5 Essential Ways to Prepare for the Three Rivers Arts Festival

One of Pittsburgh’s most popular events of the summer is about to begin. Make sure you’re ready for 10 days of revelry.


The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival opens Friday, featuring live music and an artist market. The 10-day festival is free, as always, and will be featuring performers such as gospel-soul star Mavis Staples and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, so prepare to be rubbing elbows with the hundreds of thousands of visitors the event usually draws.

With so many people coming to taste the lobster burgers in Gateway Center or get artsy in the Giant Eagle Creativity Zone, it's a good idea to prepare a bit for the arts festival. We’ve put together a list of what to do before heading down to Point State Park for the festivities.

1. Getting there
With hundreds of thousands of people showing up, there’s going to be a rush for parking. Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has a reliable website, ParkPGH, which updates drivers in real time on available spaces in parking garages around the city. Downtown has thousands of spots, but after those inevitably fill up, the North Shore is your next best option. Port Authority buses and the light rail will be running if you don’t feel like trekking across the Clemente Bridge.

Cyclists are also being taken into account — Bike Pittsburgh will be providing free bike valet parking every day of the festival at Point State Park. Healthy Ride bike sharing stations are scattered around the city for those who don’t own a two-wheeler.

2. Watching the weather
There’s a running joke among Yinzers that it always rains at least once during the festival’s 10 days, so make sure to pack a rain poncho or an umbrella. Festival organizers are made of strong stuff and they expect patrons to be too — performances will run as scheduled, rain or shine, unless otherwise noted.

Showers and a couple of thunderstorms are expected on a few days during the festival’s run, according to AccuWeather. If any changes in the schedule do occur as a result, a media alert will be issued along with postings to the Cultural Trust’s website and social media.

3. Strategic planning
There’s going to be hundreds of things going on during the festivities, not just at Point State Park but throughout the city as well. Besides the music and arts at the festival, gallery and arts spaces across Downtown such as Future Tenant and Wood Street Galleries will have exhibits open. Beloved summertime attractions such as the Market Square Farmers Market on Thursdays and Kayak Pittsburgh’s rentals on the North Shore will also be around.

Festival goers can use the artist market map and an events guide in planning their visit. A PDF featuring a daily schedule of the festival’s events and activities will also come in handy. 

4. Food!
The arts festival will be featuring its usual fair fare, including chicken-on-a-stick, hot dogs and hamburgers. It’ll also have Food Truck Days on the weekends, bringing in businesses such as Mr. Bulgogi’s Korean BBQ and the Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck. If you’re a fan of standing while munching then you’re in luck, but if you’d like to sit down to eat with a roof over your head, it’s best to look up some nearby restaurants. We recommend our Best Restaurants list as a starting point.

5. Keep the pets comfortable
Good news for music and animal lovers — pets are allowed to jam out alongside their owners at the festival. However, your best friend on four legs must be kept on a leash. They also won’t be allowed inside the Artist Market or any indoor venues unless they’re guide animals.

Also consider if your dog (or cat? rabbit?? ferret???) is OK with loud noises and will remain well-behaved before packing the squeaky toy and water bowl — police officers will be on-site and may ask anyone with unruly pets to leave.

Categories: The 412