Downtown Pittsburgh skyline

Free Fall Events in Downtown Pittsburgh and Beyond

Wed, Sep 6, 2017

Written by: Lily Rybarczyk

Summer may be winding down, but that means arts seasons across the city are just beginning! Tours, movie screenings, behind-the-scenes access to Pittsburgh’s most iconic buildings – there are plenty of free activities to keep away the back-to-school blues this fall!


1. Free Friday Walking Tours: Penn-Liberty Cultural District

September 1-29, meet at Katz Plaza

eyeball sculptures and fountain in Katz Plaza Downtown Pittsburgh

Did you know that the Cultural District used to be a downtrodden, red-light district? It’s thanks to H.J. “Jack” Heinz II, a founder of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, that this “adults-only” neighborhood became a thriving hub of arts and entertainment comparable to New York’s Broadway. Join Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation as they guide you through Heinz’s vision and the transformation of the arts district we all know and love. Along the way, you’ll encounter many of the Cultural Trust’s beloved performance venues, galleries, and public art installations. Tours start at Katz Plaza and end at 6th and Penn. These walking tours are the perfect excuse to get away from your desk and soak up some sun during the last beautiful days of fall. Can’t make it out for the Penn-Liberty tour at 10 a.m.? Consider the 4th Avenue Historic District or Grant Street Tour.

2. Page to Screen

September 9 & 30, Carnegie Library – Downtown and Business

You know the library as a great place for books, but did you know it also turns into a mini-movie theater? Fall cold front moving in? Get in out of the rain and join Carnegie Library at their Downtown & Business location for Saturday Silver Screen showings! September features Oscar-award winning, Pittsburgh-based “Fences” and the award-winning historical drama “Loving.” Check out the Carnegie Library events page for other upcoming screenings and events!

3. Fall Gallery Crawl

September 22, Throughout the Cultural District

red stop sign with text reading 'cultural district stop'

Always a crowd favorite, this fall’s Gallery Crawl is packed with over 30 stops. Forget your schoolwork and let the sounds of the islands soothe you with Urban Pathways’ Sounds of Steel. Don’t miss the Louis Cato Band playing all night in Katz Plaza – Louis Cato was in The Colbert Report’s house band and is currently recording with stars like Jack White, Tribe Called Quest and more! Arcade Comedy has closed the doors of its 811 Liberty Space, but you can catch an exclusive sneak-peak of their new 943 Liberty digs at the Gallery Crawl. As always, the Crawl is accompanied by exciting new gallery openings and this one is no exception: Macular will be opening at Wood Street Galleries and Clickbait: The App Expo will open at 707 Penn Gallery.

4. RADical Days

September 22-October 15, locations throughout Pittsburgh

RADical Days celebrates its super sweet 16! Our regional assets are celebrating this special celebration with a spectacular schedule of free admissions, performances and activities to thank the public for its sales tax dollars. This year you’ll find four Cultural Trust events in the RADical Days: the Gallery Crawl, Story Corner with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Family Engagement Workshop with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and Ghost Stories. The packed three-week lineup also features RADical Days classics such as free day at The Andy Warhol Museum, Phipps Conservatory, and the Carnegie Science Center. The sweet 16 celebration includes seven new activities, including hands-on art projects at the North Hills Arts Center, Union Project and Maker Faire Pittsburgh at the Children’s Museum and Buhl Community Park. Check the complete listings for each asset’s free day, performances, times and limitations.

5. Doors Open Pittsburgh

view of Benedum Center's ceiling

October 7 & 8, Downtown, Northside & the Strip District
Free for under 18 and 65+ crowd

Iconic buildings of Pittsburgh are once again opening their doors for this unique event. Doors Open Pittsburgh provides access to get up close and personal with some of Pittsburgh’s most famous…buildings. We suggest stopping by Bricolage, the Byham and the beautiful Benedum Center (but then again, we might be biased). You can also check out our friends at the new Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in the Strip or Hazlett Theatre and the Mattress Factory in the Northside. Not feeling so artsy? Lounge like an executive on the 47th and 48th floors of the BNY Mellon Center or find out what you’re missing out on at the exclusive Rivers Club (spoilers: a full service athletic club and beautiful dining).

This year Doors Open Pittsburgh is free for the under 18 and over 65 crowd. Tickets for the rest of us are $8 for one day or $12 for two.

6. Music 101

October 11 & November 29, Heinz Hall

Our Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will soon return from their European Festival Tour, which makes fall the perfect time to get up close and personal with the world-famous musicians. Join trombonist James Nova and bassoonist David Sogg as they break down their musical musings and tune up in this lunchtime lecture-recital series at Heinz Hall. Bring your own spread or order a $10 brown-bag lunch by phone, email or online.

7. Ghost Stories

October 14, Trust Arts Education Center

Are you one of the people who starts breaking out the Halloween decorations before pumpkin spice-flavored goodies even appear on the menu? You won’t want to miss Ghost Stories at the Trust Arts Education Center. Goblins and ghouls of all ages will love Pittsburgh-born storyteller Alison K. Babusci’s most popular program. Her spine-chilling stories and terrifying tales will have you howling for more and will make for a graveyard smash of an evening.

...and Beyond

8. International Jazz Poetry Month

September 7-October 1, City of Asylum @ Alphabet City

International Jazz Poetry Month is a four-week festival presented by City of Asylum that pairs local, national and international jazz performers with writers around the world to create nine never before seen, one-night-only performances. This year’s festival will launch with a timely and public conversation by Charlie Hebdo survivor Zineb el Rhazoui, who will speak on issues of freedom of speech. Other not to be missed highlights of this year’s program include U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith and National Medal of Arts winner Sandra Cisneros. Pittsburgh Jazz-lovers should turn out for Polish jazz band, LAM, and a reunion concert with Oliver Lake and his '80s jazz funk band Jump Up. In between sets, make sure you grab one of Casellula’s delectable cheese plates or shareable dishes.

9. Brown Bag Concert

November 11, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters

Did Music 101 at Heinz Hall whet your appetite for classical music? Interested in opera, but can’t commit to an evening out? These lunchtime concerts are the perfect informal introductions to our local Opera. Pittsburghers of all ages are invited to enjoy these intimate performances of some of the opera’s most popular arias, as well as favorite Broadway show tunes and other surprises. Grab lunch to-go at Wholey’s or S&D Polish Deli in the Strip and head over; doors open at 11:30!

  • free
  • art
  • Cultural District