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.
Dominique Ponko sits at the head of the class, leading yogis through muscle-lengthening postures with the steady flow of her deep, rhythmic inhales and exhales. It’s been a long journey for Dominique. She first sought out yoga at the age of 26 to help her cope with life-threatening seizures and a slow-growing brain tumor. Yoga comforted her through three difficult years, welcoming her into a space for healing spiritually before she was able to find the proper medicine to help her heal physically. Though still a little shaky, Dominique has triumphed and opened four yoga studios—voted Best of the ‘Burgh in 2010—to inspire her students to ease their ailments, build strength, and find inner peace.
During her studio's heated Vinyasa-flow classes, an enthusiastic and supportive instructor guides students through a series of strengthening postures that work to increase flexibility and build muscles. Warm, balmy air courses through the studio, pricking beads of sweat on brows to help detox bodies and loosen stiff muscles into deep, soothing stretches.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
The U.S. Women's Open is one of the United States Golf Association's premier majors and a chance to see the world's best female golfers display their driving, chipping, and golf-ball levitation skills, which have eliminated the need for tees. Spend one of four days analyzing the rhythmic, controlled shots from expected competitors such as Michelle Wie and the steady putting skills of Ai Miyazato—both trying to best last year's champion, Eun-Hee Ji. Up to nine golf-following youths age 17 and under will be admitted free of charge with every ticketed adult, and the first two rows of the grandstands are reserved for children to soak in the action with a first-hand view.
Steel City Rowing Club imparts sweeping and sculling competence on youth and adult rowers with classes designed to gradually build up confidence and ability. Certified coaches lead land and water training sessions that familiarize participants with the equipment and techniques used in rowing and foster a reliance on teamwork, a pivotal component in mastering mid-river games of musical chairs. Indoor rowing sessions build endurance and stability with rowing-machine practice, weight and core training, and yoga. Rowers then apply newly acquired skills amid the scenic, undeveloped wetlands of the Allegheny River, with training in multipassenger rowing shells as well as kayaks, canoes, and inflatable manatees. Each session holds a maximum of 32 students, with at least one coach per 16 rowers.
Showing a blend of current and classic cinematic entertainment, The Oaks Theater has remained Oakmont's only for-profit single-screen movie theater since its opening night in November 1938. The Junior Chamber of Commerce Players accompany a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, dancing, singing, and assembling popcorn monuments to the unfolding onscreen action. Seven feature-length films entice adrenal glands, letting viewers pick their poison from films such as Jonathan Demme's Academy Award–winning The Silence of the Lambs, the fang-centric Let the Right One In, or Halloween 4 featuring lovable loser Michael Myers. After sinking into one of The Oaks Theater's 430 seats, petrified patrons can cower behind a large soda or superstitiously squeeze the earlobe of their moviegoer companion.