Everything you need to know about the 2022 EQT Children’s Theater Festival, coming this weekend
Photo above of kids decorating the Sticker Shack with bright colors courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
We are loving the in-person return to all the fun and excitement of the 2022 EQT Children’s Theater Festival. The biggest and most engaging festival for Pittsburgh kids packs in two full days of family fun on May 14 and 15.
Plan ahead and purchase tickets for one or all of the exciting performances on the weekend schedule. Or just show up and wander around the Cultural District to jump into dozens of free activities, storytelling experiences and silly entertainment.
Scroll on to learn everything you need to know, from free things to do and where to park to finding restrooms and answers about safety protocols.
FREE HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES
Imagination Playground: Stack and build with this larger-than-life block system. All day May 14 and 15. Pittsburgh Playhouse
Baby Zone: Enjoy a play space designated for the smallest theatergoers. Multiple times on May 14 and 15. Trust Arts Education Center.
Paint a Pot: Paint a pot and germinate a seed with Sweetwater Center for the Arts and Soil Sisters. All day May 14 and 15. 7th Street and Penn Avenue.
Maker Activities with Kidsburgh: Make flowers from recycled magazines. All day Mary14 and 15. EQT Plaza.
O’Ryan the O’Mazing Juggling Workshop: Come juggle, play, and learn to be a clown. 3-3:30 p.m. May 14 and 15. Pittsburgh Playhouse
Moms Demand Action/Wear Orange Community Peace Gardens: Paint salvaged bricks to be used as peace symbol garden planters. All day May 14 and 15. 7th Street and Penn Avenue.
Chess Lesson: Join Queens Gambit Chess Institute of Pittsburgh for free chess activities for all levels. All day May 14. 7th Street and Penn Avenue
Build and Race LEGO Derby Cars: Create and compete with your very own LEGO derby car. Hosted by Steel City LUG. All day May 14 and 15. Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Worry Away with Lemonade and Prime Stage Sprouts: Create Worry Stones with Prime Stage Theatre. All day May 14. Byham Theater lobby.
Pittsburgh Creative Arts and Media: Create your own shooting stars. All day May 14. EQT Plaza.
Buzzword Pittsburgh: Fun and engaging activities for families to discover the words all around them. All day May 14 and 15. EQT Plaza.
Highmark Wholecare Tent: Watch for giveaways and health information for families. All day May 14 and 15. Katz Plaza.
KidsPlay in Market Square: Enjoy craft stations, games and music. All day May 14. Market Square.
Pittsburgh Reads/Open Literacy: Join Pittsburgh Reads for the fun interactive Smash Word game. All day May 14 and 15. Trust Oasis.
Maggie Negrete: Zine Activity: Join artist Maggie Lynn Negrete as we explore zine-making, identity and creativity. Noon-2 p.m. May 14. SPACE Gallery.
Sticker Hut: Decorate the Sticker Hut with fun stickers. All day May 14 and 15. Pittsburgh Playhouse.
UniSound: Create a take-home box instrument. All day May 15. EQT Plaza.
Mini Lessons with Sunburst School of Music: Try out a 5–minute introductory music lesson with Sunburst School of Music. All day May 15. 7th Street and Penn Avenue.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History: Get a hands-on experience with museum specimens. All day May 15. Byham Theater lobby.
NYICFF Kid Flicks: New York International Children’s Film Festival offers the best short films from around the world for ages 3+. Runs continuously all day on May 14 and 15. Harris Theater.
Miss Cassidy Creates: Music, dancing, and games with Miss Cassidy. 10:45-11:15 May 14 and 12:15-12:45 p.m. May 15. EQT Plaza.
Enchanted Experiences – Meet & Greet: An interactive show with a Hawaiian princess, featuring storytime, a royal lesson, plus singing and dancing. 10:45-11:15 a.m. May 14 and 12:15-12:45 p.m. May 15. EQT Plaza.
O’Ryan the O’Mazing: A 10-foot-tall clown with a big presence and an even bigger personality. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. May 14 and 15. EQT Plaza and roaming throughout the Cultural District.
Nandanik Dance Troupe: A showcase of energetic dances of India. 10:45-11:15 a.m. May 15. EQT Plaza.
Cajun Drumming with Vince Wallace: Drumming performance by percussionist Vince Wallace. 2:30-3 p.m. May 15. EQT Plaza.
Baby Rave: This child-friendly dance and music event is sure to get your little one to bounce, bop and boogie to the beat. 12:30-1:30 p.m. May 14. EQT Plaza.
Giant Puppet Dance Party: Dance along with the Giant Puppet Dance Club from Falk Lab School. 11:30 a.m.-noon and noon-12:30 p.m. May 14. EQT Plaza.
Ariel Cameroe: Grab an instrument, make music and move to the rhythm. 11:30 a.m.-noon May 15. EQT Plaza.
Collaborative Storytelling with Miss Cassidy Creates: Join entertainer and educator Miss Cassidy for a collaborative storytelling session in which kids will work together to create their own stories. 2:30-3 p.m. May 15. Trust Oasis.
Giraffes Can’t Dance: Hear the story of Gerald the Giraffe and his dance journey. 10:30-11 a.m. May 14 and 11-11:30 a.m. May 15. Trust Oasis.
Movement Journey – A Trip to the Zoo: In this musical zoo adventure, kids will learn rhythm, dance terms, and explore the power of imagination. 2:15-2:45 p.m. and 3-3:30 p.m. May 14. Trust Oasis
Family-friendly Yoga in the Square: A free yoga class for all ages. Bring your own mat. 10-11 a.m. May 15. Market Square.
A Perfectly Messed Up Story with Lindsay Woge: Join Louie on his messy quest to tell a perfect story. 1-1:30 p.m. May 15. Trust Oasis.
Bad Judgment: Be inspired by this Pittsburgh-based high school rock band from the Sunburst School of Music. 4:15-4:45 p.m. May 15. EQT Plaza.
Storyteller Mike Perry: Enjoy a warm humorous approach to Mike Perry’s tale-telling talents. 1:45-2:15 p.m. and 3-3:30 p.m. May 15. EQT Plaza.
Tickets for the following shows are $12 each, with discounts for additional show purchases.
“Starshine”: Jumping Jack Theater invites kids to join a sensory enriched journey through the galaxy. This adventure to the stars is an intimate theatrical experience for a small group of kids and their grownups that takes place in a smaller, private room within the Byham Theater. Best for ages 5 and older.
“Flutter”: Treehouse Shakers’ “Flutter” explores the seasons through a sensory journey of visuals, sounds, objects, some language and play. Babies and toddlers will have the freedom to crawl, walk and move within the space and investigate hands-on textures, while experiencing the language, sounds, music, and engaging visuals. Best, for babies ages 6-18 months and their caregivers.
“Grimmz Fairy Tales”: Experiential Theater and Children’s Theater, Charlotte, SC. Jay and Will Grimmz, will perform hip-hop story-dance-pop fables, including “Snow White and the Seven Shawties,” “Down with Rapunzel,” “Hansel & Gretel: Lost in the Streets” and their Granny-winning song, Cinderella Remix. Best for ages 6-13.
“Won’Ma Afrika”: Cirque Kalabante, Quebec and Guinea. The breathtaking acrobatics and death-defying feats embody the strength, agility and joy of life found in African youth. Best for all ages.
“Doodle POP!”: Brush Theatre, South Korea. The mischievous “Doodle POP!” invites kids into the delightful doodling world. With live sound effects, animation and theatrical imagination, this show is mostly visual and is played with limited words. Best for ages 3-7.
“PSS PSS”: Compagnia Baccalà, Switzerland. “PSS PSS” is inventive, exciting and ridiculous. The breathtaking acrobatics and silly mishaps will have kids laughing long after they leave the theater. Best for ages 8-adult.
“Mr. Messado’s School of Magic for the Young and Young at Heart”: Mr. Messado brings a fresh take on the age-old art of prestidigitation that will have teens and adults amazed from start to finish. The 60-minute spectacular, featuring a combination of stunning magic and clean comedy, includes audience participation and hilarity. Best for ages 13 and older, but siblings ages 6 years and older are welcome, too.
When kids have to go, they have to go NOW. You’ll be happy to learn that indoor restrooms are located throughout the Cultural District for handy access. You can find restrooms and changing stations in the Byham Theater, Point Park Playhouse, the Trust Arts Education Center, Liberty Magic (Sunday only), the Harris Theater, SPACE Gallery and Wood Street Galleries.
MASKS AND VACCINATIONS
With Allegheny County’s current low COVID positivity levels, no masks or proof of vaccination are required for the outdoor activities.
According to the rules set by the participating artists, ticketed indoor shows require masks and proof of vaccination for all guests ages 12 and older. Ages 2-11 must wear a mask and be accompanied by a vaccinated grownup. Ticket holders who will be seeing multiple shows can visit the Box Office at Theater Square 90 minutes prior to their first show. Once you show proof of vaccination, each member of your party will receive a wristband to allow easy entry to the indoor events. You can also request a wristband at your first venue.
Learn more about the Cultural Trust’s health and safety protocols here.
What’s more fun for snack-happy kids than a gathering of food trucks? The Children’s Festival rounded up some favorites for crazy cool eats. Some highlights:
Kona Ice Food Truck gives kids the chance to drench their cups of shaved ice with their choice of syrup from the Flavorwave dispenser. Pick one or a combo of flavors from choices like Pina Colada, Ninja Cherry, Island Rush and Lucky Lime. Windows will be up from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m. May 14 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 15.
Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Truck offers those giant pretzels, perfect for tearing apart to share and dunk into cheese dip. Cinnamon sugar pretzels go better with a caramel dip or sweet glaze. Wash it all down with an old-fashioned lemonade. Visit Aunt Annie’s from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 14.
Pittsburgh Mobile Bars will be serving up thirst-quenching mocktails like a Strawberry Basil Fizz and Cucumber Citrus Cooler, along with sparkling craft beverages and cold brew coffee. Kids will be begging cotton candy, too. Stop by between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on May 15.
PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION
You can reserve a parking space in advance with a $20 pre-paid parking voucher for the Theater Square Garage. Call 412-456-6666 or visit the Box Office at Theater Square to make your purchase.
Metered parking is available along Forbes Avenue and adjacent streets at Pittsburgh Parking Authority hourly rates.
Upon your arrival Downtown, check the Trust’s real-time parking website, ParkPGH, which shows exactly how many of the 5,000 parking spots in the Cultural District are available, plus thousands more within a very short walk.
If you prefer to skip parking hassle, consider that Port Authority of Allegheny County provides public transportation services that can get you to the Festival via bus and light rail. All route and fare information is available at PortAuthority.org.
The Children’s Theater Festival is just one of the festivals of fun and learning happening in Pittsburgh this month. Check out what’s on tap for the Remake Learning Days festival and the Greater Pittsburgh Festival of Books.