Hello, May! A busy spring continues in the Raleigh area this month—longer days and lots of sunshine mean it's time to get outdoors and explore. Temperatures have hit a sweet spot, patios are open, picnics are in full swing, the calendar is packed with major events and there's never been a better time to visit the City of Oaks!

Carolina Hurricanes Stanley Cup Playoff games

May 1 and May 3
Fresh off a second-half surge that earned them a spot in the playoffs, the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes took down the defending champs in round one with a historic double-overtime game seven victory. In round two, they'll face off against the New York Islanders, with games three and four of the series scheduled at PNC Arena in Raleigh (if needed, game six would be played in Raleigh as well). Let's go Canes!

5th Annual Midtown Music Fest

May 4
North Hills’ Midtown Music Fest is back and better than ever! Celebrating its fifth year, this all-day arts and music festival welcomes spring and the return of outdoor music to North Hills. A music lineup that features Five Islands, DJ Beehive Blondes and others, plus live performances by Imagine Circus, Visual Art Exchange and more, should make for an awesome day at Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park.


En Plein Air: Paint the Town, Cary

May 4
Offer your inspiration to artists as they paint a part of downtown Cary's history, culture and changing landscapes as well as scenic views from the town's parks and greenways at En Plein Air: Paint the Town. Get a sneak preview of the art that will be auctioned at the Town of Cary's upcoming Silent Art Auction & Gala (scheduled for June 7).

Duke Energy Hoopla Hyperspace Party in the Park at NCMA

May 4
"May the fourth be with you" at this outdoor party at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). New art installations in the museum park, plus art making, laser tag, Jedi training, music, food and drink should draw a big crowd (free to attend, but ticket required!).

Meet in the Street Festival

May 4
A day filled with food, fun and entertainment in historic downtown Wake Forest for more than 35 years running, Meet in the Street pulls together all-day live music plus an additional stage of entertainment with dancers, martial arts, magicians and more. Plenty of food trucks and a beer garden headed by Wake Forest's own White Street Brewing Company are sure to keep festival-goers happy.

39th Annual Apex PeakFest

May 4
Salem St. in historic downtown Apex comes alive with more than 20,000 visitors during PeakFest. For more than 30 years, the arts and crafts festival has brought families together for a day of fun, food and fellowship. The town of Apex's largest annual event, PeakFest has all-day live music, all the arts and crafts you can imagine, entertainment for kids and food vendors that bring their best State Fair-style goodies.

Out! Raleigh

May 4
Preparing to hold their ninth annual event in 2019, this inclusive and action-packed event draws nearly 50,000 people to celebrate the LGBT community and raise funds to support the LGBT Center of Raleigh. Live entertainment, local vendors and artists, great food and kids' activities line downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville St.

North Carolina Courage games

May 4 vs. Sky Blue FC; May 19 vs. Utah Royals
Defending champs of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), the Courage are unbeaten thus far in the 2019 season and will take on Sky Blue FC (5/4) and the Utah Royals (5/19) in May in Cary (plus they'll host the International Champions Cup later this year!).


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Fest in the West

May 4
Celebrate Cary's rural past at this day filled with food trucks, local breweries, pie-eating contests, kids' activities, live music and more. Empty plates, full bellies and a satisfied crowd is a sure thing, plus festival-goers will head home with souvenir beer cups!

Theatre Raleigh presents Beehive: The 60's Musical

May 5
The ultimate celebration of 1960s female empowerment, Beehive: The 60's Musical features a vast array of the most celebrated and memorable songs of the era, including "My Boyfriend's Back," "Be My Baby," "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Me and Bobby McGee."

Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo

May 5
Food trucks as far as you can see (literally!). The Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo brings more than 50 food trucks to the city center, spanning a half-mile and 11 city blocks and drawing thousands of hungry visitors to taste the best of the best from local trucks. It's one of the biggest rodeos in the country!

Carolina Mudcats games

May 7-9 vs. Fayetteville; May 10-12 vs. Myrtle Beach; May 20-23 vs. Lynchburg; May 24-27 vs. Down East Wood Ducks
Swinging into a brand-new season, the Milwaukee Brewer's single-A affiliate Carolina Mudcats are back in action at Five County Stadium in Zebulon with four home series this month. Be on the lookout for Thirsty Thursday (half off beverages and $1 hot dogs), Family Friday Fireworks (post-game fireworks each Fri. night) and All-You-Can-Eat Tuesday (hot dogs and hush puppies!) promos all season long.

Thrive NC

May 9-10
A two-day event featuring 50 of the area's top chefs and restaurants, Thrive NC is a two-day food and drink festival in downtown Raleigh's City Market that features 60 of the area's best restaurants serving unlimited food and drink samples (plus live entertainment, chef demonstrations and more).

Longleaf Film Festival

May 10-11
Consider yourself a film buff? The Longleaf Film Festival at the North Carolina Museum of History is free to attend and explores historic and contemporary stories from the state, the country and the world through narrative and documentary movies. You'll also have the opportunity to meet independent filmmakers and actors associated with many of the films at the festival. Oh, and did we mention there’s free popcorn?


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Tracy Morgan

May 10-11
One of the most respected comedians in the world, Tracy Morgan spent seven seasons as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and another seven on NBC's 30 Rock. He'll take stage for two nights at Raleigh Improv, the area's newest venue for stand-up comedy.

Vintage Market Days®: Simply Spring Event

May 10-12
Head to the Jim Graham Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds for an upscale, vintage-inspired market featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home décor, outdoor furnishings, consumable yummies, seasonal plantings and more. 

Front Porch Artwalk

May 11
Stroll through the gorgeous tree-lined streets of the Oakwood/Mordecai neighborhood during the 11th annual Front Porch Artwalk this May. The homeowners and businesses are hosting up-and-coming and established local artists on their porches and in their yards. Shop for ceramics, photography, glass, jewelry, paintings, fiber arts, handmade bath and body products, sculptures, metal works and more. The event is free and families, kids and pets are all welcome!

15th Annual Ritmo Latino Music, Art & Dance Festival, Cary

May 11
Bring the entire family for the Ritmo Latino Festival in Cary! Learn more about Latino music, dance and visual arts. Plus, taste traditional Latino foods from around the world and shop with many of the craft vendors at the festival. You'll enjoy taking in the sizzling sounds, hot rhythms and cuisine of Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean!

Spring Into the Arts Walk

May 11
Located in Wendell's historic downtown district, this open-air arts competition features a classic car show, chalk art demonstrations, live music, a silent auction, tons of activities for kids and more.

Carolina Ballet presents Swan Lake

May 16-19
Closing out Carolina Ballet's 21st season in Raleigh is one of the most popular story ballets of all time. Swan Lake is an enchanting fairy tale that tells the story of a beautiful swan princess cursed to live as a swan until she can find true love. Set to one of Tchaikovsky’s greatest scores, Robert Weiss’ version is truly spectacular. Music for this performance will be played live by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle.


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Marc Maron

May 16-18
Best known for his hit landmark podcast, WTF with Marc Maron, Maron has been writing and performing comedy for 30 years. He'll be performing stand-up live at Goodnights Comedy Club for this three-night special event!

En Plein Air Paint-Off and Auction

May 17-18
En Plein Air Paint-Off is an exciting, free outdoor event in the town of Fuquay-Varina, sponsored by Fuquay-Varina Downtown as a way to support local artists and bring public art to the town's streets. On Fri. and Sat. afternoons of this special event, a contest of skills will challenge each artist to create an original oil or acrylic masterpiece of a Fuquay-Varina landscape. On Sat. evening a public auction will be held where art enthusiasts will have a chance to take home one of these treasures that will become a collection for many generations to come.

Got to Be NC Festival

May 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. In conjunction with Got to Be NC, the Carolina Pig Jig is a one-day, all-you-can-eat barbecue competition and family-friendly festival (we'll see you there!).

Town of Morrisville's SpringFest

May 18
Downtown Morrisville, turns into a carnival for the whole family during SpringFest, a day of entertainment including midway games, rides, live music and favorite local food trucks.

Brew 'n' Choo

May 18
Food trucks and local breweries will be on hand for Brew 'n' Choo, a series of family-friendly events at the North Carolina Railway Museum & New Hope Valley Railway that offers the rare opportunity to take a one-hour train ride through the woods (food and beverages allowed on the train!) and/or a 45-minute walking tour of the railway and museum. 

Artsplosure - The Raleigh Arts Festival

May 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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NC Beer Mile

May 23
Drink, run, repeat at the second annual Beer Mile held a Cary's Bond Brothers Beer Company. Four beers, one mile, live music, lots of food and plenty of friends make this a lighthearted event and good time for all.


May 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 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!

Exhibition: The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes

Through May 27, 2019
Last chance! 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 an 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, that appeared on a Marvin Gaye album cover and in the closing credits of Good Times.

Exhibition: From Plantation to Park: The Story of Dix Hill

Through June 19, 2020
The City of Raleigh Museum (COR Museum) has unveiled a new permanent exhibit about the history of Dorothea Dix Park. The exhibit, a joint venture with the Dix Park Conservancy, explores the long history and future of Raleigh’s newest park. From Plantation to Park explores four perspectives on the land known as Dix Hill.

So much music

Save the date for more of our top picks for music this month:

  • Midtown Beach Music Series: The Castaways (5/2)
  • GRiZ - Ride Waves Tour Season One (5/4)
  • Tash Sultana (5/4)
  • Thor (5/8)
  • Mint Julep (5/8)
  • Earth, Wind & Fire (5/10)
  • Lizzo (5/10)
  • Pink Martini (5/10-11)
  • Shakey Graves (5/11)
  • Rissi Palmer (5/11)
  • Bryan Adams: Shine A Light World Tour (5/12)
  • Kate McGarry (5/15)
  • Greta Van Fleet: March of the Peaceful Army (5/16)
  • An Evening with Dawes (5/17)
  • PRIME Music Festival (5/17-18)
  • Paul McCartney (5/27)
  • Hootie & The Blowfish Group Therapy Tour (5/31)

Check our calendar of events for full listings of happenings in Raleigh, N.C.!

Header photo by Brian Magee