The sounds of guitars, bodhrans, fiddles, tin whistles surrounds visitors. The aromas of traditional Irish cuisine waft through the air, and around every turn is some new piece of Irish culture. No, this isn't some daydream fueled by too much shepherd's pie. Each year, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival transforms a small part of the city into the Emerald Isle. In total, the festival schedules more than 28 hours of entertainment over the course of three days. Four stages play host to Irish rock and other traditional music. Visitors might also see Irish step dancing and storytellers, who breathe new life into traditional legends and folktales.
Hands-on activities also dot the festival grounds, including the chance to pet native Irish dogs or even search your family tree for Irish ancestors. And in addition to traditional cuisine, the festival hosts a tasting tent with Irish whiskey, Irish cider, and Irish experts who explain how these spirits are made.
At Pittsburgh Improv, comics lure laughs from bellies in the hopes of following in the footsteps of standup legends such as Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld, and Dave Chappelle, all of whom have graced the Improv club stages. The calendar schedules comedians as often as six nights a week, alternating between big-name headliners and up-and-comers who tickle funny bones with fresh material, abundant energy, and feathered reflex hammers. Audience members munch on their choice of a savory appetizer, such as spinach-and-artichoke dip or buffalo wings, while sipping a cocktail to avoid eye contact with the giant rubber chicken sitting at the next table.
Dedicated to promoting local and national concerts, Pittsburgh-based Drusky Entertainment presents Ribs on the River 3, a three-day festival and cookout. Along with a different line-up of 10 or more professional tune-makers each day, each night features a special headliner; Kiss's original spaceman Ace Frehley headlines Friday night, bluesman Kenny Wayne Shepherd tops the bill on Saturday, and rock icon Leon Russell melts any remaining intact faces on Sunday. Guests can keep fingers sticky to avoid dropping a beverage or concert program courtesy of renowned barbecue vendors including Florida Skin and Bones, Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ, and Sgt. Oink's, who serve up saucy, slow-cooked eats throughout the show.