Spring is near and with it comes stargazing, flower-forward events, arts fundraisers and the opening night of the Durham Bulls’ season.
by Addie Ladner
Ah, March in Raleigh. It teases us with crisp sunny afternoons and blooming Japanese Magnolias, then — when the temperatures drop and we have to pull those sweaters back out — reminds us it’s not spring until March 20. Luckily, there are lots of fun events to get us through this transitional month, from outdoor concerts and plant sales to stargazing and the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. Read on for our top picks of arts and culture happenings in March 2023.
Stargaze at the Willard
The moon and the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter — a phenomenon where the two planets appear incredibly close together — will be visible for two evenings this month. Get a better look from the rooftop of Glenwood South’s The Willard Rooftop Lounge, where the Raleigh Astronomy Club will provide telescopes and the bartenders will serve up celestial-inspired cocktails. In the past, one of those libations has been the Deep Field, a butterfly pea flower-infused gin libation with lemon, honey and aquafaba.
March 1 & 29 | 7 – 9 p.m. Free; 9 Glenwood Avenue; thewillardraleigh.com
Head to an Evening to Ignite at Merrimon-Wynne
Pull out the rhinestones, neon and space-inspired swag for An Evening to Ignite: Galactic Glam, a futuristic and philanthropic evening. This year, the annual fundraiser from Merrimon-Wynne House and Band Together will benefit No Women, No Girl. This local nonprofit collects everyday essentials like feminine products, toothpaste and shampoo for girls and women in the area who are experiencing poverty or are in crisis. Read about the futuristic menu and planned activities here.
March 3 | 8 p.m. From $150; 400 N. Blount Street; merrimonwynne.com
Experience the NC Museum of History’s Sign of the Times Exhibition
Kicking off this month, the North Carolina Museum of History will unveil its newest exhibition, Sign of the Times. It explores the protests and marches that have occurred in our state’s communities over time. That includes the stories of people who were involved, issues that galvanized the movements, and how, over time, these protests have shaped society. From early efforts like the 1774 Edenton Tea Party through emancipation to current-day movements for LGBTQIA+ inclusion, women’s rights and voting equity, this exhibit explores questions of racial and social justice, civic duties, civil rights and environmental activism across North Carolina. Ayla Ammon, curator of political and cultural history at the museum, says working on the exhibition has been eye-opening: “Putting together this exhibition showed us how important protest is in both American and North Carolina history. You can’t help but walk through and feel the excitement, passion, horror and hope that inspired people to pursue the ‘more perfect Union’ they were promised in the Constitution. We hope it will help people understand that protest is a topic worthy of historical study and that it will show them how ordinary people make history every day.”
March 4 \ 5 E. Edenton Street; ncmuseumofhistory.org
Make Some Strides in your Spring Garden
March is the month to prep for a Raleigh summer, enjoy spring blooms, prune and enjoy this transitional yet peaceful month in the garden writes Hannah Ross in this story full of tips to set you up for success, then visit one of these Spring Plant Sales for new blooms.
See Carolina Ballet’s Mozart: Symphony No. 40
The artists of Carolina Ballet will dance to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 for the first time this month. Artistic director Zalman Raffael is excited to share a blend of music and choreography with the audience on stage. “Mozart subtly captures human undertones, allowing the dancers to portray the refined elements of the symphony while expressing their true natures as well,” he says. Along with this number, there will be another ensemble premiere by the ballet’s resident choreographer, Amy Hall Garner.
March 9 – 26 | Various times From $27; 2 E. South Street; carolinaballet.com
Tune In to Big Night In on WRAL
Three years ago, the Arts Councils of Wake County, Durham County and Chatham County, along with the Orange County Arts Commission, united to raise money for local artists. It was the height of the pandemic, a time when live concerts and art exhibitions were canceled and working artists struggled. Their efforts took shape as Big Night In, a musical revue and arts show that was broadcast on televisions throughout North Carolina. This year, Big Night In’s lineup includes country musician Rissi Palmer, husband-and-wife folk duo Chatham Rabbits, sculptor Patrick Dougherty and poet Dasan Ahanu, who was recently named the Piedmont Laureate. Catch the show live on WRAL or head to the Mayton Inn in downtown Cary for the official Big Night In Watch Party to enjoy the music live and in person, along with food and drinks.
March 9 | 7 p.m.Free to watch; broadcast and live-streaming, WRAL-TV; bignightin.org
Be a Nature Nerd at Lake Crabtree County Park
Expand your knowledge of the Triangle’s unique flora and fauna by exploring areas of Lake Crabtree County Park. As part of the park’s monthly Nature Nerds series, which explores a different group of plants or wildlife each month, park educator Charles McClay will lead guests through paved and lakeside trails in the woods to look for early spring blooms such as Trout Lilies, Atamasco Lilies and azure bluets. While walking, you can also contribute to science research by helping collect data for the park’s Biodiversity Project. Open to ages 10 and up; minors must attend with a registered adult. Preregister for the event, as it fills up fast.
March 10 | 1 – 2 p.m. Free; 1400 Aviation Parkway, Morrisville; wake.gov/parks
Head Downtown for Raleigh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Downtown Raleigh will be filled with people wearing green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, now in its 39th year. The route begins at the intersection of N. Wilmington and E. Lane Street, then continues along Wilmington Street, down Fayetteville Street, and ends at the intersection of S. Salisbury and W. Lenoir Street — so there are plenty of corners and sidewalk spots to set up shop. Bring the family to see the bagpipe players, tap dancers, decorated floats and all the other characters that participate each year. After the excitement, continue the Ireland-inspired holiday with brews and pub fare at Hibernian (311 Glenwood Avenue) or Flying Saucer (328 W. Morgan Street). Don’t stop with just the parade, from poetry to making your own Irish Soda Bread to Irish Dancing, there’s many more ways to celebrate the Celtic holiday.
March. 11 | 10 a.m.Free; downtown; raleighstpats.org
Feast on Italian Food and Wine at the New Heights House Supper Club
Liz Grandchamp of Grandchamp Hospitality and Sarah Shepherd of Heights House Hotel have collaborated on an intimate monthly popup dinner set in the dining room of the historic Italianate mansion. Over seven courses, guests can enjoy an elevated, seasonally inspired menu with offerings from scallop crudo to handmade pasta to osso buco. Wine professional Halsey Merritt curates the pairings and Heights House Parlor barman Will Bryant pours specialty cocktails. March’s menu is inspired by the Piedmont region of Italy, known for its incredible wine, olive oil, truffles, cheeses and pasta varieties. Jeff Bramwell, the former wine director of Italian bistro Mother and Sons in Durham — who is currently writing a book on the region — will be contributing to this month’s menu for an extra-authentic experience.
March 13 & 14 | 5 or 7:30 p.m.$95; 308 S. Boylan Avenue; heightshousenc.com/supper-club
Revisit a Southern Classic
There’s nothing quite like a good Southern story. The people and places of the South have their own unique personality, from social customs to just the general vibe of day-to-day life. Another thing the South has provided is a bevvy of classic films distinctly centered in and around it at various times in history, many filmed in the great state of North Carolina. Kick off your spring with these Southern Classics filmed in North Carolina from Dawson’s Creek to Forrest Gump to Cold Mountain. Can you recognize any landmarks?
See Art in Bloom at the NCMA
Art in Bloom — the annual event when pieces from the North Carolina Museum of Art are interpreted in flowers — is back this year. Beyond taking in the stunning floral works inside the museum, there are many ways to enjoy the event. On Mar. 16, foodscape pioneer Brie Arthur will host a workshop titled Inspiring Combinations to teach home gardeners how to successfully add both ornamental and edible plants to their landscapes. Watercolorist Ryan Fox will lead a class on Mar. 18 to explore creating palettes and layers on paper through water and paint. And with your purchased ticket to Art in Bloom, enjoy live tunes in the café from a range of performers including Persian classical act Sayeh Ensemble and Smitha Prasad, a vocalist specializing in South Indian Carnatic music.
March 15 – 19 | Various times. From $30; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org
Head to Artspace for Unplugged
Visual and performing art have become one with Artspace’s Unplugged series. This month, they’ll feature Stray Local, the indie songwriting pair of Hannah and Jamie Rowen. Artspace’s director of community engagement David Moore says the series, sponsored by Come Hear NC and The Longleaf Hotel, has proven to be a community builder. “We’ve built an intentional connection between live music and the artwork in our gallery spaces through storytelling,” says Moore. “We set out to create a unique vibe to attract a wider audience, and so far the response has been extremely positive.”
Mar 16 | 7 – 9:15 p.m. From $15; 201 E. Davie Street; artspacenc.org
Take the Kids to Fancy Nancy the Musical at Raleigh Little Theatre
If you have young children or grandchildren, chances are you’re familiar with the beloved children’s book series Fancy Nancy by Susan DiLallo. It chronicles a spirited young girl and her adventures at school and home with family and friends. Raleigh Little Theatre is bringing the character to life this month with Fancy Nancy the Musical. It follows Nancy and her friends Rhonda, Wanda, Bree and Lionel as they prepare to make their onstage debut — an exciting event, until Nancy doesn’t get the role she has her eye on.
Starting March 17 | Various timesFrom $13; 301 Pogue Street; raleighlittletheatre.org
Hear The Music of Phil Collins & Genesis from the North Carolina Symphony
Hear the North Carolina Symphony pay tribute to legendary musician Phil Collins and his band Genesis at Meymandi Concert Hall. Conducted by Stuard Chafetz and with vocals by Aaron Finley and Brook Wood, expect to relive beloved tracks like “One More Night,” “Take Me Home” and “Follow You Follow Me.”
March 17 & 18 | 8 p.m.From $30; 2 E. South Street; ncsymphony.org
Join WALTER for An Evening With Beverly McIver & Liza Roberts
Be the first to experience Durham artist Beverly McIver’s new exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM). Liza Roberts, author of Art of the State and WALTER’s founding editor, will host an evening of intimate conversation, heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages and a book signing. McIver, a nationally recognized artist profiled in Roberts’ book, is known for her raw, expressive portraits.
March 23 | 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. From $45; 409 W. Martin Street; waltermagazine.com/savethedate
Practice Mindfulness at the Gregg Museum
Stretch and flow in the Rose Jackson and Evelyn Thiem Garden at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design as part of its Mindfulness at the Museum: Yoga in the Garden series, which will take place once a month through May. March’s session will be led by sports and yoga enthusiast Jeff Manning with the Alexander Family YMCA. Before or after yoga, explore the rest of the ground’s heritage trees and walkways, or visit the exhibitions inside the museum. This month, you’ll find This is Not: Aldwyth in Retrospect in the Adams and Woodson galleries. It pays homage to Aldwyth, an artist whose collage and found object artwork has been exhibited all over the world, despite her rarely leaving her home in the South Carolina marshland.
March 23 | 10 a.m. Free; 1903 Hillsborough Street; gregg.arts.ncsu.edu
Get a First Listen at Larry & Joe’s New Record
Celebrate the release of musical duo Larry & Joe’s debut album, Nuevo South Train, at Durham’s The Fruit. Bellorín hails from Venezuela, where he’s widely known for his folk talents. Troop is originally from Winston-Salem and is a Grammy-nominated bluegrass musician (with his band Che Apalache) whose style is also influenced by travels to Argentina and Spain. “Nuevo South Train could only come about when a virtuoso Latin American folk musician like my soul brother Larry decides to make North Carolina his home,” says Troop. “What Larry is doing in my stomping grounds is what I did during my decade in South America.” Musician and album producer Charlie Hunter, rock and country musician DaShawn Hickman, and jazz artist Brevan Hampden will also be performing. Arepas and coffee will be for sale on-site, and The Fruit’s bar will be open.
March 24 | 7 p.m.$25 suggested donation; 305 S. Dillard Street, Durham; larryandjoe.com
Learn Wine Lingo at Vitis House’s Sensory 101 Class
Enjoy a good glass of red, but don’t exactly know why? Do you wonder what a wine list means when you read notes of leather or smoke or heavy on the tannins? Learn the lingo of wine like a pro at Vitis House for its Sensory 101 class led by Sarah Malik. Originally from the United Kingdom, Malik earned a diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and is a certified wine specialist and educator. In this class, you’ll use your nose and mouth to better learn the aromas and characteristics that various grape varieties bring to your favorite glass.
March 31 | 6:30 p.m. $99; 1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, vitishouse.com
Cheer on the Durham Bulls for Opening Night
Take me out to the ball game! Cheer on the Durham Bulls, our favorite North Carolina minor-league baseball team, for opening night against the Norfolk Tides at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The evening will also include a pregame celebration of the Bulls’ fourth Triple-A National Championship, which they won in 2022. Psst — word on the street is that seats around section 215 offer both a view of the game and of the sunset over Bull City.
March 31 | 6:30 p.m. From $17; 409 Blackwell Street, Durham; milb.com/durham
This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of WALTER magazine.