100 of the Biggest Events and Festivals in Raleigh, N.C., in 2023
Monday, January 09, 2023, 8am by visitRaleigh
Every two weeks, we send out a newsletter that includes the best of the best upcoming events. If you sign up for our E-magazine, you'll get those, plus all the best new content (the scoop on the best restaurants that opened in 2022, for example, or a peek at some of our favorite hidden gems in the City of Oaks).
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 2023!
A note: Some of the dates for these events have not yet been announced, but we can generally know what month they fall in (and some major events—concerts, for example—haven't been announced at all yet). We'll update this page as information comes in!
Exhibition: James Cameron: Challenging the Deep, open through May 7, 2023
Explore the deepest oceans and discover shipwrecks at this blockbuster exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Challenging the Deep traces explorer and filmmaker James Cameron's passion for deep-ocean science, technology and exploration using cinema-scale projections, personal artifacts and specimens from his expeditions.
Triangle Restaurant Week, Jan. 23-29, 2023
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, a great opportunity for residents and visitors alike to return to an old favorite dining spot or discover a new one.
North Carolina Opera presents Don Giovanni, Jan. 27 and 29, 2023
The devilishly charming Don Giovanni has seduced one too many women—and now the tables are turned on one of the memorable opera characters of all time (don't miss this!). The North Carolina Opera will also perform Porgy and Bess, April 14 and 16.
22nd Annual African American Cultural Celebration, Jan. 28, 2023
An annual, statewide kickoff to Black History Month with the North Carolina Museum of History, for more than 20 years the African American Cultural Celebration has brought together authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, scholars and more, all around a central theme to highlight the contributions that African Americans have made to North Carolina’s history and culture.
Astronomy Days: Humans in Space, Jan. 28-29, 2023
From comet crafts to solar observing, lectures to rocket launches, space enthusiasts of all ages will find something to do at one of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' most popular annual events.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents Blood Wedding, Jan. 27-Feb. 12, 2023
In this gripping Spanish tragedy—inspired by a true story and first performed in 1933—two families in rural Spain are bound by an unbreakable cycle of murder and revenge.
Exhibition: The Power of Women in Country Music, through April 2, 2023
This major exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History, curated by the GRAMMY Museum® in Los Angeles, highlights the past, present and future of country music’s greatest female trailblazers—from Dolly Parton, Rosanne Cash, Shania Twain and Taylor Swift, to contemporary Tar Heel State artists that include Rhiannon Giddens, Kasey Tyndall and Rissi Palmer
American Aquarium, Roadtrip to Raleigh, Feb. 2-4, 2023
Raleigh-based alternative country band American Aquarium, known as one of the 21st century’s ultimate road-warrior acts, brings their annual, much-anticipated Road Trip to Raleigh act to downtown Raleigh's Lincoln Theatre for three nights of packed shows in front of a hometown crowd.
Krispy Kreme Challenge, Feb. 4, 2023
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!
North Carolina Theatre presents Dreamgirls, Feb. 7-12, 2023
Winner of six Tony Awards in 1982, Dreamgirls is about a time in American musical history when rhythm and blues blended with other styles of popular music to create a new American sound (and led to the electrifying rise of groups like The Supremes, The Marvelettes, The Temptations and The Shirelles).
Carolina Hurricanes Fan Fest, Feb. 17, 2023
The free-to-attend Carolina Hurricanes Fan Fest is set to celebrate the organization’s 25 years in North Carolina the same weekend that Raleigh, N.C., hosts the NHL Stadium Series™. Meet Canes alumni, get your picture with the Stanley Cup, play some street hockey, take a ride on a Ferris wheel and enjoy two stages of live music, food trucks, beer garden and entertainment all day long, ending with a drone light show and a firework-show finale! The event will run on Fayetteville St., from City Plaza to the State Capitol.
Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series™: Carolina Hurricanes vs. Washington Capitals, Feb. 18, 2023
Hockey. At night. Outdoors. In Raleigh! The Carolina Hurricanes, one of the NHL's top contenders this season, will face off against a fierce rival in the Washington Capitals at Carter-Finley Stadium in front of nearly 60,000 people.
Sierra Hull & Justin Moses, Feb. 24, 2023
One of bluegrass' biggest young stars, Sierra Hull—a four-time Mandolin Player of the Year award recipient from the International Bluegrass Music Association—will be joined on stage by her husband Justin Moses in this special event presented by PineCone as part of the 2023 Down Home Concert Series.
North Carolina Vintage Bazaar, Feb. 25, 2023
One of the Tar Heel State's biggest vintage clothing market and thrift convention events, the Vintage Bazaar brings together sellers of all genres, eras and styles of vintage clothing at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Raleigh Brewing 10th Anniversary Party, March 4, 2023
One of the Raleigh area's signature breweries—now with three locations—plans to throw a grand birthday bash for their 10th anniversary at the original Neil St. taproom. Cheers to that!
The 39th Annual Raleigh St. Patrick's Day Parade, March 11, 2023
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.
Greta Van Fleet, March 13, 2023
This relatively young progressive rock band has wasted no time in taking center stage—they won the 2019 GRAMMY Award for Best Rock Album, the same year they were nominated for Best New Artist. This show at PNC Arena was originally scheduled for 2022 and some tickets still remain available.
Art in Bloom, March 15-19, 2023
One of the can't-miss events of the year at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Art in Bloom is a five-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. The ticketed event invites participants to attend presentations and workshops, dine at museum cafe and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.
Playthrough Gaming Convention, March 18-19, 2023
A two-day gaming extravaganza at the Raleigh Convention Center, Playthrough showcases the latest games and provides an opportunity for gamers to meet others who share their passion. Tournaments are offered for board and video games, as well as card games like Magic: The Gathering. Attendees can also participate in the cosplay showcase, explore an escape room, visit exhibitors, attend main stage panels and enjoy lots of free-to-play options for board, PC, arcade, retro console and virtual reality games.
Tracy Morgan at Raleigh Improv, March 30-April 2, 2023
One of today's most respected comedians—and known for starring for seven seasons of NBC's Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning television show "30 Rock"—Tracy Morgan will headline the Raleigh Improv for six shows across four special nights.
Exhibition: Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design, April 1-Aug. 6, 2023
Creating pieces for films including "Black Panther," "Malcom X," "Selma" and "Do the Right Thing," Academy Award-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter has defined generations through her work in film and TV. In this highly anticipated exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art, more than 60 of Carter’s original garments will be on display.
Tacos 'N Taps, April 1, 2023
This all-you-can-taste beer and tequila festival takes you south of the border for foodie fun—tacos, margaritas, 80-plus beers, mariachi bands and other live music, piñata punching, contests and other surprises await at Koka Booth Amphitheatre.
Dreamville Festival, April 1-2, 2023
Back for another much-anticipated weekend and curated by platinum-selling rapper and N.C. native, J. Cole, the 2023 version of Dreamville will be a two-day, multi-stage festival at downtown Raleigh's Dorothea Dix Park with a one-of-a-kind celebration of local culture, food and art. A curated selection of music performers are expected to blend together some of today’s biggest national acts with exciting up-and-comers (full lineup coming soon!).
Theatre Raleigh presents Jersey Boys, April 5-16, 2023
With phenomenal music, memorable characters and great storytelling, Jersey Boys follows the fascinating evolution of four blue-collar kids who became one of the greatest successes in pop music history.
Burning Coal Theatre presents The Cherry Orchard, April 6-23, 2023
Directed by Randolph Curtis Brand, The Cherry Orchard is a century-old tale of workers versus landlords and socio-economic divide that has one family caught in the middle (and audiences will laugh and cry as it all comes tumbling down).
Mid-Town Square Spring Festival, April 8, 2023
Held at Bond Brothers Beer Company in Cary, 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!
Carolina Mudcats Opening Week, April 11-16, 2023
Who's ready to root, root, root for the home team? The Carolina Mudcats—affiliate of Major League Baseball's Milwaukee Brewers—will be swinging back into action in April with a new season of minor league baseball in Zebulon, N.C., where they've called Five County Stadium home for more than 30 years.
Mt. Joy, April 14, 2023
This indie rock band—having released their third studio album Blood Orange in 2022—will embark on a tour of the same name and be one of the first outdoor concerts of the year at downtown Raleigh's Red Hat Amphitheater.
13th Annual North Carolina 'Cuegrass Festival, April 15, 2023
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 on Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh?
N.C. Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival, April 2023
This fifth annual event at Lafayette Village gets bigger and better every year. Taste local and regional chocolates and cheeses paired with a variety of wines from across the world (including some local favorites). Sit, sample and listen to live music, shop local vendors and take home a souvenir wine glass at the end of the day.
Brewgaloo, April 21-22, 2023
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 Saturday (so bring plenty of friends!), allows you to purchase either beer samples or full pints from breweries located across the state. The Friday night block party is a ticketed event that allows you unlimited three-ounce samples of limited release brews.
HerbFest, April 28-30 and May 5-7, 2023
Those who love to cook will love HerbFest (the longest-running herb festival in the country!). Stroll through downtown Wake Forest's charming White St. and shop organic, non-GMO herbs and vegetables, plus heirloom tomatoes and peppers and beautiful perennials specific to the area.
Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival, April 29, 2023
Featuring more than 170 local artists, Cary's Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival (celebrating their 30th year in 2023) fills the streets with art-paintings, jewelry, sculptures and more—plus food vendors, children's activities and all-day live music.
Raulston Blooms!, April 29, 2023
A beautiful time of year for one of the biggest annual events at JC Raulston Arboretum at North Carolina State University, Raulston Blooms includes an exceptional plant sale, garden talks, demonstrations, food trucks, ice cream and more.
North Carolina Symphony presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, May 4-6, 2023
May the Fourth be with you, indeed! This special event puts one of the most popular films of all time on the big screen, paired in tandem with the North Carolina Symphony performing John Williams’ legendary score live.
Meet in the Street Festival, May 6, 2023
A day filled with food, fun and entertainment in historic downtown Wake Forest for more than 40 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.
Fest in the West, May 6, 2023
Celebrate Cary's rural past at this day filled with food trucks, local breweries, pie-eating contests, kids activities, live music and more. Empty plates, full bellies and a satisfied crowd is a sure thing, plus festival-goers will head home with souvenir beer cups!
42nd Annual Apex PeakFest, May 6, 2023
Salem St. in historic downtown Apex comes alive with more than 20,000 visitors during PeakFest. For 40 years now, 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.
Lizzo, May 10, 2023
Not her first performance in Raleigh, but certainly her biggest. Lizzo previously sold out shows at Raleigh's The Ritz and Red Hat Amphitheater, but this spring she'll stop at PNC Arena as part of the second leg of her tour named for her recent album, Special.
Longleaf Film Festival, May 12-13, 2023
A free-to-attend film festival that highlights the best short- and feature-length documentary and narrative films, the Longleaf Film Festival is held annually at the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh, where 1,000 attendees enjoy 50-plus films, panels and popcorn.
Carolina Ballet presents Sleeping Beauty, May 18-21, 2023
Closing out their 25th anniversary season in spectacular fashion, Carolina Ballet with perform a longtime favorite—where good triumphs over evil—in this production of Sleeping Beauty.
Got to Be NC Festival, May 19-21, 2023
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 20-21, 2023 (tentative dates)
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.
Animazement, May 26-28, 2023
Get in on the action at Animazement, a three-day Japanese animation and culture celebration over Memorial Day weekend that draws 15,000 attendees to the Raleigh Convention Center. Cosplay is a huge draw: guests are encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters simply for fun, or to participate in contests showcasing their talents!
NC Sugar Rush, May 28, 2023
One of the sweetest events of the year, NC Sugar Rush is an all-dessert food truck rodeo held in downtown Raleigh's City Plaza. More than 20 vendors—offering a range of goodies from cotton candy to cupcakes to cherry pies—will be on hand, along with face painters, balloon artists and more to keep the kids entertained.
Dead & Company, June 1, 2023
This supergroup—a modern reincarnation of The Grateful Dead—comes to Raleigh's Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek (the area's largest outdoor music venue) as part of their final tour.
Raleigh's International Food Festival, June 3, 2023 (tentative date)
Celebrate Raleigh's diverse community and welcoming spirit by trying food, beer and wine (plus listen to live music and see more entertainment) from around the world. Nearly 20,000 attendees are expected in downtown Raleigh's City Plaza for the event.
Apex Latino Arts Festival, June 2023
Celebrate Latino arts and culture in downtown Apex with piñata breaking, children's arts and crafts workshops, local art exhibits, a culinary adventure, Latin American dance, music performances and more.
Town of Cary's Pimento Cheese Festival, June 2023
In downtown Cary, food trucks will line the streets to serve their regular menu, along with new dishes featuring a Southern delicacy: pimento cheese! Enjoy live music, grab a drink from local breweries and taste some of the best pimento cheese samples from local restaurants (come hungry!).
N.C. Hops Festival, June 2023
For two days, sip, shop, dine and groove at the N.C. Hops Festival at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. More than 100 local beers, ciders and seltzers will be on hand to sample, and live music, local makers and food trucks will help round out an event worthy of raising a glass to.
Capital City Juneteenth Celebration, June 17, 2023 (tentative date)
First held at Dorothea Dix Park in 2021 as a celebration and commemoration of the abolition of slavery in the United States, this event featured speakers, artists, historic interpreters, music and more. More details for 2023 are expected in the coming months.
11th Annual Out! Raleigh Pride, June 24, 2023 (tentative date)
Out! Raleigh Pride is the area's annual, family-friendly street festival that celebrates the LGBT community and its allies! Organized each year by the LGBT Center of Raleigh, the festival's speakers, performers and vendors (and a Kids Zone) bring eight hours of fun and family to downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville Street district.
City of Raleigh July 4th Celebration at Dix Park, July 4, 2023
Pack a picnic (plus bug spray, blankets and coolers) and head to Dorothea Dix Park to enjoy music the DJ stage and field games like cornhole and giant Connect 4 before the fireworks begin.
The Town of Cary Presents: Independence Day Celebration, July 4, 2023
Relax under the pines at Koka Booth Amphitheatre for the Town of Cary Independence Day Celebration. Music from the Cary Town Band, plus a patriotic performance by the North Carolina Symphony, precede fireworks over beautiful Symphony Lake to cap the evening.
Louis Tomlinson, July 21, 2023
English singer-songwriter Louis Tomlinson—who rose to fame as part of One Direction—released his sophomore studio album, Faith in the Future, in late 2022. He'll spend much of this year touring North America, including this stop at downtown Raleigh's Red Hat Amphitheater.
Cary Downtown Chowdown, July 2023
Enjoy a food-filled afternoon in downtown Cary. Taste some of the area's best food (barbecue, burgers, beignets and more!), enjoy cool beverages from craft beer and wine vendors and relax to the music of great local performers.
GalaxyCon Raleigh, July 27-30, 2023
A three-day festival for fans of pop culture, superheroes, science fiction, anime and more, GalaxyCon Raleigh 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!
Sam Smith, Aug. 1, 2023
Embarking on their first North America tour since 2018, Sam Smith will make a stop at Raleigh's PNC Arena in support of the English singer-songwriter's newest album, "Gloria." Rising star Jessie Reyez will join Smith along the way.
Sir Walter Miler, Aug. 2023
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 Cardinal Gibbons High School to scream and cheer as athletes look to set some of the fastest mile times of the year in the U.S.
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival, Aug. 4-5, 2023
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.
Foreigner, Aug. 8, 2023
The final tour for legendary rock band Foreigner—first formed nearly 50 years ago—is set to stop at Raleigh's Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek to play in front of a massive crowd for a proper farewell.
CaribMask Carnival, Aug. 19, 2023
A festival to promote diversity, equality and create a deeper appreciation for Afro-Caribbean culture in the Raleigh area, CaribMask returns for a 10th annual event in downtown Raleigh in 2023. In previous years, a parade of bands, flag ceremony, live music and tons of food and drinks have kept a joyful crowd of more than 15,000 people plenty happy.
Packapalooza, Aug. 26, 2023 (tentative date)
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, visual and performing arts and more. Music will take center stage to close out the evening.
Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival, Aug. 26-27, 2023 (tentative dates)
For more than 40 years, the Lazy Daze Arts and 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.
14th Annual African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County, Sept. 2-3, 2023 (tentative dates)
An annual celebration of African American culture expressed through art, music, food and community, this two-day downtown Raleigh festival showcases local, national and international artists, performers, food vendors and area business owners.
Hopscotch Music Festival, Sept. 2023
The 13th annual Hopscotch Music Festival—time and time again named as one of America's can't-miss independent music events—will once again be back and ready to jam in the center of the City of Oaks in 2023. Lineup and venues to be released later in the year.
BugFest, Sept. 2023
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.
Asia Fest, Sept. 2023
Presented by Asian Focus at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, the 7th annual Asia Fest will be a celebration of Asian cultures with live stage performances, games for the kids, global street food vendors and much more (including the Raleigh area's only dragon boat race!).
La Fiesta del Pueblo, Sept. 17, 2023 (tentative date)
A tradition for nearly 30 years, La Fiesta del Pueblo, a Hispanic cultural event held in the Fayetteville Street district in downtown Raleigh, draws nearly 20,000 attendees each year and showcases 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.
World of Bluegrass, Sept. 26-30, 2023
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 Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC, a two-day festival that sets up five stages of free music, a dance tent, tons of art vendors and more.
Triangle Oktoberfest, Sept. 2023
The Raleigh area's biggest Oktoberfest celebration, Triangle Oktoberfest at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary provides plenty of family-friendly activities including live music, storytelling, dancing and traditional Bavarian food and fare (plus local and authentic German beers on hand).
95th Annual Wendell Harvest Festival, Oct. 2023
A tradition dating back to 1927, the Wendell Harvest Festival features a parade, more than 100 craft vendors, a beer garden, games for kids and adults and live music (fun for the entire family!).
Zac Brown Band, Oct. 5, 2023
The Zac Brown-led country/Southern rock band will kick off their 10th North America tour—dubbed the From the Fire Tour—this summer, making sure not to miss the City of Oaks with a show at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.
Rally in Raleigh, Oct. 2023
Rally in Raleigh is a free, family-friendly weekend event at the Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson dealership. Now in its 18th year, the event celebrates Raleigh’s rich motorcycle culture and features live music, parades, charity rides, stunt shows, vendors and more.
Hum Sub Diwali, Oct. 2023
Diwali is the most widely celebrated religious and cultural event in India, and marks the victory of good over evil, light over dark and the beginning of the New Year. Each year Cary's Diwali celebration includes music, dance, theater performances, a handicraft bazaar, Indian food vendors, sponsor booths, an exhibition of Indian art and culture, activities for children, demonstrations and so much more at Koka Booth Amphitheatre!
SAS Championship, Oct. 9-15, 2023 (tentative dates)
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, and also features a Pro-Am event, the ever-popular Food Truck Friday and a 5k Saturday race for the whole community to get involved.
N.C. State Fair, Oct. 12-22, 2023
The largest annual event in the state, the N.C. State Fair draws one million visitors through the gates each October, 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 2023 version of the N.C. State Fair marks the 155th year of the event!
Shania Twain, Oct. 18, 2023
Trailblazing country pop artist Shania Twain's new album, "Queen of Me," is set to be released in February of this year. She'll support it with a tour by the same name and a stop at Raleigh's PNC Arena.
HollyFest, Oct. 2023
This annual, family-friendly event held at the beautiful Jefferson L. Sugg Farm at Bass Lake celebrates the town of Holly Springs, featuring local artists, businesses, food vendors, children’s activities and local entertainment.
Moonlight in the Garden, Nov. 2023
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!
N.C. International Festival, Nov. 3-5, 2023 (tentative dates)
Celebrate holidays around the world at the N.C. International Festival, a two-day, comprehensive platform for local ethnic communities and artists to present their culture at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. More than 30 ethnic groups participate to present a variety of arts, cuisine, dance, textile design and cultural expression from across the globe.
North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival-Cary, mid-Nov. 2023 through early Jan. 2024
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 50 distinct displays, including a 200-foot-long, 21-foot-tall mythical creature that sits on Symphony Lake.
The Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration at North Hills, Nov. 2023
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 North Hills while enjoying complimentary hot chocolate and cider.
THE RINK, mid-Nov., 2023 through mid-Jan., 2024
Enjoy the thrill of ice skating in a wintry village created in the heart of downtown Raleigh! THE RINK features a natural ice skating rink with stunning views of the Raleigh skyline, cozy lounging stations with heat warmers and fire pits, a snack bar, games, photo opportunities and more!
American Indian Heritage Celebration, Nov. 2023
Musicians, dancers, artists, storytellers and authors from N.C.'s eight state-recognized tribes will gather for this popular family event at the North Carolina Museum of History. 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.
WRAL Nights of Lights, late Nov. through late Dec. 2023
Up for a dazzling light show? Illuminated trees, festive light displays and local art installations will delight visitors of all ages at the Nights of Lights Drive-Thru Light Show at Dorothea Dix Park. The 1.3-mile driving route features towering oak trees, open fields and rolling hills—plus views of the Raleigh skyline peaking above the trees—making it a perfect location for this holiday event.
Holiday Express at Pullen Park, Dec. 2023
This year-round favorite destination for families gets dressed up for the holiday season, festively decorated with thousands of lights. The major attractions? A rideable, miniature train that meanders through and around the park plus a carousel that keeps kids of all ages happy for hours.
NCAA Women's Division I Soccer Championship, Dec. 1 and 3, 2023
Two champions will be crowned at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary to close out the college soccer season—these NCAA College Cup events feature the semifinals and final matchups played in front of as many as 10,000 fans!
Raleigh Little Theatre presents Cinderella, Dec. 2023
Celebrating its 39th year at Raleigh Little Theatre in 2023, the musical comedy Cinderella is a holiday sugarplum for the whole family. Just the right mixture of comedy and romance, plus a visually stunning set and costumes, make this fairy tale a favorite holiday tradition in Raleigh.
Wendell Wonderland, Dec. 2023
A perfect chance to experience historic downtown Wendell lit up for the holidays, with a visit from Santa Claus, trolley rides through town, lighting of the town tree, live music, hot chocolate, food trucks, a craft market and more. The Lake Myra Christmas light show—one of the East Coast's most dazzling displays—will also be in full swing, featuring more than 400,000 lights—and it's all free!
Boylan Heights ArtWalk, Dec. 2023
For 30 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, Dec. 2023
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.
Theatre In The Park presents A Christmas Carol, Dec. 2023
This theater production from local passionate mind Ira David Wood III, celebrating its 50th year during the 2023 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!
The Justice Theater Project presents Black Nativity in Concert, Dec. 2023
This gospel music experience, a production of The Justice Theater Project, takes the audience on a journey back to the Bethlehem of Mary and Joseph, resplendent in African costumes and uplifting songs of worship. With a joyous inspirational score, Black Nativity is a legendary family show that shares this unforgettable story of the Nativity through compelling gospel music and the beautiful poetry of Langston Hughes.
52nd Annual Oakwood Candlelight Tour, Dec. 2023
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.
North Carolina Master Chorale presents Joy of the Season, Dec. 2023
The North Carolina Master Chorale, hailed by critics as the area's premier choral ensemble and the recipient of a Raleigh Medal of Arts award, has performed choral masterworks with orchestra since 1942. Joy of the Season celebrates its 23rd anniversary this year, a Raleigh holiday tradition that fills Meymandi Concert Hall with nearly 200 voices, guest choirs, a brass ensemble, Meymandi's pipe organ and the Master Chorale’s newly established Youth Choir.
Carolina Ballet presents The Nutcracker, Dec. 2023
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 more than a dozen performances at the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts.
First Night Raleigh, Dec. 31, 2023
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 photo, Garrett Poulos; Food, Jessica Crawford Photograph; Krispy Kreme Challenge, North Carolina State University; Dreamville, Garrett Poulos; 'Cuegrass, Empire Eats; Brewgaloo, Garrett Poulos; Animazement, animazementphotos; Out! Raleigh, Michael Robson; GalaxyCon Raleigh, Fisticuffs Photography; Packapalooza, North Carolina State University; Hopscotch, Michael Robson; World of Bluegrass, Michael Robson; N.C. State Fair, Justin Kase Conder; Chinese Lantern Festival, Michael Robson; State Capitol Tree Lighting, Michael Robson; First Night Raleigh, Sandra Davidson
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Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts . Menconi's next book,... View More