Our favorite kid-centered festival is gearing up to entertain Pittsburgh kids from May 16-19 with the EQT Children’s Festival. The Cultural District will be overrun with kids and over 50 hands-on and interactive activities to keep them enthusiastic and delighted throughout their visit. Now in its 33rd year, the Children’s Festival, presented by Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, seems to get better and better every year.
Here’s all you need to know:
WHAT’S THE PLAN, STAN?
EQT Festival venues include Downtown theaters from the Byham to August Wilson Center, art galleries, Katz and EQT plazas, plus tents set up in parking lots and blocked-off streets. The festival space is easily walkable, but it’s a good idea to begin with a plan to make the most of your day.
Before you go, begin your timetable with the most important stops, such as your ticketed theater performances and scheduled street shows. Then check on activities in between to prevent backtracking. Allow time for surprises along the way. Here’s the schedule to browse with your kids to raise the anticipation bar.
Once at the festival, questions can be directed to the many white-shirted volunteers and green-vested guides, who can answer questions and help point the way.
A FREE FOR ALL!
It will probably take four days to get to all the free events and activities. Here are some highlights:
Get physical: Kids can burn off energy learning tennis at Citiparks’ tennis clinic, where the rackets, courts and balls are specially designed to kid size. Stretch your body and find your zen at Gateway Family-Friendly Yoga and spin the Health Wheel to win a prize. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre plans an obstacle course to explore creative movement. Bubbles are involved!
Hands-on art making: Create Eyeball Art from balls and pipe cleaners to wear throughout the day. Make silkscreen and relief prints with Artist Image Resource. Use rubber stamps to make art just like Andy Warhol. And be sure to stop at the Kidsburgh and Remake Learning booth for cool activities. We’d love to see you!
Tinker with STEM: Kids can build a pipeline with PVC pipe and joints at the Be the Engineer stop. Steel City LEGO Users Group returns with a massive collection of LEGOs to build and race cars. Science is in the air with the Children’s Museum space where kids will paint with air, race with air, and parachute with air.
Sit and watch: Catch the Magic of David Lawrence and you might get picked to act as an assistant in his fun and exciting show. Kid Flicks at the Harris Theater screens audience faves and award winners from the New York International Film Festival. Have a laugh at Josh and Gab’s interactive musical comedy performance. We’re excited to see O’Ryan the O’Mazing Fantabulous Juggling Show, too.
Sensory friendly: Jumping Jack Theater brings its production of “Cityscape,” a story about a pigeon who takes off with a girl’s prized possession. Kids participate in the action with creative movement, music and sensory play. Coloring pages related to festival performances will be available through Autism Connection of PA. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh brings scarves, bubbles and books for interactive sensory play.
EATS & TREATS
Some of Pittsburgh favorite food trucks are scheduled through the 4-day weekend. Bull Dawgs elevates hotdogs to extreme cuisine – or serves them plain for picky eaters. Oh My Grill brings it with specialty grilled cheese and kid-approved sides like macaroni & cheese. On the ethnic side of satisfaction, visit Pittsburgh Pierogi Truck. We predict a tie between Millie’s Ice Cream, donuts from Sinkers & Suds and sticky treats from Hot Bunz in the competition for best desserts. But that’s just the beginning. Here’s the complete food truck schedule.
Looking for a more traditional, sit-down place to eat? Here’s a guide to family-friendly restaurants within the festival footprint. Many will offer special menus for kids.
There will be no shortage of bathrooms and changing stations. Find indoor restrooms in the Byham Theater, the Cabaret at Theater Square, the Trust Arts Education Center, the August Wilson Center, the Harris Theater, SPACE Gallery and Wood Street Galleries.
These theater troupes from across the US and around the world bring humor and insight that translates into any language. These six ticketed shows are priced at $12 each, but discounts are available when tickets for multiple shows are purchased at the same time. All shows have numerous performances throughout the festival. Purchase tickets here or visit the Theater Square Box Office.
- “Emily Brown and the Thing”: Performed by Tall Stories (United Kingdom) at the August Wilson Center, this magical play is based on the book by Cressida Cowell (who wrote “How to Train Your Dragon”) and Neal Layton. Emily Brown and her rabbit Stanley set off the Thing to the Dark and Scary Wood, the Whirling Wastes and beyond. Best for ages 3 and older.
- “Air Play”: Performed by Acrobuffos (United States) at the Byham Theater. These are not your average clowns. The spectacle includes flying umbrellas, larger-than-life balloons and giant kites floating over the audience. A sensory-friendly performance will be offered at 1:30 p.m. May 18. For all ages.
- “Murikamification”: Performed by Arch 8 (Netherlands), which creates an intensely physical and absurd performance trail using surrealistic stories of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami as a source of inspiration. The action moves throughout the Cultural District, finding surprising scenery in familiar spaces. Best for ages 7 and older.
- “Sky and Stone”: Performed by Teatro Al Vacio (Mexico) in the Trust Arts Education Center. Babies and toddlers are welcomed into a gentle and friendly experience with the invitation to explore and move with their bodies. Best for babies up to 2 years.
- “Sons of Mystro”: Lively duo, Sons of Mystro (United States), uses violins to interpret reggae classics and American pop songs accompanied by beats, a DJ or guitarist. For all ages.
- “Fly”: Performed by Teater Patrasket (Denmark) at Trust Arts Education Center. Max, a poor bullied orphan, has always longed to fly. He joins a circus and meets a giraffe woman and a great love that might give him wings. Captivating puppet imagery helps tell the story. For ages 5 and older.