Market Square’s Summer Nights (and Days)
The popular night markets are back, along with daytime activities focused on health and wellness.
Photo By Ollie Gratzinger
On Saturday, May 25, not even the threat of storms could keep Pittsburghers indoors. Folks flocked to attend the second Night Market of the year in Downtown’s Market Square, where musicians, vendors, artists and food lovers gathered — under surprisingly clear skies. With booths set up offering whiskey sampling, handmade jewelry, city-inspired designs and more, it felt like Strip District meets Three Rivers Arts Festival, with the best aspects of both Pittsburgh staples.
Scheduled for 5 to 10 p.m. every Saturday through Oct. 26, the markets, presented by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, provide a platform for the Steel City’s independent artists to sell their wares and promote their crafts.
The Night Market isn’t the only event drawing crowds to Market Square this summer. Health-conscious ’Burghers can attend a slew of free afternoon programs that encourage physical fitness and well-being. A weekly Health & Wellness Fair will pop up from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday through Aug. 26. According to a press release, “more than two dozen rotating vendors will participate in the weekly Health & Wellness Fair, offering goods and services such as organic produce, fitness classes, health care and medicinal herbs.”
If you want yet another excuse to visit Market Square, Yoga in the Square will be hosted twice a week from 10 to 11 a.m. on Sundays and from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. The program runs through the end of September.
If you’ve never been to one of the city’s outdoor markets before, you’re missing out. Let me paint you a picture of what it’s like.
The dreamy folk tunes of Pittsburgh-born musician Julian Capuzzi were carried through Market Square by a gentle summer wind. Colorful chairs were set up in front of the stage, with chess boards on some of the tables. Toward the edge of the festivities, there were games for the kids in attendance; massive versions of Connect Four and Jenga, large building blocks and a ping-pong table provided easy entertainment for youth of all ages.
Messages promoting kindness and equality had been chalked into the pavement, provided in conjunction with Chalk For Change PGH. From “Save the Earth” and “Human. Kind. Be Both!” to “The world needs more hug-aholics,” underfoot positivity abounded. These little notes, coming so soon after the posting of “Kindness Zone” signs around the city, emphasized the Steel City’s strides toward unity, inclusivity and goodwill.
Fans of the People’s Gas Holiday Market, which pops up in Market Square every holiday season, will be thrilled to know that a lot of the vendors that sell their wares there also take part in the Night Market. My personal favorite is Suzy Fiori’s Cha-Ching Coin Jewelry. As a coin collector and an avid bracelet wearer, it’s neat to be able to find trinkets that are affordable, durable and just plain cool. On Saturday, I picked up a bangle bracelet outfitted with an Italian 10-cent euro piece that has quickly become one of my go-to bracelets for day-to-day wear.
Other vendors included Bog Market, selling nature-inspired jewelry and crystal ornaments, and HMR Apparel, whose clothing promotes female empowerment and gender equality.
You might as well come hungry, too; Mesa|Terra, selling Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, was a popular stop for the dinner time rush. And for dessert, you can take your pick of fudge from Moonshine Chocolate Co. or a summer favorite from Keno’s Italian Ice.
Finally, stop by Wigle Whiskey for a tasting of the local distilleries craft beverage. I went to the market a day before my 21st birthday, and if there’s one thing that’ll draw me back to the festival soon, it’s the fact that I’ll now be able to flash my newly-legal ID and partake in the sampling fun.
The Night Market represents a unique facet of Pittsburgh culture; a roster of local musicians and community favorites highlights the diversity and creativity that makes our city thrive. For a schedule of vendors and artists set to attend the next market, check out the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership website.