With the most live music in the state, you can find a show in Raleigh, N.C., every day of the year and from one end of the destination to the other. And the calendar hits a high note around Sept. as some of the year's biggest festivals and concerts are staged in Raleigh, creating the Raleigh M.A.I.N. Events, an initiative that celebrates a month of music, art, innovation and noise through 20 happenings. In addition to the Raleigh M.A.I.N. Events, the capital city's surrounding towns add can't-miss festivals to the mix—all the more reason to plan a road trip in Sept.!
An annual celebration of African American culture as expressed through art, music, food and community, this two-day downtown Raleigh festival (Sept. 3-4) showcases local, national and international artists, performers, food vendors and area business owners. Admission is free.
Featuring 120 bands over three days (Sept. 8-10), Hopscotch is known for adventurous lineups, memorable performances and a fan-friendly atmosphere. From a large, outdoor main stage in City Plaza and a new-this-year Red Hat Amphitheater concert to club shows, the festival offers music in almost every genre imaginable (rock, hip hop, metal, folk, electronic, experimental and more), and its schedule highlights this diversity each year. Artist highlights this year include Erykah Badu, Beach House, Young Thug, Andrew Bird, Television, Gary Clark Jr. and more. Tickets currently start at $40 (get tickets here).
The third annual Beericana Craft Beer and Music Festival will take place on Sept. 10 at the beautiful Sugg Farm Park in Holly Springs. This year's festival will feature more than 70 breweries (including more than 15 of the 23 Raleigh area breweries), dozens of food trucks and live music from N.C.-based bands Young Yonder, The Rusted Rails and Town Mountain. Tickets start at $45; must be 21 or older to attend (get tickets here)
SPARKcon is an interdisciplinary creativity, art and design festival produced by non-profit creativity incubator Visual Art Exchange. From Sept. 15-18, Raleigh's Fayetteville St., downtown public spaces, clubs and stages will be filled with art, music, dance, film, fashion, design and more. Admission varies by event.
This festival in charming downtown Apex is a music-based pub crawl that spans outdoor and indoor venues along Salem St., Sept. 17. A wristband will grant you access to any of the 10 venues and performances, as well as entrance to the beer and wine garden (the only area that is ages 21+). Admission is $10 (get tickets here).
The 12th annual Ray Price Capital City Bikefest will be held in downtown Raleigh and at the Ray Price Harley-Davidson dealership from Sept. 23-25. This three-day, family-friendly annual event will feature musical performances, parades and plenty of sweet rides. Tip: Don't miss the stunt shows outside the Raleigh Convention Center that begin at 11am on Sat. and noon on Sun. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend, so don't be left out! Admission is free.
A Latino cultural event held on Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh on Sept. 25, La Fiesta del Pueblo draws nearly 20,000 attendees and showcases folk music, art, dance performances, educational booths, children's activities and food from different regions of Latin America, all in celebration of the diversity of Latin-American culture. Admission is free.
Part of International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA's) World of Bluegrass week, Bluegrass Ramble is the showcase series in music venues in downtown Raleigh, Sept. 27-29. With more than 200 performances, the Ramble introduces talent and new material to the bluegrass community and music lovers. Get a full pass and hop from one venue to another to find your next favorite band or tune. (Tip: It's also a great way to sample many of downtown Raleigh's best music venues.) Admission starts at $25 for members and $30 for non-members (get tickets here).
PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass (Sept. 30-Oct. 1) is the urban bluegrass music festival that closes out IBMA's World of Bluegrass week in downtown Raleigh. In addition to the ticketed main stage at Red Hat Amphitheater, the festival also includes a free street festival that features five music stages, a dance tent, BBQ championships and art, food and shopping vendors lined-up along Fayetteville St., as well as IBMA's Music Expo in the Raleigh Convention Center. Artist highlights include Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Jerry Douglas presents Earls of Leicester, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Del McCoury Band, The Kruger Brothers with Symphony of the Mountains, the Soggy Bottom Boys and more. Ticketed venues start at $40 (get tickets here).