While it doesn't always feel like it weather-wise, Pittsburgh really does have four seasons. Each comes with its own special events and happenings, so no matter when you're here, you can find something that strikes your fancy. We've organized some of our favorites by season. (Check websites for exact dates and times.)
Without a doubt, Pittsburgh's most famous attractions are its three rivers — the Monongahela, the Allegheny and the Ohio. And one of the best ways to see the rivers, and the city, is on a Gateway Clipper cruise (Station Square, www.gatewayclipper.com). The venerable company has been sailing these rivers for more than 55 years and its five boats offer a variety of dinners, dances, sightseeing cruises, game-day shuttles and more. And if you don't want to sail all day, go the surf-and-turf route with a Just Ducky Tour (Station Square, www.justduckytours.com), which shows you the city by water and land on its special amphibious boats. Another surefire way to see the city is by taking a trip on the iconic Duquesne or Monongahela incline (bit.ly/1FDjdbZ), which conveys you from Station Square to Mount Washington, where you can catch the best views of the city's skyline.
Pittsburgh's art scene is flourishing and some of its best attributes are discussed elsewhere in this guide. But four times a year, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust holds a free Gallery Crawl (www.trustarts.org/crawl) to showcase the best of what Downtown's Cultural District has to offer. The Penn Avenue Arts Initiative also holds a monthly gallery crawl called Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn (www.pennavenue.org).
If you're looking for something a little more active, check out the Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure (www.goape.com), located in North Park. The three-hour course features 1,400 feet of zip lines and more.
If you're more a fan of indoor, geekier activities, The Steel City Con (www.steelcitycon.com) happens three times a year (April, August and December) at the Monroeville Convention Center (www.monroevilleconventioncenter.com). This pop-culture convention is full of toy and comics vendors, as well as celebrity appearances. The next show is Aug. 7-9.
There are some years when summers in Pittsburgh mean skies slightly less gray than in fall or winter, but the temperatures are warm; contrary to what grumblers say, we get lots of sun and have plenty of events to help make the most of it.
If you dig the festival scene, June's Three Rivers Arts Festival (www.3riversartsfest.org) is 10 days of free music and art in and around scenic Point State Park and Downtown. The Polish Hill Arts Festival (tinyurl.com/o5tzjfg) takes place in July, and a month later, Shadyside offers The Art Festival on Walnut on Aug. 29-30 (www.bit.ly/1QSaj6h), as well as another installment in late May. Also every year around the Fourth of July, the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta (www.yougottaregatta.com) takes over the three rivers with boat races, live music and more. And an hour north of the city, in Butler County, is Pyro Fest (www.pyrofest.com), billed as the country's largest Fireworks festival.
For food and drink festivals, you can't beat the Heinz Field Rib Festival (www.heinzfieldribfest.com), Sept. 3-7, and the Pittsburgh Beer Fest (www.pittsburghbeerfest.com), featuring tons of beer, food and live entertainment.
And in June, the city presents Pittsburgh Pride (www.pittsburghpride.org), a large-scale celebration of the LGBT community that includes three days of entertainment, a parade and community awareness.
Movie buffs will also have plenty to chose from. From June through August, Pittsburgh Citiparks offers free Cinema in the Parks (www.citiparks.net) at several parks across the city. If you're up for a bit of nostalgia, there are two drive-in movie theaters in close proximity to the city, both in the western suburbs. The Twin-Hiway Drive-In (5588 Steubenville Pike, Robinson Township, www.twinhiwaydrivein.com) offers first-run features on two screens nightly during warmer months. A bit farther west is the Dependable Drive-In (500 Moon Clinton Road, Coraopolis, www.dependabledrivein.com), which features four screens and is open year-round.
If you want a little more culture, every Sunday from June through August, Citiparks holds its annual Bach, Beethoven and Brunch (Mellon Park, Shadyside, www.tinyurl.com/cpbrunch). Food is available for purchase, or bring a picnic lunch.
If music is your thing, there is no shortage of events. The Allegheny County Summer Concert Series (tinyurl.com/cpacconcerts) at South Park and Hartwood Acres offers a mix of national and local bands playing free shows from June through Labor Day. The Pittsburgh Jazz Live International festival (www.pittsburghjazzlive.com) brings jazz music to Downtown streets for three days in June. The free, one-day Deutschtown Music Festival (www.deutschtownmusicfestival.org) features more than 100 bands of various genres on 24 stages on the North Side. And in August, the city's hippest neighborhood gets into the act with Lawrenceville's Rock All Night (tinyurl.com/orvhkpe), which features 14 hours of live music from more than 100 bands playing, well, all night.
Other summer events of note include: farmers markets, held all summer long by Citiparks (www.citiparks.net), and every Thursday in Market Square (www.tinyurl.com/owzou6s); beginning in May, trips to historic amusement park Kennywood (www.kennywood.com); and there's no better time to people-watch Downtown than during Anthrocon (www.anthrocon.org), more widely known as the Furry convention, held each July.
Since this is Pittsburgh, it's tough for any event to get top billing over the one-and-only Pittsburgh Steelers (www.steelers.com). Playing in Heinz Field, the Black and Gold are still hunting for an elusive seventh Super Bowl, and start that quest on Sept. 10. And while the NHL season seems to last for 12 months, the Pittsburgh Penguins (www.penguins.nhl.com) start their season on Oct. 8.
From Sept. 11-13, the Craftsmen's Guild will present its annual A Fair in the Park (Mellon Park, Shadyside, www.afairinthepark.org), a fine-arts and craft festival. Starting Sept. 5, Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks (www.pittsburghshakespeare.com) begins its free, annual, month-long weekend performances in city parks. The Wizard World pop-culture convention (David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, www.wizardworld.com) will come to Pittsburgh for the first time Sept. 11-13, after acquiring the Pittsburgh Comicon earlier this year.
Two of the city's biggest film festivals also take place in autumn. ReelQ (www.reelq.org), the city's LGBT film festival, will celebrate its 30th anniversary Oct. 9-17. In November, the 34th installment of the Three Rivers Film Festival (www.3rff.com) takes place.
Finally, Pittsburghers love their Halloween. You'll be able to tell by the large number of pumpkin patches and haunted attractions that pop up in October. All will give you a good scare, but a few to check out include: The Scarehouse (www.scarehouse.com), in Etna; The Hundred Acres Manor (www.hundredacresmanor.com), in Bethel Park; Kennywood Phantom Fright Nights (www.phantomfrightnights.com); and the Haunted Hills Hayride (www.hauntedhillshayride.com), in North Versailles. For more than 45 years, residents from across the city have packed the streets for the Bloomfield Halloween Parade (www.bloomfieldlive.com).
Sure, a lot of holiday-season events actually happen before the official kickoff of winter, but it seems wrong to place them anywhere else. The Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership (www.downtownpittsburgh.com/holidays) puts on several holiday events. Highlights include Pittsburgh Light Up Night, on Nov. 20; a German-style Holiday Market from Nov. 20-Dec. 23, in Market Square; and outdoor ice skating at PPG place from November to March. Other annual holiday events include: The WPXI Holiday Parade, on Nov. 28; and The Pittsburgh CLO's annual production of A Christmas Carol (www.pittsburghclo.org. Wrap up the holiday season with the arts-focused New Years Eve Party, First Night (www.firstnightpgh.org).
The second-annual Strip District Music Festival (www.stripdistrictmusicfest.com) will take place in January, featuring dozens of local bands playing at various locations.
If you like to see the newest cars on the market, then the Pittsburgh International Auto Show (www.pittautoshow.com) is for you; the 2016 installment takes place Feb. 12-15.
And finally, you don't have to be Irish to take part in the annual Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Parade (www.pittsburghirish.org/parade).
The Pittsburgh Pirates (www.pittsburghpirates.com) are officially good and they traditionally begin their season the second week of April, at PNC Park on the North Side. They're not the only game in town, however: The professional soccer team Pittsburgh Riverhounds (www.riverhounds.com) plays from March through September at Highmark Stadium on the South Side.
For the artistically inclined, one of the city's best art events takes place in Lawrenceville, in late April. Art All Night (www.artallnight.org) is a free-to-attend, non-juried art show that lasts nearly 24 hours. There is music, food, children's activities and lots and lots of art. In May, the newMoves Contemporary Dance Festival (www.kelly-strayhorn.org/festivals/newmoves) takes place at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, featuring up-and-coming choreographers from Pittsburgh and around the country. Also in May is the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival (www.pittsburghfringe.org) featuring "adventurous and exploratory" performing artists. Rounding out the noteworthy spring theater offerings is the Children's Theater Festival (www.pghkids.trustarts.org/kids), which takes place for three days Downtown in mid-May.
In the winter you went to the auto show, so in spring, check out the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show (www.pghhome.com), also at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
The Pittonkatonk May Day Brass BBQ (www.pittonkatonk.com) has been called "magical" and "a little hippie-dippie." Whatever you call it, this grassroots music festival really picked up some steam in its second year and is likely to get even bigger in 2016.
This city has too many food festivals to mention here, but one stands out every year and has been voted "Best Food Festival" by City Paper readers: The Greek Food Festival at St. Nicholas (www.stnickspgh.org/food-festival/greek-food-festival).
If you're a bargain shopper and happen to be in town on the third Saturday in May, you'll want to visit the Regent Square Annual Yard Sale, sponsored by the Regent Square Civic Association (www.regentsquare-rsca.org).
And finally, the city's biggest event of the spring is always the Pittsburgh Marathon (www.thepittsburghmarathon.com). The race has grown to more than 30,000 competitors in recent years, and because of the city's unusually hilly topography, it is one of the more challenging marathons in the country.