25+ Things to do in September in and Around Raleigh

Welcome the start of fall in Raleigh with colorful festivals, great music and opening weekends for sports and arts alike.
by WALTER Staff

Take Advantage of Labor Day Weekend Fun

It may be September, but it’s not time for pumpkin-spiced anything yet! The long Labor Day weekend is great for basking in warm, golden rays and squeezing every last drop out of the summer. With street festivals, markets and walking tours celebrating everything from barbecue to big cats, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the last official weekend of summer in and around the Triangle. See our ideas here.

Head to local plant sales

This month offers a few opportunities to wander through impressive gardens and get inspiration — or some new plants — for your own yard. On the weekends of Sept. 16 to 18 and 23 to 25, visit master plantsman Tony Avent’s Juniper Level Botanic garden, where you’ll encounter 28 acres filled with more than 30,000 varieties of plants. You can shop for everything from native perennials to exotic plants and an array of trees and shrubs (jlbg.org). While the JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State is open year-round, get a new perspective on the park during a guided Evening Garden Stroll on Sept. 13 or a Photography Walk with outdoor photographer Mary Louise Ravese on Sept. 15 (jcra.ncsu. edu). On Sept. 24, combine food and flora with a tour through the edible garden of bestselling author and horticulturist Brie Authur. Free with no registration needed; promenade the ornate garden, grab a bite to eat from Medi-Bites Food Truck and purchase garden essentials (briegrows.com).

See The Black Keys at Coastal Credit Union

Come out and see alt-rock duo The Black Keys in The Dropout Boogie Tour, joined by indie rock crooners Band of Horses. Hear classics like “Lonely Boy” and “Gold on the Ceiling” performed live at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek. Bring your blankets and finest lawn chairs, or opt for a close-up view of the stage.
Sept. 1 | 7 p.m.; From $39.50; 3801 Rock Quarry Road; livenation.com

See Through the Layers at the Block Gallery

North Carolina-based artists Wiley Johnson and Eduardo Lapetina present Through the Layers, an art exhibit sponsored by the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Conference (LEAD) at the Block Gallery inside the Raleigh Municipal Building. Both Johnson and Lapetina identify as having a disability and have found a shared visual language through their art. Johnson’s abstract paintings use layering as a key technique, and Lapetina utilizes a variety of methods such as scraping, pouring and dripping to create symbolic shapes and colors. 
Aug. 1 – Sept. 21 | Free; 222 W. Hargett Street; raleighnc.gov/arts

See Carolina Ballet’s The Concert

Kicking off the company’s 25th season, Carolina Ballet will produce a quirky classic by Jerome Robbins, the legendary choreographer and Academy Award-winning director of the 1961 West Side Story film. The Concert, a spoof on a Chopin piano recital, acts out the wildest fantasies of the audience members in attendance. Acclaimed concert pianist William Wolfram will play the mesmerizing score along with members of the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle in a show that’s full of imaginative performances. Sept. 22 – 25 From $27.15: 2 E. South Street; carolinaballet.com

Take a Road Trip to Greenville, South Carolina

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just straddling the North Carolina border, Greenville, South Carolina is filled with a rich arts and coffee scene, a bustling downtown and gorgeous natural scenery. It used to be a best-kept secret, but that’s not quite the case anymore. In 2013, Greenville’s tourism board debuted the slogan, “yeah, that Greenville” as both a tongue-in-cheek reference to the predominance of identically-named cities in North Carolina, Tennessee and even Michigan, and as an assertion that among all the Greenvilles, this was the one that deserved to come to your mind. And in recent years, it increasingly has. At just over a four-hour drive from most parts of the Triangle, Greenville offers an easy weekend escape. Here’s an insider look at the South Carolina city with great coffee, culture and natural spaces.

Head to the Earl Scruggs Music Festival

Head west to Mill Spring for Labor Day weekend, where the inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival will be held at Tryon International Equestrian Center. The festival celebrates the life and legacy of Cleveland County bluegrass musician Earl Scruggs, who popularized the three-finger banjo picking style. Hear from a packed lineup including Grammy award-winning banjoist Béla Fleck, jam band Leftover Salmon, Grammy-decorated multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons and bluegrass group Chatham County Line.
Sept. 2 – 4 | From $55; 25 International Boulevard, Mill Spring; earlscruggsmusicfest.com

Head to Pinehurst for the BBQ Festival 

Celebrate “All Things Barbeque” at the second annual Pinehurst Barbeque Festival. With a splash of Eastern North Carolina vinegar or Western North Carolina tomato-based sauce, the three-day event offers a unique sampling of barbeque meats and sides. Presented by Pinehurst Resort, US Foods and The Pilot (WALTER’s parent company), each night offers something different: Wings & Zings: A Night Of Chicken and Stand-Up Comedy, “Q” School grilling classes and even a concert where tribute band Chicago: Rewired takes the stage. 
Sept. 2 – 4 |From $15; various locations, Pinehurst; pinehurstbarbecuefestival.com

Head downtown for the African American Cultural Festival

Honor African American culture on Labor Day weekend through art, music, dance, food and community at the 13th Annual African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County. Visit the Art Gallery Walk on Fayetteville Street, where local and nationally known artists will display original works on canvas, handcrafted jewelry, sculpture and ceramics. Make sure to grab a bite from the several food vendors guaranteed to satisfy your fried, fruity, frozen or veggie needs.
Sept. 3 – 4 | Free; downtown Raleigh; aacfestival.org


An evolving experiential art exhibition and digital archive created by MIPSTERZ, it explores Muslim Futurism—a cultural and artistic aesthetic that learns from frameworks of Afrofuturism and imagines a broader Muslim future free from the oppression of today, set in a utopic tomorrow of our collective creation.  In this groundbreaking exhibition, MIPSTERZ has organized Muslim Futurism into five themes: imagination, resistance, liberation, community, and identity. Through this lens, MIPSTERZ envisions a future where we all people are free to create a world that is bold, radical, and uniquely their own. See Original artwork and installations from the MIPSTERZ collective, featuring contributions from over 30 Muslim & Muslim-adjacent/ally artists worldwide. Works are connected to the five themes of Muslim Futurism.
Sept 1 – 18; 2020 Campus Drive, Durham; arts.duke.edu/news/alhamdu-muslim-futurism/

Celebrate Alley Twenty Six’s 10th Birthday with Cocktails and Dinner

Alley Twenty Six, a 2022 James Beard finalist for Outstanding Bar Program, will celebrate its 10-year anniversary with events all month.  The special anniversary events include a five-course dinner on Thursday, Sept. 8, a Rye whiskey-focused virtual cocktail course led by Healy on Thursday, Sept. 15, and the continuation of Al Strong Presents Jazz Brunch Sundays through the end of September. For the Sept. 8 dinner, executive chef Carrie Schleiffer has designed a menu to pair with tastings of the cocktail bar’s most popular drinks, including the Mexican Herbalist, the Alley Cocktail and more. Cost is $110 per person. At 7 p.m. Sept. 15, Healy will do a special interactive virtual cocktail class to celebrate Alley Twenty Six’s anniversary featuring Rye whiskey. Guests sign up for the class for $15 and purchase the cocktail ingredients themselves or buy a cocktail class ingredient kit (Rye whiskey not included) for $38, which can be picked up at Alley Twenty Six. On Sundays in September, Al Strong, the Grammy-nominated jazz trumpeter, composer and recording artist, will bring a rotating lineup of musicians to perform during Sunday brunch. Brunch is served from 10:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. Sundays; the music will be from noon-2 p.m. inside the restaurant. More info at alleytwentysix.com.

See Room to Grow at Charlotte Russell Contemporary

 Charlotte Russell Contemporary will host award winning Raleigh-based designer and artist Jen Matthews for a solo exhibition, Room to Grow, at its Five Points gallery. “Room to Grow is the culmination of difficult, stagnant years I spent trying to figure myself out — an exercise as futile as trying to pin down a kangaroo on a trampoline. This work represents the personal growth I experienced when I let go of the perfectionism that led me to doubt my talents early in my career. It brings to life the rich inner world I discovered when I embraced my own unique voice, gave myself grace, and followed my creativity,” says Matthews. Inspired by her childhood in the 80s full of color and life, North Carolina State University graduate, Matthew’s layered abstract paintings are bold, eclectic and surprising, what she sees as maximalist in style but the result of a thoughtful minimalism technique. Underneath vibrant colorful shapes and designs that scream freedom are layered patterns, and brush strokes, a parallel to Matthew’s journey of self-actualization, and the weight of striving for perfectionism. 
Room to Grow kicks off with an opening reception on Thursday, September 8 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.;  2012 A, Fairview Rd; charlotterussellcontemporary.com

Jam out at Hopscotch

For more than 10 years, this home-grown music festival has celebrated independent musicians of all genres. Across multiple stages, rock on with guitarist MJ Lenderman from Asheville or tap into your country side with headliner Charley Crockett from Texas. Hip-hop lovers can look forward to seeing up-and-comer Quelle Chris from Detroit, and folk-music folks can see Tomberlin, whose music has landed her on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Buy tickets by the day, or splurge on the VIP experience for a three-day pass, drink vouchers and access to VIP parties and lounges. 
Sept. 8 – 10 | From $79 for a single day pass; Moore Square & One City Plaza; hopscotchmusicfest.com

See the American Dance Festival Live at NCMA

Shasay on out to the North Carolina Museum of Art for this four-day series of outdoor performances. Start your weekend on Thursday with Micaela Taylor’s the TL Collective, known for its hip-hop-infused performances. On Friday, contemporary collective Limón Dance Company will celebrate its 75th season; Saturday, see the award-winning PHILADANCO! and on Sunday, check out Chapel Hill-native tap dancer Luke Hickey. Purchase tickets for all four performances and receive 20% off. 
Sept.8-11 | 7:30p.m.From $30; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; americandancefestival.org

Cheer on the Wolfpack

Grab your “pack” for North Carolina State University’s first home football game of the season against Charleston Southern’s Buccaneers at Carter-Finley Stadium. This matchup also marks the annual Wolfpack Club Day and AG Day, celebrating North Carolina’s agricultural scene with live music. 
Sept. 10 | 12:30 p.m.; From $35; 4600 Trinity Road; gopack.com

See The Play That Goes Wrong

The award-winning Broadway comedy The Play That Goes Wrong is a play about another play — a farcical portrayal of the disasters that strike a group of performers on opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor. Between a discombobulated cast who can’t even recall their lines and an actress having trouble playing dead, this cheerful performance offers the best of British humor. 
Sept. 14 – 25 | See website; From $30; 6638 Old Wake Forest Road; theatreraleigh.com

Be Inspired at Our WINovation Event

WALTER will host its eighth annual WINovation summit at The Umstead Hotel & Spa, an event that is sure to inspire innovation, creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit and celebrate diversity in women. This year the speakers include acclaimed architect Zena Howard, poet Jaki Shelton Green, North Carolina Museum of Art CEO Valerie Hillings and Anita Watkins of Rex Health Ventures. Guests will enjoy professional development workshops, networking and a three-course dinner prepared by James Beard-winning chef Steven Devereaux Greene. 
Sept. 16 | 4 p.m.; From $125; 100 Woodland Pond, Cary; waltermagazine.com/winnovation

Bring the kids to BugFest

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will be transformed inside and out into a land of bugs, with more than 100 arthropod-themed exhibits, crafts, games, activities and food — yes, insects to eat! — presented by entomologists. Working to educate the public about the natural world, BugFest is the largest bug-centered event of its kind in the entire country. This year the NCMNS will be spotlighting the arthropod subphylum Myriapoda, which has about 13,000 terrestrial species, like the com- mon millipede and centipede. 
Sept. 17 | 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Free; 11 W. Jones Street; naturalsciences.org

Hear Avi Kaplan at Lincoln Theatre

Former Pentatonix member and singer-songwriter Avi Kaplan is stopping in Raleigh for his Floating on a Dream Tour. Hear songs from his new album of the same name, along with some of 2020’s I’ll Get By in this intimate setting. Check out the VIP ticket option, which includes early entry into the venue, a Q&A, access to soundcheck and commemorative merch. 
Sept. 17 | 8:30 p.m.From $20; 126 E. Cabarrus Street; lincolntheatre.com

Head to La Fiesta Del Pueblo

North Carolina’s largest and most diverse festival of Latin American culture is back — in person! — downtown this year. With live music and dance performances, education booths and visual and folk art exhibits, the annual celebration is led by El Pueblo, a local nonprofit that supports leadership development for Latinx youth. 
Sept. 18 | 12 – 6 p.m.; Free; Fayetteville Street; elpueblo.org/fiesta

Go to Cary for Park After Dark

Head to downtown Cary for a night of free music, local craft beer and unique food from onsite vendors, including Once in a Blue Moon Bakery & Cafe and Gussy’s Greek Street Food. Nik Parr, musician and lead singer of Texas-based rock band The Selfless Lovers, will be performing his songs live. A limited amount of lawn chairs will be available, so grab your comfiest chairs, and feel free pack a basket of food and nonalcoholic beverages to bring along with you. 
Sept. 21 | 7 – 9 p.m.Free; 310 S. Academy Street, Cary; townofcary.org

Hear the NC Symphony’s Pictures at An Exhibition

The North Carolina Symphony is kicking off its 2022-2023 season with a powerful weekend of performances at Meymandi Concert Hall, conducted by new music director designate Carlos Miguel Prieto. Revel in the sonic impact and orchestral color of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, along with Debussy’s Iberia, Ravel’s Rhapsodie Espagnole and Jennifer Higdon’s Fanfare Ritmico.
Sept. 23 – 24 | 8 p.m. From $21.50; 2 E South Street; ncsymphony.org

See country superstars at Farm Aid Festival

Country superstars and music legends such as Willie Nelson, Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds and John Mellencamp are returning to Raleigh for the second annual Farm Aid Festival, with a mission to support family farms and celebrate the food they work hard to provide their communities with. Join them at Coastal Credit Union Music Park to hear classic songs and learn about North Carolina’s agriculture and farmers. Check out the HOMEGROWN village, where you can learn tricks of the trade and participate in farm-themed arts and crafts. This all-day event will have concessions provided by farmers using sustainable practices, including local produce, humanely raised meat and homemade bread made from organic flour.
Sept. 24 | All day From $75; 3801 Rock Quarry Road; farmaid.org

Make Candles at the Willard

Join Usu Company Candles for a Candle Making Experience at the Willard Rooftop Lounge!
During this workshop, go step-by-step to learn about all of the materials you need to make a signature candle. Then sample, select, and blend a one-of-a-kind scent for your Fall-themed candle, and add a unique inspiration to tie it all together. Enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or bubbly and browse the menu at The Willard for small plates and bites while you’re there. Ticket includes: luxury candle jar and materials for making your own, glass of wine, fall fragrance bar, Usu Company gift bag
Sept. 27; 6 p.m.; $55 for tickets; 9 Glenwood Ave, More details here 

Help combat homelessness in Wake County at The Green Chair’s Chairity Event

Forty North Carolina designers will come together to combat homelessness for The Green
Chair Project at its 10th annual fundraiser, called Chairity. This year they’ve expanded the event, auctioning off entire room scenes and adding cooking, art and DIY demonstrations. “In the
past, we just offered the re-imagined chairs — adding the living spaces allows us to connect with
more designers and manufacturers,” says Jackie Craig, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We
hope that will bring more engagement, awareness and ultimately more money to support people in
need.” Chairity kicks off on Friday with talks from Sheri Castle and Spoonflower artists Danika Herrick and Katie Hayes, plus a first look at the goods up for auc- tion. Saturday and Sunday, explore living areas where everything’s for sale, from the fixtures to the furniture. Design firms such as Lauren McKay Interiors, Kate Hutchison, Design Lines Signature and La Maison are participating this year. Craig says that need is dire: “These days, we’re serving more families in a week than we would in a month, pre-Covid.” Green Chair will use the proceeds to help individuals transitioning out of homelessness furnish their new spaces. 
September 14-17 | 10a.m.-5p.m.From $75 for an all-day pass; 1853 Capital Boulevard; thegreenchair.org

Take advantage of IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in Raleigh

This year celebrates 10 years hosting the IBMA World of Bluegrass. While the conference at the convention center attracts music industry pros for career development and networking, locals know it best for the Bluegrass Ramble, the two-day showcase of bluegrass talent that wraps it up. Check out emerging artists like Breakin’ Strings, Carley Arrowood and Cedar Hill on the street stages downtown, or head to the Red Hat Amphitheater for Grammy-award winning acts such as The Infamous Stringdusters and The Dan Tyminski Band — all for free this year! In addition to the bevy of bluegrass, the street festival will include food trucks, North Carolina brews and an art and craft market powered by Artsplosure and Black Friday Market. 
Sept. 27 – Oct. 1 | Free general admission; 500 S. McDowell Street & downtown Raleigh; worldofbluegrass.org

Cheer on the Canes

Take warning: The Carolina Hurricanes are back on the ice. Dust off your best black-and-red and head back to PNC Arena for the first preseason exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This exciting match-up kicks off the new season and welcomes new team members such as defenseman Brent Burns, left wing Max Pacioretty and forward Ondřej Kaše to Raleigh. 
Sept. 27 | 7 p.m.; From $25; 1400 Edwards Mill Road; nhl.com/hurricanes

See Burning Coal’s Production of A Great Big Wooly Mammoth Thawing from Ice

Burning Coal Theatre Company is kicking off its 2022 – 2023 season with a new play by West End playwright Tatty Hennessy. Inspired by a New York Times article, this mystery/adventure takes place in Alaska, where a tech giant, activist and oil driller cross paths and explore how the effects of climate change can impact personal relationships. Directed by London-based Lucy Jane Atkinson, a longtime collaborator with Hennessy, this timely world premiere sets the tone for the rest of the intriguing season at Burning Coal. 
Sept. 29 – Oct. 16 |$30; 224 Polk Street; burningcoal.org

This article originally appeared on waltermagazine.com on Augut 23, 2022