20 Things to Do in January In and Around Raleigh

Holy moly it’s 2022! Start the year off right with winter hikes or moonlight walks in the Triangle, live theatre, and important history.
by Kara Adams and Addie Ladner

Ring in 2022 at downtown’s First Night

December 31 | 1 – 7 p.m.
NYC drops a disco ball, Atlanta drops a peach, Boise drops a potato… and here in the City of Oaks, we drop an acorn. On New Year’s Eve, First Night Raleigh will return to the streets of downtown for a celebration that in past years has drawn up to 75,000 people. The fun starts at 2 p.m. with family-friendly activities on the Bicentennial Plaza, including a sleigh ride, a brightly lit ferris wheel, and a disco roller rink. Through the Children’s Celebration, young ones can ring in the night early with an acorn drop and fireworks at 7 p.m. For adults, the evening continues until the real countdown to the big finale at midnight, with performances from musical acts including Sonny Miles and Jack the Radio.  For other ways to ring in the new year. head here.
From $12; downtown Raleigh; firstnightraleigh.com

Head to John Chavis Memorial Park for Past to Present

All month
Head over to Chavis Memorial Park to check out their newest outdoor exhibit, Past to Present. The exterior features an extensive timeline of the park, starting in 1809 with Reverend John Chavis’ arrival to Raleigh and continuing through its renovation last year. The interior highlights specific events in the park’s history with photos and first-person accounts, including the addition of a miniature train ride in 1952 and the airing of Teenage Frolics from the park in the ‘60s and beyond.
Free; 505 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; raleighnc.gov/chavis-history

See Lakea Shepard’s work at CAM

All month
See local artist Lakea Shepard’s first solo exhibit, Malik: Sovereign of Faith, on display at Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum. This collection of mixed media and textile sculptural masks is inspired by her parents’ work in textile production and mechanics, and includes three corresponding poems: Papa Said Girls Don’t Play With Guns, Culture Vulture, and He Loves Me Not. Be sure to look for Shepard’s signature red thread hidden within every piece.
Free; 409 W. Martin Street; camraleigh.org

Experience Kwanzaa Fest

Jan. 1 | 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Celebrate the final day of Kwanzaa at the Durham Armory with a performance by the African American Dance Ensemble. Shop handmade accessories and cultural goods from vendors including Aumiitu Combs Creations, Martin’s Golden Threads, and Won On One Jewelry.
Free; 220 Foster Street, Durham; aadekwanzaafest.com

Curl Up with a Movie Made in North Carolina

Did you know that more than 2,000 movies and television shows have been filmed in the Old North State, and they’ve generated over $6 billion in production revenue? (And no — not all of them are based on Nicholas Sparks novels.) With our mix of mountains, wide open spaces, beaches, and retro neighborhoods, NC has a lot to offer for movie sets. See if you recognize these parts of the Old North State while you watch these 10 pieces of classic movies filmed either partially or entirely in North Carolina.

Stroll through the Illuminate Art Walk

Jan. 1 – 7 | See website
Catch the final week of Downtown Raleigh’s Illuminate Art Walk presented by Wake Tech with a self-guided evening tour strolling through the streets of downtown. Experience brightly lit works of art of all kinds, including Meredith Conolly’s Mushrooms III in an alley off of Fayetteville Street, featuring glowing toadstools in a scene straight out of Alice in Wonderland, or neon artist Tayler Drattio’s Luxuriate in a shop window on Glenwood.
Free; see website for locations; downtownraleigh.org/illuminate 

Head to the Eno River for Winter Hikes

Sundays | 2 p.m.
Uncover the history of the scenic Eno River basin on guided afternoon hikes, where — if you like a little I-Spy with your fitness — you can work on completing the 12 challenges of the #SuperEno photo scavenger hunt. Starting with bonus challenges on New Years Day, earn points towards a free 2022 Eno Calendar by visiting the river’s most iconic spots and snapping pictures along the way.
Free; 4950 Howe Street, Durham; enoriver.org 

See The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Jan. 5 | 2 – 4 p.m.
It may be cold outside, but it’s warm inside the NCMA’s East Building SECU Auditorium, where they’re offering monthly matinees featuring old films. On Jan. 5, watch The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a romantic musical of young lovers Geneviève and Guy who are torn apart by war and family.
$5 for members, $7 for non-members, 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org


Jan. 13 | 2 p.m.
Spend Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the Cary Theater learning about the government’s recently declassified surveillance files in Sam Pollard’s 2020 documentary, MLK/FBI. The film follows the life of the civil rights activist up until his assassination, with a focus on the FBI’s harassment and interference with his work.
$5; 122 E. Chatham Street, Cary; thecarytheater.com

Hear Stories of African American Heroes and Sheroes

Jan. 15 | 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Hear narratives about the lives of noteworthy African American figures in history by riveting storyteller Linda Gorham. Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, the Little Rock Nine, Ruby Bridges, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and others will come alive in Gorham’s educational and entertaining performance.
$8; 101 Dry Avenue, Cary; townofcary.org

Stretch out at the Willard for Rooftop Yoga

Jan. 16 | 11 a.m.
Stretch out with Oak City Yoga at The Willard Rooftop Lounge, where you can enjoy a view of Raleigh’s stunning skyline from the comfort of tree pose. Relax during this restorative hour-long practice and reward yourself with a celebratory mimosa after class.
$15; 9 Glenwood Avenue; oakcityyogaraleigh.com

Enjoy a Winter Full Moon Walk at NCMA

Jan. 18 | 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Experience a rare opportunity to roam the grounds of the North Carolina Museum of Art under the stars — and in particular, beneath a full moon. Park programs manager Brye Senor will lead a nature stroll starting at the Eclipse then wander the moonlit grounds while soaking in the installations. Ages 16 and up.
Free, but registration required; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

See Stick Fly at Playmakers Repertory Company

Jan. 19 – Feb. 6 | See website
This timely play from the Playmakers Repertory Company explores themes of family, class, and race. What’s meant to be a leisurely weekend turns tense when two brothers show up to introduce their girlfriends to the family — only to find their mother missing and their father acting suspicious.
From $20; 120 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill; playmakersrep.org

Hear NC Symphony’s The Best of Broadway

Jan. 21 & 22 | 8 p.m.
Hear the North Carolina Symphony and guest vocalists Alli Mauzey and Ryan Silverman perform all your favorite Broadway show tunes, including hits from musicals such as Little Shop of Horrors, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, and more, in a performance that will delight musical theater lovers.
From $26; 2 E. South Street; ncsymphony.org

City of Raleigh Museum Raleigh Roasts

Jan. 26 | 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Head over to The City of Raleigh Museum for their Raleigh Roasts, where you can browse both the museum exhibits and shop from vendors including some of Raleigh’s most beloved cafes and businesses. Purchase a $5 wristband to sample all that the vendors have to offer, including tasty treats and coffee, and take home a signature mug to commemorate the event.
Free admission, $5 for wristbands; 220 Fayetteville Street; cityofraleighmuseum.org 

Watch Burning Coal Theatre’s Art

Jan. 27 – Feb. 13 | See website
See Burning Coal Theatre Company perform Yasmina Reza’s Art, a Tony Award-winning comedy that dares to ask the meaning of art — and friendship. This production features an all-Black cast in the roles of three middle-aged men whose long-standing relationship is comically tested by a blank canvas. “It’s about male friendship and bonding and how people view each other and themselves, and how easy it is to tear that veneer apart,” says artistic director Jerome Davis. “It’s easy to see yourself in one or all of these roles and there’s truthfulness at the heart of the show that’s made it popular for 25 years.” Art is available to watch both live-streamed and in-person.
$25; 224 Polk Street; burningcoal.org

See Rent at DAPC

Jan. 28 – 30 | See website
The Tony Award-winning musical RENT is coming to Durham as part of the 25th anniversary “Farewell Season of Love” tour. Jonathan Larson’s play, drawing inspiration from La Bohème, follows a group of friends in the East Village struggling to break into the entertainment industry during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
From $38.50; 123 Vivian Street, Durham; dpacnc.com

Hear the Opera’s La Bohème

Jan. 28 & 30 | See website
Speaking of La Bohème: delight in the wonders of Giacomo Puccini’s classic opera, centered around a tragic romance in 1830s Paris on Christmas Eve. North Carolina Opera’s performance marks the return of beloved characters such as Rodolfo and Mimi for the first time in the Triangle in eight years.
From $43; 2 E. South Street; ncopera.org

Join the African American Cultural Celebration

Jan. 29 | See website
Join the North Carolina Museum of History for the 21st Annual African American Cultural Celebration: Black People, Green Planet: Environmental Justice. This online event, presented in collaboration with the NC African American Heritage Commission, will honor the contributions of the community to Earth through informative performances and presentations.
Free but registration required; virtual; ncmuseumofhistory.org


This article originally appeared in the January 2022 issue of WALTER Magazine