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Don’t Miss Events in Raleigh, N.C.

Raleigh's happenings have something for everyone

By Nan Bauroth on May 12, 2015

International Bluegrass Music Awards
Raleigh / Jeffrey S. Otto

The political nexus of North Carolina, Raleigh is rapidly morphing into a cosmopolitan cultural center. The city’s collection of historical buildings mixes well with a fast forward art and music scene. Whether you’re visiting or deciding to live in Raleigh, there are some cultural experiences you won’t want to miss. Get your calendars ready because you’ll want to mark down when these events take place. Here are eight of the city’s top events:

IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass

When: October

Now the largest bluegrass festival in the country, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual Wide Open Bluegrass is an annual homecoming for the bluegrass music community. With 50 bands strumming and picking on five stages, a dance tent and perpetual jam sessions, the event also includes the North Carolina Whole Hog State Barbecue Championship.

North Carolina State Fair

When: October

Nearly 1 million people attend this 11-day event, with many families coming for generations. In addition to the traditional agricultural livestock shows and gardening competitions, the fair is famous for food vendors who invent a different deep fried creation every year. This year’s entertainment includes a new Homegrown North Carolina Concert Series in the arena.


When: September

Believe it or not, each year 35,000 people buzz in for this free event at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences featuring entomologists and exhibits about the fascinating world of bugs. There’s even a Café Insecta where those who dare can taste dishes concocted with creepy crawlers by local chefs. Last year’s featured insect: the stinkbug.

Hopscotch Music Festival

When: September 

Launched in 2010, this experimental underground festival in downtown Raleigh packs 170 bands into three days of unexpected lineups on a large outdoor stage as well as in small clubs. Fans love it because every music genre from rock, hip hop, metal and folk to electronic is represented.


When: September 

This eclectic extravaganza held in downtown Raleigh is billed as a four-day creative explosion of art, music, film, fashion, geek, circus, dance, comedy, design, food and more. Produced by the nonprofit creativity incubator Visual Art Exchange, SPARKcon highlights the diversity of artistic vision in the Triangle area. 

Lazy Daze Arts & Crafts Festival

When: August 

Held in the town of Cary just outside Raleigh, this event has become one of the largest single-day juried arts festivals in the country. Notable features include a chainsaw sculpting contest.


When: May 

Staged in Raleigh’s City Market, the two-day Artsplosure celebrates the arrival of spring by encouraging visitors to explore the talented works of underrepresented local artist and performances. In addition to an art market showcasing 170 visual arts and crafts exhibitors, the festival presents a Student Art Exhibition and performances by established and rising jazz, blues and alternative music stars, as well as emerging local musicians.

Krispy Kreme Challenge

When: February 

The challenge: 2400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour. What began as a crazy challenge between 10 college pals is now a nationally recognized charity race and also the number one tradition to complete before obtaining a sheepskin from North Carolina University. Runners begin at Memorial Belltower on campus and run 2.5 miles through historic downtown Raleigh to a Krispy Kreme shop, where they try to devour a dozen of the company’s famed original glazed doughnuts before the return slog. Monies raised are a sweet treat for local children’s charities.

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