Who's ready for a Raleigh road trip? Summer may be hitting its final stretch but festival season is just getting ready to peak this month in the City of Oaks! In a destination known for sprawling, rocking, community-wide festivals, the month of Sept. is the crown jewel. Raleigh M.A.I.N. Events (music, arts, innovation and noise) is a celebration of all the amazing events happening in late summer and early fall in Raleigh. Music, beer, arts, bikes, culture—the very best of our capital city is on display all month long. 

Major Festivals, All Month Long

Consider Hopscotch Music Festival (9/7-10)—what does four days, 120 bands, 12 venues and one awesome, walkable downtown setting get you? "One of the best and most eclectic music festivals in America," if you ask SPIN. "A Mardi Gras-like atmosphere" and a "must-see summer music festival," according to Rolling Stone. The eighth edition of this homegrown music festival, annually one of the standout events on the calendar, promises to deliver big sound and big fun. With headlining acts including Solange, Big Boi, Future Islands, Run The Jewels, Angel Olson and more, you can't go wrong. But many will tell you that the Hopscotch experience is about more than the bands you already know and love—it's about discovering new acts, waking up early and bar hopping among the day parties (yea, day parties!) plus exploring a super-energized downtown Raleigh. Need a bit more convincing (we doubt it!)? Take a look at our 10 reasons to experience the festival this year.

Another suggestion for your road trip playlist: Bluegrass! Follow the banjos to downtown Raleigh this Sept. when International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) returns with another year of PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass (9/29-30; pictured in header), the picking, singing and dancing festival that draws more than 200,000 fans to the area as IBMA closes out its week of World of Bluegrass in Raleigh. In addition to the ticketed Main Stage events at Red Hat Amphitheater (including performances by Steve Martin with Steep Canyon Rangers, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Travelin' McCourys, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn and more), a free street festival stretches downtown Raleigh's Fayetteville St. and includes five more stages of music plus a dancing tent and other activities including an art market and the N.C. Whole Hog Barbecue Championship.

You also can't miss the Bluegrass Ramble (9/26-28) that week, IBMA's innovative showcase series in club venues in downtown Raleigh with more than 200 performances. And the 28th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards Show (9/28), the biggest night on the bluegrass calendar, features outstanding performances by the best in bluegrass and once-in-a-lifetime moments.

What could be better than music, food trucks, more than 70 breweries and 4,000 of your closest friends to spend a day with outdoors? That's what you get with Beericana Craft Beer and Music Festival (9/9), the popular, homegrown event at Jefferson L. Sugg Farm in Holly Springs. An admission ticket gets you free parking, unlimited two-ounce samples from breweries from all across the state and region, access to local-favorite food trucks plus music from bands Urban Soil, The Gypsyswingers and Trongone Band.

All in all, we've put together a must-read list of 10 Sept. music festivals and major events in Raleigh. Check it out to get all the details on other can't-miss events like SPARKcon (9/14-17)—a completely grassroots creativity, art and design festival that takes over the downtown streets—plus the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County (9/2-3), the 13th Annual Ray Price Capital City Bikefest (9/22-24) and so much more.   

More Jams Not to Miss

Live music, every single day. That's how it works in the destination with the most live music in N.C., so we picked out just a few more shows you should know about that aren't a part of the major festivals already mentioned: Green Day (9/1), Jason Aldean (9/8), Brantley Gilbert (9/23) and Jack Johnson (9/29) will take the stage at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek as its outdoor concert season begins to wind down; Ed Sheeran (9/2) will play to a massive crowd at PNC Arena; 2 Chainz (9/13) and Chase Rice (9/15) will play their hits at The Ritz; Ms. Lauryn Hill and Nas (9/20) will perform together in a highly-anticipated show at Red Hat Amphitheater; and Alison Krauss and David Gray (9/24) will bring a night of bluegrass to Cary's Koka Booth Amphitheatre. 

As always, for a full schedule of upcoming music, keep up with themostnc.com!


Game On!

Grab your chairs, coolers, foam fingers and grills because college football season is back! We've got the perfect start to the season in Raleigh as the North Carolina State University Wolfpack tackles three home games in the early going—they'll take on Marshall (9/9), Furman (9/16) and Syracuse (9/30) at Carter-Finley Stadium this month. College football tends to be taken seriously around here, so just some advice: arrive early, stay late, be loud and wear red!

In other on-field action, the Carolina Mudcats close out their home baseball season with a four-game series against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans at Five County Stadium in Zebulon (9/1-4)—don't miss the post-game fireworks on Fri. and Sun. nights! In Cary, the North Carolina Courage will finish out the regular season of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) with home games at WakeMed Soccer Park against Houston (9/9) and Orlando (9/30)—and that's not it! The Courage have locked in a playoff spot already and will compete into Oct. looking for a second consecutive league championship. 

Lastly—believe it or not—it's time for hockey season! The NHL's Carolina Hurricanes swing into pre-season action this month with games at PNC Arena against Tampa Bay (9/20), Edmonton (9/27) and Washington (9/29) before the puck drops for real on their 20th anniversary season in Oct.  

More September Picks

Haven't checked "see a movie under the stars" off your summer bucket list yet? Pack a picnic and settle in for An American in Paris (9/2) at the North Carolina Museum of Art or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (9/7) on the lawn of the Garner Performing Arts Center.

The 36th annual Greek Festival (9/8-10) returns to the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, bringing handmade, authentic Greek food and goodies (baklava sundae, anyone?), plus traditional music and dancing for an entire weekend of fun.   

Audiences are in for a treat with North Carolina Symphony: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (9/15-16), a concert experience that has the Symphony performing every note from the beloved film while the full movie is screened in high-definition behind the orchestra.   

Ready to laugh yourself silly? Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy (9/16) are set to hit the stage at Koka Booth Amphitheatre.  

The 8th Annual Hot Pick'n Finger Lick'n BBQ & Bands Festival (9/16) in Rolesville should be just as awesome as it sounds—delicious chicken, barbecue and ribs prepped by competing cooks to go along with all-day live music from local performers.   

The Carolina Ballet kicks off their 20th anniversary season with The Ugly Duckling (9/16-10/1), an enchanting tale of an ugly duckling's adventures, misfortunes and ultimate transformation into a beautiful swan.

Live & Local: Roots Fest (9/23) is a free festival along Raleigh's Hillsborough St. featuring merchants, dozen of arts and craft vendors and community art projects, along with plenty of musical talent ranging from rock to bluegrass and beyond. 

East Meets West Food Festival (9/23) celebrates the town of Morrisville with a day of food, culture and music from around the world. Dozens of local restaurants will offer up small plates of their specialties. At the same time, the festival stage hosts performances from groups representing the community's many cultures.

What else to do this month? Explore downtown Cary (home to the country's best new brewery, according to USA TODAY, and a new Neapolitan pizza spot from an acclaimed chef duo), take advantage of great weather and dine al fresco at 23 of our favorite outdoor patio spots plus come see for yourself why Brewery Bhavana was just named one of America's best 10 new restaurants by Bon Appétit.  

Click here to see a full calendar of events in Raleigh, N.C.

Header photo: Garrett Poulos