PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A free festival that brings 25,000 children and adults to downtown Pittsburgh was scheduled to start in the city on Thursday.

Live theater shows from around the world come to Pittsburgh’s Cultural District every May for some of the most innovative shows you’ll ever see.

But this year, the four-day EQT Children’s Theater Festival is going online, with more than 40 free activities for families to do at home.

“We’re trying to balance between … you’re still in front of a screen. But how do you make that engaging and interactive and something that the family can do together? And it’s not just each of us sitting with our solitary screen,” said Pam Komar, executive director of Children’s Theater for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Komar says the online activities include origami workshops, Japanese storytelling, sing-a-longs, storytimes, chess lessons, comedy, performances from some of the international shows, and films from the New York International Children’s Film Festival.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

For some events, you do have to register in advance, and some will end Sunday. But others you can do anytime, and it’s all free.

But that means no revenue from the shows or to the downtown businesses.

“We’re missing out on ticket revenue for sure,” Komar says, “And the downtown Cultural District restaurants are missing out on meals, as families spend the whole day in the district and go from show to activity to show.”

But with the festival online, Komar says it’s already drawing people who otherwise would not have been able to attend.

“We’ve also gotten requests from around the world to participate,” Komar said. “So I think this does open it up to people, wherever they live. Perhaps families who no longer live in Pittsburgh and have moved somewhere or people who’ve never come, to have the opportunity to participate online.”

Click here for more on the festival.

Kristine Sorensen