The dog days are upon us but after all of the region’s record rainfall, it seems like summer is just kicking in. Good thing our August event guide includes plenty of outdoor fun to make up for all of the washouts—from a 14-hour music crawl through Lawrenceville to a posh picnic on the North Shore. This August, we give you 10 great reasons to experience something new: try vegan fare, ride a scooter, find out why #PghIsFunny and much more.
1. Feastival in McKees Rocks: August 1
Discover why the Rocks rocks and kick off August at Feastival. A free daylong festival (with extra oomph) co-presented by the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation, Grey Area Productions and Thunderbird Cafe, Feastival showcases the borough’s cultural and culinary scenes alongside an impressive roster of local and national musical acts. A refreshing new kid on the summer festival block, the event runs from 3 to 9 p.m. in the McKees Rocks Municipal Lot located at Route 51 and Furnace St.
Not to miss is funk and soul band and Blue Note recording artists, Robert Randolph and the Family Band. Led by gifted pedal steel guitarist Robert Randolph—called one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone—the high octane band will enthrall audiences with their musical prowess and stage dancing antics. Also headlining is Nola funk sensations, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, a driving urban funk force complete with distinctive trombone riffs, signature dance moves, contagious tunes and world-class musicianship. Rounding out the day’s soundtrack will be Pittsburgh acts The Commonheart, AFROHEAT, The Clock Reads and DJ Pandemic. Adding to the festivities will be 20 vendors, children’s activities, the city’s top food trucks and crafters from I Made It! Market. NEXTpittsburgh is a proud media sponsor.
2. Millvale Brew Fest at Millvale Riverfront Park: August 8
Millvale has become quite the biking and beer destination. One of the best ways to get to know the cozy borough and quench your thirst this summer is at the 9th annual Millvale Brew Fest. Drawing hop and malt fans alike to scenic Millvale Riverfront Park along the banks of the Allegheny, the brew bash will feature a staggering—and refreshing—selection of 180 craft, micro, nano and specialty beers from around the country. Featured breweries include everyone from California’s Anderson Valley and Kalamazoo’s Bell’s, to Delaware-based Dogfish Head and Millvale’s very own Grist House.
Also on tap will be beer-themed merchandise and gifts. It will feel ever better to imbibe since proceeds will support the nonprofit Millvale Borough Development Corporation. The event includes two sessions: 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. Tickets ($45 in advance; $50 at the event) include beer, live music, food and a bottomless souvenir tasting glass. Added incentive? Bike or kayak to the brew fest and receive a free poster designed by artist Thomas Walker. Grab tickets now because the event often sells out.
3. Style Week Pittsburgh: August 12 – 16
Get to know Pittsburgh’s fashion forward side during five days packed with local style, artistry and glamour. Channel your inner Tyra Banks or Oscar de la Renta during events that showcase the designers, artisans, boutiques, brands, stylists and models coming out of Pittsburgh today, while highlighting international icons who represent a diverse global industry.
Fashionistas won’t want to miss the designer fashion show with Diana Misetic, Lana Neumeyer, Toya Taylor and Jazmin Jackson, hat fashion show and brunch featuring Gina Mazzotta Millinery, pop-up block party in Market Square and the Pinstripes & Pearls showcase of the latest business professional styles.
Style Week kicks off on August 12 at the Kelly Strayhorn with local and international designers, fashion trucks, a beauty and grooming bar, DJs, cocktails and more. On August 13 in Market Square, Style Week honors the region’s trailblazers working in the fashion and beauty industries. It’s haute couture for a cause, because a portion of Style Week’s proceeds will benefit Dress for Success Pittsburgh, a global nonprofit that helps disadvantaged women become economically independent. View a complete Style Week Pittsburgh schedule.
4. R.A.N.T. Rock All Night Tour in Lawrenceville: August 15
The festival season’s in full swing, but you don’t have to run off to Coachella or Bonnaroo to experience great live music under the summer sun. Back and bigger than ever for its fourth installment, the Lawrenceville RANT (read: Rock All Night Tour) kicks off at noon on Saturday, August 15, and continues into the wee hours until 2 a.m. Showcasing the region’s diverse local music scene—from bluegrass, punk rock and metal, to rockabilly, electronica and indie pop, RANT also highlights Lawrenceville as a vibrant destination for nightlife and performance.
Ready to rock, roll and rant from the 6th to the 10th ward? Filling all corners of Lawrenceville with live music—from a retro bowling to a former moose lodge—the impressive RANT IV roster boasts 120 bands, 30 solo artists, 21 venues, classic cars, craft vendors, local fare and live art. Concerts will span 30 city blocks from Arsenal Park to Nied’s Hotel. There is surely a sound for every ear, from Dream Phone at Spirit and Grand Piano at Javo, to City Steps at Gus’s and Morgan Erina at Hambone’s. Did we mention that it’s all free?
New to RANT are specialty record label stages, a youth showcase featuring high school bands and open busking zones. Making Pittsburgh’s first-of-its-kind multi-genre, multi-venue music festival happen are co-organizers Michael Devine and Mary Jo Coll. View a RANT schedule and map.
5. MuSic for MS Festival at Hartwood Acres: August 15
Rock out and help fight multiple sclerosis at a local landmark during one of Pittsburgh’s newest music festivals. Taking the stage at scenic Hartwood Acres, MuSic for MS blends vibrant rootsy sounds with advocacy and awareness.
Headlining the second annual installment are Nashville quintet Humming House, Knoxville-based Americana band The Black Lillies and Alabama’s alt-country rockers The Mulligan Brothers. Joining the national acts will be regional talents including old-time music quintet the Tiger Maple String Band, singer-songwriter Maddie Arnold and the student-led N.A. Fiddlers. Performances—which span everything from Appalachian bluegrass to soulful alt-rock—will run from 3:30 to 10 p.m.
Festival-goers can fuel up at the event’s on-site food and drink vendor area, which will feature goodies from Pittsburgh Winery, Pop Stop, Butcher on Butler, Randita’s, Franktuary, Saucy Mammas and more. Emceeing the event—which taps into the power of music to combat multiple sclerosis—is WDVE’s Michele Michaels. All proceeds will benefit the Pennsylvania Keystone Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
6. BikeFest: August 21 – 30
Earlier this month, The New York Times wrote about biking in Pittsburgh, the Healthy Ride Bike Share System is now available around town and new data released by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership shows that some 24,000 trips were taken along downtown’s new Penn Ave. bike lanes in May alone. This summer, the best way to explore the authentic neighborhoods and dramatic topography of Pittsburgh is on two wheels during BikeFest.
Featuring 10 days of adventure on two wheels, BikeFest is uniquely crowdsourced by participating organizations, groups and individuals who arrange an impressive array of bicycle-themed events. With nearly 100 activities, there is truly a ride, pace and program for bikers of all ilks—from veterans and thrill seekers, to novices and cruisers. Don’t miss the BikeFest kick-off on Friday, August 21 at Spirit. Celebrating 11 years of local bike and pedestrian advocacy, the bike bash will feature a dance party and live music by Wreck Loose, Lone Wolf and Grand Piano.
Dreamed up and led by bike-lovers across the region, festival highlights include the ambitious all-day 90 Neighborhood Ride, a bike parts swap meet, rides to community pools and GTECH’s very cool Two Wheels, Lots of Green tour of Northside greenspaces. BikeFest culminates on August 30 with PedalPGH—the region’s largest bike ride—boasting a Family Ride (2 to 16 miles) that meanders along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail System, the popular 25-mile Highmark City Tour which includes local landmarks such as the Smithfield Street Bridge and Cathedral of Learning and the challenging 62-mile PJ Dick and Lindy Paving Metric Century ride that features steep climbs, spectacular views and the city’s newest bike infrastructure.
7. Pittsburgh VegFest in Allegheny Commons: August 22
Move over corn dogs and funnel cakes, it’s time to eat well this summer. Pittsburgh’s first-of-its-kind VegFest will turn the Northside’s scenic Allegheny Commons Park into a celebration of healthy vegan fare, animal advocacy and compassionate, ethical and sustainable living. Whether you’re a lifelong vegan or flirting with making the transition, you won’t want to miss this chance to eat your way through the region’s best vegan fare. Think healthy wraps, refreshing smoothies, spicy seitan wings, chili dogs, a falafel bar, vegan twinkies and much more. The event’s dizzying array of delicious food vendors includes Randita’s, Istanbul Grille, Onion Maiden, Taj Mahal, El Burro, Gluten Free Goat, Fortuitea Café, The White Rabbit Café, Pittsburgh Halal, Loving Hut and more.
While sampling vegan fare, attendees can shop ethically for artwork, crafts, resources and wellness products. Featured vendors include Olive & Marlowe, The Dog Stop, Red Lotus Foods, Hello Bully, Animal Rescue League, Western PA Humane Society, Arbonne and many others. Organized by the McKees Rocks-based nonprofit Justice For Animals, VegFest is presented in partnership with the summer pop-up series, Cedar Arts Market, which has been busy bringing innovative new events to the Northside. Free for all ages, VegFest will also feature a kids’ craft area. Healthy bonus? Be one of the first 100 to arrive and receive a free goodie bag stuffed with products and coupons.
8. Steel City Mods vs. Rockers in Millvale: August 22
Are you more of a mod or a rocker? Celebrate both subcultures when cycles, scooters, trophies and a classic 1960s soundtrack converge in Millvale. Rolling into Grant Ave. from noon to 5 p.m., the sixth annual Steel City Mods vs. Rockers Vintage Motorcycle and Scooter Rally—the only event of its kind in the area—invites Pittsburghers to relive the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s right on home turf. Slick back your hair, don that black leather jacket or smartly pressed suit and join fellow motorbike and scooter enthusiasts for an exciting afternoon showcasing the styles, wheels and fun embraced by mods and rockers alike. Whether you’re more of a Gene Vincent fan or a Yardbirds freak, you won’t want to miss all of the fun in the streets.
Vintage motorcycles and scooters, cafe racers and other vehicles will compete and vie for trophies in 10 categories. Rally-goers can check out 300-plus vintage motorcycles and scooters, enjoy live music by The Gimme Five and Ben Dumm and the East Side Band, be treated to a pin-up contest and shop for goods and gifts. Emceeing all the action will be DJ Ian.
Have a vehicle to register? The public show entry fee is $10. Spectator tickets are $5. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Milllvale Community Library.
9. Pittsburgh Comedy Festival at the Henry Heymann Theatre: August 27 – 29
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Pittsburgh’s comedy scene has evolved from burgeoning to well-established. The best place to discover the city’s hilarious side is at the second annual Pittsburgh Comedy Festival. Setting up shop for 3 days inside the intimate Henry Heymann Theater, the first-of-its-kind festival boasts 30 stand-up and improv comedy acts from around the US, feature performances, open mic gigs, lively discussions, informative workshops, social happenings and programming for kids and families.
What’s in store for 2015? Festival headliners include nationally acclaimed comedian and Philly native Todd Glass—of Comedy Central, Louie and The Daily Show fame—along with the female powerhouse improv group, Bombardo, which features Parks and Recreation star, Aubrey Plaza. Don’t miss the kick off on August 27, when funny man Glass takes the stage alongside talented opening acts Andy Picarro, Kristen Lundberg and Bill Crawford. Show your 412 pride when the festival wraps at the #PghIsFunny grand finale—an all-star improv show featuring Lee Terbosic, Lainie Lenertz and one very special guest.
Curious about the local improv scene? Watch the art of comedy unfold as Pittsburgh teams make up scenes on the spot during a Friendly Neighborhood Improv Show. Craving something edgy? Stay out late for the not-to-be-missed No Sleep ‘Til Oakland Midnight Stand-Up Show. Looking for family laughs? Head to the Kids Comedy Cabaret matinee to partake in activities, music and performances for all ages. Wanna be a judge? The festival has one last spot open, and you can help fill it by voting at Arcade Comedy Theater on July 31 and August 1.
10. Riverlife’s Party at the Pier: Posh Picnic: August 28
Who needs the Hamptons when we have the North Shore? Dust off those vintage Lilly Pulitzer frocks and seersucker suits and help celebrate Pittsburgh’s riverfront amenities. With Hollywood star, hometown hero and riverfront champion Michael Keaton onboard as co-presenter, Riverlife’s Party at the Pier just might be the social happening of 2015. Equal parts Great Gatsby and Wes Anderson, this year’s buzz-worthy river bash promises a tongue-in-cheek twist on the traditional, upscale seaside picnic.
Dubbed “Posh Picnic,” the event will transform the outdoor riverfront amphitheater at Rivers Casino into a soiree packed with boats and bowties, pearls and picnic baskets and champagne and sequins. Picnickers will be treated to sunset cruises on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, live music and dancing with the Elite Showband, breathtaking views of the Pittsburgh skyline and plenty of summer surprises conjured by event designer Hens & Chicks.
Leave that picnic basket at home and arrive with an appetite, because the event will feature a tasty buffet paying homage to classic picnic fare. All proceeds from this confluence for a cause will support Riverlife’s mission to reclaim, restore and promote Pittsburgh’s urban riverfronts. The fête comes at a particularly jubilant time for the nonprofit, as it announced the appointment of Vivien Li as Riverlife’s new president and chief executive officer on July 21. Purchase tickets today, because this hot ticket will likely sell out.
Because all good lists must come to an end, we give you our 8 not-to-miss honorable mentions for August:
Steel City Con at the Monroeville Convention Center: August 7 – 9
Allegheny County Department of Human Services Candidates’ Comedy Night at The Waterfront: August 19
2015 Emerging Artist of the Year: Seth Clark and 2015 Artist of the Year: Dennis Marsico at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts: August 21
Homewood Cemetery Founders’ Day Celebration: August 22
WYEP Final Fridays in Schenley Plaza: August 28
Opening Celebration & Art Olympics at Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center: August 29
Arts Festival on Walnut Street in Shadyside: August 29 & 30
Looking for live music?
Check out our Sound Picks: 10 can’t-miss Pittsburgh concerts in August feature.
Looking for family activities?
Be sure to read our Top 10 Family Adventures this August in Pittsburgh feature.