Enter a pickle drinking contest on a bridge? Check. Feed a tropical Aracari toucan? Check. Try on a replica of a nose made by an artist? Check. July has it all and more.
1. EQT Flashes of Freedom Celebrate America at Point State Park: July 4, noon-10 p.m.
Gather your friends—or those relatives in town for the holiday—and head to Point State Park for a true taste of Independence Day in the Burgh. Six musical acts will rock the stage including Jimbo & the Soupbones, Jeff Jimerson & Airborne and The Delaneys, while the U.S. Air Force will perform a flyover. The grand finale erupts at 9:35 p.m. when StarFire Corporation presents the EQT Flashes of Freedom Fireworks. Featuring the talents of Pittsburgh native and famed pyro-musical designer Ralph Piacquadio, the dramatic show boasts patriotic and Americana music mixed with songs by John Mellencamp, Jennifer Hudson, Lady Gaga and Kings of Leon. Illuminating the skyline and three rivers, the show will feature a 180-degree firing effect, a tribute to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and custom-made strobes, jellyfish and sunflowers. Want the best seat? VIP tickets are available for $25. Can’t make it? Watch or listen to the live broadcast. View a schedule.
2. Gallery Crawl in the Cultural District: July 7, 5:30–10 p.m.
Take advantage of a long summer night to crawl your way through culture. Back with its free quarterly showcase, the citywide open house includes 28 stops featuring the latest in visual art, music, dance, film and comedy taking place across the Cultural District. Pop into Wood Street Galleries to commune with robots and see installations and performances exploring the ever-fascinating relationship between man and machine. Watch an industrial robot copy the entire Bible onto paper and create intricate large-scale drawings. Don’t miss a live art spectacle at Space, where 12 artists will paint right on the gallery walls. Step into an immersive bedroom tableau at 709 Penn, where Natasha Neira’s exhibit, This Isn’t About You, houses personal belongings, talking furniture and even a ringing telephone that turns viewers into voyeurs. Head to the Lantern Building to walk amidst John Pena’s suspended, three-dimensional word balloons containing messages exploring the art of speech, and see the drawings he’s made every day for seven years. Stay late to shop in the Night Market and attend CrawlAfterDark events.
3. Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix at Schenley Park and multiple venues: July 7–16
From its modest start in 1983 as a one-day race, The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix (PVGP) has exploded into a motorsport mainstay spanning 10 days, six venues and two counties. Race veterans, vintage car buffs and curious spectators will converge for the 35th anniversary of this cherished celebration of all things on four wheels. Experience the exhilaration up-close at the the country’s largest vintage race event and the only one run on city streets. Highlights include the Blacktie & Tailpipes Gala, PVGP Historics, Invitational Car Show, Waterfront Car Cruise, Downtown Parade & Car Display, Grand Prix Tune-Up, and more. New this year is the Passport to Elegance soirée July 15 at Allegheny County Airport’s Voyager Jet Center hangar, where gala-goers will travel back in time to see rare vintage cars and airplanes, dine on international delights and enjoy entertainment by Beatlemania Now. The week culminates July 16 when 200,000-plus fans of all ages will watch 150 racers brave one of the world’s most challenging courses through Schenley Park at 100 mph. View a schedule.
4. Night in the Tropics at the National Aviary: July 8, 7–11 p.m.
A Spectacled Owl, Sun Conure and Military Macaw are just some of the winged wonders inviting you to party with them at summer’s hottest benefit bash: Night in the Tropics, which supports avian education, medicine and conservation. Unveiling its new “World Tour” theme, the sultry soirée will showcase global diversity through birds, cuisine and entertainment. Step into the sights, sounds and tastes of the tropics, experience up-close encounters with rarely seen birds and explore lush exhibits after hours. Hula dancers and fire performers from Tuika’s Polynesian Island Magic will make you feel closer to the equator while Latin beats and live music from DJ 007 and The Lava Game will keep you dancing under the stars. Creating a culinary spread with a tropical twist will be 30 local restaurants and beverage purveyors. For a suggested donation, island hoppers can snap a selfie with a penguin, feed Valentino the sloth and an Aracari toucan and watch parrots paint. Buy tickets.
5. Italian StrEAT Festival Downtown: July 8 & 9, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Move over Little Italy Days, there’s a new way to celebrate “Cibo e cultura italiana.” Free and open to all ages, the inaugural Italian StrEAT Festival will bring the colorful open-air culture of vibrant cities like Rome and Florence to scenic Penn Avenue. Ready to “mangia” your way through Downtown? Brush up on your bocce skills, sip vino and—if you dare—battle it out during a meatball-eating contest. Learn to cook authentic Italian arancini, gnocchi and porchetta during demos led by top chefs, and enjoy live performances by Chase and the Barons, Right TurnClyde, Bobby V, and Allegro Dance Company. Pizza loyalty is fierce in the Burgh, so don’t miss the showdown between local eateries who will compete to design and build the most “unique pizza creation.” Showcasing our region’s rich Italian-American heritage, the festival will also feature a vendor market, dance workshops and hands-on activities for kids. Produced by Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation, the event will span Penn between 6th and 9th Streets.