Hello, summer! We can hardly contain our excitement—there are so many fun ways to enjoy the longer days and extra sunshine we get during these warm-weather months. Throw in some gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, Independence Day celebrations plus a few extra vacation days, and you'll find there's no better time than now to get outside, take in a ballgame and discover new ways to experience the City of Oaks. Here's all the fun stuff we're doing in July!

Independence Day celebrations, from Apex to Raleigh to Zebulon

Ready to celebrate Independence Day in a big way this year? Fireworks displays, carnival rides, live music and other patriotic celebrations are lined up all across the Raleigh area to celebrate America's 242nd birthday—don't miss out!

In Zebulon, the Carolina Mudcats kick off July with a full week of home games at Five County Stadium. They'll celebrate Independence Day with the "best fireworks show in Eastern, N.C.," following games on July 3 and 4.

At Lake Benson Park, the Town of Garner's annual July 3 Independence Day Celebration (7/3) supplies an evening of patriotic entertainment with live music, fireworks, games, food and drinks plus a special performance from the North Carolina Symphony.


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Returning to its roots at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, the Raleigh 4th of July Fireworks Display (7/4) is the area's biggest light-up-the-skies showcase. Pack blankets, chairs, picnics and coolers and prepare for unobstructed views of the admission-free show.

At beautiful Koka Booth Amphitheatre, the Town of Cary's July 4th Celebration (7/4) is set to be the biggest and best Independence Day party the town has ever thrown. Beginning at 3pm, 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! Music from the North Carolina Symphony and fireworks will cap the evening. 


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In Holly Springs, join friends and family for a traditional celebration of America's birthday at Bass Lake Park on July 5 (7/5). Face painting, inflatables and rides, food vendors, live music and more kick off at 5pm before a fireworks display at 9:15pm.

For a full list of fireworks and Independence Day events in Raleigh, N.C., check out our list of 15+ ways to celebrate across the area.


Jams on jams on jams in July

Tried-and-true recipe for a great time: a dash of warm weather, a heap of live music and plenty of good friends. With the most live music in North Carolina, Raleigh knows how to rock the summer! Some dates we've marked our calendars for in July:

  • Foreigner (7/3)
  • Imagine Dragons (7/5)
  • Holy Ghost Tent Revival (7/11)
  • Arcade Fire (7/12)
  • Lake Street Dive (7/12)
  • Dave Matthews Band (7/20)
  • Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling (7/21)
  • Ms. Lauryn Hill (7/25)
  • Keith Urban (7/27)

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Movies under the stars

Nothing screams "summer!" quite like settling in under the stars for a movie night. Luckily, there are tons of opportunities to do just that across the Raleigh area. Blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets ready? Here's a sampling of what's playing in parks, gardens and amphitheaters in July (see the full summer list here):

  • A League of Their Own (7/5)
  • Frozen (7/5)
  • The Post (7/7)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi (7/13)
  • Cars 3 (7/20)
  • Mean Girls (7/26)
  • The Big Sick (7/27)


North Carolina Courage take the field in Cary

July 4 vs. Chicago Red Stars; July 11 vs. Washington Spirit
The North Carolina Courage, sitting atop the standings in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) after three months of dominant play, will host the Chicago Red Stars on Independence Day at Sahlen's Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. A patriotic night all around—the evening will serve as Military Appreciation Night—fans will be invited onto the field to enjoy post-game fireworks. The following week, they'll host the Washington Spirit at home again before hitting the road until Aug.


World Beer Festival Raleigh

July 7
World Beer Festival Raleigh is all about BIG! Big venue, big crowds and big tastes. Held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, this festival gives you a chance to sample more than 250 craft and specialty beers from around the world. Indulge in the VIP admission, which includes tastings plus a private VIP lounge with a bonus selection of rare and unique beers.

Presented by North Carolina Theatre: Disney's NEWSIES

July 24-29
Stop the presses! Disney’s NEWSIES takes the stage at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts this summer. Presented by the North Carolina Theatre and adapted from the Disney film, New York City's newsboys seize the day when they strike against unfair working conditions. NEWSIES addresses age-old themes of social injustice, exploitative labor practices and David-versus-Goliath struggles as the young learn to harness their power against a corrupt establishment. High-energy with non-stop thrills, the stage version introduces eight brand-new songs while keeping many of the beloved songs you know and love from the film.


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Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

July 27-28
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.


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Raleigh Supercon

July 27-29
A three-day festival for fans of pop culture, superheroes, science fiction, anime and more, 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, Raleigh Supercon 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!


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You Are Here: Light, Color and Sound Experiences

Open through July 22
One of the most exciting and highly-anticipated arts events of the year will come to a close this month. You Are Here: Light Color and Sound Experiences has brought an incredible 'wow' factor to the North Carolina Museum of Art this spring and summer. The exhibit features 20 immersive art installations created by 15 artists from around the world, taking over an entire floor of the museum's East Building and spilling into the 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Park, creating a campus-wide presentation of contemporary experiential art. A major highlight of the exhibit, a mesmerizing "infinity room" of colors and patterns, was created by one of the world's most famous—and most-Instagrammed—artists. Get out there to see this exhibit before it closes!


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The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes

Open through March 3, 2019
Explore the work of athlete-turned-artist Ernie Barnes, a Durham, N.C., native best known for his widely-imitated, unique style of elongation, energy and movement that made him one of the premier figurative artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries in a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of History. Barnes, affectionately nicknamed "Big Rembrandt" by his football teammates, is known in pop culture for his art on the television series Good Times. Most notable is Barnes' iconic dance scene, The Sugar Shack (seen below), that appeared on a Marvin Gaye album cover and in the closing credits of Good Times. Titled "The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes," the free-admission exhibit will showcase many unpublished original paintings as well as artifacts from his life.


More July picks

Theatre Raleigh presents the heartwarming story of Big Fish (7/11-12) at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Well Fed, Well Said (7/14) is part of a dinner theater series about food and health at one of the Raleigh area's most iconic restaurants—Irregardless Cafe and Catering.

SunFest at Dorothea Dix Park (7/14), a celebration of summer for the whole family, will include live music, performing arts, arts and crafts, food trucks and more (a surprise visit from a batch of sunflowers, maybe?).

Celebrate National Ice Cream Day with an Ice Cream Social (7/15) at Fuquay-Varina's Mineral Spring Park (plus read up on some of our favorite spots for frozen goodness here!).

Head to Cary's The Umstead Hotel and Spa for Umstead Uncorked: A Summer in Riesling (7/18) for an all-inclusive wine tasting at a five-star hotel and restaurant.

Raleigh Little Theatre performs Into The Woods (7/20-8/5), bringing together various storybook characters for one epic tale about family, wishes, consequences and choices we make.

Join the Crape Myrtle Festival organization for the 38th Annual Gala (7/28) in support of the LGBT community and fundraising against HIV/AIDS.

For a full calendar of events list for July, click here!