When you're living in Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, it's natural to expect that there will be plenty of special or annual events throughout the year. The city definitely delivers when it comes to fun things to do. Whether you're looking for something to do on a monthly basis or an event that only comes around once a year, you'll find it in Raleigh.
Like plenty of other cities throughout the US, Raleigh has hopped on the First Friday bandwagon. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, on the first Friday of each month, art galleries in the downtown area throw their doors open late into the night so that residents and tourists can drop in, check out what's on display, and generally mix and mingle. Many galleries plan their opening receptions to coincide with First Friday, too.
It's not only galleries that get in on the First Friday fun, though. A number of bars and restaurants in the downtown area take advantage of the influx of people and offer specials to get you in the door. Typically specials include buy one, get one half entrees, half priced drinks, and dollar off drinks.
Lasting from November to February, Winterfest is an annual event sponsored by the Downtown Raleigh Association. The main attraction of Winterfest is the ice skating rink set up in the middle of downtown. Admission to the fest includes admission to the rink, as well as skate rental. There's also a tree lighting festival, which takes place in December each year. During the festival, the holiday lights throughout town are switched on. Other highlights of the tree lighting festival include musical performances and an entire tent filled with people's gingerbread house creations.
Along with holding an annual Winterfest, Raleigh happens to be home the largest Christmas Parade between Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA. The nearly 1.5 mile long parade route starts at St. Mary's street and continues towards the Capitol building, before disbanding at Lenoir street. The parade itself is usually held in November, and broadcast on WRAL-TV. The station runs a rebroadcast of the parade on Christmas Day, for those who missed it the first time or who want to get into a holiday spirit.
Another big parade is the Raleigh St. Patrick's Day Parade, which first occurred in 1983 and usually takes place the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day. The end of the parade route is the site of a large annual festival, too. Highlights of the festival include dancing and live music, food, and plenty of activities for kids.
Food and Wine
The Raleigh Food and Wine Festival is an annual event in Raleigh that takes place over the course of four days in June. The goal of the festival is to highlight the culinary uniqueness of the city. Events typically include food tastings, cooking classes and wine pairings. Some of the events are open to the public, while others require booking in advance and a ticket.