Everything you need to know

As the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival gears up to celebrate its 65th anniversary, the region will officially usher in the start of the outdoor event season.

This year also marks the first time since the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s management of the festival in 2009 that TRAF begins on the last day of May.

Open from noon to 8 p.m. daily, TRAF runs from Friday, May 31, through Sunday, June 9. Pittsburgh’s biggest summer festival is also the largest free celebration of the arts in the country. Established in 1960, the city’s world-class, multidisciplinary festival attracts some 500,000 attendees annually and is always free for all ages.

Here’s our guide to the Three Rivers Arts Festival with everything you need to know before heading Downtown.

Layout updates

Bringing 10 days of exciting experiences to the Cultural District, the festival returns with more Artist Market vendors than last year, new creative activities just added and an expanded footprint.

For the third consecutive year, all TRAF locations are conveniently located within a 1/3-mile area spanning Pittsburgh’s 14-block Cultural District.

This year’s footprint is expanding the audience viewing area for featured concerts and activating one of the city’s iconic Three Sisters Bridges.

The Dollar Bank Main Stage will be located at the intersection of Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Ninth Street. This year, the Green Mountain Energy Stage will be situated on the Rachel Carson Bridge (Ninth Street) halfway across the span.

Lining both sides of Fort Duquesne Boulevard, the footprint of the Artist Market is expanding this year to extend onto the Rachel Carson Bridge and connect the two dynamic performance locations.

Before you go, check out this year’s layout on the festival map below.

Map of the 2024 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festiva
Map of the 2024 Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Highlights to see, hear and do

Artists from around the world join performances on three stages, numerous gallery exhibitions dotting the Cultural District, public art installed outdoors, creative activities for all ages, the bustling Artist Market, theater shows and more.

The beloved Artist Market returns with more than 300 local and national vendors selling fine art, handmade crafts and artisan objects. A wide array of creative mediums and processes are represented, from porcelain jewelry, handcrafted birdhouses and striking photography, to pottery, watercolor paintings and authentic folk art. The lineup of artists in the market changes multiple times throughout the 10-day run, so return often.

“I am very excited about animating the Rachel Carson Bridge. We kept coming back to the idea of something that really resonated with an iconic Pittsburgh feel. There is nothing more Pittsburgh than a bridge. We are being very thoughtful about the artists we put up there,” says Sarah Aziz, interim vice president of programming and manager of DEAI initiatives for the Trust. 

A marquee destination is the Dollar Bank Main Stage for the popular lineup of free concerts. This year’s headliners are Pokey LaFarge, Los Lonely Boys, Martha Redbone, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Nicole Zuraitis, Ozomatli, Say She She, Doom Flamingo, Sugarhill Gang & the Furious Five and Ben Folds. The lively Main Stage shows include opening acts every weekday along with a full roster of weekend performances.

The Giant Eagle Foundation Backyard at Eighth & Penn serves as a vibrant hub for cutting-edge entertainment and festival amenities. Where else can you experience a dazzling circus show taking place on top of a food truck? Be the first on U.S. soil to see Cirque Kikasse make its debut with the site-specific show, “SANTÉ! (Cheers!).” Watch in awe as the Québécois troupe arranges furniture into a 30-foot tower, whimsically cleans the truck and trampoline, and even causes the popcorn machine to overflow. High-level acrobatics, boundless energy and gravity-defying balancing feats merge as the virtuosic acrobats prepare the truck for service during the one-of-a-kind production.

Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The Giant Eagle Foundation Backyard is also where you can find this year’s Giant Eagle Creativity Zone — always a huge hit for the kiddos. There are so many ways for families to get creative together from noon to 6 p.m. daily, with Pittsburgh’s leading arts organizations and community partners offering free hands-on activities. Send a message to the moon, design your own feelings doll and make glow-in-the-dark snap bracelets and murals. Experiment with sounds in the musical instrument petting zoo, add your piece to a giant bead tree sculpture and learn to play chess. Join games led by Playful Pittsburgh, use giant LEGOs to build structures and splash along the city’s riverfront.

Right nearby, the Backyard Stage comes to life showcasing 15 performances by regional musicians daily. On the Rachel Carson Bridge, the Green Mountain Energy Stage offers twice-daily entertainment for shoppers in the Artist Market including live music, literary readings and immersive activities overlooking the Allegheny River. Performances are curated to complement the lineup of headliners rocking the Dollar Bank Main Stage.

“Best in Show” winner in the 2024 Juried Visual Art Exhibition. Tessa Moeller, “Within Us All,” 2024. Photo courtesy of the artist.

A festival cornerstone, the Juried Visual Art Exhibition is a must-see at SPACE Gallery (812 Liberty Ave.). The group exhibit shines a spotlight on compelling new work by 19 regional artists selected by a panel of guests during a blind jury process. “Furry Friends” examines powerful connections between humans and animals — from companions, pets and wildlife, to mythical, fantastical and imaginative creatures. The exhibit even includes adoptable kittens as part of a partnership with a local cat shelter. We think it’s the perfect precursor to the Anthrocon furry convention coming to Downtown in July.

When strolling along Liberty and Penn avenues between Sixth and Ninth streets, don’t forget to look up to catch “A Sudden Gust of Wind.” Created by Pittsburgh-based artists Lenka Clayton and Phillip Andrew Lewis, the newly commissioned public art project features 200 kite-shaped sculptures installed within the branches of 90 trees. As visitors walk through the Cultural District, they will encounter the multicolored kites, which appear to be “crashed and trapped in trees.” In conjunction with the project’s Community Flying Days, limited-edition 65th anniversary TRAF kites will be given away on the last day of the festival in the Giant Eagle Creativity Zone.

Lenka Clayton & Phillip Andrew Lewis, “A Sudden Gust of Wind, 2024.” Photo by Krist Muñoz-Malavé courtesy of the artists and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

For even more contemporary art to experience indoors, pop into the Cultural Trust’s many gallery spaces from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. each day during the festival.

What was TRAF like 40 years ago? Don’t miss “40 Years Later: Revisiting the 1984 Three Rivers Arts Festival” at 707 Penn Gallery, where five renowned photographers zoom in on a decade of “cultural milestones, political tension and a sense of optimism.”

Lynn Johnson, “Three Rivers Arts Festival Performer, 1984.” Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Swing by 820 Liberty Gallery to see “Life is Nice but Odd and Strange at the Same Time,” an exhibit presenting 100 works by VaultArt Studio’s resident artists with disabilities. Don’t miss “Wavy Wednesday: Where Did Your Christ Come From?” at 937 Liberty Gallery, the second solo exhibition from Pittsburgh-based artist Kamara Townes.

Making its ninth annual appearance at TRAF will be the “Anthropology of Motherhood” exhibition. Examining “the culture of care,” the interactive amenity inside the Byham Theater also serves as a welcoming respite for families with young children.

Aziz also notes that the festival’s special film screenings are always a big hit at the Harris Theater, which is a great spot to relax, have a seat and enjoy some free popcorn.

Three Rivers Arts Festival tips

Walking around the Cultural District will make you build up an appetite so it’s a good thing that food trucks and food courts are a festival staple serving visitors from noon to 9 p.m. daily.

Pittsburgh Regional Transit‘s Wood Street and Gateway stations service Downtown, and rides are free from both locations to the North Shore. Bus stops are also located throughout Downtown.

If you’re not taking the T or bus, use the handy ParkPGH app to get real-time parking space availability for select garages.

Looking for a place to park your bike? BikePGH will operate a free bike valet service during all 10 days of the festival at the Trust Oasis (139 Seventh St.).

It takes a legion of dedicated volunteers help make the festival happen, so if you’re looking for a cool and creative way to give back this summer, consider volunteering with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. Families, co-workers, groups and individuals of all ages are needed.

View and download a map with the 2024 festival layout, including food trucks, restrooms, parking, public safety and road closures.

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