Break out the calendar, friends. April 1 marks New Year’s Day for our annual roundup of Raleigh events! This year, we spotlighted some of the city’s best that we’re venturing to guess you haven’t experienced before. They may be new, like Carolina Fear Fest, low-key like Groove In the Garden and the VAE Gala, or truly once-in-a-lifetime, like Paul McCartney’s tour stop at PNC or a Hootie and the Blowfish reunion. We also show you some ways you can support our wonderful community of artists, animal lovers and the amazing services the LGBTQ Center of Raleigh provides. Supporting Downtown Restaurant Week and voting on Election Day are must-dos—we reserve the right to revoke your Raleighite Card if you give them a pass. And we celebrate some amazing milestones: 40 years of Artsplosure? 75 for the Christmas Parade? Raleigh’s been awesome for a while now. Get out there and get in on all the fun.
4/27/2019| Fayetteville Street | shoplocalraleigh.org/brewgaloo
Beer drinkers from across the nation agree, Brewgaloo is one of the biggest and best beer festivals in the country. It’s so big and so best, in fact, that USA Today nominated Brewgaloo as one of its 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2019 picks, competing with beer festivals as far away as Denver and as close to home as Asheville; as of late March, Brewgaloo is poised to take the No. 1 spot. At this annual downtown beer fest, enjoy beers from more than 100 North Carolina breweries, plus food, vendors and live music. This year, the festivities kick off with a sampling block party in City Plaza the Friday before the festival proper.
Eight Events You Haven’t Experienced in Raleigh…Yet!
5/4/2019 | Raleigh Little Theatre | raleighlittletheatre.org/events/divas
This highly entertaining show of glitz, glam and giving features 13 fabulous cabaret performers, all competing for the Diva of the Year title by raising the most money. Tickets to the show cover a reception with hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and soft drinks, with the option to donate your ticket purchase towards a specific Diva’s fundraising goal.
Carolina Fear Fest
5/25/2019 | NC State Fairgrounds | carolinafearfest.com
Halloween is a long way off, but local horror fans can get an early fix this year. Raleigh’s first-ever Horror Convention features celebrity guests, exclusive panels, a film festival, vendors and more. Everything from “The Addams Family” to “Child’s Play,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to “The Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things” to the “Halloween” movies gets representation. Prepare to be scared!
Hootie & The Blowfish: Group Therapy
5/31/2019 | Walnut Creek | hootie.com
It’s been 25 years since the release of the band’s “Cracked Rear View” album and now, Hootie & The Blowfish are reuniting, touring with the Barenaked Ladies and making a stop in Raleigh. The last time the South Carolina band was here, they played downtown, outdoors, at Alive After Five…that was over a decade ago.
Paul McCartney: The Freshen Up Tour
5/27/2019 | PNC Arena | thepncarena.com
When was the last time a Beatle was in Raleigh? When’s the next time one will be here again? The famed singer, prolific song writer, multi-instrumentalist and composer will be at PNC on a stop on his multi-national tour following the release of his latest album “Egypt Station,” playing all your favorite classics and some new material, too. It promises, truly, be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
July 2019 | Dorothea Dix Park | raleighnc.gov/parks
Spend a day outside this summer at Dix Park and experience the short-lived beauty of the park’s sunflowers, with which you may already be acquainted via Instagram. Capture your own ‘gram-worthy sunflower photos and enjoy live music, arts and crafts, performance artists, vendors, beer from local breweries and food trucks.
Groove in the Garden
9/21/2019 | Raleigh Little Theatre Grounds | raleighlittletheatre.org
It’s one of the most laid-back events in one of the most beautiful locations. Each fall, mostly local bands and singers take the stage at the Stephenson Amphitheater for a day of live music while the community gathers for food and drinks, local art and companionability in the Raleigh Rose Garden. Past headliners have included New Reveille, American Aquarium and Lydia Loveless. We can’t wait to see who 2019 will bring!
Moonlight in the Garden
November 2019 | JC Raulston Arboretum | jcra.ncsu.edu
NC State’s beloved arboretum gets a facelift with hundreds of lights adorning the garden’s trees, plants and pathways after dark, for a magical, visual experience celebrating fall. Food trucks, live music, apple cider, marshmallows and fire pits also feature for more family-friendly fun.
Visual Art Exchange Gala
March 2020 | vaeraleigh.com
The Visual Art Exchange is a hub for a diverse network of artists to convene, practice their crafts, advance their careers and influence
positive change in the creative community. The gala is an evening filled with wondrous experiences, amazing art, tasty food, fabulous cocktails and fundraising. Last year’s gala was one of the hottest tickets of the year.
Events with a Meaningful Mission
5/4/2019 | Fayetteville Street | outraleigh.org
In its ninth year, Out! Raleigh celebrates the beauty and diversity of the city’s LGBTQ community. Bring the whole family to Fayetteville Street for lots of fun in support of the LGBTQ Center of Raleigh’s community programs. If you’re feeling extra, pledge a protester and raise money on behalf of each person who shows up to protest the event. It’s not a cure-all to ignorance and homophobia but it’s a great way to turn the hate into something good.
10/12/2019 | The Pavilion at the Angus Barn |
The Fur Ball is a glamorous evening of fun that includes a three-course Angus Barn dinner with wine pairings, spirits, desserts, entertainment, as well as a large auction. Supporting the annual Fur Ball helps fund the Wake County SPCA’s work all year long.
10/17-20/2019 | Downtown Raleigh | sparkcon.com
Support the local arts scene at Raleigh’s biggest creative festival featuring four days packed full of more than 200 cultural events, including live music, food, visual arts, film, fashion, literature, design and theatre happenings, among many more. At SPARKcon, more than 12,000 creatives converge to showcase their talents, while curious Raleighites get to experience something new and exciting each year.
Revoke Your Raleighite Card
Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week
August 2019 | godowntownraleigh.com/ restaurant-week
Expand your palate and dine at some of the best restaurants in the heart of Raleigh during this week-long event held each summer for the past 10 years. Various eateries feature both lunch and dinner specials, making this the perfect time of the year to venture outside of your culinary comfort zone and try a new spot or catch up with some old favorites.
If you don’t vote in local elections, do you even live here? Because you shouldn’t. After two years of stalemate on the city council, culminating in Mayor Nancy McFarlane declining to run for re-election, the city is at a turning point. Everything from affordable housing to transit to Raleigh’s reputation as a progressive city is at stake. So, please, read up on the issues, on who represents you and on who you can vote for this year; decide for yourself, at the ballot box, in which direction you’d like the city to go.
The NC State Fair
10/17-27/2019 | NC State Fairgrounds | ncstatefair.org
The 11-day event is the largest gathering in North Carolina, attracting almost 1 million attendees. The combination of traditional Southern treats for sale, including ham biscuits and turkey legs, plus over-the-top creations like deep-fried Oreos and Crack-N-Cheese Waffle Cones, means there’s something delicious for everyone. Plus, of course, there are games, rides, exhibits, more than 100 free concerts featuring local performers and fireworks at closing every night.
Oakwood Garden Club Garden Tour & Victorian Tea
4/27-28 | Historic Oakwood | historicoakwood.org
For the last 30 years, the Oakwood Garden Club has hosted a Victorian tea and walking tour featuring the best gardens of the Historic Oakwood neighborhood. Guests don their fanciest hats, along with comfortable shoes, to participate in this lovely tradition welcoming spring.
5/18-19/2019 | Downtown Raleigh | artsplosure.org
One of the Southeast’s premier arts festivals, Artsplosure: The Raleigh Arts Festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The festival brings more than 80,000 people to downtown Raleigh, celebrating fine visual art and live music. More than 180 artists’ work in countless mediums are on display for all to see and enjoy during the free festival.
The Christmas Parade
11/23/2019 | Downtown Raleigh | grma.org/christmas-parade
Raleigh’s traditional Christmas Parade turns 75 this year, and it’s still the largest parade of its kind between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. The parade—filled with marching bands, dancers, classic cars, super heroes and giant floats—starts off marching down Hillsborough Street and winds through downtown, past the State Capitol, for two hours along a 1.4-mile route. The parade routinely draws more than 60,000 spectators.