70 of the Biggest Events and Festivals in Raleigh, N.C., in 2019
Thursday, December 20, 2018, 3pm by visitRaleigh
A year full of major festivals and celebrations lies ahead in Raleigh, N.C.! These events serve an important purpose—they mark history and sense of pride, plus they showcase talent, creativity and culture, delicious foods and beverages (and some surprises, too!).
Make plans now to spend a day or a weekend in the Raleigh area around these trip-worthy events in 2019!
A note: Some of the dates for these events have not yet been announced (and some major events—concerts, for example—haven't been announced at all yet). We'll update this page as information comes in!
Justin Timberlake, Jan. 6, 2019
Kicking off a big year of events, singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake brings his critically-acclaimed "The Man Of The Woods Tour" to Raleigh's PNC Arena (which boasts a jam-packed schedule of its own for 2019!).
Triangle Restaurant Week 2019, Jan. 21-27, 2019
A week-long celebration of culinary excellence, Triangle Restaurant Week sees some of the area's best restaurants offer up special, three-course menu options at fixed pricing ($15 for lunch, and $20, $25 or $30 for dinner), a great opportunity for residents and visitors alike to return to an old favorite dining spot or discover a new one.
18th Annual African American Cultural Celebration, Jan. 26, 2019
An annual, statewide kickoff to Black History Month at the North Carolina Museum of History, the African American Cultural Celebration brings together 75+ musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, artists and more in downtown Raleigh for a day of pride and celebration of culture.
Metallica, Jan. 28, 2019
Metallica, the legendary American heavy metal band, stops at PNC Arena on their latest "WorldWired Tour."
Krispy Kreme Challenge, Feb. 2, 2019
One of America's most unique running events (and toughest eating events!), the Krispy Kreme Challenge requires competitors to run five miles, eat a dozen doughnuts at the halfway point and hit the finish line in under one hour. Started in 2004 with just a handful of North Carolina State University students, the annual event now draws nearly 8,000 runners decked out in costumes along with plenty of media attention. For the curious, those doughnuts total 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat—but who's counting!
Cirque du Soleil: Corteo, Feb. 7-10, 2019
Corteo, the latest and most enchanting of Cirque du Soleil’s arena productions, features 51 acrobats, musicians, singers and actors from all around the world portraying a joyous procession and festive parade imagined by the main character.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents Junie B. Jones, The Musical, Feb. 15-24, 2019
A delightful adaptation of Barbara Park’s best-selling books, audiences will get a sneak peek into the Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal of the outspoken and lovable Junie B. Jones in this musical directed by Kathleen Rudolph.
Elton John, March 12, 2019
English singer, pianist, and composer (and five-time Grammy Award-winner) Elton John takes to the stage at PNC Arena, celebrating a half-century of music on his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour.
Raleigh St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Wearin' 'O the Green Festival, March 16, 2019
In celebration of the great St. Patrick as well as Irish and Celtic traditions and culture, a parade of dancers, bagpipes, musicians and more march through downtown Raleigh and afterwards continue a day of fun with a full line-up of live music and performances in Raleigh's City Plaza.
North Carolina Theatre presents Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I, March 19-24, 2019
One of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s finest works, The King and I boasts a score which features such beloved classics as “Getting To Know You,” “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.” Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens.
Art in Bloom, March 21-24, 2019
One of the can't-miss events of the year at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Art in Bloom is a four-day festival of art and flowers. More than 50 floral interpretations inspired by the museum's galleries, some more than 10 feet tall, are created on-site by world-class designers and showcased throughout the museum's West Building (have your cameras ready!). The ticketed event invites participants to attend presentations and workshops, dine at Iris and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.
Casks on Fools, March 31, 2019
The annual kick-off party for Raleigh, N.C.'s Beer Month celebrations in April, Casks on Fools at Crank Arm Brewing features truly-unique casks from more than 20 N.C.-based breweries. We're talking everything from mango habanero IPAs to chocolate cream stouts, Irish stouts with cherries and way more. The by-the-glass cask festival celebrates the innovation of craft beer across the area—this is for the beer lovers and the adventurous drinkers!
Dreamville Festival, April 6, 2019
Curated by platinum-selling rapper and N.C. native, J. Cole, Dreamville will be a one-day, multi-stage festival at downtown Raleigh's Dorothea Dix Park with a one-of-a-kind celebration of local culture, food and art that also features a curated selection of music performers blending together some of today’s biggest national acts with exciting up-and-comers (full lineup coming soon!).
Zac Brown Band, April 13, 2019
Set to play an early-season show at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek (the area's largest outdoor music venue!), the Zac Brown Band returns to Raleigh with their signature country sound.
Mid-Town Square Spring Festival, April 13, 2019
Held at Bond Brothers Beer Company (which was voted 2017's "Best New Brewery" in the country in USA TODAY's 10Best) this free-admission festival features food trucks, local artists, live music and, of course, Bond Brothers' award-winning brews (new releases and special casks included!). Kids and leashed dogs are welcome at the brewery but heads up—this event will draw a big crowd!
Live and Local: Spring Fest on Hillsborough St., April 13, 2019
An annual, family-friendly street festival featuring a full day of music, artists, inflatables for kids, beer from Raleigh Brewing Company and more.
Lebanese Festival, April 13, 2019
The 21st annual Lebanese Festival in downtown Raleigh promises non-stop dancing and musical performances to go along with Lebanese desserts, beer, wine and more (including all the belly dancing you can handle!).
North Carolina 'Cuegrass Festival, April 20, 2019
What could be finer than a jam-packed day of drool-worthy barbecue from The Pit, plenty of local brews and toe-tappin' bluegrass music in downtown Raleigh's Warehouse District?
Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival, April 27, 2019
Featuring more than 170 local artists, Cary's Spring Daze Arts & Crafts Festival (celebrating their 26th year in 2019) fills the streets with art—paintings, jewelry, sculptures and more—plus food vendors, children's activities and all-day live music.
Brewgaloo, April 26-27, 2019
N.C.'s largest craft beer festival—featuring 100 breweries, 50 food trucks and drawing 30,000 people—Brewgaloo takes over downtown Raleigh for two days each April. The festival, which has free admission on Sat. (so bring plenty of friends!), allows you to purchase either beer samples or full pints from breweries located across the state. The event is part of Beer Month in Raleigh, N.C., a month-long celebration of the nearly 30 craft breweries that call the area home.
Meet in the Street Festival, May 4, 2019
A day filled with food, fun and entertainment in historic downtown Wake Forest for more than 35 years running, Meet in the Street pulls together all-day live music plus an additional stage of entertainment with dancers, martial arts, magicians and more. Plenty of food trucks and a beer garden headed by Wake Forest's own White Street Brewing Company are sure to keep festival-goers happy.
39th Annual Apex PeakFest, May 4, 2019
Salem St. in historic downtown Apex comes alive with more than 20,000 visitors during PeakFest. For more than 30 years, the arts and crafts festival has brought families together for a day of fun, food and fellowship. The town of Apex's largest annual event, PeakFest has all-day live music, all the arts and crafts you can imagine, entertainment for kids and food vendors that bring their best State Fair-style goodies.
Out! Raleigh, May 4, 2019
Preparing to hold their ninth annual event in 2019, this inclusive and action-packed event draws nearly 50,000 people to celebrate the LGBT community and raise funds to support the LGBT Center of Raleigh. Live entertainment, local vendors and artists, great food and kids' activities line downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville St.
Spring into the Arts Walk, early May 2019
Located in Wendell's historic downtown district, this open-air arts competition features a classic car show, chalk art demonstrations, live music, a silent auction, tons of activities for kids and more.
Thrive NC, May 9-10, 2019
A two-day event featuring 50 of the area's top chefs and restaurants, Thrive NC is a collaborative event that offers attendees unlimited sampling of top-notch eats and craft beer.
Carolina Ballet: Swan Lake, May 16-19, 2019
Closing out Carolina Ballet's 21st season in Raleigh is one of the most popular story ballets of all time. Swan Lake is an enchanting fairy tale that tells the story of a beautiful swan princess cursed to live as a swan until she can find true love. Set to one of Tchaikovsky’s greatest scores, Robert Weiss’ version is truly spectacular. Music for this performance will be played live by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle.
Got to Be NC Festival, May 17-19, 2019
Putting the best of N.C. food and beverage on display, the Got to Be NC Festival offers tons of eating opportunities, live music, a huge collection of antique tractors, a carnival for children and more activities (plus free parking and admission) at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds.
Artsplosure - The Raleigh Arts Festival, May 18-19, 2019
One of the Southeast's premier arts festivals, Artsplosure - The Raleigh Arts Festival attracts more than 80,000 people to downtown Raleigh during the third weekend of May each year. Celebrating fine visual art and live music since 1980, the festival puts more than 180 artists' work, using countless mediums, on display for all to see and enjoy during the free festival.
Paul McCartney, May 27, 2019
The Paul McCartney live experience, brought to PNC Arena as "The Freshen Up Tour", is everything any music lover could ever want from a rock show: nearly three hours of the greatest moments from the last 50 years of music, dozens of songs from Paul’s solo act and of course Beatles catalogue that have formed the soundtracks of so many lives.
Jon Bellion, June 16, 2019
Rapper, singer, songwriter and producer Jon Bellion—known for his hit single "All Time Low"—will take stage in the shadows of the Raleigh skyline at Red Hat Amphitheater (and will highlight what's sure to be a huge summer schedule at one of the area's best outdoor venues).
Raleigh 4th of July Fireworks Display, July 4, 2019
You can't miss Raleigh's Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza! Having returned to West Raleigh in 2018, the city's annual July Fourth fireworks are held near the Stadium and Arena Complex (Carter-Finley Stadium and PNC Arena area). With plenty of free parking available, this breathtaking show is a must-see (and best enjoyed with lots of family and friends!).
Town of Cary July 4th Celebration, July 4, 2019
Relax under the pines at Koka Booth Amphitheatre for the Town of Cary's July 4th Celebration—you'll be able to enjoy family-friendly activities, including rides and games, a venue-wide scavenger hunt, watermelon eating contests and even a 50-foot Ferris wheel! Live music—often performed by the Cary Town Band and followed by a performance from the North Carolina Symphony—caps the evening just before fireworks light up the sky.
SunFest at Dorothea Dix Park, July 13, 2019
A gorgeous field of sunflowers was temporarily a well-kept secret in 2018 before being unveiled at the first ever SunFest event at Dorothea Dix Park—a celebration of summer for the whole family that included live music, performing arts, arts and crafts, food trucks and more. The sunflowers, and the celebration, is expected to return even bigger and better in 2019.
North Carolina Theatre presents Annie, July 23-28, 2019
With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City.
GalaxyCon Raleigh, July 25-28, 2019
A three-day festival for fans of pop culture, superheroes, science fiction, anime and more, GalaxyCon Raleigh (formerly named Raleigh Supercon) will be back and bigger than ever at the Raleigh Convention Center in July. Featuring celebrity guests, comic book creators, artists, cosplayers and other industry guests, GalaxyCon Raleigh is expected to bring an incredible 30,000 attendees together in downtown Raleigh to see and be seen, to meet celebrities, go head-to-head in video games and have a blast participating in all things geek!
Sir Walter Miler, early Aug. 2019
One of America's best (and fastest) track events, the Sir Walter Miler, is a free-admission event featuring an elite field of men and women runners and allows fans onto the track at Meredith College to scream and cheer as athletes look to set some of the fastest mile times of the year in the U.S. Since the inception of the Sir Walter Miler in 2014, the collective men's elite field has broken the four-minute mile barrier a total of 26 times, and the women's elite field has broken 4:30—a time that had never previously been beat in the history of N.C.—nine total times.
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival, Aug. 2-3, 2019
Beer sipping, bourbon tasting, music listening and barbecue eating—what's not to love? Don't miss the two-day Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival at Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Admission buys you a souvenir sampling glass so you can enjoy an all-you-care-to-taste sampling of beer and bourbon, plus chow down on some pulled pork, ribs, biscuit and more, all while enjoying all-day live music.
Packapalooza, early Aug. 2019
This annual, all-day block party and street festival, drawing more than 80,000 attendees, caps off North Carolina State University's Wolfpack Welcome Week at the start of another academic year. The free and open-to-the-public event features more than 300 vendor booths lining Hillsborough St., along with food, games, arts and crafts, a water slide (bring your bathing suit!), visual and performing arts and more. Music, headlined by N.C.-bred country band Parmalee, will take center stage to close out the evening.
Summer Daze Music Festival Vol. 2, Aug. 17, 2019
Celebrate summer at the second annual Summer Daze Music Festival at Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park in North Hills, a celebration of music, local businesses, culture and, of course, summertime vibes. The 2019 music lineup will be announced at a later date.
Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival, Aug. 24-25, 2019
For more than 40 years, the Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival has put local artists and craftsmakers in the spotlight. Today, the Cary festival has grown to two days, features more than 300 artists from 16 states, has multiple stages of live music, a beer garden and plenty of food trucks to keep everyone happy.
Hopscotch Music Festival, Sept. 5-7, 2019
Three days, nearly 150 bands, 12 venues in downtown Raleigh, 50 totally-free day parties and 25,000 fans—it's no wonder why Hopscotch Music Festival is time and time again named one of America's can't-miss music events. The acts—and genres—are as wide ranging as the venues they play in (the 5,000-seat Red Hat Amphitheater and a tiny dive bar, Slim's Downtown, for example). Headlining acts in recent years have included Angel Olsen, Big Boi, Solange, Run The Jewels, Margo Price, The Flaming Lips and more.
SPARKcon, mid-Sept. 2019
SPARKcon, the totally-weird, totally-awesome creativity festival that takes over downtown Raleigh each Sept., is truly a grassroots event. The "for the people, by the people" approach uses an open-source planning process that allows more than 2,000 artists to be involved each year. Dance, fashion, music, film, food—if you can name it, you can find an event for it at the festival that spans nearly 15 city blocks.
BugFest, mid-Sept. 2019
Experience more than 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities at BugFest, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' annual event that lets you interact with entomologists and other scientists while learning about the fascinating world of bugs. Featuring the ever-popular Café Insecta, where the brave can sample buggy dishes prepared by local chefs. The best part? The event is totally free for the expected 35,000 attendees.
Apex Music Festival, mid-Sept. 2019
Ready for its ninth year, the Apex Music Festival attracts thousands of fans to historic downtown Apex to enjoy live music, street vendors, food trucks, beer and wine and an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Two outdoor stages and one indoor theater will host a variety of acts from local, regional and national performers from many musical genres—rock, folk, R&B, bluegrass, country and more.
15th Annual Capital City Bikefest, Sept. 20-22, 2019
The country's largest downtown motorcycle rally, this three-day, family-friendly event featuring musical performances, parades and plenty of sweet rides is tough to miss (and impossible not to hear!). Bike competitions, a tattoo festival, a classic car show, food trucks and much, much more are big draws for the wildly-diverse crowd.
Groove in the Garden, late Sept. 2019
Groove in the Garden is back for year five at Raleigh Little Theatre's beautiful Stephenson Amphitheater. The annual music and arts festival shines the spotlight on some incredible local talent. Two stages of music, plus food trucks, beer, wine, local artists and vendors, a kids' zone and more make this a can't-miss late summer event in Raleigh.
World of Bluegrass, Sept. 24-28, 2019
The arrival of a toe-tappin', banjo-strummin' week of non-stop week of bluegrass in downtown Raleigh is one of the most anticipated times of the year. The International Bluegrass Music Association brings their business conference, along with the world's most talented bluegrass musicians, to Raleigh during this week. Those musicians then perform in clubs, on street corners and in hotel lobbies—anywhere they can find a jam session—during the Bluegrass Ramble. Then the week is capped off with Wide Open Bluegrass, a two-day festival that sets up five stages of free music, a dance tent, a barbecue championship, tons of art vendors and more. The ticketed Main Stage at Red Hat Amphitheater has featured the Steep Canyon Rangers with Steve Martin, Sierra Hull, The Infamous Stringdusters and more in recent years.
Carrie Underwood, Sept. 30, 2019
Seven-time Grammy winner and Pollstar’s three-time top female country touring artist, Carrie Underwood swings through Raleigh to take the stage at PNC Arena as part of her "The Cry Pretty Tour 360"—she'll be joined by special guests Maddie & Tae and Runaway June.
Casktoberfest, early Oct. 2019
Cheers to seasonal beers! Big Boss Brewing Company’s Casktoberfest transforms the brewery into a giant beer hall with 30+ one-of-a-kind cask ales, just in time to head into the new fall season.
Beericana Craft Beer and Music Festival, Oct. 12, 2019
This fast-growing beer and music festival held at beautiful Sugg Farm Park brings together more than 70 breweries (including most of the nearly 30 craft beverage brewers in Raleigh, N.C.) and more than 20 food trucks, along with a full lineup of Americana jams, to celebrate good friends, good beer and good times in Holly Springs.
2019 North Carolina State Fair, Oct. 17-27, 2019
The largest annual event in the state, the North Carolina State Fair draws one million visitors through the gates each Oct., marking what many consider to be the unofficial beginning of the fall season. Eleven days of high-flying rides, deep-fried foods, live music, stunt shows and other entertainment (including nightly fireworks) has been a can't-miss event for generations of families—the 2019 version of the North Carolina State Fair marks the 152nd year of the event!
SAS Championship, mid-Oct. 2019
See some of golf's best at the SAS Championship, a PGA Tour Championships event. Held annually at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, the event is widely recognized as one of the most important events of the year. The tournament is expected to once again play host to ‘Wildcard Weekend’—the last full-field event before the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs.
Triangle Oktoberfest, mid-Oct. 2019
The sixth annual Triangle Oktoberfest at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary is set to provide plenty of family-friendly activities including live music, storytelling, dancing and traditional Bavarian food and fare (plus local and authentic German beers on hand).
Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, Oct. 26, 2019-Jan. 19, 2020
Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Masterpieces of Modern Mexico from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection at the North Carolina Museum of Art presents the paintings of two icons of the 20th century. Few artists have captured the public's imagination with the force of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907–54) and her husband, the Mexican painter and muralist Diego Rivera (1886–1957).
Moonlight in the Garden, mid-Nov. 2019
A magical lighting exhibition that's suited for the entire family, Moonlight in the Garden at JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University is a once-per-year opportunity to see the nationally-acclaimed gardens artfully illuminated by colorful lights. Each evening of the ticketed event is paired with live music, food trucks, hot apple cider, fire pits and marshmallows to roast!
American Indian Heritage Celebration, mid-Nov. 2019
Musicians, dancers, artists, storytellers and authors from N.C.'s eight state-recognized tribes will gather for this popular family event. For all ages, the celebration is a firsthand opportunity to learn about the state’s American Indian culture, past and present. Activities include craft demonstrations, hands-on activities, games, foods and much more.
North Hills Tree Lighting Celebration, mid-Nov. 2019
The annual lighting of a 41-foot-tall Christmas tree, a visit from Santa Claus, trackless train rides for kids, live music and plenty of vendors on hand make this celebration an equally great event for families and a fun date idea. Arrive a tad early to join in on the Holiday Sip & Shop to knock out some shopping at local retailers like Peter Millar, Quail Ridge Books, Scout & Molly's plus more while enjoying complimentary hot chocolate and cider.
75th Annual Raleigh Christmas Parade, Nov. 23, 2019
A Raleigh tradition for more than 70 years, the Raleigh Christmas Parade is the largest parade of its kind between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. The parade—filled with marching bands, dancers, classic cars, super heroes and more— marches through downtown Raleigh for two hours along a 1.4-mile route that draws a crowd of 60,000 spectators.
North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival, late Nov. 2019 through mid-Jan. 2020
The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival puts hundreds of larger-than-life lanterns on display at Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre, creating an incredible, colorful adventure for you to walk through during the holiday season. In all, the lanterns and more than 15,000 LED lights make up 20 distinct displays, including a 200-foot-long, 21-foot-tall Chinese Dragon that sits on Symphony Lake.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, late Nov. through mid-Dec. 2019
Based on the animated television special "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and the stage production directed and conceived by Jeff Frank and First Stage, the characters you know and love—Rudolph, the Abominable Snowman, Santa and Mrs. Claus and more—come to life in this Broadway Series South production.
Boylan Heights Art Walk, early Dec. 2019
For 26 years and counting, the Boylan Heights Art Walk has featured more than a hundred artists and craftspeople selling a wide range of glasswork, jewelry, woodwork, clay work and ceramics, photography and prints, multimedia, painting and other art from the neighborhood’s porches, yards, and sidewalks (in of the area's prettiest neighborhoods!).
State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony, early Dec. 2019
With luminaries lighting the Capitol grounds and local choral groups filling the air with seasonal songs, the lighting of the tree at the North Carolina State Capitol building is a sign for many that the holiday season is officially here. After the lighting of the tree, stick around to tour the inside of the Capitol, covered in wreaths and draped in garland.
48th Annual Oakwood Candlelight Tour, early Dec. 2019
Historic Oakwood, a community of homes, many of which are dated to the mid-1800s to early 1900s, has its own small town feel. Elegantly decorated for the holidays, you can step inside about a dozen private homes, staffed with docents who tell the rich history of this Century Victorian neighborhood.
Theatre In The Park presents A Christmas Carol, early Dec. 2019
This theater production from local passionate mind Ira David Wood III, celebrating its 45th year during the 2019 holiday season, has wowed more than a million guests throughout the years. The beloved musical comedy, in which Wood himself puts on an incredible performance as Scrooge, has been a longstanding tradition for families in the area—tickets tend to go quickly so plan ahead!
Carolina Ballet: The Nutcracker, early Dec. 2019
Grace, grandeur and mysterious illusions. Carolina Ballet's holiday classic is a can't-miss tradition for locals, visitors, families and friends. The only production in the country using illusions created by renowned magician Rick Thomas, The Nutcracker will make characters levitate, disappear and reappear before your eyes in 14 performances at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.
NCAA Men's College Cup, Dec. 13-15, 2019
Four teams, one ultimate prize—the final four NCAA Men's soccer teams will battle it out on the pitch at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary to crown a champion in of the year's biggest sports events held in the Raleigh area.
First Night Raleigh, Dec. 31, 2019
First Night Raleigh, a downtown Raleigh New Year's Eve celebration for more than 25 years, is an all-day event with more than 100 performances (music, dance, theater, comedy and more) across 35 venues. Tons of kids' activities, a 90-foot-tall Ferris wheel and a countdown to midnight (where, yes, a giant acorn drops from the sky as the clock strikes 12) and celebratory fireworks highlight a full day of festivities.
Photo credits: Header, Garrett Poulos; Food, Jessica Crawford Photograph; Krispy Kreme Challenge, North Carolina State University; Art in Bloom, Michael Robson; Brewgaloo, Will Hardison; Out! Raleigh, Michael Robson; Barbecue, Keith Isaacs; GalaxyCon Raleigh, Fisticuffs Photography; Packapalooza, North Carolina State University; World of Bluegrass, Michael Robson; Raleigh Christmas Parade, Michael Robson; First Night Raleigh, Sandra Davidson