20+ Things to do in September in and around Raleigh

Are you in the back-to-school spirit — or holding onto an endless summer? Either way, there’s lots to do in September!
by Kara Adams and Addie Ladner

Catch a Home Football Game

Whether you’re donning a particular shade of red or your favorite blue hue, we’re all excited to cheer on our local teams this year — be it on the home field or from the comfort of our living rooms. North Carolina State University’s Wolfpack has three home games in September, including Parents and Family Weekend on Sept. 18 at Carter-Finley Stadium (gopack.com). The Saint Augustine’s University Falcons have four home games this season, which kicks off on Sept. 4 (saintaugfalcons.com), and the Shaw University Bears have their first home game on the 18th (shawbears.com). Further out of town, Tar Heels fans will be pleased to meet the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s new mascot, a ram dubbed Rameses XXII (his given name is Otis), when home games start on the 11th (goheels.com), and Duke University fans can watch their Devils play at home for the first time on Sept. 10 (goduke.com). 

courtesy Ann Roth

Catch Some Art with Your Coffee

Now through October 31, see Raleigh artist Ann Roth’s work on display at Cup A Joe on Hillsborough Street. The sculptural pieces, made by painting and cutting Tyvek sheets, play with color and pattern in energetic, surprising ways. In addition to her work as an artist, Roth has been a curator, gallerist, and arts educator over the years. Now through October 31, Cup A Joe, 3100 Hillsborough Street; ann-roth.com

Experience Fun Home

Fun Home is a play that follows the life of cartoonist Alison Bechdel through vignettes from her older self as she comes of age, with a focus on her sexuality and relationship with her father. The production, based on Bechdel’s best-selling graphic memoir of the same name, won five Tony awards in 2015, including best musical, and was the first Broadway production to feature a lesbian protagonist. “With this production especially, I hope to instill in our audiences a sense of empathy and understanding towards people  and experiences that are different than their own,” says director Tim Seib. “I believe that Fun Home accomplishes this extremely well through laughter, tears, suspense, and a strong dose of musical theater magic.”
Now through September 5; From $30; 6638 Old Wake Forest Road; theatreraleigh.com

Photo credit: Visit Greenville SC

Explore a new City in South Carolina

Just a quick drive and a state away, South Carolina offers small towns and mid-sized cities filled with vibrant beaches, historical walking tours, delicious food, and Southern charm. From Columbia’s bustling Soda City Market to Greenville’s popular Falls Park on the Reedy, here are 5 cities within a 5-hour drive that feel a world away.

Check out the new Young Hearts Distilling

Downtown Raleigh’s first distillery Young Hearts Distilling is now open to the public offering elevated, artful cocktails and food that celebrates regional producers, botanical-forward spirits, Amari, Gin, and more. “The menu will showcase the best of the season and connect our guests with the flavors of the local farmers,” says owner Chris Powers. Expect to see inventive small plates such as fried Lion’s Mane mushrooms with tofu “parmesan,” Brunswick rillettes, and Southern sweet potato pappardelle. Beet Bourguignon, Joyce Farms chicken, and local pork torchon are standout mains while the brunch menu entails playful, palatable plates like latkes waffles, breakfast brisket, and vegan quiche. The cocktail menu features concoctions with current spirits from Young Hearts, including their gin, vodka, and agave spirit. 

See The Winter’s Tale

Fayetteville-based theater company Sweet Tea Shakespeare will perform The Winter’s Tale, a story that intertwines family, fairytale, and forgiveness, at the Leggett Theater at William Peace University. The female-led group will demonstrate their commitment to Shakespearean authenticity through simple staging, enlivened costuming, and cross-gender casting — just like The Bard did.
September 2,3, and 5; From $20; 15 E. Peace Street; sweetteashakespeare.com

Head Downtown for First Friday

Celebrate the first weekend of September in downtown Raleigh, with extended hours at art galleries and studios, artists, music, and special offers at retailers and restaurants. Check out an acrylic art display at Haymaker on Fayetteville Street from painter and tattoo artist Chris Evans, Wake Up Yyour Root Dance Battle hosted by the our local breakdancing group, the Raleigh Rockers, live music performed by soul singer-songwriter XOXOK, pop artist Angela Parchetta, and many more events for the whole family. 
Sept. 3 | 5 p.m.; Free; downtownraleigh.org/first-friday-raleigh/events

Head to Pinehurst BBQ Festival

Celebrate Labor Day weekend with decorated pitmasters like Ed Mitchell and Ashley Sheppard, who will be serving up your favorite barbecue flavors alongside classic Southern fixin’s. The inaugural Pinehurst Barbecue Festival will also include a live performance from country music duo McKenzies Mill, grilling classes, and bourbon-tasting events in the picturesque village of Pinehurst.
September 3-5; Tickets from $12.50; 395 Magnolia Road Pinehurst; pinehurstbarbecuefestival.com

Run or Walk the Sola Hot Mini to support ALS Research

John and Jeanne Luther, the owners of popular North Raleigh coffee shop Sola, had their worlds rocked in 2018 when Jeanne was diagnosed with ALS. “It’s been the hardest yet sweetest time in our lives,” says John Luther. While the past few years have been emotionally and physically difficult, Luther says their Sola community has bestowed upon them a tremendous amount of support. That’s why it’s the focus of their eighth annual Sola Hot Mini 5K, a race that raises money for ALS research. Last year the race raised more than $90,000 and drew more than 900 virtual runners. This year’s goal is to raise $125,000. “I thought $100,000 was ridiculous. And then we were at $94,000 and it was so incredible. So, this year, we are shooting even higher,” says John. Run the race in person with a route that starts at Sola wand loops through nearby neighborhoods like Cross Winds and Stonehenge or run on your own and log your time  to help #ENDALS. New Orleans band Decatur Street Beat will be set up playing jazz tunes.
Sept. 18 | 8:30 a.m; From $25; 7705 Lead Mine Road; solahotmini5k.com

Head Downtown for the African American Cultural Festival

Head downtown for the 11th annual African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County, featuring a gallery walk, an arts and crafts center, a Vendor Village of goods, and performances from artists including Project 919, Terence Young, Niito, and Teressa Ferguson. The two-day festival will take place across various outdoor locations including Moore Square, Chavis Park, and the plaza in front of the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts.
September 4-5; Free; see website for locations; aacfestival.org 

Jam out at Hopscotch Music Festival

The 11th annual Hopscotch Music Festival celebrates a broad range of music — from rock to hip-hop to folk — and this year, many of the performers are from North Carolina, including Archers of Loaf, The Dead Tongues, and Sarah Shook & the Disarmers. For this year’s scaled-down festival, the headliners will perform outdoors at two main stages downtown over the course of three days. The outdoor lineup includes performers Animal Collective, Flying Lotus, Dr. Dog, Hippo Campus, Parquet Courts, and Caroline Polachek, and a number of venues across the city will host day and late-night performances.
September 9- 11; From $179; see website for locations; hopscotchmusicfest.com

Head to NCMA for the American Dance Festival

The NCMA partnering with American Dance Festival, will present Together We Dance, an outdoor series at the Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Theater in the museum park. Expect more than eight hour-long performances over the course of the week by acclaimed groups including A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, Pilobolus, and The Paul Taylor Dance Company. “After a difficult year and a half, we are thrilled to bring the community together at our first-ever outdoor festival with performances by some of the finest dance companies dazzling audiences today,” says ADF executive director Jodee Nimerichter.
September 9 -16 \ 7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.;$30; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Cool off with a trip to Goodberry’s

A Raleigh tradition that’s 30 years in the making, Goodberry’s is a Triangle favorite for its thicken-than-thick, smooth, sweet, frozen custard. We learned about its origin story and what makes it so special in our September issue.

See Boney James at the Duke Performing Arts Center

See four-time Grammy nominee and multi-platinum saxophonist Boney James perform his smooth jazz tunes from his new album Solid at Meymandi Concert Hall. Hear old hits spanning his 17-album career, as singles off his new record, including “Be Here” featuring Kenny Lattimore. “Music is a respite, and this new music really connects on that level for me,” says James.
September 12 \ 7 p.m.; From $45.50; 2 E. South Street; dukeenergycenterraleigh.com

Head to Oakwood Cemetery for a COVID Day of Remembrance  

Join Historic Oakwood cemetery for a memorial event for those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Guests are invited to participate in the Grove of Remembrance experience and inscribe a ribbon with the names and memories of loved ones and tie it to the limbs of Oakwood’s crepe myrtle grove in the front lawn. Music will be provided by Anita Burroughs-Price, and the event is open to all who have experienced loss due to the pandemic. 
Sept. 12 | 3 – 5 p.m.; Free; 701 Oakwood Avenue; historicoakwoodcemetery.org/

Host an End-of-Summer Dinner Party

Every year for the past five years, Sandy Kipp and her fiancé Roy Attride has gathered a closeknit group of friends and neighbors for an evening of delicious food, served on hand-crafted tables under the stars. This year, Kipp shared her recipes with us for you to host your own soirée.

Bug out at BugFest

Join the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for both virtual and in-person programming at the “Plan Bee” version of BugFest — so named for both its signature insect and pandemic-adjusted format. Consider buying tickets for the 21+ event Honey Bee Jamboree: A Buggy Cocktail Party, the fancy Bee Afternoon Tea on Sunday. Or drop in on Saturday’s free, family-friendly Pollination Celebration at Prairie Ridge. Sip on honey-themed cocktails, meet beekeepers, or create crafts as you learn about North Carolina’s native bees.
September 13-19; See website for pricing and locations; naturalsciences.org

Take a weekend trip to Greenville South Carolina for Euphoria

A highly-anticipated food, wine and music festival held every September in Greenville, SC, Euphoria is an event that includes exclusive tastings, cooking demonstrations, and wine seminars, as well as multi-course dinners, appearances from well-known chefs, and live musical performances. The event will feature 7 Michelin-starred chefs collaborating for 3 different dinners, more than a dozen classrooms and lunch-and-learns covering a variety of topics, and a total of 40+ food, wine and music events over the course of four days. 
Sept. 16-19 ; Events from $45; euphoriagreenville.com

Hear live music at North Hills

Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park will host 80s tribute band The Breakfast Club as a part of the celebratory return of North Hills’ Friday night concert series. The county’s longest-running tribute band will perform songs by the likes of AC/DC, Journey, and Van Hale on the outdoor lawn of the shopping center. Feel free to pack a blanket or a lawn chair and come early to secure the best spot to sit back and enjoy the tunes.
September. 17 | 5 – 9 p.m.; $10; 4011 Cardinal North Hills Street; visitnorthhills.com/events

Watch Raleigh Little Theatre’s Velocity of Autumn

Head over to Cantey V. Sutton Theatre for The Velocity of Autumn, a play by Eric Coble that follows 80-year-old artist Alexandra as she barricades herself inside her New York City apartment to avoid being placed in a nursing home by her family. The “wickedly funny” production will send you on a rollercoaster of emotions as you watch the showdown between mother and children unravel. 
September 17 – October 3; From $23; 301 Pogue Street; raleighlittletheatre.org

Take a day of weekend trip to Wilmington to eat at the new Seabird Restaurant

Dean Neff and Lydia Clopton recently opened a new fish-forward restaurant and bar in downtown Wilmington Seabird, inspired by NC waters. Why not make a day trip or weekend trip to the coast to check it out.

Head to Dix Park for the Raleigh Balloon Glow

Imagine lifting into the air in a glowing sphere, the City of Oaks down below illuminated by the light of a multitude of brightly colored balloons. You can experience this first-hand at the Big Field at Dorothea Dix Park, as one of the country’s biggest, brightest hot air balloon festivals, Balloon Glow, pulls into town with its eye-popping colors and funky graphics. In addition to traditional rainbow balloons, you can find your favorite cartoon characters like Tweety Bird or Tom and Jerry twinkling in the night sky. Event organizers expect this event to sell out fast. Experience a short lift up into the sky in your favorite balloon, or bring a blanket and watch the show from down on the ground while enjoying carnival fare. September 24; Tickets from $10; The Big Field at Dix Park, 101 Blair Drive; theballoonglowtour.com/events/raleigh-balloon-glow

Hear Cherub at Lincoln Theatre

The Lincoln Theatre will host electro-indie duo Cherub at their intimate live music venue in downtown Raleigh. The show is part of their To The Moon! tour, and will feature a setlist full of their hits from the 2014 album, Year of the Caprese, including fan-favorite “Doses and Mimosas.” September 25 | 9 p.m.; From $14.50; 126 E. Cabarrus Street; lincolntheatre.com

Peruse Waverly Place during their monthly Wine Walk

Sample red, white, and sparkling wine as you shop and stroll through The Wine Walk at Waverly Place, which will include music, raffles, and in-store promotions. Gain access to the event with a $25 donation to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, which includes a courtesy sampling glass and Waverly Place Wine Walk Passport. Sept. 30 | 5 – 8 p.m.; $25; 302 Colonades Way, Cary; waverlycary.com/wine-walk-series-returns-in-2021/