Ethnic Festivals Title Pic

If America is a nation of immigrants, then Pittsburgh is certainly a city of them. Our corner of Western Pennsylvania has been enriched by cultures from all corners of the globe for over a century. What better way to celebrate our diverse heritage than annual festivals and celebrations? Here’s a rundown of some of the best ethnic festivals in Pittsburgh. Note that these are not ranked, but presented in the order you can catch them throughout the year.

1. Latin American and Caribbean Festival

Where: Oakland

When: March 21, 2015

The Latin American and Caribbean Festival is an annual ethnic festival sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Latin American Studies. This year, the festival is celebrating 35 years of sharing Latin American cuisine, music, dance, and crafts with the Pittsburgh community. 2014 featured a bevy of vendors and organizations promoting everything from Argentinian catering to fair-trade artisan goods from Nicaragua, so expect the same diversity this year. Nonprofit organizations will also be there to spread the word about volunteer opportunities and projects for you to get involved with. The festival is free and will be held on March 21st on Pitt’s campus, so stop by if you’re in Oakland that weekend. For more information on vendors and performers, check out their website here: http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/clas/festival


2. St. Nicholas Greek Food Festival

Where: Oakland

When: Early May, 2015; dates TBD

Gyro The first of the summer Greek festivals, this Oakland tradition has been going strong for over 50 years. Generally held for a week in early May, this is the best place to try delicacies like lamb kebab, stuffed grape leaves, and of course, the famous gyros that always generate a blocks-long queue. But don’t stuff yourself so much that there’s no room for dessert; the dessert bar sells enough Greek treats to satisfy even the  most insatiable sweet tooth. If you don’t have time to take in the live music, feel free to drop in quickly and grab some takeout. More information on the 2015 dates should be available on the St. Nicholas website as May approaches: http://stnickspgh.org/


3. Silk Screen Film Festival

Where: City-wide

When: July 10-19, 2015

One of the largest Asian-centric ethnic festivals in Pittsburgh, and the U.S., the Silk Screen Film Festival is an annual ten-day celebration of Asian cinema held from July 10-19. With genres running the gamut from sci-fi animated feature to Oscar-nominated drama, and regions that span from China to Palestine, the festival’s entertainment provides a slice of the most interesting films from one of the world’s most cinematically prolific regions. While the film festival is undoubtedly the centerpiece of Silk Screen’s calendar, those who want more Asian cultural offerings can find galas, as well as dance and music events, throughout the year. Keep an eye on their website for a full film itinerary and ticket prices here: http://www.silkscreenfestival.org/


4. Ukie Fest

Where: McKees Rocks

When: July 22-25, 2015

Over a decade ago, the first incarnation of Ukie Fest was held in the backyard of St. Mary’s parish rectory. It has since grown into the largest Ukranian festival in Pittsburgh, and despite outgrowing its humble beginnings, it continues to meet its original goals of reacquainting Ukranians with their heritage, preserving Ukranian culture, and sharing that culture with the wider Pittsburgh community. For four days between July 22-25, you can snack on traditional cuisine such as pierogis, kobasi, halubtsi while watching concerts by nationally recognized recording artists. The event is free, so make sure you drop by Little Kyiv and join in the fun. More information about this year’s festival can be found here: http://www.ukiefestrox.com/


5. McKeesport’s International Village

Where: Mckeesport

When: Mid-August, 2015; dates TBD

Lion Dance

Those looking for a figurative (and literal) international smorgasbord  should look no further than McKeesport’s International Village. For  over  50 years,  McKeesport’s International Village has exposed the  Pittsburghers to a wide range of  cultures. Originally featuring primarily  Eastern European communities, it has since  expanded into a truly  multinational ethnic festival. Last year, representatives from  countries  such as Vietnam, Ghana, Austria, Lebanon, and Mexico gathered at  Renzisehauen Park for three days in mid- August to share their food and dance with  the Pittsburgh community. Admission is a paltry $2, making this event an  incredible bargain experience.  See their website for more information as the event  approaches here: http://www.mckeesportinternationalvillage.com/index.html


6. Little Italy Days  

Where: Bloomfield

When: August 20-23, 2015

The Italian heritage of Bloomfield stretches back to the beginning of the 20th century, and a century later, the Little Italy Days celebrate that tradition. Started in 2002, the Little Italy Days have garnered a first-place honors for City of Pittsburgh “Best Special Event” and the statewide Townie Awards. For four days between August 20-23, the streets are closed to allow visitors to soak up everything the neighborhood has to offer. Previous incarnations have included a mix of Italian and Pittsburgh musicians, as well as plenty of Italian fare like pizza, pasta, and sausage. This year, you can even try your hand at swing dance compliments of the Pittsburgh Dance Center. The event is free, so drop by if you’re in the area. Head on over to their website for more information: http://littleitalydays.com/


7. Irish Festival

Where: Homestead

When: Around Labor Day, 2015; dates TBD

Since 1991, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival and its nonprofit parent organizations, The Pittsburgh Irish Festival, Inc. and The Irish Partnership of Pittsburgh, Inc., has been the driving force behind Irish cultural education in the city. Normally held around Labor Day, the Pittsburgh Irish Festival boasts over 25,000 visitors and 28 hours of continuous music and dance performances over three days, making it one of the most comprehensive ethnic festivals in the city, and possibly the nation. In addition to the entertainment, there is a genealogy station, where you can learn to find your long-lost Irish ancestors; an Irish market, where local vendors sell their wares; and of course, plenty of Irish food and drink. Tickets range from $12-14, but be on the lookout for special discounts on their website: http://pghirishfest.org/


8. Peoples Gas Holiday Market

Christmas Tree

Where: Downtown

When: December, 2015; dates TBD

When the winter holidays roll around, there’s no better way to get in the mood than with a visit to this Downtown market. Inspired by German Christkindlmarkts, this event brings European charm, elaborate light shows every half hour after dark, local vendors, and plenty of ethnic food and holiday tunes. For those with kids, or adults who want to put in a good word with the big man, Santa Claus himself will be on hand to take gift requests and pose for pictures in return for a small donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Keep checking the website for more details on 2015 dates, because it sure beats heading to your local mall for another listless holiday shopping experience: http://www.downtownpittsburgh.com/holidays

 

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About Adam Packard

Adam Packard has been a marketing professional for over 10 years. During that span he has spent time in the gaming, racing, entertainment and real estate industries. Outside of the office, he enjoys all types of sports, including basketball, baseball, golf & harness racing. He resides in Moon Township, with his wife Jackie and two sons Nicholas & Jacob.