A New Music Fest Brings Wonder to Hartwood Acres Park

A New Music Fest Brings Wonder to Hartwood Acres Park

All-new music festival take the stage in Pittsburgh

This Memorial Day weekend, a brand-new music festival — WonderWorks — will fill the air around Hartwood Acres Park with sweet sounds and good vibes. This latest project by Elevation Festivals joins a lineup of similar events held in Cleveland (launched in 2016), Columbus and Indianapolis. 

Denny Young, President and Founder of Elevation Festivals, explains that the aim is to organize mid-size, regional events in markets traditionally underserved from a festival standpoint. “We’re not trying to emulate bigger festivals,” he says. “Instead we’re bringing the festival to you.”

All celebrations under the “Wonder” brand showcase a similar “size, scope, look and feel.” These two-to-three-day festivals feature between 25 and 30 performers, from local to global acts, while entertaining music enthusiasts and raising money for important causes, too. A core group of loyal followers has already formed, who travel around to attend each one.

Credit: Astrida Valigorsky

Pittsburgh WonderWorks

The Pittsburgh event will kick off the Wonder season on May 27 and 28, with an expected gathering of around 10,000 daily attendees, that isn’t intended to exceed 20,000 guests per day. (General admission day passes, released in tiers, will never cost more than $99 plus service fees.) 

The experience includes three stages, 25-plus regional food vendors and an array of artisans and crafts folks showing and selling their wares. (Learn more details here.) “It’s us wanting to bring the festival experience to people in Pittsburgh, versus them having to drive elsewhere,” Young explains.

As a lover of live music, Young is especially enthused about Pittsburgh’s enticing lineup; he explains it’s a combination of artists who fit the style of the festival, who was available to attend and, quite frankly, who they could afford. As they pulled together programming, they also wanted to make sure the days would feel and sound “cohesive, coherent.” 

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In Young’s personal opinion, this is a pretty amazing roster if you enjoy this genre of music. (We happen to agree.) Big names range from Hozier, Jason Mraz, The Airborne Toxic Event and The Head and the Heart, to other exciting standouts like Mt. Joy, Wilderado, Michigander, Ruby Waters and The Heavy Heavy. He’s especially looking forward to checking out rising stars he’s never seen like Steven Sanchez and Matt Maeson. Each day the event will kick off with a performance by a Pittsburgh band. (As of our chat, Elevation programmers were working with the Millvale Music Festival to provide a shortlist of potential names the public could vote on.)

Since many attendees are expected from surrounding states, the festival team also worked with a third-party operator to create packages that also include hotel and after-hours entertainment perks.

Young knows it may sound trite, but this following statement still rings true: “The world has changed in so many ways, and music still puts a smile on people’s faces.” We can’t wait to see what bright new energy this gathering brings to the Pittsburgh festival scene.

More Music News for Your Spring/Summer Radar:

~Get excited for happenings like the free Three Rivers Arts Festival (June 2-11), Northside Music Festival (July 14-16), Barrel and Flow Fest (August 12) and Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival (September 15-17)...Visit this link for more! 

~Jazz up any night at either Con Alma location, with the Ellsworth patio being an added summertime bonus

~Aside from big-names draws at PPG Arena, check out a dazzling array of performances coming to Stage AE in coming months: Betty Who plus Ava Max, FLETCHER and JORDY(during Pride on the Shore) June 3, Noah Kahan June 6, O.A.R. June 9, Fleet Foxes June 21, Rebelution June 27, My Morning Jacket June 28, Jinkx Monsoon July 9, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats August 1 and more

~Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall (who recently welcomed Mi Empanada Cafe to its scene!) will showcase alluring acts like Summer Salt June 14, Deer Tick June 19 and Altin Gun July 12

(Tip: Also enjoy free music up front on the Front Porch Stage, like the venue’s Bluegrass Sessions every Tuesday)

~Catch occasional performances in unexpected places ranging from Soluna (the last Sunday of each month) and KLVN Coffee Lab, to the stage of City of Asylum

~Keep an eye out for the opening of City Winery Pittsburgh in the Strip in coming months