17 Things to Do in May 2023

Summer’s almost here! Enjoy the season with independent films, soccer games, outdoor play and tons of live music.
by Addie Ladner

Take a Trip to Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival

An all-are-welcome, lively weekend-long festival in Pittsboro, the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance is worth the hour drive from Raleigh. More than just American folk music, this festival has plenty to explore while you connect with other roots music fans. There’s a huge dance tent, a kids village and a teen outpost, a healing arts village, an advocacy area, camping sites, a number of craft vendors and a sustainability pavilion. This year, in addition to festival regulars like Donna the Buffalo, legendary country star Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, bluegrass musician Sierra Hull, and Cuban Afro-punk band Cimafunk will also play.
May 4 – 7 | Various times | From $57; 1439 Henderson Tanyard Road, Pittsboro; shakorihillsgrassroots.org 

Have a Listen to Local Acts at LIVE@Lake Raleigh

Hear Piedmont-based roots singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett from the lawn at Lake Raleigh for NC State LIVE’s free spring and summer concert series. Gates open at 5 p.m. with food trucks like HotBox Pizza and JAM Ice Cream on site for purchase from. Dossett, who has written for Carolina Chocolate Drops and appeared on NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, will take the stage at 6 p.m. Grab your picnic blanket and lawn chairs and head for Centennial Campus for this free, family-friendly concert set against 75 untouched acres of trails, forest and waterways.
May 4 & 18 | 6 p.m. | Free; 2300 Main Campus Drive; live.arts.ncsu.edu  

Support CAM at Arthouse

For “Met Gala of Raleigh” vibes, head to the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh for Arthouse, a night of cutting-edge art and fun music to help raise funds for the museum and their community programs. Though the tradition has been around for more than a decade, this is its first year back since the pandemic. Enjoy music, performers and food by James Beard award nominee Cheetie Kumar, all while surrounded by the museum’s thought-provoking collections. While not required, Dana Carlsten, CAM’s marketing coordinator says she looks forward to seeing everyone’s creative wardrobes for this art-forward fundraiser and encourages guests to dress to the nines and get ready to dance. “You always see some of the most daring and inventive outfits. Artists and art lovers show off their most spectacular ensembles. Be prepared to showcase your own stunning attire and don’t forget your dancing shoes.”
May 6 | 7 – 11 p.m. | From $250; 409 W. Martin Street; camraleigh.org 

Bring the Littles to Prairie Ridge for Nature Play Day

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Science’s outdoor oasis, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, is equipped with natural structures for kids to interact with all year, like the wood stage, play kitchen and dirt pit. And this month the museum staff will bring out extra props like capes for roleplay, pots and pans for the kitchen, and chalk for whatever the children dream up. To make a day of it, pack a picnic and take the kids for a stroll along either the Prairie Trail or the Forest Trail.
May 6 | 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | Free; 1671 Gold Star Drive; naturalsciences.org

Shop Big Spoon Roasters’ Mother’s Day Event

Durham-based Big Spoon Roasters, the nut butter and snack bar company, is hosting a Mother’s Day at the company’s new headquarters and production facility in Hillsborough. Shoppers can sample the entire catalog of Big Spoon Roasters products, from their Carrot Cake Almond and Pistachio Crunch nut butters to their interesting range of snack bars, before building their own gift sets. Be the first to try their latest limited batch: Blueberry Granola Almond Butter, a fruit-forward offering with dried blueberries, toasted macadamia nuts and Vermont maple syrup.
May 6 | 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Free admission; 500 Meadowlands Drive, Hillsborough; bigspoonroosters.com

Shop Vintage Market Days at the Fairgrounds

Shop vintage clothing, original art, antique homewares and more from vendors from all over the country at Vintage Market Days. Consumable treats will be available from numerous vendors as you shop and enjoy 130-plus unique vendors at this annual event held at the fairgrounds.
May 12 – 14 | From $5; NC State Fairgrounds 1025 Blue Ridge Road; vintagemarketdays.com

Celebrate THAT Station’s 5th Anniversary

North Carolina’s independent radio channel, That Station, is turning 5 years old! Since its inception, That Station has championed artists from across the state, so it’s fitting that they’ll do the same on May 12 at Lincoln Theatre, throwing an anniversary bash with North Carolina rock band The Nude Party as headliners. “Don’t worry, they all wear clothes now, but when the band started — while its members were at Appalachian State University — they lived up to the name,” says Chris Edge, THAT Station program director. “There’s been a big buzz about this band for a few years now so we’re thrilled that they were available to play and celebrate our anniversary with us. I’m equally as excited about having an opportunity to hang out with supporters of That Station at one of Raleigh’s historic venues.”
May 12 | 7 p.m. | $20; Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus Street; thatstation.net 

Hear Stevie Nicks at PNC

Known for her captivating stage presence and supernatural singing voice, Stevie Nicks remains one of the most inspirational women in music history. Famous for solo hits like “Edge of Seventeen” and leading Fleetwood Mac favorites like “Landslide,” “Go Your Own Way” and “The Chain,” Nicks will bring her timeless style, songs and powerhouse vocals to PNC Arena.
May 12 | 7 p.m. | From $105; 1400 Edwards Mill Road; pncarena.com

See Independent Movies at Longleaf Film Festival

Independent movie buffs will love this free-to-attend film festival that celebrates stories of North Carolina. Longleaf Film Festival will be taking over the plaza outside the North Carolina Museum of History and the museum itself for film screenings (between 60 to 70 total), panel discussions and more. The weekend includes something for everyone, whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or just love to watch — especially the Movies-N-Moonlight Friday screening, with popcorn and chairs provided. Festival director Sally Causey Bloom is especially excited about this year’s film selection for its wide range of styles, from Ralph Parker’s haunting narrative Sammy Without Strings, about a Black puppet named Sammy seeking freedom, to Addie Navaro’s documentary Down River Jordan, about friends navigating the three countries that border the Jordan River. “We screen movies that entertain, educate and engage —all with a North Carolina connection,” says Bloom. Guests can also enjoy animated shorts like Sonata, a story about a first date; Finding Patience, a musical history of Holly Springs; and How to Survive Your First Date, a dark parody from high school filmmaker Reese Robers.
May 12 & 13 | various times | Free; 5 E. Edenton Street; longleaffilmfestival.com 

Experience Carolina Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty

Based on the work of the Brothers Grimm, the world premiere of this ballet was first choreographed in 1890 by Marius Petipa, ballet master of Russia’s Imperial Ballet. Today, Sleeping Beauty is a popular ballet, an emotionally charged interpretation of the classic fairy tale. It will feature live music by The Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle and adapted choreography by Carolina Ballet’s founder Robert Weiss at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.
May 18 – 21 | Various times | From $27; 2 E. South Street; carolinaballet.com

Head to NCMA’s Amphitheater for The Wood Brothers with Shovels & Rope

Grammy-nominated American roots group The Wood Brothers will take the stage at NCMA’s amphitheater. Known for their songwriting and storytelling, The Wood Brothers have diverse music and a loyal fan base. Opening the night are Shovels & Rope, a duo from Charleston that blends traditional folk, rock & roll and country together with themes from homelessness to marital strife and social justice.
May 19  | 7:30 p.m. | From $45; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Experience a Weekend of Artsplosure

Head downtown for Raleigh’s longest-running art festival, a daytime celebration with live music and interactive art. This year, more than 150 juried creators will be showcasing their unique metal works, painting, photography, pottery and jewelry at the Art Market along Fayetteville Street. Little art enthusiasts will enjoy the Kidsplosure component of the event with free hands-on activities. The Sunday headliner will be The Black Opry Revue, a showcase of country music featuring Black artists across blues, folk and Americana genres.
May 20 & 21 | Various times | Free; Fayetteville Street; raleighartsfestival.com

Cheer on the Courage as they play Angel City

Cheer on the North Carolina Courage at WakeMed Soccer Park for a competitive matchup against the Angel City from California. FanFest starts 90 minutes before kickoff with fun for kids like inflatables, face painting, balloon artists, games and more (it runs during halftime, too). Be on the lookout for new local food and drink options in addition to the classics like popcorn and hog dogs.
May 20 | 7 – 9 p.m. | From $25; 101 Soccer Park Drive, Cary; nccourage.com

See Starlit Views from The Durham

To the stars! Head to the top of the Durham Hotel, downtown Durham’s boutique Mid-century hotel, for the return of its stargazing series hosted by Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. From the open-air patio with panoramic views of the Bull City skyline, experience telescopic stargazing with Morehead educators and music from DJ Mic Check, who will be spinning tunes until 10 p.m. Stargazing will  take place from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., but the roof opens at 5 p.m. to kick off the evening with snacks, craft cocktails and sunset views.
May 22 | 8 – 11 p.m. | Free; 315 E. Chapel Hill Street, Durham; thedurham.com

Head to Transfer Co. for PineCone Jam

Hear fiddle and mandolin players play together at Transfer Co. Food Hall at PineCone’s monthly Bluegrass Jam. In this “circle jam” style, anyone can join in and play their favorite bluegrass instrumentals or vocals. Facilitated by musician Russell Johnson, who leads the bluegrass program at UNC-Chapel Hill, “this is just a fun place where the community can gather to celebrate their love of bluegrass music. Whether you are a player or just a fan, the connections at this jam lead to long-lasting friendships, growing musical appreciation and a strong sense of community,” says Tray Wellington, PineCone’s communication manager. Get there early to grab a burger from Mama Crows or a bite from Che Empanadas before the music.
May 22 | 7 – 9 p.m. | Free; 500 E. Davie Street; pinecone.org 

See Transformers at Raleigh Little Theatre

Grab a blanket and lawn chair and head to the Stephenson Amphitheatre for an outdoor screening of the 2007 blockbuster Transformers. As a part of Raleigh Little Theatre’s Movies in the Garden Series, this May screening will be accompanied by outdoor food trucks from Chick-N-Que, Majestic Ice, JAM Soft Serve Ice Cream and Raleigh Brewing Company. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food and nonalcoholic drinks as they watch Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) join forces with the Autobots to save the world.
May 25 | 8:30 p.m. | Pay what you can, starting at $1; 301 Pogue Street; raleighlittletheatre.org

Check out this Special Memorial Day Remembrance Event

This year at Bennett Place, a historic farmstead dating back to the Civil War, military historians will be discussing what it was like to be an American soldier during that conflict. In April 1865, the two sides met at Bennett Place and signed surrender papers for southern armies in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, making it the site of the war’s largest troop surrender of the Civil War. The event is free for children under 5, veterans and active service men and women.
May 27 & 28 | Various times | $3; 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durham; historicsites.nc.gov  

“Exploring Color” Opening Reception

Join the opening reception of Cassie Adams’ debut gallery show, “Exploring Color: Introducing New Vibrant Works of Cassie Adams” for an evening of stunning artwork, engaging conversation and light refreshments at Gallery C. Her limited edition pieces are a unique blend of detailed photographs taken from her physical paintings and collages, combined with digital drawings done by hand using mixed media elements like pencil, marker, pastel and oil crayon. The result is a collection of beautifully layered artworks that explore the depths of color and texture. Her work will be on display at Gallery C throughout the month of May.
May 5 | 6-8 p.m. | Free; 540 N. Blount Street, Raleigh; galleryc.net

This article originally appeared in the May 2023 issue of WALTER magazine.