The month of May serves as a bridge between the slow awakening of springtime and the end-of-school whirlwind that signals a quickly approaching summer. We understand that this time of year can be crazy so we’ve gathered up an ‘aMAYzing’ list of events that includes music, dance, theater, big trucks, roller coasters, international food and cool gift ideas for Mom. Our Top 10 family adventures this May in Pittsburgh will help you stay sane – and stay connected to the people you love. Enjoy!
Audio cards for Mother’s Day with The Saturday Light Brigade: May 2-10
Celebrate Mother’s Day by creating a unique gift that kids will enjoy making just as much as Mom will love receiving. From May 2 to May 10, kids can play Radio DJ and record a personalized audio card for any special woman in their lives at the broadcast studio of The Saturday Light Brigade (SLB) on the lower level of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
How does it all work? First, you purchase a CD Creation Card Kit for $12. Then, with the helpful guidance of SLB staff, kids are interviewed about the person they plan to gift with the audio card. Answers to questions like, “What do you like to do together?” are captured forever onto a CD in the sweet voices of the kids. Songs, poems and stories can be recorded as well. Lastly, the audio CD gets affixed to a card that the kids decorate themselves with various art supplies at the studio. And how’s this for convenience? You can take home the gift on the same day you make it. Cards can be made between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. and no appointment is necessary. SLB Radio will also host audio card making for Father’s Day, from June 6 through June 21.
Disney FANTASIA with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: May 8-10
Do your kids love Walt Disney movies? If so, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s Disney FANTASIA concert is a wonderful way to enjoy classical music together as a family. Three performances will be held at Heinz Hall downtown, one on both Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and one on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
The concert will feature movie clips from both the original Fantasia movie from 1940 and the more recent Fantasia movie from 2000. As each animated clip is projected on a big screen, the symphony will provide live accompaniment with music from greats like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Debussy. Children over 6 years old are welcome at the show with a ticket and, if anyone gets restless during a performance, families can view and hear the show from gallery windows. Can’t make this Disney film and music event over Mother’s Day? Try the Disney in Concert Tale as Old as Time production over Father’s Day in June, which will feature vocalists accompanying movie clips from Disney film favorites like Frozen and The Lion King. Prices start at $25.75.
Spring It On at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville: May 9
Second Shift Crafters and The Steel City Pizzafest are joining forces with local community organizations to present the first Spring It On event featuring 10 pizza vendors, 50 craft vendors and six hours of live music – all in the relaxed outdoor venue that is Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville. The event is free and runs from 12 to 6 p.m., rain or shine.
Grab your kids’ bikes and scooters, a picnic blanket and lawn chairs and prepare to spend the afternoon at the park. In addition to performances from bands like The Pressure, The Turpentiners and Molly Alphabet, there will be a stage for acoustic acts and spoken word artists. Spring It On will host a kids’ activity tent with a “Making Flowers” theme where young artists can use their creativity to craft flowers from the bins of paper, felt, markers and other art supplies. Free-form crafting is encouraged but volunteers will be on hand to help kids create a bouquet of beautiful spring flowers.
The Chinese Nutcracker at the Byham Theater: May 9
If you enjoy the music and plot of the traditional Nutcracker Ballet, then you will appreciate the similarities in Yanlai Dance Academy’s production of The Chinese Nutcracker at the Byham Theater at 7 p.m. It will be the differences, however, that will intrigue you and keep your kids interested until the very end because instead of taking place on Christmas Eve, The Chinese Nutcracker begins on the eve of Chinese New Year.
As the story goes, a little girl named Yuanyuan is gifted a toy that transforms into a prince and she turns into a princess. Traditional Chinese New Year traditions and ethnic costumes are incorporated into the tale as both characters magically travel through China to explore the country’s varied culture. The ensemble of dancers range in age from four years old to adults and nearly all are students of dance at Yanlai Dance Academy. The show is a kid-friendly length of 1.5 hours. Get $5 off the cost of each ticket by entering promo code Special2 when you place your order. Regular admission is $30 for adults and $20 for children 12 years and younger. Babes-in-arms require no ticket.
The EQT Children’s Theater Festival in The Cultural District: May 14-17
One of Pittsburgh’s premiere children’s events of the year happens this month! With a mind-boggling number of amazing activities all jam packed into one event, the 29th annual EQT Children’s Theater Festival is a must-see. One of the best parts is, of course, the international theater performances. This year the troupes hail from Denmark, Scotland, Mexico and The Netherlands. At only $8 per ticket (and less if you buy multiple show packs), these performances are an accessible way for families to enjoy theater together. Click here for a complete listing of shows, performance times, venues and advance ticket purchases.
Conveniently located in the city’s Cultural District, all activities are within walking distance of each other and you can explore everything as you participate in the Frog Stop Scavenger Hunt. Event highlights include an interactive art installation from Australia called Tangle, where kids use balls of elastic to weave a web of color that they can maneuver through (to live music). Stick, Stuck, Chalk lets kids create a work of art using chalk and stickers. A pop-up green space called Lilypad Park will host a variety of hands-on craft booths and activities including a huge sandbox, giant Jenga and Connect Four, tennis, pinball and a collection of international street games. At Imagination Playground, kids can play with blocks as big as they are and at Kid Flix Mix, families can enjoy short films and animation from the New York International Children’s Film Festival. There’s so much to see and do that you could work up a big appetite – the food trucks at the event will be ready for you!
The Pittsburgh Folk Festival at the Monroeville Convention Center: May 15-16
Attending the Pittsburgh Folk Festival is like taking a trip around the world except all the countries are within walking distance. Through music, dance, food, crafts and educational exhibits, this event showcases over 30 ethnic cultures represented in the Pittsburgh area. It’s a steal-of-a-deal, too, with a $6 admission fee for adults ($5 in advance) and free admission for children 12 years and younger! Parking is free, too. The event will be held on Friday from 4 – 10 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
What can you experience on a visit to the Pittsburgh Folk Festival? First, you can eat your way through several countries by purchasing traditional ethnic foods. For example, the Polish kitchen will be offering up sweet treats called paczki (donuts), chrusciki (bow tie cookies) and kolaczki (nut horn cookies). Second, you can learn about places like Mongolia and India through educational exhibits. Third, you can shop from vendors in the country-specific marketplaces and see demonstrations on, for example, how to make medovnik (Slovak honey cakes). Fourth, children can try making crafts symbolic of nearly 20 different regions of the world. And lastly, the whole family can enjoy the ongoing performances featuring traditional music, costumes and styles of dance from countries like Greece, China, Hungary and Brazil. Don’t miss the special youth performances on Saturday afternoon from 12-1:30 p.m.
Touch-A-Truck in the Strip District: May 16
A visit to the Junior League of Pittsburgh’s 8th annual Touch-A-Truck event is a dream come true for any kid who loves trucks and construction equipment. From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., the big parking lot at 11th and Smallman in the Strip District will be filled with 35+ vehicles, which in the past has included fire trucks, police cars, backhoe loaders and ambulances. Parking will be free and within walking distance of the vehicles. Cost of admission is $5 at the event ($4 in advance) for all children 12 months and older.
Your kids will have the chance to climb into the vehicles, pretend they’re driving them, meet the real drivers and even honk the horns. Understandably, this event can get loud but don’t worry – your admission ticket gets you a pair of free earplugs. Don’t forget your camera. Food trucks will on hand for lunch and there will be craft stations for the kids and other activities like raffles, prizes and games. The event will be held rain or shine.
Fresh Fest 2015 in the North Side’s California-Kirkbride neighborhood: May 16
Fresh Fest 2015, a PopUp! project from Leadership Pittsburgh, is a community festival in the California-Kirkbride neighborhood on the North Side. This year the festival’s events are inspired by a farm-to-table food concept and a desire to address the neighborhood’s limited access to fresh produce. Two highlights of the event? Food Feud, a friendly cook-off between local celebrity chefs and neighborhood residents, and the Farm n’ Fun Kid Zone with lots of amazing activities focused on healthy eating. Look for an appearance by Daniel Tiger!
After getting a photo with Daniel Tiger, catch the Farm Truck Foods truck where kids can make fruit kabobs and veggie pizzas. Phipps Conservatory will run a demo of a healthy eating app called Green Light Foods while kids play Fruit and Veggie Twister, an activity based on the classic game. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh will guide kids in making art prints out of stamps created from seasonal produce and there will be science experiments, food tastings and other hand-on activities. The festival is free to attend and will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Kennywood’s ‘Turn Back the Clock’ Oldies Day: May 24
One of the oldest, most historic amusement parks in the country is right in Pittsburgh and it opens for the season on May 2 for select days until daily operation begins on May 15. If that’s not exciting enough, there are BOGO deals on May 10, 17 and 24. But wait, there’s more: Kennywood rolls out a new event on May 24 called ‘Turn Back the Clock’ Oldies Day.
Live bands will fill the park with ’70s and ’80s music and guests are encouraged to dress up in clothes from their favorite decade. Here’s your chance to don ’70s bell bottom jeans or ’80s neon shorts or maybe even a ’50s poodle skirt. Also at this event don’t miss the 95th birthday celebration for Kennywood’s oldest roller coaster, the Jack Rabbit, which took its first double dip way back in 1920. Stay tuned all season for more events, a new attraction opening in July and the new Kennywood FANATIC CLUB for season pass holders.
Kid City Rockers Dance Party at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh: May 24
If anyone can make dancing even more fun, it’s DJ KellyMom of Kid City Rockers. On the 4th Sunday of every month at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, she hosts a family dance party where ’80s classic rock, punk and rock & roll rule the day. No, you won’t hear songs like “Let It Go” from Frozen or “Happy” by Pharrell Williams here.
The theme for May’s dance party is “So Happy Together,” a celebration of family diversity. The experience is very interactive, often incorporating props like inflatable guitars, balloons, hula hoops, glow sticks and toys. DJ KellyMom also plays word games with her music to encourage movement and creative expression. For example, during her “Jump Set” which includes songs by Van Halen and The Pointer Sisters, kids will jump every time they hear that word in the songs. Silly fun and good exercise at the same time! Held from 1 – 3 p.m., the May 24th Kid City Rockers dance party is sponsored by We Can! and UPMC Health Plan. The dance party is free to the public but please note that participation does not include general admission to the Children’s Museum.
Because May is jam-packed with fantastic events, we offer you four more to consider: