The Biggest Events and Festivals of Fall in Raleigh, N.C.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021, 12pm by visitRaleigh
It's so long to summer, hello to fall! We'll miss these warm-weather months—baseball games, ice cream days, kayaking trips and such. But we're ready to embrace a new season and the new experiences that come with it in the Raleigh area—cultural festivals, major music events, food and beer gatherings, the return of the performing arts and (last but not least!) the N.C. State Fair! Save these dates for the biggest and best events this fall in the City of Oaks!
Featuring eight nights of performances from some of America's finest dance companies, American Dance Festival is set to host their first-ever outdoor festival this year at the North Carolina Museum of Art's Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Theater. Each night features a ticketed, 60-minute performance with no intermission.
A huge season of live music is ahead. Here's sampling of the best indoor and outdoor concerts:
- Futurebirds, Sept. 16
- Dierks Bentley, Sept. 17
- Outlaw Music Festival, Sept. 18
- Phoebe Bridgers, Sept. 21
- Coheed and Cambria, Sept. 22
- Big Thief, Sept. 22
- TLC with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Sept. 24
- Band of Horses, Sept. 25
- Guns N' Roses, Sept. 29
- The Beach Boys, Sept. 29
- Brooks & Dunn Reboot 2021 Tour, Oct. 1
- NF - Clouds Tour, Oct. 3
- Ziggy Marley, Oct. 3
- Alice Cooper with Ace Frehley, Oct. 6
- 3 Doors Down, Oct. 7
- Alabama 50th Anniversary Tour, Oct. 7
- Thomas Rhett, Oct. 9
- Harry Styles: Love on Tour, Oct. 12
- Future Islands, Oct. 13
- Jonas Brothers: The Remember This Tour, Oct. 13
- NEEDTOBREATHE with Switchfoot and The New Respects, Oct. 15
- Zac Brown Band: The Comeback Tour, Oct. 15
- All Time Low, Oct. 16
- Brett Eldredge: Good Day Tour, Oct. 16
- Lake Street Drive, Oct. 17
- Modest Mouse, Oct. 21
- For King & Country with Company, Oct. 22
- Gilberto Santa Rosa, Oct. 22
- Band Together and United Way Present: Khruangbin, Oct. 23
- An Evening with Michael Bublé, Oct. 26
- Porter Robinson, Oct. 28
- NCMA and Cat's Cradle Present: Pink Martini featuring China Forbes, Oct. 31
- Ben Folds, Nov. 6
Voted America's best beer festival two years in a row now by USA TODAY readers, N.C.'s largest craft beer event features 100 breweries, 50 food trucks and draws 30,000 people to downtown Raleigh each year. Brewgaloo, 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.
Capital City Bikefest 2021
Capital City Bikefest is a free, family-friendly, three-day event at the Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson dealership. Now in its 16th year, the event celebrates Raleigh’s rich motorcycle culture and features live music, parades, charity rides, stunt shows, vendors and more.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents The Velocity of Autumn
Sept. 17-Oct. 3
In this comedy written by Eric Coble, Alexandra—an 80-year-old artist in a showdown with her family over where she’ll spend her remaining years—barricades herself in her Brooklyn home and is ready for war. What plays out is wickedly funny and a wonderfully touching discovery of the fragility and ferocity of life.
Note that this performance is indoors, and tickets will be sold at 50% capacity.
Juniper Level Botanic Garden's Open Nursery and Garden Days
Sept. 17-19 and Sept. 24-26
One of America's most spectacular gardens—a secret among some locals but a sanctuary to plant lovers around the world—is open to the public just eight weekends per year in Raleigh, N.C. 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. This "Eden of rare plants" draws gardeners, researchers and fans of beautiful plants from across the globe each year for select, free-admission open house dates.
Fairgrounds Southern Ideal Home Show
A vibrant marketplace where you can shop for home-related products and services, experience stunning displays to help inspire your next home project, connect with industry experts and enjoy informative presentations from renowned local and international home professionals. Whether you’re joining with a specific project in mind or just looking for some inspiration, the local home professionals have you covered with 250-plus booths to explore!
Theatre Raleigh presents Peace of Clay
Sept. 22-Oct. 3
A new work by two of the region’s most exciting playwrights—Mike Wiley and Howard L. Craft—Peace of Clay explores the pressures, hopes and aspirations of a young man coming of age in a Southern city in the 1980s. The play is a meditation on an African American, lower-working-class family in pursuit of an American dream that always seems to exist just beyond their grasp.
Raleigh Balloon Glow
Bringing big fun to downtown Raleigh's beautiful Dorothea Dix Park, Raleigh Balloon Glow is a three-evening event featuring hot air balloons glowing at dusk, tethered balloon rides, food vendors, arts and craft vendors plus activities for the kids. This is a ticketed-entry event with per-car admission (tethered balloon ride tickets sold separately).
Farmers Fall Festival in downtown Cary
Celebrate fall in the heart of downtown Cary! This event celebrates the harvest season when our farmers are bringing in their fall bounty during the first crisp days of fall. There will be live music on the main stage, a kids performance area, fun games and interactive exhibits, local food and craft beer, art and crafts and a mid-day pie-eating contest.
Festa Italiana Raleigh
Festa Italiana celebrates Italian culture and heritage in the Raleigh area, bringing together an expected 12,000 attendees for the third annual event in downtown Raleigh. A full day of Italian food, beer, wine, live music, kids activities and more are on the docket!
For their second-ever live tour, fans can experience YouTube sensations Dude Perfect up close and personal when they bring the action right into the audience with crazy stunts, competitive battles, some of their most funny and embarrassing stories and several of their most popular segments from their award winning “Overtime” series like “Cool not Cool” and “Wheel Unfortunate” with Ned Forrester.
Black Farmers Market
With a mission to inspire self-sufficient communities and support Black farmers and entrepreneurs, the Black Farmers Market launched in summer of 2020, holding monthly events in the City of Oaks at the YMCA of Southeast Raleigh. You'll find farmers, gardeners, florists, bakers, seafood sellers and more offering their farm-fresh produce or hand-crafted goods. According to the creators of the event, there are more than 3 million farmers in America today, but less than 2% of those are Black. A visit to the market is an easy way to support these entrepreneurs—and of course people of all backgrounds are welcome to attend!
Open every fourth Sun., 1:30-4pm.
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 week and during the IBMA Bluegrass Ramble. Then the week is capped off with IBMA Bluegrass Live! powered by PNC, a two-day, free street 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 will feature Béla Fleck’s My Bluegrass Heart, The Del McCoury Band, Steep Canyon Rangers, Yonder Mountain String Band and more of the genre's biggest stars.
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).
A celebration of all things Fuquay-Varina (a fast-growing town just outside of Raleigh with beer, barbecue, shopping and more), Celebrate Fuquay-Varina provides live entertainment, craft beer, food, a chili cook-off, art vendors, kids games and more for a day full of family fun.
93rd Annual Wendell Harvest Festival
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!).
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 Diwali 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!
Oak and Smoke 2021
Oak City Brewing Company is teaming up with Redneck BBQ Lab for a full day of a beer-drinking, BBQ-slinging and banjo-pickin' good time.
Artsplosure - The Raleigh Arts Festival
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.
Oct. 15-17 (Championship weekend)
See some of golf's best at the SAS Championship, a PGA Tour Champions event. Held annually at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary, the event is widely recognized as one of the most important events of the year.
Based on the hilarious hit film, 9 to 5—presented by North Carolina Theatre at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts—is an outrageous, 1980s-era revenge story of friendship and female empowerment. Three women, working at the mercy of their manipulative misogynist boss, live out their wildest workplace fantasy—giving the boss the boot. With a high-energy, huge-hearted score by the iconic Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 is about finally getting credit (and getting even!).
2021 N.C. State Fair
Worth. The. Wait! Back after cancelation in 2020, the state's largest annual event draws one million visitors through the gates each Oct., and marks 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 2021 version of the N.C. State Fair marks the 153rd year of the event!
Marking a triumphant return to live performances, Carolina Ballet will open the 2021-2022 season with this new Halloween tradition—The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Fans of the supernatural will enjoy this program of frights and delights that include director Robert Weiss’ Lady in the White Veil and The Raven. Spine-tingling and eerie, do not be surprised if you stumble upon an ominous ghost, a creepy blackbird or the Headless Horseman himself!
A festival for autumn lovers at Dorothea Dix Park, Falling for Local will feature live music, local makers and vendors, craft beer, food trucks, games for kids, hay rides, free pumpkins and more for what's expected to be a big crowd on hand.
N.C. Wine Festival
For more than 20 years the N.C. Wine Festival has delivered local wineries, artisans, music, food and fun. This year's ticketed event—held at Koka Booth Amphitheatre—will provide more than 30 Tar Heel State wineries to sample from, plus have live music on hand from Chairmen of the Board, The Shakedown and the Jason Adamo Band.
Oct. 23, 2021-Jan. 17, 2022
First aired in 2010, Downton Abbey™ was once among the most widely watched television dramas in the world, and one of the many things we loved about it was savoring the gorgeous costumes worn by the British aristocracy of the early 20th century. Coming this fall, you can experience them once again in all their exquisite glory at the North Carolina Museum of History. Dressing the Abbey will feature 35 costumes worn by the stars of Downton Abbey™ and show the progression of style from 1912 to 1923. The exhibition showcases the turbulence and changes in the late Edwardian era through the 1920s by means of the fashions of the period while evoking fans’ favorite moments from the highly successful six-season run.
Oct. 23, 2021-Jan. 23, 2022
One of the most celebrated artists in turn-of-the-20th-century Paris, Alphonse Mucha created sumptuous posters and advertising—promoting such everyday products as cigarette papers and tea biscuits—that transformed the streets of Paris into open-air art exhibitions. This special exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art celebrates the Mucha Trust collection’s first major U.S. tour in 20 years, featuring a vast array of posters, illustrations, ornamental objects, and rarely seen sculpture, photography and self-portraits.
North Carolina Symphony presents Star Wars & More
Kick off Halloween weekend with music from epic John Williams scores including Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, E.T., and of course, music from Star Wars.
Nov. 19, 2021-Jan. 9, 2022
The beloved North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival, now a holiday tradition for many Raleigh area residents and visitors alike, will return to Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Nov. This is the fifth year the event will light up the amphitheater for the holiday season (the festival was canceled last year due to COVID-19). Look forward to more than 20 new displays, each including thousands of LED lights. In addition to the displays, there will be nightly performances on the main stage as in years past.
26th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration
Musicians, dancers, artists, storytellers and authors from N.C.'s eight state-recognized tribes will gather at the North Carolina Museum of History 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.
A Raleigh tradition for more than 75 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.