20+ Things to do in April in and around Raleigh

Search for wildflowers in the Triangle, listen to poetry, support student artists (or paint yourself), eat Carolina BBQ, and more. April in Raleigh is here and we’ve got lots of ideas for you this month!
by WALTER Staff

See the Branching Out Exhibition at Umstead’s Gallery

Artsuite and the Umstead Hotel and Spa are collaborating to bring the exhibition Branching Out: North Carolina Contemporary Artists Interpret Nature to the Umstead gallery. The show will feature a diverse group of notable, contemporary North Carolina artists that are all inspired by the natural world, including Damian Stamer, Beverly McIver, Thomas Sayre, Hannah Cole, Shelley Smith, Jim Lee and Randy Shull. April 1 to July 31; free for guests; 100 Woodland Pond Drive, Cary, NC. Artsuite.com

Stay at a Unique Airbnb in Western North Carolina

April is the perfect time to head west and spend some time in the mountains of Western North Carolina, whether you want to take advantage of the Spring weather and go on a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway, explore the many shops and eateries in Downtown Asheville or just enjoy the relaxing mountain views. We rounded up over 10 unique Airbnbs that can make your stay in WNC this spring that much more enjoyable, including tiny homes, airstreams, treehouses, and everything in-between.

Attend a Virtual Poetry Night

Tune in, virtually, for Words Unspoken, a night of poetry hosted by the Garner Performing Arts Center. North Carolina native Celestine Hinnant, author of The Awakened Pen – Poetic Expressions from the Heart, will host fellow poets and creatives from the area for a night of celebrating the written word. The event will stream live on Facebook from GPAC. One of the poets to hear is Raleigh native and soul singer Imani Horton, also known as Imonylowd. “My poems aren’t just about the things that I go through; often it might be the experience of a loved one or a friend, something that someone else is going through,” she says. Writer Lawrence Bullock, empowerment speaker J. Dwayne Garnett, and poet Sherman Williams will also share their talents. April 1; 7 p.m – 8p.m ; Virtual; free; search calendar at garnernc.gov

Celebrate Cary’s 150th birthday!

The Town of Cary was incorporated on April 3, 1871 — which makes this year its 150th birthday! To celebrate, the town is offering a mix of virtual and in-person events. Learn about the town’s history and unique attributes through a streaming virtual presentation April 3 at 8 p.m., which will include a pre-recorded virtual performance from the Chatham Rabbits and Hiss Golden Messenger streamed on Facebook Live. Then spend the weekend exploring the city at your own pace through specially developed walking tours. While exploring downtown Cary on foot, learn the history of some of its iconic structures like the Cary Theater, first built in 1946, and the Cary Now and Then mural visible on Chatham Street along the side of La Farm Bakery painted by artist Val Fox in 2003. “This celebration year is a tremendous opportunity to recognize Cary as the best place to live, work, and play,” says Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. “We encourage all to participate in the yearlong celebration activities that will honor the past, celebrate the present, and look forward to the future.” April 3; ongoing; Virtual and in-person; cary150.org

Plan Your Easter Meal

Easter is coming up on April 4, and many local bakeries and restaurants have delicious offerings you can pick up to elevate your Easter meal. You can either pick up a full dinner to-go from local favorites like Mandolin, Longleaf Swine, The Pit, or Catering Works, or a brunch from Sitti, La Farm, or Gravy. You can find delicious sweets like hot cross buns, cookies, or panettones from Union Special, Yellow Dog, Lucette Grace, Cutie Pies of Raleigh, or The Cupcake Shoppe. And if you need some goodies to fill your Easter baskets, head to local shops like Edge of Urge, Learning Express, Nogo, or Zest Cafe & Home. Whatever you need for Easter, Raleigh can provide. Anytime before April 4; find more information here

Make a Batch of Deviled Eggs

In our April issue, North Carolina food writer Debbie Moose pays homage to the southern classic, the humble egg and shares an interesting spin on the beloved deviled egg by adding a greek touch. Get the recipe for her Spanakopita Deviled eggs here.

Watch the Where Can I Go Documentary

In honor of Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 8, hear moving stories of both trauma and resilience in the world film premiere of Where Can I Go? produced in partnership by Raleigh-Cary Jewish Family Services and The Justice Theater Project. The 75-minute documentary, filmed throughout last year and into 2021, shows five Wake County Holocaust survivors who met once a week to discuss their experiences. They took part in Kesher, a therapy program of Raleigh-Cary Jewish Family Services that uses the arts to help survivors work through the long-term mental toll of the Holocaust. The film was co-directed by Raleigh-based arts therapist and stage director Barbara Kaynan and award-winning film artist Jesse Bonnell. “It’s sensitive yet beautiful,” says JTP director Melissa Zeph. Leading up to the event, check Justice Theatre Project’s website for details on live Q&As, watch parties, and more. April 8; 7 p.m; Virtual; $20 for a family, $10 for individuals; thejusticetheaterproject.org

Read a Spirit-lifting Book

Whether you want to wonder at nature or examine your soul, pick one of these 8 reads for the season of change from staffers at Quail Ridge Book to read this spring.

Watch the Women’s Theatre Festival present OTHELLO

This April, the Women’s Theatre Festival will present OTHELLO, a retelling of the Shakespearean play in a modern verse translation written by Mfoniso Udofia. This version of the play is directed by JaMeeka Holloway and is set in a modern-day elite all-women’s university. Othello, despite the structures of systemic racism within the institution, is exceedingly successful in all she does. This provokes in her colleagues a hostile jealousy, rooted in racism, that leads Othello’s friend and ally Lago to betray and plot to destroy her. The play will be livestreamed virtually and will function on pay what you can basis so as to be inclusive to all. April 8-10 and 16-17 at 8 p.m; pay what you can; virtual; visit website for more information

Go on a Hike to Look for Wildflowers

For our April issue, writer and nature expert Joe Miller rounded up 5 wildflower-filled walks around Raleigh that are perfect to explore this month. You can head to Eno River State Park to spot some Lady Slipper Orchids, De Hart Botanical Garden to see azalea bushes and daylilies, or Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center where you can enjoy the wildflowers and the birds (it’s part of the North Carolina Birding Trail). The Mountains-To-Sea Trail is also home to beautiful spring wildflowers, and so is Raven Rock State Park, where Dutch-man’s breeches and bloodroot are in bloom by early April.

Take an Adinkra painting workshop

Adinkra are beautiful designs that depict shapes, florals, insects, geometry, and more. Originating in Ghana, they were historically printed on cloth by the Akan, one of the traditional African matrilineal cultures. At Triangle Cultural Art Gallery in North Raleigh, you can learn how to paint Adinkra yourself from experienced artists and art educators during a 1.5-hour class complete with snacks, beverages, and fellowship. Choose a symbol that speaks to you, trace it on a canvas, then learn color theory techniques to bring it all together. Due to COVID, class sizes are limited to eight people. The classes take place inside the gallery, surrounded by a vast range of global art to draw inspiration. All month; See website to schedule a time; In-person; $40; 8320 Litchford Rd. Suite 138; triangleculturalart.com

Explore a New-to-you Central NC Town

Now’s a perfect time to get out of the house and explore the many charms of small-town North Carolina. While the mountains and ocean get a lot of press, central North Carolina is still host to countless endearing towns bursting with pure North Carolinian culture. From historic streets and nature trails, to world-famous barbecue, gorgeous art galleries, and more, these seven central North Carolina towns offer accessible and easy-to-plan opportunities to getaaway.

Take a Photo Editing Workshop Through the JC Roulston Arboretum

You take lots of beautiful photos on your camera, but where do you store them? How do you edit and process them for things like photo albums or online sharing? The JC Raulston Arboretum and North Carolina-based nature and travel photographer Mary Louise Ravese with Bella Vista Photography are here to help. Sign up for a four-week tutorial on Adobe Lightroom Classic that will focus on editing and organizing your photos. “The cameras do so much of the work nowadays to help us take great pictures. Knowing how to manage the photos is increasingly becoming the key to really enjoy the pastime and not feel overwhelmed by it,” says arboretum director Mark Weathington. Participants will have access to an electronic copy of class presentation handouts and each of the five sessions will be recorded and made available afterward. Thursdays; 6:30 p.m- 8:30 p.m; Virtual; $129 for arboretum members, $149 for nonmembers; advance registration required; learn more here

Practice Mindfulness

“Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and it’s time that we start normalizing mental health support,” says Current Wellness co-owner, counselor, and wellness advocate Brit Guerin. She and her team are hosting an online Mindfulness 101 Series to help. With various themes such as Reset, Compassion, and Balance, the classes include guided meditation and discussions around community and connection. While this is an eight-week series, Guerin says drop-ins are welcome and even one session will benefit you. Check out their calendar of indoor and outdoor yoga and fitness classes while you’re at it. Thursdays; 6:30 p.m; Virtual; $18 for drop-in; currentwellnessraleigh.com

Head to St. Roch for a Lawrence BBQ Pop-up

Chef Jake Wood and his Lawrence Barbecue team will join Sunny Gerhart at St. Roch for a meeting of North Carolina and Louisiana fare. Try familiar Lawrence Barbecue dishes like pulled pork, ribs, and Secret BBQ Butter Grilled Oysters — plus seasonal sides and fixings. The collaborative menu has been a long time coming, says Wood. “There are a few folks around NC that I’ve always wanted to work with and Sunny is at the top of that list. Our goal is to create a laid-back evening with an incredibly delicious and approachable menu.” The pop-up is part of a series of events to build excitement for his forthcoming permanent location in the Boxyard complex in the Research Triangle Park. “I also look forward to learning a few things from the St. Roch crew,” says Wood, “I’m super stoked to have this opportunity.” This month also happens to be St. Roch’s 4th anniversary. “There’s a lot to celebrate, so it felt like the right time to bring back our ‘Benefits with Friends’ events, something we began back in 2019,” says Gerhart. “It’s our way of introducing guests to some of the food and talent we love, and a chance for us to cook some delicious food together. Come on out for Jake’s killer barbecue!”  April 8; 5 p.m.; In-person; see website for prices and menu; 223 S Wilmington St; lawrencebarbecue.com

Visit the NC Museum of History’s Historic Drugstore

The J.C. Brantley Pharmacy in its entirety at our state’s history museum, offers an immersive look back in time while inspiring reflections on today. Learn about it here.

Watch PBS North Carolina’s Sixth Season of Co-production with Reel South

PBS North Carolina is premiering its sixth season of its co-production with Reel South, a documentary series from Southern filmmakers. This season will include seven new films, spanning seven Southern states, and will feature little-seen explorations of Black life in the South. The first film, Muni, is a story told by Black golfers in Asheville, NC, who built a vibrant community on a golf course despite segregation. “The value of and need for diverse Southern stories is inextricable from the amazing contributions and lived experiences of Black Americans,” said series producer Nick Price. “We’re grateful for these storytellers, in front of and behind the camera, for allowing audiences to see a better, complex version of the region.” Weekly starting on April 8 at 10 p.m. on PBS; free; see website for details

Shop for Azalea’s

Shop hundreds of varieties (including hard-to-find ones) of popular flowering bushes at the spacious Campbell Road Nursery for the Gardeners of Wake County’s annual Azalea Sale. The proceeds support scholarship grants for North Carolina State University horticulture students; the sale has raised $10,000 to $20,000 in past years. “We exist to help the gardening community, whether that’s expert home gardeners, beginners and even aspiring horticulture professionals,” says nursery owner Phil Campbell. “This sale is the perfect partnership for us because our founder was a NC State horticulture professor himself.” Get there early — they often sell out of offerings, especially the Wolfpack Red, a traditional azalea developed by a horticulturist at NC State. “As you can imagine that one is very popular in this area. We sell close to 100 of these at the sale and this year we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary of the sale (a year late since they had to cancel last year) so we expect lots of people to be happy to come out and celebrate with us this year,” says Charlie Leverette with the Gardeners of Wake County.  April 8 – 17 ; 8 a.m-  5 p.m ; In-person; free; 2804 Campbell Road; gardenersofwakecounty.weebly.com

marker and watercolor on paper, 20 x 20 inches

Visit the Art Ritual gallery at Charlotte Russell Contemporary

Charlotte Russell Contemporary fine art gallery is opening their new group exhibition, Art Ritual, on April 9. The gallery will feature artists including King Nobuyoshi Godwin, Rebecca Kaufman, Ethel Revita, Evelyn Reyes, and Joy Tirade, each of which take a ritualistic approach to art-making. The opening reception for the exhibition will be April 9 from 5 p.m- 8 p.m. April 9- May 26; 419B Daniels Street, Raleigh, NC 27605; see website for details

Attend Carolina Brewery’s NC Shrimp Boil and Beer Tapping Party

Carolina Brewery is hosting a NC Shrimp Boil and Tapping Party at its Pittsboro location to celebrate its newest beer, Costero Mexican Lager, and to mark numerous milestones for the brewery, including a brand refresh and an expansion of their outdoor seating areas. “Costero is the ideal beer for this summer,” Becky Hammond, Carolina Brewery’s executive brewer, said. “Everyone’s been cooped up, and it will be high time to hit the water. We brewed Costero to be crisp, light, and thoroughly refreshing.” Admission to the event is free, but fresh shrimp from the NC coast and pints of Costero Mexican Lager and the brewery’s other beers will be available to purchase. The event starts at 12 p.m., and Piedmont Four will play live music from 5pm to 8pm. April 10 from 12p.m. to 11p.m; admission is free; 120 Lowes Drive, Suite 100

Eat at one of Raleigh’s longest standing Hidden Gems

Raleigh attracts celebrity chefs and restaurateurs from all over the world — but let’s not forget about the spots that have been here for decades! As the pandemic has shuttered some long-time favorites, make an effort to support one of these strip-mall stalwarts and old-school diners this month.

Go on a NC Modernist Trickle Tour

A Trickle Tour is the opportunity for modern architecture enthusiasts to view recently remodeled or for-sale modernist homes for a “trickle” of the normal rate. 123 Hillcrest Road, for example, was designed and built by Will Alphin with interior design by Kay Jordan and is equally innovative as it is beautiful, including a gorgeous rooftop space. They have reduced the number of people visiting the houses at once, never more than six inside together, and all visitors must wear a mask and maintain six feet social distance at all times. Sign up now, tickets are going fast! April 10 and 17; $9.95 per person; see website for details

Attend the New Military Exhibit at the NC Museum of History

The North Carolina Museum of History’s new military exhibit Answering the Call: Experiences of North Carolina’s Military Veterans, 1898-1945 will open on April 6 and will include artifacts, graphics, videos, and oral histories from North Carolina soldiers in combat. Artifacts will include spy devices used by the Office of Strategic Services, tools of a pilot with the World World II Tuskegee Airmen, and items an officer used in the Bataan Death March of World War II. Visitors will progress through the early 20th century and learn the stories of North Carolina soldiers from the Spanish-American War through World War II. Charlie Knight, curator of military history at the museum says, “We wanted to put a human face--a North Carolina face–to our military story.,” Anytime; free; 5 East Edenton Street; see website for more details

Support NC State’s Student Artists

With all the time we spend looking at our walls, why not fill them with something original? For the second year in a row, the Arts NC State Student Art Sale will be held virtually. Amy Sawyers-Williams, manager of arts outreach & engagement for Arts NC State, says that the sale gives students the experience of selling their work and allows the community to acquire art from up-and-coming talent. Sawyers-Williams says the virtual format of the sale, which has been open to the public since 2015, has offered new learning opportunities, too. “Last year, in a matter of three weeks, the students pivoted from an in-person sale to learning how to set up an online store to sell their work,” she says, “And they sold over $10,000 in work and commissions as a result!” Shop original pottery, mixed media, paintings, photography, and more, with all the proceeds going to the students who created them. Expect a broad and interesting range of work, like Noah Weaver’s Quarantine Synth #3, a psychedelic image of toilet paper as a luxury object, or Jornell Bacon’s Der Fall, a moody oil-paint landscape of a creek winding through bare woods. April 16; 12 p.m; Virtual; shop the sale online at arts.ncsu.edu/about/for-students/student-art-purchase/

Take Part in PurpleStride Raleigh

Help fight pancreatic cancer by taking part in this year’s PurpleStride Raleigh hosted by the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN). This year’s walk is virtual, and PanCAN is asking participants to take a stride in their own neighborhood and share about the event on social media to help turn the internet purple. Registration for the event is free, but donations are encouraged! April 17; all day; free, but donations are encouraged; see website for details

Walk the Oakwood Garden Club Tour

The Oakwood Garden Club is reimagining its 32nd Annual Oakwood Garden Tour to be covid-safe. On April 17th or 18th, you can enjoy a self-guided walking tour of Historic Oakwood’s expansive gardens. The tour will be approximately 1.5 miles, iced tea will be served during the tour in select gardens and each ticket comes will a goodie-bag filled with sweet and savory bites from local businesses. If you volunteer to help at the event, you can take the tour for free. April 17-18; $20 a ticket or free for volunteers; see this website for event details and this website for volunteer information

Attend ClydeFEST in the Wild

Chatham Arts Council is hosting their 19th annual ClydeFEST this year, an old-school kids’ arts carnival hosted to celebrate folk artist Clyde Jones. The fest will look a little different this year due to COVID-19, and will include several different events from April 20 through May 2, including live music and painting. The event is perfect (and safe) for the whole family. Events start on April 20; free; see website for more details

Watch Carolina Ballet’s Mozart

Enjoy a re-envisioned Mozart: Symphony No. 40, choreographed by Carolina Ballet Artistic Director Zalman Raffael with  Robert Weiss’ Les Saltimbanques and the pas de deux from August Bournonville’s Flower Festival in Genzano. The program will be live-streamed for two evenings: Wednesday, April 21 and Thursday, April 22 at 7:30 pm, then remain  accessible to Carolina Ballet patrons until midnight on Sunday, April 25. Virtual; www.carolinaballet.com

See a Film at NCMA for Earth Day

Mask up, grab a chair or picnic blanket, and head to the amphitheater at the North Carolina Museum of Art for a free outdoor movie in honor of Mother Earth. Leaning into the Wind, a documentary about British conservationist, artist, and photographer Andy Goldsworthy, emphasizes the strong connection between art and nature. The screening feels extra special this year, says NCMA park program manager Bryanne Senor, since it was originally scheduled for last year, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but postponed due to the pandemic. “The Museum Park is a special place where art and nature play off each other, merge, and even become interchangeable,” says Senor. “This film showcases that interplay in a beautiful and dynamic way, so hopefully our screening will amplify the inspiration that can be found all around us, as Andy Goldsworthy does.”
April 22; 8:30 p.m; In-person; free but registration is required; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Shop Green Chair’s Warehouse Sale

Pick a time slot, grab your mask and shop home decor items at the Green Chair Project’s Warehouse Sale. 100% of proceeds benefit programs of The Green Chair project and supporters are welcome to shop Green Chair’s online charity shop anytime, say they aren’t quite comfortable shopping in person yet. 1853 Capital Blvd; April 23 & 24 with 100% of proceeds benefit programs of The Green Chair Project Sign up to shop here

Head to Raleigh City Farm’s Bearthday

Raleigh City Farm will combine a celebration of Earth Day with its 10th anniversary with Bearthday Bites at Home. Once a vacant lot on the corner of Blount and Franklin Streets, the one-acre plot is now a thriving small sustainable farm. “Raleigh City Farm has grown and thrived beyond our wildest dreams,” says co-founder Laurel Varnado Passera, “and I am so grateful for all of the ways it connects our community to sustainable agriculture.” Last year, volunteers logged more than 4,000 hours of community service and the farm produced upwards of 2,500 pounds of produce. For the festivities, food truck The Pounded Pig will be selling a scrumptious three-course meal with produce sourced from the farm and family biscuit boxes to take to-go (pre-orders are encouraged). Guests can also participate in small group tours, see plein air artists in action, and hear live music performed on the Farm Stage Pavilion. The free event will be ticketed to control the crowd size based on current COVID-19 safety protocol.  April 24; 10 a.m. – 2 p.m; In-person; free-entry; 800 N Blount Street; raleighcityfarm.org

Visit Beaufort for a Literary Luncheon with Kristy Harvey

Join the Beaufort Historic Site for a Literary Luncheon at Beaufort Hotel to celebrate the launch of Kristy Harvey’s Under the Southern Sky. Enjoy a luncheon while Harvey discusses her new book, an examination of companionship, love, and family.This is my favorite book I’ve ever written, so it makes perfect sense to launch it in my favorite town with one of my favorite organizations,” Harvey says. Under the Southern Sky follows Amelia Buxton, a journalist unraveling a story that might become too personal, as she learns that family comes in all forms. April 30; In-person; $40; 2440 Lennoxville Rd, Beaufort; buy tickets in advance at beauforthistoricsite.org