20 Things to Do in and around Raleigh in June 2023

Summer is here! This month brings jazz dinners, outdoor concerts, Juneteenth celebrations and festivals galore.
by Addie Ladner

Explore Afrofuturism at NCMA’s New Exhibition

The NCMA explores Afrofuturism as well as iconic outfits in film history in a traveling exhibit, Ruth E. Carter: Afrofuturism in Costume Design of Oscar winner Ruth E. Carter’s costumes. “In filmmaking, costume design plays a major role in setting the tone, creating a mood, and capturing the essence of an era within a story. For over 40 years costume designer Ruth E. Carter was the style mastermind behind looks on film that defined iconic moments in pop culture, seminal events in Black history, and imaginative, futuristic design,”writes art and culture writer Colony Little.  

Head to NC State’s TheatreFest

June is busy at North Carolina State University, where its annual TheatreFEST will host a cluster of shows celebrating all aspects of live theater. In addition to watching productions of various genres, guests can participate in Q&As with playwrights and enjoy a festival showcasing the area’s various theater companies. The first play is Jeffery Hatcher’s Holmes and Watson, a thrilling mystery about the presumed but questionable death of famed detective Sherlock Holmes. Also enjoy a comedic musical about two guys writing a musical, called [title of show]. The festival itself is on June 17, showcasing the Triangle’s many theater companies, as well as QuickSCRIPTS, ​​an evening of four short plays written, cast and produced in just 72 hours.

June 1 – 18 | Various and prices; Talley Student Union, Suite 2110, 2610 Cates Avenue; theatre.arts.ncsu.edu

See Theatre Raleigh’s The Weight of Everything We Know

Theatre Raleigh will present the world premiere of North Carolina playwright Allan Maule’s The Weight of Everything We Know, a romantic comedy about science, writing and coping with elements beyond our control. The story starts when Lucia, an astrophysicist, and Darrow, a writer, are set up on a date. As their relationship progresses, there’s a major upheaval in the scientific world: A decision is made to change the way a kilogram is measured. “When I read about the kilogram changing mass, I knew there was a great dramatic premise there. This breakthrough would upend everything for scientists, but leave others puzzled. So what if this all happened while a scientist and a non-science type were falling in love?” says Maule. From

June 1 – 11 | Various times; $30. 6638 Old Wake Forest Road; theatreraleigh.com

Savor your First Omakase at O-Ku

 O-Ku Chef Cuong Le has a new vibrant seasonal Omakase menu underway at O-Ku now. The experiential meal follows 8 courses, small dishes of mostly seafood that build on each other. “I think when most people think about Omakase, they think about a traditional tasting, like multiple pieces of nigiri and sashimi…They’re building up from the lightest flavors all the way to the heaviest most decadent flavors. I still try to orchestrate a symphony where it crescendos toward the end, but it’s more comparative to a western tasting menu. So they’re more complete, small plates rather than just one piece of nigiri,” says Le of his creations. Think quail soft boiled quail eggs coated in fried shrimp, Wagu beef and milk bread – each dish an experience unto itself with wonderful flavors and texture at every bite. 

$150 per person; 411 W Hargett Street, the menu is available Monday through Thursday by reservation (must have at least) with 24 hours notice; o-kusushi.com/location/o-ku-raleigh

Head Dead & Company: The Final Tour at Coastal Credit Union Music Park

Dead & Company was formed in 2015, 20 years after legendary Grateful Dead guitarist and singer-songwriter Jerry Garcia passed away, as a way to honor his legacy. Since its inception, Grateful Dead alumni Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann have been joined by a host of notable musicians each summer, including Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbidge and John Mayer. The group will stop at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek as part of their last tour.
June 1 | 7 p.m.; From $100; 3801 Rock Quarry Road; deadandcompany.com

Eat your Way Through the International Food Festival

Celebrate the vibrant cultures that make up Raleigh at the International Food Festival. More than 60 vendors will be serving dishes with roots in countries from Scotland to El Salvador to Syria. The festival will also include live performances of traditional dancing from various countries as well as a 1970s and ‘80s outdoor dance party and contest. The City of Raleigh Museum will offer special programming in conjunction with the event, including puppet shows, folk stories, face painting and story time.

June 3 | 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Free; Fayetteville Street; theinternationalfestival.org

Bring the Kids to Fred Fletcher Park for Ever After: Fairytales, Food and Flowers

Enjoy Mother Nature’s gifts in all forms at Fred Fletcher Park. This whimsical celebration of fairy tales, food and flowers is hosted by the local children’s event planning group Paper & Stars Studio in conjunction with the City of Raleigh.
June 3 | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.;Free admission; 820 Clay Street; raleighnc.gov

Hear Bands @ Brookside Bodega

Bring the family to Brookside Bodega on Tuesdays for live, local music on the patio. Americana act Sentimental Johnny from Hillsborough plays on June 6, and DJ Jay Tay will spin tunes on June 13. Monica Kennedy will sing cover favorites on June 20, as will J.A.K. Acoustic Covers on June 27. Tuesdays are also $2 off draft beers to wash down the Bodega Nachos or Bodega Burger on an early summer evening outside.

Tuesdays | 5 – 8 p.m.; Free to listen; 1000 Brookside Drive; brooksidebodega.com

Head to Cary for the Pimento Cheese Festival

Food trucks will line Academy Street to celebrate a Southern staple at the Pimento Cheese Festival. Enjoy live music at the Downtown Park, grab a drink from local breweries and taste some inventive pimento cheese dishes. Gussy’s Greek, Ultimate Egg Rolls and Big Mikes BBQ are a few of the many participating local food trucks that will offer both their regular menus and new, on-theme specials (see: pimento-cheese ice cream). You can even test your skills in the pimento-cheese sculpting contest.

June 10 | 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Free; 319 S. Academy Street, Cary; carync.gov

Support the NCHRC at Roots for Reece Chefs Picnic

Under the Oak Catering chef and owner Blake Gotliffe is hosting the Roots for Reece Chef’s Picnic, a food-filled fundraiser to benefit the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition. Set on 40 acres of verdant farmland, guests can enjoy rock-funk band Lake Chamberlain, a silent auction, kids’ activities and the main attraction: beverages and cuisine from more than 20 all-star Triangle restaurants and bars. Among them: Oro Restaurant, Leroy’s Taco Shop, Jolie, Glasshouse Kitchen, Postal Fish Company, Trophy Brewing and many more. Roots for Reece is named after Gotliffe’s friend, Reece Byrd, who was lost to a drug overdose in 2017. All proceeds from this event will go towards NCHRC to offer support for those struggling with addiction.

June 11 | 3 – 7 p.m.;From $100; 8521 Buffaloe Road, Knightdale; undertheoakcatering.com

Relish in Cocktails and Jazz at Hummingbird

Enjoy a pop-up speakeasy and jazz club at Whitaker & Atlantic, the event space run by Hummingbird chef and owner Coleen Speaks. After you dine on New Orleans-style cuisine at the restaurant, slip through the unmarked door beyond the restrooms to enter the lounge. There, twice a month on Wednesdays, you’ll find local jazz and blues acts alongside creative cocktails and bar snacks.
June 14 & 28 | 7 – 10 p.m.; Reserve online; 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Suite 111; whitakerandatlantic.com

Celebrate Juneteenth with Liberation Station’s Grand Opening

Four years after Victoria Scott-Miller started the pop-up bookstore Liberation Station, she’s opening her first brick-and-mortar location. It will be the first Black-owned children’s bookstore in Raleigh, with more than 1,000 titles that represent Black characters, writers and illustrators. “This store is beyond our ancestors’ wildest dreams, one that acknowledges our place in North Carolina history while unearthing a diverse spectrum of affirming Black images from every fabric of our life,” says Scott-Miller. The grand opening will be a weekend-long celebration leading up to Juneteenth. On Saturday, notable children’s book authors, including New York Times bestselling author Derrick Barnes and award-winning author Tameka Fryer Brown, will be at Liberation Station for book signings. On Sunday, the bookstore will host White Glove Day, where guests can interact with historical documents including letters written by Frederick Douglass and signed, first-edition books by Octavia Butler, Langston Hughes and bell hooks. On Monday, there will be a walk from the state capitol to the bookstore led by a group of Black equestrians, followed by a book signing by Caitlin Gooch, the founder of nonprofit Saddle Up and Read, which works to help children achieve literary success through equine activities.

June 17 – 19 | Various times; Free admission; 208 Fayetteville Street, Suite 201; liberationstationbookstore.com

Check Out Ashely Christensen’s Newly Reopened Fox Liquor Bar

When Christensen opened he underground bar in 2012, it was among the first in Raleigh to harness the craft cocktail wave. The subterranean bar was cozy and dimly-lit, a favorite for a date-night or after-dinner drink. It closed during the pandemic, and over the last few years, Christensen has been rethinking the space and how she’d like it to function in the Raleigh scene. It reopens this month. We spoke to Christensen about the reopening— and got a first look at the revamped space and updated menu!

Head to Moore Square for the Raleigh Retro Gamers Expo

Enjoy thousands of retro and modern games and memorabilia at the Raleigh Retro Games Summer Expo at downtown’s Moore Square. Shop from tons of vendors, enjoy live music, a DJ, crafts and more nostalgia taking you back to your childhood days of Pokemon.

June 17 | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Free admission; 201 S. Blount Street; raleighretrogamers.com

Jam Out Downtown at Live After 5

Presented by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, Live After 5 is a free concert series in downtown’s One City Plaza. This block-party-style celebration will feature a lineup of cover bands playing music by acts from the 1980s and 90s. This month, Live After 5 will showcase Hard Tuck, a cover band made up by musicians Kate Rhudy, Joseph Terrell and Chessa Rich, with deejay King Akira. The event will also feature Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing’s signature seltzer “The Sweet Life,” plus goodies from other local vendors. Chairs and picnic blankets are welcome.

June 21 | 5 – 8 p.m.; Free admission; 443 Fayetteville Street; downtownraleigh.org

Bring the Kids to Watch Turning Red at NCMA

The amphitheater of the North Carolina Museum of Art is a favorite spot for  an outdoor film and picnic. This year, the museum’s summer movie lineup is centered around the theme Esse Quam Videri, the North Carolina State motto, which translates to “to be rather than to seem.” One film that reflects the idea is the animated children’s movie Turning Red. It’s about a young teenager who suddenly starts turning into an enormous red panda when she’s emotional — much to her inconvenience at school and at home. This lively, heart-warming film explores Chinese traditions, the trials of coming of age and our sometimes complicated relationships with family. Registration required and picnic blankets, chairs and food welcome.
June 23 | 8:30 – 11 p.m.; Free for members, $7 for nonmembers, 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Hear the Sounds of Harry Potter and Star Wars

Hear the scores from two fantasy blockbusters, Star Wars and Harry Potter, at the North Carolina Symphony’s SummerFest. Led by conductor Lawrence Loh, the evening of wands versus lightsabers takes place at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Keep an eye out for musicians disguised as Professor Snape or Imperial Stormtroopers, and you’re encouraged to dress in your favorite wizarding or futuristic wardrobe.

June 24 | 8 p.m.;From $35; 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary; ncsymphony.org

Hear Peter Frampton on His Never Say Never Tour

I want you, to show me the way to Red Hat Amphitheater to hear British musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Peter Frampton on his North American “Never Say Never” tour. A hitmaker since the 1960s, Frampton has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, a handful of Grammy nods and a win for Best Pop Instrumental Album for Fingerprints (2006).
June 24 | 8 p.m.; From $30; 500 S. McDowell Street; redhatamphitheater.com

Celebrate Love at OUT! Raleigh Pride Festival

Themed “Love 365,” OUT! Raleigh Pride Festival is the Triangle’s yearly come-one-come-all, family-friendly celebration of the LGTBQIA+ community. The festival, which benefits the LGBT Center of Raleigh, will include more than 100 vendors, music, speakers, a KidsZone on Fayetteville Street and — new this year! — Raleigh’s first Pride Parade.
June 24 | 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.Free admission; downtown Raleigh; outraleighpride.com  

This article was originally published on May, 18 2023 on waltermagazine.com