What to Do in January 2023 In and Around Raleigh

Start the year right with evening walks to enjoy some art, live music, charitable meals and a weekend-long tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.
by Addie Ladner

Happy New Year! Give yourself a pat on the pack. 2022 brought back in-person work, restaurants open in full swing and music festivals and cultural events taking over our city. And it looks like the first month of the year will be no different. January 2023 offers a wide range of stellar ways to enjoy Raleigh, from a mysterious music show at Kings to evening walks at the North Carolina Museum of Art to fabulous meals that serve a bigger purpose than satisfying your palate. Here are 18 things to do in January to keep the fun going through 2023.

photo credit: Bryan Regan

Ring in the New Year

Need some ideas to watch the ball (or acorn drop?) See this round up of ideas to kick 2023 off in style with Raleigh’s finest parties, concerts, and our special City of Oaks-style countdown. 

Try a New-To-You Restaurant or Bar

For our January issue we gathered 100+ recommendations for date nights, breakfast, coffee, craft cocktails, and everything in between to try this year — all from Triangle chefs and bartenders who have the insight scoop on Raleigh’s food scene. Read their picks here.

Hit the Great Trails of NC

Did you know 2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina? This statewide initiative from the N.C. Great Trails Coalition and State Parks invites us to hike, bike, paddle and explore the vast range of trails and greenways here in NC. Explore our site for a bunch of different hike recommendations from ones to take at night to ones on water to ones that explore history.

Courtesy: Preservation NC

See the “We Built This” Exhibit at Historic Oak View Park

Historic Oak View County Park will host We Built This, a traveling exhibit by Preservation North Carolina that sheds light on skilled Black builders and architects who have long deserved recognition. Stewart Ellison, for example, was a carpenter and enslaved worker who helped construct what became Dorothea Dix Hospital. He went on to be one of the state’s longest-serving Black lawmakers in the late 1800s and was the first Black Raleigh City Council member. “There are so many amazing historic buildings in Wake County, but most of us walk into them and never think about who built them and what they went through,” says Shinica Thomas, vice-chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “This exhibit features people who faced systemic racism and constant adversity. We preserve the legacy of that resilience in some of our most beautiful landmark buildings.”
Free; 4028 Carya Drive; wakegov.com

Check Out a Collection of Landscape Paintings at at Pullen Arts Center

See the works of five female landscape artists at Pullen Arts Center for a group exhibition curated by former director Eliza Kiser, in which each offers her own point of view on landscapes. Tammy Kaufman’s fields of flower and creek beds, for example, are done in soft oil pastels, while Karen Rose’s dramatic views from global destinations are bold and bright, done with oil and acrylic paints. Other artists on exhibition are Patterson Canon, Ruth Little and Galina Stockstill. A closing reception for the artists will take place on Jan. 21 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Free; 105 Pullen Road; raleighnc.gov 

Rock Out to TINA, The Tina Turner Musical at DPAC

Grammy-winning Tina Turner may be a celebrated star today, but it was not easy to get there. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Katori Hall and acclaimed director Phyllida Lloyd have brought her story to Broadway and now to DPAC for TINA, The Tina Turner Musical. The production takes a beautiful dive into the strength, perseverance and raw talent Turner wielded to push through racism, the challenges women face in show business and what it means to age as an artist.
Jan. 3 – 8  | From $35; 123 Vivian Street, Durham; dpacnc.com

Listen to a New Album

From jazz to country to rap, local musicians have been busy this past year. Here are the new albums and upcoming projects to look out for from North Carolina musicians this year. 

Head to Cat’s Cradle for the John Prine Tribute Tour

It’s not often that a legendary musician’s relatives go on to replicate their music. While no one will ever be able to replace the late great John Prine’s soft country voice, dry humor or mellow disposition, his brother Billy Prine is on tour sharing his stories and playing his version of Prine’s iconic tracks. This month the John Prine Tribute Tour will make a stop at Cat’s Cradle.
Jan. 6 | 8 p.m.; From $30; 300 E. Main Street, Carrboro; catscradle.com

Courtesy: NCMA

Take a Full Moon Walk at NCMA

Most days, the sprawling grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art’s Museum Park shut down at sunset. But once a year, the museum hosts a guided evening walk under the moon, passing its larger-than-life works of art like Mike Cindric and Vincent Petrarca Lowe’s Pavilion steel structure or Yinka Shonibare’s giant colorful kite-like Wind Sculpture II. The Full Moon Walk is a fun way to reflect on the art on the museum grounds, enjoy the starry night sky and get in some physical activity.
Jan. 6 | 6 – 7:30 p.m.; Free; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Photo Credit: Forrest Mason

Eat your way through Barcelona at the New Las Ramblas

The new tapas restaurant, the latest endeavor of hospitality guru Giorgios Bakatsias and Rosewater Executive chef Brian Jeznzer in North Hills will pair North Carolina seafood and pork and with authentic Spanish ingredients and cooking techniques. Learn more here.

Photo credit: Ceros

Enjoy the Evening Illuminate Art Walk

For the third year in a row, downtown streets, plazas and storefronts will be adorned with glowing works of art for Downtown Raleigh Alliance’s Illuminate Art Walk presented by Wake Tech. Stroll by Nate Schaffer’s Disco Alley on Glenwood Avenue, Brite Creations’ Glow Zone on Fayetteville Street and The Sonic Runway on S. Salisbury Street, an interactive light-art installation that converts audio signals into patterns of light that shoot down a 400-foot-long tunnel.
Jan. 6 & 13 | See websiteFree; downtown Raleigh; downtownraleigh.org/illuminate 

Stretch it Out at Winter Yoga at COR Museum

Start the year on a zen foot at City of Raleigh Museum’s Winter Yoga series. Each Saturday, enjoy a free session inside the museum led by various teachers in the Triangle. On Jan. 14, Priya Amaresh will do a Hatha session for adults, a type of yoga that uses physical moves and breathing strategies to channel one’s inner energetic force. On Jan. 28, Karen Burkes will do a Slow Flow session for all skill levels. Don’t forget a mat and water bottle!
Saturdays | 10 – 11: 30 a.m.; Free but registration encouraged; 220 Fayetteville Street; raleighnc.gov

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Cary’s Dreamfest

Dreamfest is a 20-year tradition for the town of Cary that celebrates the life and long-lasting lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an informative, fun and reflective weekend. It kicks off on Friday night with comedian Azeem, who has performed on BET and Comedy Central, at Cary Theatre (122 E. Chatham Street). On Saturday, head to the Page Walker Arts & History Center for Tellebration, a day filled with tales, crafts and hands-on activities with award-winning storyteller Willa Brigham (119 Ambassador Loop, Cary). Then in the evening, head to the featured event: Reimagining THe Dream For Today’s Generation will include keynote speaker Dr. Harry L. White Jr., a local Christian minister, at The Cary Arts Center (101 Dry Avenue). White will talk about King’s legacy and how we can honor that today. Also included in this portion of the event are talented local performers and artists and bites from food trucks. Sunday afternoon there will be a screening of the documentary Alice Street, about a community of diverse artists that band together to save a symbol of cultural representation, at the Cary Theatre (122 E. Chatham Street). The three-day celebration culminates with Walk For Hope on Monday, starting at Mt. Zion Church, to benefit survivors of abuse and addiction (316 Allen Lewis Drive, Cary). Most events free but tickets required; townofcary.org

See George Lopez Live at the Duke Performing Arts Center

You might have seen him on HBO, ABC or Netflix, but now you can see him on stage at the Duke Performing Arts Center. Grammy-nominated comedian, actor, host and best-selling author George Lopez is coming to Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium this month for his OMG Hi Comedy Tour. Lopez is known for his honesty, humor and ability to raise awareness on issues around Latin American culture and politics.
Jan. 15 | 8 p.m.; From $47; 2 E. South Street; dukeenergycenterraleigh.com

Photo credit: Keith Issacs

Make a Big Batch of Soup

Winter is the season to huddle together at the table and reconnect over comfort food, so we tapped the archives for ten nourishing soup recipes shared by Raleigh area chefs and food writers alike. Each one showcases herbs, spices, lesser-known vegetables and professional techniques to create something satisfying simple. Might we suggest making big batches of them to freeze and pull out on snow days?

Photo credit: Samantha Everette

Hear Rissi Palmer at the Southern Songbirds Series

This month the North Carolina Museum of History will host Durham-based country music artist and Color Me Country radio show host Rissi Palmer as part of its Southern Songbirds music series. The performance, emceed by the famous Jim Lauderdale, is the finale of the series hosted in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition The Power of Women in Country Music, a traveling exhibit from the GRAMMY Museum. The exhibit is a collection of outfits, instruments, song lyrics and more artifacts that belong or belonged to legendary females in the county music industry.
Jan. 21 | 7 p.m.; From $20; 5 E. Edenton Street; ncmuseumofhistory.org

Bring a Bride-to-Be to the Winter Showcase Soirée

Heading down the aisle soon, or know someone that is? Bring them to Boylan Avenue’s historic Heights House Hotel for a chic wedding expo with local wedding planner The Gathering Co. Tour the inn’s interior and grounds while learning about local wedding vendors like floral design studio Once Gathered, event production company Folie a Deux and wedding dress boutique a&bé Bridal. While there, enjoy specialty cocktails, appetizers and desserts while listening to the sounds of the violin and viola from musical pair Duo Licht from Winston-Salem.
Jan. 22 | 1 – 4 p.m.; Free to attend; 308 South Boylan; heightshousenc.com 

Support Now Serving

Hummingbird’s Coleen Speaks, Preeti Waas from Cheeni and sommelier Paula de Pano from Chapel Hill’s Rocks + Acid are coming together for the first of the Sunday Supper series for 2023. Proceeds benefit NowServing, a nonprofit that matches community- based organizations with restaurants to help neighbors in need. This dinner benefits Meals on Wheels of Wake County, which provides homebound seniors with hot meals. The menu includes fried oysters pakora, duck wellington and an orange-fennel bread pudding. 
Jan. 22 | 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. From $135 per seat; 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Suite 111, resy.com

Learn about Combating Hunger in NC with IFFS’s On the Menu Program

Get to know the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, an organization that’s on a mission to eradicate hunger in North Carolina, through a new lunch series, On the Menu. It’s a way to see behind the scenes and learn about the depth of their work, including programs like Cooking Matters and Grocery Bags for Seniors. This month, participants tour the food distribution warehouse at the Vernon Malone Center and enjoy a boxed lunch made from food that would have otherwise gone to waste, provided by the Food Shuttle’s food truck, the Spinning Plate.
Jan. 25 | 12 – 1:30 p.m.; Free; 1001 Blair Drive, foodshuttle.org

Courtesy: The North Carolina Opera

Hear the North Carolina Opera’s Don Giovanni

Experience Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s operatic story of Don Juan, the fictional character that’s become a household name. “Italian for Don Juan, Don Giovanni is the famous philanderer with a perpetual craving for women,” says North Carolina Opera director Eric Mitchko. “He is rich and powerful, handsome and charming, and he refuses to be bound by any of society’s laws or expectations. His motto is long live freedom — but can he ever truly be free if he has no control over his own desires?” Find out in this provocative, emotional three-hour production performed in two acts (with an intermission) in lyrical Italian with English supertitles.
Jan. 27 & 29; From $24; 2 E. South Street; ncopera.org

photo credit: Gus Samarco

Head to Kings for The Great Cover Up

Kings is bringing back its popular revue, The Great Cover Up. The tradition started in 1999, with various local musicians performing as such legends as Patsy Cline, David Bowie and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The fun part: No one knows who will appear onstage — or as which famous musicians — until the curtains part. “What started as a two-night event 20-plus years ago has grown to six nights. The last one had 54 acts,” says Kings co-owner Paul Siler, who runs the event. “Everyone takes it so seriously. The talent level and positive energy always amazes me.”
$10 suggested donation. 114 W. Martin Street; kingsraleigh.com

See Raleigh Little Theatre’s Blood Wedding

When an ex-lover steals the bride from her impending nuptials, the town of Andalucía goes after them in the middle of the night — and the evening takes a dark, psychedelic turn. Originally written in 1932 by poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, Blood Wedding is based on a true story about a deathly feud between two passionate Spanish families. “It features incredible language, characters and theatricality, and we are excited to share this gripping and magical Spanish tragedy with the community,” says Raleigh Little Theatre director Patrick Torres.
Jan. 27 – 29; From $27; 301 Pogue Street; raleighlittletheatre.org

Take the Kids to the North Carolina Museum’s Astronomy Days

Head to outer space with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Raleigh Astronomy Club. Explore the universe with hands-on crafts, engaging presentations, rockets, telescopes and a real-life astronaut. Themed Humans in Space: Past, Present, and Future!, this event series will appeal to even the youngest aspiring astronauts but also folks who followed the journey of NC State alumna Christina Koch in 2019 when she set a record by spending 328 days in space, longest single spaceflight by a woman. Koch will be giving presentations on both Saturday and Sunday.
Jan. 28 & 29  | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Free; 11 W. Jones Street; naturalsciences.org 

A version of this story originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of WALTER magazine.