Introduce the season of vibrant foliage, fall festivals, spooky haunts, light homes, and cozy layers. It’s the best time to explore the city at these top 12 events.
Be sure to pack your mask and visit each organization’s website and social media for updated Covid safety protocols.
1. Highmark Blues and Heritage Festival at August Wilson African American Cultural Center and Highmark Stadium: October 1 and 2
The blues will reign supreme when this two-day music festival kicks off the fall concert season. The party kicks off Friday night with legendary singer, actress and activist Mavis Staples filling the August Wilson Cultural Center with her powerful voice and soulful sounds. The Grammy-winning Hall of Famer is back on the road after releasing their 14e album, “We Get By”, in 2019. The Right Sounds jump into high gear on Saturday outside the South Side with impressive lineup including Robert Cray Band, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Morris Day & the Time, Third World, Rare Essence, and Dumpstaphunk. To buy tickets.
2. Row House Cinema Drive-in at the Strip District Terminal: October 1-30
You’ve heard of pop-up shops, markets, and festivals, but have you ever been to a pop-up movie theater? On the heels of its triumphant reopening in Lawrenceville, Row House Cinema is turning one of the city’s newest mixed-use developments into a fall destination. Returning with spooky seasonal lineup throughout the month – and a bigger screen for your viewing pleasure – the series pairs movies under the stars with a rotating selection of local breweries – such as Necromancer, Stick City, and Cinderands. The Silver Screen in the Sky starts with “ET” and “The Wiz” and ends with the Halloween heavy hitters “The Birds” and “Night of the Living Dead”. To buy tickets.
3. RADical 50th Anniversary Party at Contemporary Craft: October 2
Contemporary Craft has a lot to celebrate – beautiful new digs in Lawrenceville, a new executive director, and a five-decade milestone – and you’re invited to the party. Help Contemporary Craft mark its achievements and ring in its next chapter at its 50th anniversary party held in conjunction with the region’s RADical Days series. Take a guided tour of the new exhibition, Food Justice: Growing a Healthier Community through Art, which features 18 works by 15 contemporary artists working in a variety of craft techniques and forms. Participants can also participate in hands-on ceramics activities, participate in a scavenger hunt, and watch fiery demonstrations from the Pittsburgh Glass Center.
4. Reel Q LGBTQ + Film Festival: October 8-16
A documentary about a 1980s lesbian punk gang in London. An autobiographical film described as “Wes Anderson meets gay Russians”. A drag queen’s relationship with her fiery grandmother with Cloris Leachman in her latest role. These are just a few of the gripping stories you’ll experience as Reel Q brings the best of queer cinema to Pittsburgh. The majority of the 14 feature films and 60 short films are shown online and will be complemented by in-person screening events with Q&A, dances and performances at True T Studios and the Warhol Museum. Opening night at the Central Outreach Wellness Center includes a drive-in screening of Alex Liu’s new documentary “Sexplanation,” as well as drag shows and food trucks. Don’t miss the closing night at Row House Cinema with a screening of ‘Kiss Me Kosher’ and a reception in Beirport. To buy tickets.
5. Fall Flower Show: Happy Troll-O-Ween at Phipps: October 9
For the country’s oldest exhibition of its kind, the Phipps’ Fall Flower Show dresses up its beloved trolls for Halloween and takes chrysanthemums to frightening new heights. Whimsical new displays will be surrounded by tens of thousands of breathtaking blooms from plants that have been forming all year round. Meet a 10-foot gnarled tree inspired by Sweden’s Troll Forest, inspect the spooky Bridget the Troll’s cave from the bridge, and gaze at Leif’s twinkling lantern. Witness a trio of trick-or-trollers, wave at Grumpy Troll Bjorn, and solve autumnal puzzles. The delicious boo-tanic party will burst with fall wreaths, floating islands of dark red moms, and costumed trolls. Come dressed in your prettiest Halloween sons. To buy tickets.
6. Enter the Quantinuum Q Ball at Roselea Farm: October 9
For its 30th anniversary celebrations, the Quantum Theater is hosting the Q Ball celebrations outside and on Coraopolis Road. Reinventing its popular gala as an al fresco farmhouse dinner, the bucolic Q Ball experience will showcase the artisan cuisine of chef Jamilka Borges. Surrounded by inspiring scenery, the Q Ballers will be treated to music from Buffalo Rose, DJ Riel and Steel City Soul Club, and will be able to bid on silent auction items on display alongside imports from Bass & Bennett Trading Co. under the stars (think farm-friendly cocktail attire and comfy shoes) will end with dessert, dancing, and toast around cozy fireplaces. Profits will be used to finance the company’s new season of in situ programming. Buy tickets now before the event is sold out.
7. Marisol and Warhol take New York to the Warhol Museum: October 14
One of the leading figures of Pop Art is a name that should be as recognizable as Andy Warhol. A new traveling exhibition making its debut at the Warhol Museum will present a well-deserved examination of Marisol’s creative practice and career. Born in Paris in 1930 to Venezuelan parents, Marisol (née Maria Sol Escobar) was a central figure in the New York art world, but was often excluded from the pop art narrative dominated by white men. Tracing the parallel emergence of Marisol (1930-2016) and Andy Warhol (1928-1987) in New York City during the birth of Pop Art in the early 1960s, the exhibition features loans of Marisol’s work from major global collections, rarely seen films and archival documents. , and Warhol’s silent films about Marisol. In the works, visitors will explore themes common to both artists: iconic Pop Art subjects like Coca-Cola and the Kennedy family; Warhol’s early queer paintings with Marisol’s exploration of the female experience; their influence on the New York gallery scene and more.