Fall to kick off a frenzy of activity throughout Pittsburgh

| Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

Big things are coming to Pittsburgh this fall, and not just in the form of a 40-foot-tall rubber duck.

VisitPittsburgh's “Fall Forecast” on Aug. 27 focused on a slew of happenings, from conventions to cultural events.

“We're so lucky to have all these wonderful things happening here,” said Craig Davis, the tourism agency's president.

By now, many Pittsburghers are likely aware the city will play host to a giant floating rubber duck at the Point beginning Sept. 27, when Florentijn Hofman's public art piece makes its U.S. debut. Its visit is thanks to the third International Festival of Firsts, organized by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. The event will feature unusual works in a wide range of art forms, including theater, dance, music and visual art at a variety of venues from Sept. 27 through Oct. 26.

These works of art will not be shown anywhere else in the country until 2014.

“This is a tremendous gift to the city,” said Paul Organisak, the trust's vice president of programming.

The festival coincides with the 2013 Carnegie International, a major exhibition of new international art taking place Oct. 5 through March 16. It will feature 36 projects and planned celebrations of the works.

“Thousands of people from all around the world will descend on the city,” said Jonathan Gaugler, museum spokesman.

Highlights of conventions coming to town include the North American Breweries Labatt Summer Promotion at the Wyndham Grand Sept. 7 and 8, expected to attract more than 5,000 people. More than double that are predicted to take part in the Women of Faith Believe conference at the Petersen Events Center Oct. 4 and 5.

The return of hockey and football, in addition to a playoffs possibility for the Pirates, will put the spotlight on the city's sports teams this fall. One of the busiest weekends will be Sept. 20 through 22, with the Pirates playing the Reds all weekend, a Penguins preseason game against Columbus on Sept. 21 and the Steelers taking on the Bears in a Sunday night game Sept. 22.

The University of Pittsburgh will compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year, with expectations of larger crowds for its home games.

“The ACC travels big time,” said Chris Ferris, Pitt associate athletic director. “Many people will be coming to the city for the first time.”

Pittsburghers can expect to be just as busy as the temperatures continue to cool. The city's 53rd annual Light Up Night will be Nov. 22, with a new interactive website and more soon-to-be-announced new features this year. Last year's event brought 600,000 people into town, organizers say.

A parade of heroes featuring regional fire departments, marching bands and Santa, will be held through Downtown on Nov. 23. The day marks the return of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market at Market Square. The temporary shopping village will open one week earlier this year in order to include Black Friday. Organizers promise more vendors, an anchor tenant and a stage for entertainment.

All this leads up to Pittsburgh's annual celebration of the New Year, the 20th anniversary of First Night, featuring 150 events in 45 locations. And of course, not one but two fireworks displays.

All this activity just goes to show that Pittsburgh has long moved past “the way it was showcased in ‘Flashdance,' ” said Jason Fulvi, executive vice president of VisitPittsburgh.

“We have a lot to look forward to this fall and winter,” he said.

Details: VisitPittsburgh.com

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or rweaver@tribweb.com.

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