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.
When organizers were planning last year's inaugural Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, they expected about 1,000 people to show up. They ended up with a crowd of more than 7,000. And it's no wonder, considering how highly the European dumpling ranks among the city's beloved foods. As Stephan Bontrager, one of the organizers of the fest, told the Post-Gazette in 2013, pierogis are "one of those Pittsburgh pride things."
Locals can once again show their love for the chewy concoctions at this year's fest, where there will be at least 15 vendors serving both traditional and contemporary versions. Perennial favorite Gosia's will be using a pierogi recipe handed down through generations of their Polish family, while Square Cafe will be giving attendees another chance to taste their coffee-spiked dumplings. There'll be plenty to do besides eat, of course. Other attractions include a beer tent (sponsored by Yuengling) and a pop-up market with handcrafted gifts such as pierogi earrings and toasty pierogi slippers.
Where's the best place to enjoy more than 101 European beers? Beneath a 6,000 square-foot tent in the great outdoors, of course. That's where the Great European Beer Festival brings some of the best brews from across the pond?with special attention paid to the hops-filled land of Belgium. Names like Piraat, Lindeman?s, Chimay, and Duvel greet festival attendees as they work their way through the tent, which also shelters Belgian cuisine, live musicians, and the tinier musicians that live inside their tubas.
Hosted by the Sharp Edge Beer Emporium, The Great European Beer Festival has been a tradition for nearly two decades. The festivities kick off with an "Ultimate Bier Dinner," during which chefs pair Belgian ales with equally Belgian cuisine, such as duck sausage and imported cheese. The festival then hosts multiple beer-drinking sessions over the course of two days.
Each year, visitors from around the world come to Pittsburgh to celebrate international artwork. There's just one catch: the drawings and portraits here are on the attendees' skin. The Steel City Tattoo Convention?presented by prolific tattoo artist Shane O'Neill?draws in more than 70 featured artists from as far away as France and Sweden. They not only showcase their previous works, but also tattoo new creations right on the convention floor, creating a chorus of buzzing needles that should confound any bees within city limits. The onsite tattooing is convenient, since it allows for last-minute entries into the convention's contests, including "Best Sleeve" and "Best Portrait Color."
Pittsburgh Magazine fills subscribers' mailboxes with 13 annual issues detailing the city's food, business, sports, and culture. In featured issues, writers highlight recent local human-interest stories, guides to weekend getaways, and spotlights on eclectic spots, famous cemeteries, or the place where Fred Rogers became Mr. Rogers after donning a radioactive sweater. Each year, the Best of the 'Burgh poll lets readers anoint their favorite city eateries, entertainment, and other local merchants.
Market Square Merchants Association is dedicated to the revitalized and bustling downtown area known as Market Square. A gathering space for businesspeople, students, and those who abhor circles, the historical square flourishes with a savory array of cuisines, free summer concerts, and farmers' markets bursting with locally culled vegetables and fruits.