Thrival Festival

The annual Thrival Festival will take place this September 19-21, festival organizers announced early today. Building off of momentum created in 2017, Thrival will once again host its Humans X Tech programs in Pittsburgh’s East End and Oakland neighborhoods, while moving its live music and arts experience into the city limits for the first time since 2015.

Ascender, a Pittsburgh-based economic development nonprofit, produces Thrival each year. The first Thrival Festival was launched in Bakery Square in 2013.

“LIFE.CODE” is the theme of Thrival 2018, for both its Humans X Tech and Music X Arts platforms. Using Pittsburgh’s fast growing reputation in automated systems, advanced manufacturing, robotics, and life sciences, Thrival Festival will host a variety of programs, events, and experiences that explore the oft-cited “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The theme examines the intersection of technology, humanity, arts, and culture through the questions: “what makes us human?” and “how does technology humanize or dehumanize us?” and “what can do to better prepare for the future?”

“We have witnessed dramatic change in our city and beyond over the last five years, and the advancement of new technology has led to exciting developments and prospects. But we also have a responsibility to respect the human experience and be accountable for the impacts and effects that new technology brings along with it,” says Bobby Zappala, Thrival executive producer and Ascender CEO.

Carnegie Museum of Art will once again host Thrival’s Humans X Tech main event, LIFE.CODE Interactive Experience, in conjunction with its popular “Third Thursday” series. The festival added another location as a host site this year, based in Oakland, the home of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will host the festival’s LIFE.CODE Summit, featuring a day of panels, debates, and workshops.

“As part of a collaborative initiative to build and advance the Pittsburgh Innovation District, we’re excited that Thrival is hosting major events and programs next to our knowledge hubs — particularly in Oakland,” says Sean Luther, Executive Director of InnovatePGH, a next-generation public-private partnership built to accelerate Pittsburgh’s status as a global innovation city.

After a pilot year with new strategic collaborators, Thrival will again partner with NewCo, MAYA Design, and Live Nation in 2018.

NewCo, a San Francisco-based media and event company led by Wired co-founder, John Battelle — will again partner with the festival to draw in an array of leaders and decision-makers as well as curate programs.

“Pittsburgh is right in the middle of a technological revolution, and last year, we just scratched the surface of what is happening,” says John Battelle, NewCo CEO and founding editor of Wired magazine. “We’re excited to continue the work with Thrival and Ascender to explore what lies ahead in this space and to attract a larger national and global audience.”

MAYA Design (a Boston Consulting Group company), a design and innovation lab, will also partner with Thrival, bringing their design expertise and expansive network to the festival.

Live Nation will again produce Thrival Music X Arts (formerly known as “Thrival Music”), but the outdoor live music event will have a new look. Thrival’s outdoor live music and arts experience will return inside of Pittsburgh city limits for the first time since 2015. This year, Thrival Music makes its home at Highmark Stadium, located on the riverfront directly across from downtown Pittsburgh.

For more information on the festival, visit, and follow Thrival on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Snapchat. Thrival Humans X Tech tickets available at [] Thrival Music X Arts “early bird” tickets will be on sale this week through Ticketmaster.