Get to know the downtown Raleigh, N.C., music venues set to host Hopscotch Music Festival (Sept. 7-10), "one of the best and most eclectic music festivals in America," according to SPIN. Get the scoop on the dozen venues below, plus some tips to help along the way. 

City Plaza

Located in the heart of the center city, the artful City Plaza, with 50-foot programmed light towers and sculptures from N.C.-based artists, is one of the premier and most popular spots for outdoor live music events in Raleigh. Experience Margo Price, Future Islands, Big Boi and more here. Memorable Hopscotch moment in City Plaza: Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips shooting lasers out of a pair of giant hands all the way down Fayetteville Street to the North Carolina State Capitol.

Music festival

The Pour House Music Hall

You may feel a bit like Harry Potter skulking around Knockturn Alley the first time you walk down the narrow alley and through the door of this Moore Square Art District institution. Open nearly 365 days a year, The Pour House Music Hall plays host to bands of all genres, from bluegrass to metal and reggae year-round. But the place isn't called The Pour House Music Hall for nothing. The venue is known for its well-stocked bar and variety of quality beers on tap, so go thirsty. 

CAM Raleigh

Headed up by executive director Gab Smith, CAM Raleigh (pictured in header and below) features an ever-changing collection of contemporary art and strives to inspire visitors with captivating works from some of the top artists today. The museum, in a re-purposed early 20th century produce warehouse, honors the spirit of the former tenant by keeping fresh works moving in and out, showing visitors what’s current in the art world. Situated in the Warehouse District, chow down on delicious eats at spots such as The Fiction Kitchen and The Pit before or after performances. Plus, grab a brew at the nearby Crank Arm Brewing.


Nash Hall

Nash Hall promises a vibe similar to that of CAM Raleigh's, with an up-close-and-personal feel. Formally Nash Motors from 1929-1956, the building has tons of history and personality. The design and atmosphere of the venue is a perfect match for the artists set to perform, including Madame Gandhi, serpentwithfeet, Aldous Harding, Hand Habits and others.

Deep South The Bar

Experiencing passionate mind Dave Rose's Deep South The Bar when you come to Raleigh for live music is a must. With lyrics covering the interior walls of the venue, look for the words from some of your favorite songs. Thirsty? Deep South offers crazy-good local beers. Plus, catch some fresh air between performances on the venue's outdoor patio and take in an iconic view of the Raleigh Convention Center's CREE Shimmer Wall.

Live music

A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts

The theater offers up 600 seats, with the farthest balcony seat (yes, balcony seating for an "overhead" view of the stage) 70 feet from the stage. You won't want to miss Monk Parker, Buke & Gase and Mount Eerie. Located on the east side of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, the walk to the venue makes for great #visitRaleigh photo/Instagram opps. 

Lincoln Theatre

This former movie theater is home to one of the best sound and lighting systems in the area. Music fans can fill the dance floor and practically reach the artists from stage-side, or watch from a variety of levels for multiple views. Peak your head around the corner of the building before or after a show to catch a glimpse of Honest Abe driving a Lincoln in a wall-covering piece of art.

Live music

The Basement (located in Exhibit Hall A of the Raleigh Convention Center)

The Raleigh Convention Center is 150,000 square feet of Silver LEED-certified and sun-drenched space, opened in 2008 and still shiny like it's brand new. New to the Hopscotch venue list, The Basement is located on the first level of the center and will feature must-see artists including The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Oh Sees, KAYTRANADA, Lee Fields & The Expressions and others. 


After relocating to Martin St. in 2010 following a three-year absence from the music scene, this local-favorite venue has once again become a prime location to catch independent bands on the rise. Co-owned by Birds of Avalon band member Cheetie Kumar and located above Neptunes Parlour (which she also co-owns!), you can grab a delicious cocktail and dig into the venue's arcade game collection. Fuel up with food at Garland, also downstairs from KINGS, serving up spice-driven seasonal cuisine with a focus on Indian and Asian flavors. Did we mention Cheetie co-owns that as well, and is the chef? Like Food & Wine magazine recently stated, she truly is a rock star chef.

Kings restaurant

Neptunes Parlour

A subterranean bar featuring a selection of fine draft beers from small brewers in N.C. (and a couple from elsewhere) and well-made cocktails with a focus on fresh ingredients and flavors. The drink specials change with the weather, using local ingredients when they're at their best in delicious, fun and affordable libations. Come for the music, stay for the drinks and the super-eclectic crowd that gathers at the bar and on the dance floor. And as mentioned above, also catch that arcade game collection!  

Red Hat Amphitheater

Since opening in 2010, Red Hat Amphitheater has become a beacon for live entertainment in the Southeast. Just steps from the fun and energy of downtown Raleigh's bars, clubs, galleries and restaurants, this 6,000-seat venue offers up a concert setting with the CREE Shimmer Wall as a backdrop. You can't miss Run The Jewels, Rapsody, Busdriver, Solange and Angel Olsen.

Live music

Slim's Downtown

Slim’s may be your quintessential hole-in-the wall venue. Blink as you’re walking past its downtown Raleigh storefront and you might miss it. Inside you’ll find one of the area’s more shoulder-to-shoulder venues as patrons crowd the narrow stage and line the stairway to get a better view. Check out the small lounge with a pool table upstairs to get a game in (you might have to get in line). Must be 21+ to enter. 

Haven't purchased tickets yet? Get them here


Photo credits: CAM Raleigh photos, Keenan Hairston; City Plaza, Lincoln Theatre and Red Hat Amphitheater, Garrett Poulos