Beer festivals, baseball games, barbecue gems, blooming flowers and more—hello, March! We're jumping feet first into warmer weather and the return of spring by spending as much time outdoors with friends and family as possible. Here's exactly how we plan to do it!

Kick-starting festival season

Cheers to five years of craft beer! That's exactly what Raleigh Brewing Company, the first woman-owned brewery in the state, will be doing with their upcoming 5th Anniversary Party (3/3). The City of Oaks-themed brewery will host a massive birthday celebration—thousands of attendees are expected over the course of the day—with special beer releases, outdoor beer tents, nonstop live music, swag giveaways, plenty of food trucks and more. Our advice: show up early! The party kicks off at noon and runs through midnight.

In downtown Wake Forest, the White Street BBQ Experience (3/10) is highlighted by a fierce 'cue cookin' competition between 20 teams. Festivalgoers will get to sample a wide variety of styles and flavors, plus experience hands-on demonstrations, recipe formulations, technique discussions and more. It's all hosted by White Street Brewing Company—they're shutting down the streets, lining up the entertainment and providing the beverages just steps away inside their taproom.

Mid-March can only mean one thing in downtown Raleigh—St. Patrick's Day celebrations! 2018 will mark the 36th annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and Wearin' 'O the Green Festival (3/17). The 90-minute parade marches past the North Carolina Museum of History and North Carolina State Capitol, down Raleigh's Fayetteville and Wilmington Streets and finishes in front of the Raleigh Convention Center. From there, the family-friendly Wearin' 'O the Green Festival gets underway with tons of live music, dancing, local craft vendors and lots of children's activities.

Everybody's favorite Celtic holiday celebration continues not far away—the Saint Paddy's Day Festival (3/17), kicking off at noon, will be in full swing in downtown Raleigh's Glenwood South district. The annual block party, thrown by passionate mind and Irishman Niall Hanley's Hibernian Restaurant & Pub, will shut down the streets and draw thousands of visitors to enjoy live music, Irish dance performances and plenty of Guinness and Irish whiskey.

The North Carolina Museum of Art gears up for its own seasonally-appropriate festival—Art in Bloom (3/22-25), one of the can't-miss events of the year at the museum, is a four-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 (have your cameras ready!). The ticketed event invites participants to attend presentations and workshops, dine at Iris and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts.

NCMA Art in Bloom

In its third year, downtown Cary's Mid-Town Square Spring Festival (3/24) is already a local favorite. Held at Bond Brothers Beer Company, which was voted 2017's "Best New Brewery" in the country in USA TODAY's 10Best, the free-admission festival features food trucks, local artists, live music (featuring touring artists Oak & Ash) 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!

The 5th annual kick-off party for Raleigh, N.C.'s Beer Month celebrations, Casks on Fools (3/31) at Crank Arm Brewing features truly-unique casks from more than 20 N.C.-based breweries—we're talking everything from mango habanero IPAs to chocolate cream stouts, Irish stouts with cherries and way more. The by-the-glass cask festival celebrates the innovation of craft beer across the area—this is for the beer lovers and the adventurous drinkers!

Nonstop on-ice and on-field action

Who's up for a historic soccer match? The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team (USMNT) will take the pitch in an international friendly against Paraguay (3/27) at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. The Men's National Team last played a match in Cary in 2006 against Jamaica (a 1-1 draw). The game is expected to draw a sellout crowd of more than 10,000 fans—tickets have gone on sale and may not be available closer to game day!

U.S. Men's National Soccer Team

North Carolina FC, who is hosting the USMNT along with the Town of Cary, gets their own season underway this month as well. Their inaugural match as part of the men's professional United Soccer League (USL) will have them take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies (3/17) at WakeMed Soccer Park. The North Carolina Courage, members of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), kick things off at home in March with a re-match against the Portland Thorns (3/24)—who they fell to in last year's championship game—and a match against Sky Blue FC (3/31).

On the ice at PNC Arena, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes continue their playoff push as the regular season winds down. They'll play eight super important home games this month (plus one final game at home in April before season's end), including games against the Boston Bruins (3/13), Philadelphia Flyers (3/17), New York Rangers (3/31) and others. See the full home schedule at PNC Arena here—let's go 'Canes!

Lastly, it's time to bust out the peanuts and Cracker Jack because pitchers and catchers have returned to the baseball diamond. While the Carolina Mudcats won't swing into action until April in Zebulon, elsewhere things are well underway. The Army Baseball Classic (3/2-4), a can't-miss, early season college baseball event, brings four teams to the area to battle it out over three days at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary. In Raleigh, the North Carolina State University Wolfpack have a full home schedule coming up—they'll take on Campbell (3/3), Boston College (3/9-11), Georgia Tech (3/23-25) and more on campus at beautiful Doak Field

North Carolina State University Baseball


Award-winning eats

Okay, foodies—it's time to dig into March! The James Beard Foundation just announced its list of chef and restaurant semifinalists for their 28th annual James Beard Foundation Awards (often referred to as the "Oscars of the food world"), and Raleigh is well represented! Selected from more than 20,000 nominations, three rock stars from N.C.'s capital city area made the cut.

Ashley Christensen (Poole's Diner, Death & Taxes and more), a previous winner of Best Chef: Southeast is up for Outstanding Chef (the highest individual honor for a chef); Cheetie Kumar, (co-owner of Garland, Neptunes Parlour and KINGS—not to mention key member of local band Birds of Avalon) earned a second consecutive JBA nomination for Best Chef: Southeast for her spice-driven cuisine at the Indian and Asian-inspired Garland; and Brewery Bhavana—the brewery, bookstore, flower shop and dim sum restaurant—has been nominated for Best New Restaurant (opened in April of 2017, Brewery Bhavana has spent the last 10+ months racking up accolades, including being named one of the 10 best new restaurants in America by Bon Appétit). 

Speaking of great food, the Raleigh area has a bevy of legendary restaurants that have stood the test of time—icons and institutions that have helped feed multiple generations of families, spots that every Raleighite and visitor to the area should seek out to get a taste of culinary history. 

Opened in 1916, Shorty's Famous Hot Dogs, a go-to hangout spot for locals in downtown Wake Forest for more than 100 years, is still owned and operated by the same family that started it all. They still draw a line that stretches out the door, too, filled with customers who have been eating Shorty's bright-red hot dogs with homemade chili their entire lives. 

In downtown Raleigh, Clyde Cooper's BBQ just celebrated 80 incredible years—that makes it one of the longest-running barbecue joints across the entire state. Whether you get the chopped 'cue or a plate of fried chicken, be sure to save room for the banana pudding (and wash it all down with a little sweet tea). 

Clyde Cooper's BBQ

A family-owned institution for more than 50 years, the double doors of the now-fabled Angus Barn swung wide in June of 1960. Today, more than 20,000 nights, 13 million customers served and a half-dozen expansions later, the 650-seat restaurant serves 22,000 steaks per month (and countless slices of their famous chocolate chess pie) to loyal customers. 

Want to know more about the restaurants that are rooted in the Raleigh, N.C.'s past and present? We pulled together 15 of the oldest and most iconic dining spots from across the area—dive into the culinary history here!

More March picks

Concert season is ready to kick into high gear! A full month of shows, with live music every single day, is highlighted by Molly Tuttle (3/2), A$AP Ferg (3/4), Jason Mraz (3/8), Matt Kearney (3/19), Winter Jam 2018 (3/24), Big K.R.I.T. and Ty Dolla $ign (3/25), Betty Who (3/27), Delta Rae (3/31) and a ton more shows. As always, you can see a full schedule of live music for the Raleigh area on

Now open at the beautiful, new Gregg Museum of Art & Design (always free admission), Bob Trotman: Business As Usual (through 7/1) is a satirical and critical take on the corporate business world through chiseled and sculpted portraits of modern day office workers (many of which move, emit sounds or perform as you get near!).

Bob Trotman: Business As Usual

Experience a contemporary spin on Shakespeare's whimsical A Midsummer Night's Dream, presented by Theatre Raleigh (3/2-18).  

Get outside at the Cary Annual Kite Festival (3/3), with music, food and all the kite-flying fun you need for an awesome afternoon at Fred G. Bond Metro Park.

Not quite ready for winter to go away? Returning for a seventh year, the ever-popular Snow Day (3/3) at Cary's Waverly Place returns with two sledding hills piled with man-made snow. Plan ahead to get your tickets!

Carolina Ballet's 20th anniversary season continues as they set to open the world premiere of Boléro (3/8-25)—an emotional crescendo set to composer Maurice Ravel's legendary Boléro theme.

The biggest performers on four wheels are set to invade PNC Arena—Monster Jam (3/10-11) brings 12-foot-tall, 10,000-pound machines to soar and smash over obstacles as they race around the custom-designed track.

An awesome celebration of comics and pop-culture returns to the Raleigh Convention Center for two days with N.C. Comicon: Oak City (3/17-18).

If you're looking for a high-energy, fast-paced day, you'll find it in downtown Wendell at ProTown BMX 2018 (3/24), where biker enthusiasts can catch pros showcasing their talents with high-altitude tricks, plus meet them to get riding and safety tips.

Ready to do some creative problem-solving? At Mazes and Brain Games (through 9/3)—a new, family-friendly special exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences—you'll put your brain to the test as you maneuver your way through a mind-boggling collection of 3D puzzles and full body games.