The Three Rivers Arts Festival, hosted each year by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is a 10-day event honoring artists and performers of all kinds. From jazz music to circus performances to artwork carved out of wood, the Three Rivers Arts Festival has an art medium for everyone. The mission of the festival is to draw Pittsburghers into the downtown area to get a fun, free dose of culture in their city. The spirit of the festival is summed up perfectly with a quote by Robert Boudreau from the 1960 festival program: “The Three Rivers Arts Festival may well become the cultural pivot for the people of our great Ohio River Valley. The scope of this cultural program will be nurtured and vitalized through the participation of all of our people. The Three Rivers Arts Festival is dedicated to the conviction that to have a democratic culture, ‘Everyman’ who has the inclination shall have the opportunity to define his culture through his participation.”
Long known for being highly accessible to Pittsburgh’s varied demographic, the festival’s artist market and outdoor music performances are still free to the public and are extremely popular.
401 Liberty Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Hours: June 3 through June 12 – 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The artist market is located downtown in Gateway Center, bordering Point State Park. Last year, the market featured 280 artists all selling handmade, original pieces of art. Sculptures and paintings are staples of the artist’s market. But fear not if static artwork isn’t really your scene because there is plenty of handmade jewelry, usable ceramics and hand-carved wooden furniture for purchase that is just as worthy of being labeled artwork as are the sculptures you can buy for your garden. Be sure to check out the work of local artists like Drew Hine who does glasswork that ranges from vases and bowls to large-scale sculptures and wall art. Find many more featured artists on the festival’s artist market section of the website.
Related: Best Museums In Pittsburgh
Point State Park
300 Commonwealth Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
Hours: Varied, see website
Each year, the festival draws more and more nationally-known local acts to the outdoor music stages. Check the performances section of the website for a complete list of each day’s performers. Worth noting is the festival’s attention to female vocalists. During the final weekend of past festivals, concerts were performed by best-selling female artists Brandi Carlile in 2011 and Ingrid Michaelson in 2010, who both sang to large crowds at the main stage in Point Park. Leading ladies making an appearance this year include Rhiannon Giddens from Carolina Chocolate Drops and Kathleen Edwards. Other performances to catch at this year’s event are The Wailers, Dawes and the Del McCoury Band, to name just a few.
Getting to the Festival
Wondering how to get to the festival? Consider this. For the past two years, local non-profit Bike PGH has been staging a free bike valet area where cyclists can safely valet their bikes. Park at one of the Rails to Trails trailheads for free and follow the trails to Point Park. Weather permitting, bike valet will be available from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the festival at the entrance to Point Park. To read more about the bike valet, visit Three Rivers Arts Festival’s blog post about last year’s successful program.
If you’re looking for a more traditional way to get to the festival and find a spot to park your car, there are many parking garages available downtown that are in walking distance to Point State Park and Gateway Center. Also, consider using Pittsburgh’s public transit system that provides excellent access from outlying areas directly to downtown.
Any way you get there, plan on staying for a few hours, taking in some live music and treating yourself to a piece of artwork to take home.