Raleigh is not a big city, but there is always something to do in the area. Throughout the year, Wake County has parades, festivals, concerts, and celebrations. Here is a list of many of them. Some are free, but others are not. Check the website for each event to find out how much it costs to attend.
African-American Cultural Festival (Cary) – February – February is Black History Month in the United States, so each year, the town of Cary celebrates with drama, music, and dance performances. Click here to get more information and find out when the event is this year.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade (Raleigh) – March – St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 every year. Around that time, there is a parade in downtown Raleigh. The date of the parade is different each year because it’s always on a Saturday, and March 17 is not always on a Saturday, so check the website for dates and information.
Raleigh Easter (Raleigh) – March/April – The date of Easter changes every year. Sometimes it is in March, and sometimes it is in April. Whenever it is, City of Raleigh Parks are ready with a fun event for the whole family (but mostly for children).
Cary Easter Events (Cary) – March/April – If you live in the western part of the county, you can go to an event similar to Raleigh Easter in Cary. Each year, Cary has an Easter Egg Hunt for children. Children can also meet the Easter Bunny, get their faces painted, listen to live music, and more. Click here for more information.
NC Science Festival (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) – April – The NC Science Festival is a 2-week event all over the state! There are activities every day for kids, adults, and families all over the Triangle, so you can definitely find something interesting near you.
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Durham) – April – This event is also not in Wake County, but Durham is our neighbor, and this event is really cool. A documentary film is a movie about real people doing real things in their real lives. There are no actors in these films. They are all true. Every spring, film makers from around the world come to Durham to show their films, and you can watch them! You can also talk to the film makers or listen to them talk about their movies. Visit the website for more information.
Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival (Cary) – April – At Spring Daze, you can see and buy arts and crafts made by artists and artisans from North Carolina. You can also listen to live music, eat delicious food, and enjoy the beauty of Cary’s Bond Park.
World Beer Festival (Raleigh) – April – If you love beer, then this event is for you. If you REALLY love beer, there’s another beer festival in Durham in October. Here’s the website for the Raleigh festival.
**Note: In the United States, you must be at least 21 years old to drink alcohol. Children are not allowed to attend the World Beer Festival.**
Wake County Public Library Book Sale (Raleigh) – May – Each year, the library sells old books to make room for new books. The money they get from the book sale helps to pay for new books and library programs. Click here for more info.
Out Raleigh (Raleigh) – May – Every May, there is a celebration for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community in downtown Raleigh. This includes people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, but it also includes people who support them and care about their rights as people. The event has food, activities for kids, and live performances and speakers. Click here to get more information about the event.
Artsplosure (Raleigh) – May – The goal of Artsplosure is to give everyone a chance to see art and performances. Each year, there is a weekend-long festival in downtown Raleigh where you can see and buy arts and crafts, and where you can watch live performances of all kinds. Go here for more information.
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure (Raleigh) –May – The Komen Triangle Race for the Cure is an event to raise money for breast cancer education, awareness, and research. It also celebrates people who have survived breast cancer and remembers those who have died because of it. The race is a 5k, but there is also a 1-mile fun run and a kids race.
July 4th Fireworks (Raleigh/Cary/Garner/Morrisville) – July – You probably know that our country’s Independence Day is July 4. One of the ways we celebrate this day is by watching fireworks. There are several places in Wake County where you can watch July 4 fireworks. Click on each location for more information.
Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival (Cary) – August – Lazy Daze is similar to Spring Daze, but it’s a larger event located in downtown Cary. Check out Lazy Daze for arts and crafts made by artists and artisans from North Carolina, to listen to live music, and to eat delicious food!
SPARKcon (Raleigh) – September – SPARKcon is a creativity and design festival that takes place each September in downtown Raleigh. There, you can see all kinds of performances (music, dance, poetry, circus, comedy, theater), see crafts, art, fashion designs, and inventions, and eat tasty food!
Hopscotch Music Festival (Raleigh) – September – Hopscotch is a 3-day music festival in downtown Raleigh. If you go, you can see more than 100 bands, many from NC! This festival has lots of different kinds of music, and concerts are at more than a dozen different places downtown. You must buy a ticket for this event, but you can get a ticket for just one day or all three.
Wide Open Bluegrass Festival (Raleigh) – September/October – Bluegrass is a kind of traditional American folk music. It comes mostly from the mountains of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In the 1700s, many people from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales moved to this area of the United States, and they brought their music with them. Over time, traditional music from the UK changed into what we call bluegrass music. In NC, there are many bluegrass music concerts and festivals. A big bluegrass festival comes to Raleigh every fall. You can buy tickets for some concerts, but many of the events are free! Check out the website to learn more about this weekend event.
Diwali Celebration (Cary) – October – Did you know that the town of Cary celebrates the Hindu Festival of Lights? Cary has a large Indian population, and every year, we all have the opportunity to experience this ancient festival. You can eat Indian food, see dance and musical performances, and watch fireworks! Click here for more information.
International Festival (Raleigh) – October – Imagine the whole world in one building. That’s what the International Festival is like. For 3 days, there’s food, music, art, dancing, and more from around the globe in downtown Raleigh. Get more information here.
NC State Fair (Raleigh) – October – The NC State Fair has rides, games, food, music, art, farm animals, fireworks, and more, and it’s here for ten whole days! If you are new to NC, this is definitely something you should do at least once. Go with friends or family, and have fun!
Handmade Market (Raleigh) – November – The Handmade Market is a shopping event where you can buy clothes, jewelry, art, home decor, pottery, and more. Everything is made by hand by someone who lives in this region of the country. This event is in November because it’s the perfect time to shop for holiday gifts. They often do another day in the spring as well.
Christmas Parade (Raleigh) – November/December – The Raleigh Christmas Parade is a free event in downtown Raleigh. Take the whole family, and enjoy a very American tradition! For more information, check out (or follow) the Facebook page.
Kwanzaa Celebration (Cary) – December – Cary’s Kwanzaa celebration is a cultural event that celebrates African-Americans and honors their heritage. At this event, you can buy gifts, watch dancing, listen to music, and more. They also have special activities for children.
First Night Raleigh (Raleigh) – December – It’s called “First Night,” but really, this event celebrates the last night of the year and the beginning of the new year. There are TONS of things to do starting with the children’s celebration at 2:00 in the afternoon. After the kids go to bed, the adults can go to concerts, dance, ride a Ferris wheel, and other activities until midnight. At 12:00, everyone celebrates the new year together.