Raleigh, N.C., keeps adding happy occasions to the calendar. Festivals and major 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 this spring!

 

May

Carolina Ballet presents CinderellaMay 16-19
Closing out their 26th anniversary season in spectacular fashion, Carolina Ballet with perform a longtime favorite—with new sets and costumes and a live orchestra for the very first time—in this production of Cinderella.

Got to Be NC FestivalMay 17-19
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 FestivalMay 18-19
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.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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NCAA Women's Lacrosse ChampionshipMay 24 and 26
The Town of Cary and WakeMed Soccer Park will host the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship for the second year in a row.

AnimazementMay 24-26
Get in on the action at Animazement, a three-day Japanese animation and culture celebration over Memorial Day weekend that draws 15,000 attendees annually 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 RushMay 28
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.

Orville PeckMay 30
Masked South African country music star Orville Peck—joined by Durand Jones and Debbii Dawson—brings his Stampede Tour to to Raleigh's Red Hat Amphitheater.

More music coming to Red Hat Amphitheater: Brothers Osborne (June 8); Chappell Roan (June 12); Bailey Zimmerman (June 28); O.A.R. (July 6); Tate McRae (Aug. 16); Kaleo (Sept. 17); Laney Wilson (Oct. 18) and many more.

UNC Health Championship, May 30-June 2
Part of the Korn Ferry Tour—the playing field where future golf stars compete to earn their PGA Tour cards—the second annual UNC Health Championship presented by Stitch will tee off at the Raleigh Country Club.

Exhibit: To Take Shape and Meaning at the North Carolina Museum of Artthrough July 28
Featuring works from 75 Indigenous artists from more than 50 tribes across the U.S., To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art brings together a wide range of Indigenous world views, ideas, experiences and traditions. More than 90 works of art are on display, including jewelry, cars, ceramics, weaving, fashion ensembles and more.

Note: The museum also has a full summer slate of outdoor music and movies that you can read about here

 

June

Raleigh's International Food FestivalJune 1
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.

The Soccer Tournament, June 5-10
A sold-out phenomenon in 2023, The Soccer Tournament—a 7 on 7, winner-take-all tournament at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary that gives $1 million to the winning squad—is back, bigger and better this summer. The 118-match event will include a women's tournament this year, too, meaning a total of $2 million prizes will be up for grabs, and some of the sports' biggest stars from teams around the world are expected to compete (limited tickets remain!).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Raleigh Little Theatre presents Kinky BootsJune 7-23
Featuring a joyous score by pop icon Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein, this six-time Tony Award-winning musical extravaganza reminds audiences that if you change your mind, you can change your whole world. 

Bubbles & Brisket, June 8
This fourth annual event, presented by the NC F&B Podcast, is a collaboration of chefs, pitmasters, winemakers and brewers pairing sparkling bubbles with a variety of cooking techniques and side dishes that feature everyone's favorite—brisket—from 10 Tar Heel State 'cue masters.

Apex Pride Festival, June 8
A colorful day in beautiful downtown Apex featuring all-day live music—from 22 Strings, Heather Rogers, The Phoebes and more—plus arts, international food and drink vendors, a Kid Zone with games and activities, a Drag Extravaganza and more, all in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.

Justin TimberlakeJune 12
Mega pop star Justin Timberlake—having just released a new album in March of this year—takes to the stage at the Raleigh area's largest indoor venue, PNC Arena, as part of his Forget Tomorrow World Tour. 

More music coming to PNC Arena: NF (May 22); Melanie Martinez (May 31); Megan Thee Stallion (June 4); Kane Brown (June 7); Tim McGraw (June 22); Pepe Aguilar (July 3); blind-182 (July 30) and more.

Capital City Juneteenth CelebrationJune 15
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.

Related: Town of Knightdale African American Festival (feat. The Jay Renee Band), June 15.

Raleigh Retro Gamers Summer Expo, June 15
This free-admission event brings thousands of retro and modern video games, consoles and other geek merchandise (comics, Pokemon, vintage toys and more) to downtown Raleigh's Moore Square for a day of shopping, music, food trucks, cosplay and other family-friendly activities.

Exhibit: Amazing Pollinators, June 15-Sept. 29
This upcoming exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences dives into what makes pollinators—bats, bees, beetles, butterflies and more—so vital to life on Earth (and challenges both adults and young children to take on a series of playable games and mazes in the ultimate survival quest). 

Note: The museum also recently opened an incredible new permanent exhibit. Read about the Dueling Dinosaurs here!

12th Annual Out! Raleigh PrideJune 22
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 bring eight hours of fun to downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville Street district.

More Raleigh Pride events: Run For for Love 5k at Dix Park and Trophy Day Party (June 8); Queer Fashion Showcase at Junction West (June 13); GAG! Queen Party at The Ritz (June 22); Pride Patio Party at Legends (June 23); LGBTQIA+ Pro Sports Panel at Maywood Hall (June 27).

 

July

City of Raleigh July 4th Celebration at Dix ParkJuly 4
Pack a picnic and head to Dorothea Dix Park to enjoy music and field games before settling in for Raleigh's biggest annual fireworks display.

Mudcats for America Independence Day FireworksJuly 4-6
A night of baseball, peanuts and post-game fireworks? Count us in! The Carolina Mudcats—taking to the diamond at Five County Stadium in Zebulon—will take on the Down East Wood Ducks in this three-game homestand that is sure to be light up the scoreboard (and the sky!) with three nights of fireworks. 

Open Garden Days at Juniper Level Botanic GardenJuly 12-14 and 19-21
One of America's most spectacular gardens is open to the public just eight weekends per year! Located 12 miles south of downtown Raleigh, Juniper Level Botanic Garden is a 28-acre campus showcasing more than 27,000 different kinds of native perennials, exotic plants, rare delights and unusual specimens of trees and shrubs not found many (or any) other places on earth. Full details here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Flaming Lips, July 17
Legendary rock band The Flaming Lips is scheduled to perform "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots"—the band's popular studio album that was released in 2002—at beautiful Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, N.C.

More music coming to Booth Amphitheater: Trampled By Turtles (May 30); Steep Canyon Rangers (June 8); Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue with Big Boi (June 11); Little Feat (June 13); The Legendary Wailers (June 14); Cake (Aug. 6); John Legend (Aug. 11) and more.

GalaxyCon RaleighJuly 25-28
A four-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 to see and be seen, meet celebrities, go head-to-head in video games and have a blast participating in all things geek!

 

August

Sir Walter MilerAug. 2
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. 

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival, Aug. 2-3
Beer sipping, bourbon tasting, music listening and barbecue eating at Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre—what's not to love?

Cage The Elephant, Aug. 3
Indie rockers Cage The Elephant, set to release a new album in May 2024, will play at the Raleigh area's largest outdoor music venue—Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek—in front of nearly 20,000 fans. 

More music coming to Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek: Niall Horan (June 7); David Matthews Band (June 14); Red Hot Chili Peppers (June 26); Third Eye Blind (July 21); Sam Hunt (July 27); Styx & Foreigner (Aug. 21); Hootie & the Blowfish (Sept. 13) and so much more. 

 

Corteo by Cirque du Soleil, Aug. 8-11
In this enchanting production from Cirque du Soleil—having wowed more than 10 million guests across 20 countries since debuting in 2005—actors and acrobats at PNC Arena will plunge the audience into a theatrical world of fun, comedy and spontaneity situated in a mysterious space between heaven and earth.

CaribMask CarnivalAug. 17
A festival to promote diversity, equality and create a deeper appreciation for Afro-Caribbean culture in the Raleigh area, CaribMask is expected to return for an 11th annual event in downtown Raleigh in 2024. 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.

PackapaloozaAug. 24
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 FestivalAug. 24-25
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.

15th Annual African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake CountyAug. 31-Sept. 1
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.

 

Header photo by Keenan Hairston

Note: Authored by David Menconi, this piece has been produced in partnership with Raleigh Arts . Menconi's next book,... View More

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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

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