anniversary classics, a closing party and more. View a schedule. Buy tickets.

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About The Author

Arts + Events editor

Former arts & culture editor of Pop City; worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art. Co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania and co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. In a band called The Garment District; founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.

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