The Triangle's Top 14 Experiences
At least once, you’ve got to sample these must-do events!
by Brittany Murdock
Banner photo courtesy of N.C. State Fair
Whether you were born and raised in the City of Oaks or just made your way into town, there are events that you won’t want to miss! Here in the Triangle you’ll notice our love for food—from fine restaurants to trending trucks—along with our passion for the arts. And we can’t forget about the North Carolina State Fair, when everybody comes to town. So go on, get out there, and enjoy the events that make the Triangle the place to be.
Hopscotch Music Festival
Featuring more than 140 bands performing over three days, Hopscotch is known for its adventurous lineups, memorable performances, and fan-friendly atmosphere. It’s the ultimate music festival experience in Raleigh, and you can catch all the excitement from September 6th through 8th.
A Raleigh staple on the must-do events scene for the past 13 years, this dynamic street festival has sadly made it to the endangered species list, despite attracting more than 84,000 attendees last year. At presstime, a GoFundMe page was trying to garner enough support to keep the street-painting, impromptu music, and foodie event alive another year. Known as the creativity event of the year—open to all and free to attend—it aims to bring circus performers, fashion designers, artists, musicians, dancers, designers, architects, tech geeks, and more back to downtown Raleigh on September 13th through 16th!
N.C. State Fair
Who doesn’t love a good Krispy Kreme cheeseburger? And a birds-eye view of the glittering lights from atop a ferris wheel? The North Carolina State Fair is headed to town October 11th through the 21st. Join the more than 1 million people who make their way to the fair each year and check out the livestock shows, thrilling rides, the finest in fair food, and much more. It’s quite possibly the most anticipated event of the year.
Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo
One of Raleigh’s most popular events brings thousands of people together to enjoy North Carolina’s food truck scene. Over 50 food trucks from across the state gather several times a year in downtown Raleigh, spanning more than 11 city blocks. And don’t forget about the beer! There will be several breweries and drafts on tap. The next rodeo will take place on October 14th from noon to 6pm.
Raleigh Christmas Parade
There’s no better way to get in the holiday spirt than with the Raleigh Christmas Parade. Presented by Shop Local Raleigh, it’s the largest Christmas parade between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta and will take place on November 17th. Watch as balloons, floats, marching bands, and Santa take over the streets of downtown Raleigh.
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary is home to some of the tastiest, most entertaining, and best kid-friendly events around. From Movies by Moonlight and the Beer and Bacon Festival to their July 4th celebration, there’s something year-round to enjoy. Mark your calendar now to attend the annual Chinese Lantern Festival (pictured), which will run November 23rd through January 13th.
March Madness Takes Over the Triangle
Even if you think you want to miss it, you can’t. And really, you may not have been an NCAA fan before living here, but come March you will be feeling the basketball fever. Start planning now where you’ll want to celebrate the games, because no matter where you go, the game is on! Tournament runs March 19th through April 8th; pick your school!
Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Spend a day at the ballpark as you head into Durham, home to the 2017 Triple-A National Champions, the Durham Bulls. Grab the kids or make it a date night and head on out for a night under the lights with an ice-cold beer in one hand and a pulled pork sandwich in the other. The season kicks off in early April, and there’s no better fun to be had on a balmy spring night.
Beer anyone? Raleigh is home to the largest craft beer festival in the state, and it’s typically held near the end of April. More than 100 North Carolina breweries, 50-plus food trucks, dozens of local vendors, and the finest bands around gather downtown for this fun-filled event. Whether you enjoy your beer by pint or by taste, Brewgaloo is a beer lover’s paradise.
Art lovers unite! Each year since 1980, Artsplosure has filled the streets of Raleigh with inspiration and entertainment through artists and performances. The festival, which is scheduled for May 18th and 19th and held at Moore Square, will allow visitors to interact with more than 170 visual arts and craft exhibitors and enjoy performances by legendary icons and rising stars.
Freedom Balloon Fest
You’ll want to look up in the skies above Fuquay-Varina for this Memorial Day Weekend event. The Freedom Balloon Fest allows guests to partake in and watch balloons in flight, not to mention indulge in a variety of food options, enjoy live music, and visit an arts and crafts village. It’s sure to attract spectators and thrill-seekers alike.
Throughout the Triangle
Calling all foodies! Whether you make your way to your go-to spot or entertain your palate with a new, exciting eatery, Triangle Restaurant Week, North Hills Restaurant Week, and Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week are a must for newcomers and Raleigh long-timers alike. Typically held in June and August, it’s a week full of special offers, prix fixe dinners, and the opportunity to sample some of the finest restaurants in the area.
Peak City Pig Fest
Watch as downtown Apex comes alive with vendors, live music, a beer garden, and good ole Southern style barbecue at the Peak City Pig Fest, typically held in June. Find out which home cook reigns supreme as 48 teams compete for more than $12,000 in prize money, cooking up their best chicken, ribs, beef brisket, and pork.
Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival
There’s a special weekend in August when downtown Cary comes alive with a celebration of art, music, and food. Shop local artists and vendors, enjoy live music throughout the two-day event, and eat your way through bakeries and food vendors. This is truly an arts and crafts event like no other. It’s ranked No. 47 on the list of the Top 100 Classic Craft Shows in the U.S., so you need to put it on your list for next summer.