What to Do in May 2024 In and Around Raleigh

This month in the Triangle, enjoy an excuse to amp up your biking, take in music of all genres and enjoy good food.
by Addie Ladner

Time to Tune In!

Pull out your picnic blankets — it’s outdoor music season! At North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, check out LIVE@Lake Raleigh, a laid-back, family-friendly music series. Country fusion group Holler Choir (May 2) and pop group Whoop (May 16) are on the lineup this month (6 p.m.; free; Main Campus Drive; live.arts.ncsu.edu). Head to North Hills for its Midtown Beach Music Series on Thursdays for pop covers, R&B and reggae from lively groups like Blackwater Band (May 2), Band of Oz (May 9) or Spare Change (May 16) (6 – 9 p.m.; $5; 4321 Lassiter at North Hills Avenue; visitnorthhills.com). For its Jazz at the NCMA series, the North Carolina Museum of Art will host Gregory Porter (May 23) and Brian Culbertson (May 30) at its Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater (from $44; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org). And on May 29, the Live After 5! musical block party series kicks off in One City Plaza (5 p.m.; free; Fayetteville Street; downtownraleigh.org).

Celebrate National Bike Month

Get ready to roll — the City of Raleigh is celebrating National Bike Month! On the evening of May 3, head to Pullen Park for the Bike Bonanza, where you can get a safety check on your gear, grab a free helmet from AAA of the Carolinas or have your bike serviced by Oaks and Spokes. On May 4, meet up with folks from the Raleigh Historic District Commission and Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission at Crank Arm Brewing at 10 a.m. for a 6-mile riding tour of the city’s history. On May 16, Bike to Work Day will bring refreshments and giveaways to more than a dozen pit stops including Red Hat Tower, Raleigh City Farm and NC State. Throughout the month, look out for cycling-inspired public art projects and additional community events.
All month long | Various times, Free; various locations; raleighnc.gov/bike-month.

Hear Jazz on the Roof at The Durham

There’s nothing like smooth tunes to ease into the slower pace of summer. Jazz and funk singer Ally J will kick off the Jazz on the Roof series at The Durham Hotel with her soulful vocals on May 1. On May 16, two-time Grammy-nominated trumpeter Al Strong will perform, along with a surprise guest. Seating is first-come, first-served — a great excuse to get there early for the bar’s skyline views and craft cocktails before the music starts.
May 1 & 16 | 7:30 – 9 p.m; Free to listen; 315 E. Chapel Hill Street, Durham; thedurham.com 

Experience Open Garden Days at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens

Twenty minutes south of downtown Raleigh is one of the largest and most diverse plant collections in the country. This month, as it does just a handful of times a year, Juniper Level Botanic Gardens will open its gates to the public so it can see its variety of rare, exotic and native plants. Visitors can also explore the expansive property, which includes gardens of different growing conditions that host an encyclopedic collection of plants. Horticultural staff will be on-site to assist guests with finding plants and answer gardening questions, and the greenhouses will be open to purchase plants.
May 3 – 5 & 10 – 12 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free; 9241 Sauls Road; juniperlevelbotanicgarden.org

See Cary Ballet Company’s Spring Works

Cary Ballet Company will present a performance that combines two great works: George Balanchine’s Who Cares? and Jill Bahr’s Alice in Wonderland. More than 100 dancers will take the stage at Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts for this unique production. Dancers from the youth company will be dainty bumblebees, flowers and butterflies for the whimsical acts of Alice in Wonderland. For Who Cares?, professional ballerinas from the company’s affiliate Cary Ballet Conservatory will don costumes handmade by Anina Dancewear in Cary, modeled after the ones designed for Balanchine’s 1970 debut.
May 4 | 1 & 6 p.m.From $40; 2 E. South Street; caryballetcompany.org

Support Second Chance Pet Adoptions Racing for the Rescues

A run/walk featuring adorable animals, Racing for the Rescues benefits Second Chance Pet Adoptions, Raleigh’s oldest no-kill animal rescue. The event kicks off with a costume parade featuring adoptable dogs, then leads into a 5K for runners, walkers and the dogs that join them. Also enjoy prizes, demonstrations, food trucks and shopping at the pet-centric Vendor Village, where vendors will include Five Freedoms Pet Photography, Unleashed, The Cat and Dog Store, and Care First Animal Hospital. Pet trainers, bakeries and boarding services will also be there. “Our community is in urgent need of help,” says Dave Ballesteros, president of the board of directors for Second Chance Pet Adoptions. “All proceeds go directly toward making a difference in the lives of animals in need.” From May 5 | 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.$40; 2401 Grigsby Avenue, Holly Springs; secondchancenc.org

Experience Music of Remembrance

Hear a storied piano and violin from Nazi-era Germany brought to life at the North Carolina Museum of Art’s SECU Auditorium for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The instruments, a 1792 Zwerger violin and 1905 Blüthner piano, belonged to Natascha and Grete Wilczynski, Jewish sisters who were promising musicians in Munich in the early 1900s. With the rise of Nazi rule, the sisters — and their instruments — were separated by tragedy. Nearly a century later, Grete’s grandson unearthed his family’s story and reunited the piano and violin. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the piano and violin will be played together with reverence and pride by Jacqueline Saed Wolborsky, principal violinist at the North Carolina Symphony, and Mimi Solomon, a chamber pianist and UNC Chapel Hill School of Music lecturer.
May 5 | 2 p.m., Free; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Head to Plates Neighborhood Kitchen for a Cinco De Mayo Patio Party

Join chef David Mitchell on the spacious patio at Plates Neighborhood Kitchen on Glenwood South for a Mexico-inspired feast. Sip your way through three different house-crafted margaritas while enjoying small plates like mussels in a spicy corn broth with queso fresco and fried halloumi with salsa verde atop a crispy corn tortilla.
May 5 | 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.,301 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 100; plateskitchen.com

See Artist Lynn Boggess at The Umstead

The Umstead Hotel & Spa will host landscape artist Lynn Boggess in its galleries this month. To celebrate the artist’s sixth showing at the luxury hotel, the two have teamed up together for a reception and plein-air demonstration that draws inspiration from the hotel’s lush surroundings. A Virginia native, Boggess is known for his vibrant, textured oil paintings that depict the mysterious and rich life of the natural world. “We thought this would be an easy, lovely way for local art lovers and our community to see Lynn in his natural element,” says Marcelle Kick, design coordinator at The Umstead. May 8 | 1:30 – 3:30 p.m., Free; 100 Woodland Pond Drive, Cary; umstead.com

Take in Some Movies at the History Museum

Celebrating its 10th year, the Longleaf Film Festival is a beloved event for both aspiring filmmakers and film buffs. Hosted by the North Carolina Museum of History, the festival kicks off on Friday at 5 p.m. with a block of films, followed by a reception and the Movies-N-Moonlight outdoor screening on Bicentennial Plaza. On Saturday, the festival offers film screenings, workshops and panels throughout the day and into the evening. “While the films demonstrate a breadth of diverse creativity, several themes emerged,” says festival director Sally Bloom of this year’s film selections. John Rash and Melanie Dang Ho’s Our Movement Starts Here and Laura Albritton’s Longleaf Forever are centered on our relationship with the natural world. Themes of loss are central to Kiersten Houser’s Voicemail and Sarah Deitrich’s Take Me To The Woods. And Mike O’Connell’s You’ve Got to Start a Thing and Frederick Murphy’s Duality: A Collection of Afro Indigenous Perspectives show history and its repercussions. “This year promises to deliver entertainment, insight and connection with about 1,260 minutes of narrative, documentary, music videos and animated movies — all with North Carolina connections,” Bloom says.
Free; 5 E. Edenton Street; longleaffilm-festival.com

Enjoy Grand Horizons at Theatre Raleigh

Independent theater company Honest Pint Theatre Co. will present Grand Horizons at Theatre Raleigh. Set in an independent living center for seniors, the story follows the unraveling of a 50-year marriage that sends shock waves through the community. Written by Bess Wohl, Grand Horizons was nominated for Best Play at the 2020 Tony Awards and is a surprisingly light, heart-warming tale. “The play asks us to consider what happens when you step outside of your role in a family, as our protagonist seeks to be seen not just as a wife and mother, but as a woman with desires, secrets and dreams,” says the director, Susannah Hough.
May 17 – June 1 | Various times; From $25; 3027 Barrow Drive; honestpinttheatre.org

Experience Artsplosure in Downtown Raleigh

Now in its 45th year, Artsplosure is Raleigh’s longest-running arts and cultural festival, which features art installations, performances, an art market and kids’ crafts. Among the featured performers is Squonk Opera, a Pittsburgh-based group that will bring two of its mesmerizing shows to City Plaza: Brouhaha features the group’s one-of-a-kind “Squonkcordion” (an instrument best described as a conglomeration of giant, accordion-powered tubas), and Hand-to-hand features a pair of house-sized hands that challenge each other through an interactive rock performance. Artsplosure will also bring back The Song Confessional, a booth in which festival-goers can anonymously share their musings to be turned into a song, and other musical performances including Afrofuturist band Sun Ra Arkestra.
May 18 & 19 | Various times, free; downtown Raleigh; artsplosure.org

Hear Kristen Chenoweth with the North Carolina Symphony

The North Carolina Symphony will host Tony- and Emmy Award-winning singer and actress Kristen Chenoweth for one night only. With our hometown musicians backing her up, Chenoweth will perform songs from her portfolio of iconic performances, including music from Wicked, Glee and You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
May 18 | 8 p.m.; From $90; 2 E. South Street; ncsymphony.org

Cheer on the Durham Bulls

Take a field trip to Durham for a classic springtime outing: checking out a minor-league baseball game. The week of May 20, the Durham Bulls will play six home games against the Memphis Redbirds. Tuesday is Tacos & Tallboys night, with $2 tacos and discounted beers. Winning Wednesday offers extra chances to win prizes, and Dollar Dog Thursday brings, you guessed it, $1 hot dogs. Friday and Saturday nights, there’ll be fireworks after the game. And at the Sunday game — which starts a little earlier and includes an opportunity for kids to run the bases at the end — Wool E. Bull will be celebrating his birthday, with other mascots in attendance!
May 21 – 25 | Various times; From $13; 409 Blackwell Street, Durham; milb.com

Head to Gardens on Parade 

The Raleigh Garden Club is hosting its first tour in nearly 100 years! Gardens on Parade is a three-day extravaganza with various ways to participate. The two-day Home Garden Tour will showcase eight diverse gardens, each paired with a guest artisan. Among them are a large wooded lot with sculptural art and an imaginative yard with natural play areas. On Friday evening, one of the homes will host Sunset and Moonlight in the Garden, with wine and hors d’oeuvres in a beautiful landscape by Falls Lake. The weekend culminates with a garden party and silent auction at JC Raulston Arboretum, where guests can bid on art while enjoying homemade delicacies and refreshments. Garden-themed attire encouraged!
May 31 – June 2 | Various times; Prices and locations vary per event; raleigh-garden-club.org 

This article originally appeared in the May 2024 issue of WALTER magazine