15+ Outdoor Concerts and Music Festivals to Enjoy This Summer

Take advantage of longer days and perfect North Carolina weather to enjoy these live music opportunities in Raleigh and the Triangle.
by Eliza Martin

Longer days are a perfect excuse to add more live music to your life — and what could be better than hearing your favorite performers under a Carolina blue sky? In Raleigh and the Triangle, we have a great range of venues to enjoy live music outdoors. Larger amphitheaters like Walnut Creek, smaller ones like Red Hat Amphitheater downtown and our many public green spaces are each a perfect setting to enjoy your new favorite sounds. This summer, grab your friends to catch big names like Walker Hayes or Nickle Creek, or bring the whole family to kid-friendly events like the EnoFest or the NC Symphony’s Summerfest series — there’s an option for every musical taste and concert style.

Dermont Kennedy’s The Sonder Tour at Red Hat

For an immersive music experience in the heart of Downtown Raleigh see Dermot Kennedy at Red Hat Amphitheater. This Irish singer-songwriter has a rich and melancholy voice that bridges his two genres, folk and hip-hop, together. With his singles like Giants and Paradise, Dermot brings his powerful and emotional lyrics to Raleigh during The Sonder Tour in celebration of his 2022 album, Sonder. Make an evening of it and enjoy drinks or dinner somewhere out in the open summer air beforehand, like Humble Pie’s patio or Taverna Agora’s rooftop
June 3 | 7:30 p.m.; From $35; 500 S. McDowell Street; dermotkennedy.com

Bands Bites and Boats at Bond Park

Every first Friday of the month through October, the Bond Park Boathouse hosts Bands Bites and Boats, with food trucks, musicians and local breweries. Head over to Cary in July to see Currie Wayne Clayton, and snack on some food from Egg Rolls and The Blue Window. Prefer to go in August? Carson Mac will be performing, and food options will include food trucks Buff-O-Lina and Crispy Gyoza. Float on the water while listening to music with Bond Park Boathouse after hours rentals. 
First Fridays through October | Various Times; Free; 197 Bond Park Drive, Cary; carync.gov

Freight Train Blues in Carrboro

Just outside of Raleigh, the town of Carrboro and the Music Maker Foundation are hosting their ninth annual blues concert series in honor of Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten. The series is an eight day long lineup of blues, R&B, funk, gospel and folk music, featuring artists from inside and outside of NC. Food and drinks are available during all of the concerts, so stop in one night with your family and friends for an evening full of music that represents the best of NC’s music traditions.
Fridays in June | 6:30-8:30 p.m.; Free; Carrboro Town Commons; musicmaker.org

PLAYlist Concert Series

Head over to Durham Central Park in downtown Durham for a night of live music and performances from DJ Travis Gales. This concert series hosts a wide range of artists, who will perform music from numerous genres and cultures. Some of these include the upcoming concert that features the Raíces, Rutas, y Ritmos Project, with artists playing music that reflects their Latin American origins, as well as a concert by Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, who perform music that integrates Senegal’s traditional music styles. Make sure to pack a blanket or some folding chairs and check out the selection of local food trucks and vendors.
First Fridays through September | Venue opens at 6:30, band plays at 7:30; Free; 501 Foster Street, Durham; durhamplaylist.com

Midtown Beach Music Series Thursdays

Enjoy genres from Beach Music to Motown to Oldies and R&B on Thursdays in June at Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park in North Hills. Kick off your summer with outdoor performances from artists like Chairmen of the Board, Too Much Sylvia and Black Water Band.
Thursdays in June | 5-9 p.m.; $5; 4011 Cardinal North Hills Street, Raleigh; visitnorthhills.com

Fridays on the Front Porch at Carolina Inn

The historic Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill is hosting a weekly concert series, featuring a different North Carolina band each week, as well as a rotating array of food trucks from the region. With a rotating list of bluegrass and Americana artists, this series is appropriate for the whole family. Pack a folding chair or a picnic blanket and spend the evening listening to what NC’s music scene has to offer on UNC Chapel Hill’s beautiful campus!.
Fridays through July 7  | 5-8 p.m.; Free; 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill; destinationhotels.com

Waverly Place Summer Concert Series

Head over to Cary for a midweek concert or two this summer. Waverly Place Park has numerous local bands scheduled to play. Dance along with local bands like Bounce! Party Band, or rock out with the Tyson Brothers Band or The Embers. Bring some folding chairs for the concert and check out restaurants such as Enrigo Italian Bistro or Pineapple Sol for a sit-down meal before the show, or hit up Shake Shack or Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop for something quick and casual to take to the concert. 
The 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month through August | 5-8 p.m.; Free; Waverly Place Park, Cary; waverlycary.com

Dierks Bentley’s Gravel and Gold Tour at Walnut Creek

What better way to ring in the start of summer than with an evening outside singing along to some country music? Head to the outdoor music venue at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park to see American singer and songwriter Dierks Bentley perform live. Join fellow country music lovers and jam out to Dierks Bentley’s warm, rich vocals and some of his new songs on his Gravel and Gold Tour.
June 16 | 7 p.m.; From $51; 3801 Rock Quarry Road; walnutcreekamphitheatre.com

Live After 5 at Lake Raleigh

Presented by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA), Live After 5 is a five-part concert series right on Fayetteville Street. This family friendly, block-party style celebration features a lineup of cover bands and original artists playing a variety of 80s and 90s themed acts, including performances by Hard Tuck featuring DJ King Akira and Spin Doctors with Adam Pitts. The event will also feature Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing’s signature seltzer “The Sweet Life,” as well as other local vendors and dining options. Take advantage of downtown Raleigh’s food scene and get dinner before the concert.
June 21 and July 19 | 5-8 p.m.; Free admission; 443 Fayetteville Street; downtownraleigh.org

Peter Frampton “Never Say Never” Tour at Red Hat

Rock legend Peter Frampton heads to Raleigh during his “Never Say Never” Tour June 24. See the legend live. Named for his catchphrase at the end of every show during his 2019 The Farewell Tour which he thought would be his last, this tour celebrates his health and ability to still play the guitar in spite of his IBM, a muscle disorder. This Grammy award winning artist has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been a major part of the rock music scene since the 1960s, so be sure to head out and see this monumental tour at Raleigh’s own Red Hat Amphitheater.
June 24 | 8 p.m.; From $29.50; 500 S. McDowell Street; redhatamphitheater.com

Harry Potter VS. Star Wars at Koka Booth

Hear the scores from two classic fantasy films, Star Wars and Harry Potter, at the North Carolina Symphony’s SummerFest in the pine tree filled Koka Booth Amphitheatre. It’s wands versus lightsabers with conductor Lawrence Loh leading the show. Feel free to don your wizard hat or jedi robes and enjoy scores from these epic films under the stars at Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre.
June 24 | 8 p.m.; From $42; 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary; ncsymphony.org

EnoFest with Tift Merritt

EnoFest will return July 1 and 4 with an immersive in-person experience including live music, a juried craft show, food and fun on the river. With performances from artists like Jubilators, Sonny Miles, Daughter of Swords and Blackhaus and day-long activities to try from Basket weaving demos to a Hydrilla maze to Hands-On Clay pottery demos and 30-minute canoe and kayak rentals at the top of every hour, Enofest has so much to see and do all day long. Food trucks will also be available carrying everything from festival favorites like corn dogs, fries and and funnel cakes; to curries, cheese curds, samosas, enchiladas, and home-made ice cream. Head to West Point on the Eno River City Park to participate in the festivities.
July 1&4 | 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; From $25; 750 Stadium Drive, Durham; enofest.org 

Summer Music and Eats at John Chavis Memorial Park

The recently-renovatedJohn Chavis Memorial Park will be hosting a First Friday concert series featuring different music genres and plenty of food options for purchase. With playgrounds, a splash pad, live music and numerous different cuisines to explore, there will be something for the whole family to enjoy, so be sure to bring everyone out for an evening of fun in one of Raleigh’s historic parks. 
July 7 and August 4  | 6-9 p.m.; Free; 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd; raleighnc.gov

Rachel Bay Jones at Theatre Raleigh

Theatre Raleigh has a new concert series underway featuring notable Broadway names, Tony winners and rising stars from this region and beyond in an intimate setting. Lauren Kennedy Brady, the company’s producing artistic director, based the series off her own experiences living in New York City. “You could go to a club like Birdland or 54 Below to see your favorite Broadway star in a more intimate setting,” Brady says. “It is so special to see performers of that caliber revealing themselves by sharing stories and songs.” July’s special guest is Rachel Day Jones, a Tony-, GRAMMY- and Emmy-award winning actress and singer known for her roles in Pippin and MORE on Broadway and in the television show Young Sheldon. Get there early to take advantage of the theater company’s full bar complete with wine, beer, candy, popcorn and cocktails.
July 7 | 8 p.m.; From $35; 6638 Old Wake Forest Road; theatreraleigh.com

Nick Daniels at The Corner

The Corner is an open-air green space and community plaza on NC State Centennial campus outlined with refurbished shipping containers. All summer, THAT Station and Lincoln Theatre have teamed up to offer Artists Notes, a music and storytelling series that sheds light on the struggles and successes of life as a musician. Each concert will start with a conversation between station director Chris Edge and the artist to discuss the origin stories behind their songs, followed by a performance. Attendance and parking are free, but food truck bites and beer are available for purchase. The proceeds from the evening go towards The SIMS Foundation’s North Carolina chapter, which supports the mental and physical wellness of professional creatives. July’s act is Nick Daniels, lead singer and guitarist of Burlington-based Big Something, a band that blends pop, funk and rock.
July 13 | 6 – 8 p.m.; Free; 941 Main Campus Drive; thatstation.net 

Billy Strings Summer Tour at Koka Booth

Head to Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre for a performance by Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and musician Billy Strings. Strings blends a wide range of influences from elements of bluegrass, metal, and psychedelic and classic rock. Bring a lawn chair or rent one from the venue for a place to sit, and check out some of their numerous food and beverage options for snacks, sodas, meal options and cocktails. Get your ticket now as they are selling out fast!
July 13-15 | 7:30; From $49.50; 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary; boothamphitheatre.com

The Parks Brothers at Fenton

Check out Cary’s new development, Fenton, and enjoy a concert by The Parks Brothers. Grab a drink from Dram & Draught and take advantage of the area’s Sip & Stroll to check out the shops and stores in the area, or take your cocktail down the street to the concert or head over to AVA Rooftop Bar before the show and grab some small plates and cocktails. Get there early and sit down for dinner at one of the area’s restaurants, like Colletta for some Italian cuisine or Superica for Tex-Mex food and cocktails. Bring your friends out for a fun evening!
July 18 | 6-9 p.m.; Free; 21 Fenton Main Street, Cary; fentonnc.com 

Nickel Creek at the NCMA

Spend an evening with GRAMY-award winning acoustic trio Nickel Creek and special guest Aoife O’Donovan at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s outdoor amphitheater. The folk trio has been creating music together for decades, and are currently touring for their seventh album, Celebrants, which is their first release as a group since 2014. Get there early to enjoy a picnic in the museum’s large outdoor park or preorder from their menu to enjoy a picnic during the show. Be sure to bring a chair or a blanket to sit on during the concert.
July 21 | 8 p.m.; From $41; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Walker Hayes at Red Hat

Get all fancy like in your favorite boots and jean cut-offs to see breakout country musician Walker Hayes with special guests Ingrid Andress and R&B country artist BRELAND at Red Hat Amphitheater. If you’re not planning to hit up Applebee’s on Six Forks for date night beforehand, consider nearby eateries like Poole’side Pies or Whiskey Kitchen. No time to stop beforehand? Cocktails, beer, wine and food options are available inside the venue.
July 28 | 6:30 p.m.; From $38; 500 South McDowell Street; www.redhatamphitheater.com

Steep Canyon Rangers at the NCMA

Head to the North Carolina Museum of Art’s amphitheater to see the NC bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers perform with an opening performance from Amethyst Kiah presented by the museum and Cat’s Cradle. Picnic boxes are available to order ahead, each including a sandwich, a salad or side dish and a bottle of water. There will also be concession stands are offering a variety of food and drink options, including dinner and snack options, as well as cocktails, mocktails and other non alcoholic beverages. Bring a picnic chair or two and set up for an evening full of music, food and fun.
August 18 | 7:30; From $27; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

This article was originally published on June 6, 2023 on waltermagazine.com