September Events 2023: What’s happening in Raleigh this month?

I often feel conflicted when September arrives. I’m so overjoyed as I absolutely love Fall in Raleigh and all the fun that is to come between now and the holidays. But it’s a month that also chips away a little at that joy because it means summer is on the way out!

People listening to Bluegrass music at a festival surrounded by trees
Bluegrass Festival is on in September!

Another reason we love living in Raleigh so much, is that our warm summer weather usually stays until the end of October. So in reality, September and October are the best months of the year because we get summer like weather with so many fun festivals and events on.

For this post, let’s dive into what’s happening in Raleigh in September. We can’t include everything and some events we don’t know about yet so please leave your ideas in the comments at the bottom for those reading this post!

We sometimes share personal things happening for our family during the month. Simply because our community loves following what we are doing (live on Instagram). Our lives are dedicated to exploring, discovering cool things to do in Raleigh and just living large.


Week 1: Sept 1-3, 2023

First Friday, Sept 1, 2023

Portrait painting of a black women in an art museum
Contemporary Arts Museum, Raleigh
  • Where: Various locations downtown
  • Time: 5pm onwards
  • Cost: Free.
  • Website

Support Raleigh’s great artisan community on the First Friday of every month. Art galleries and studios are open late with rotating exhibits and artist talks. Below are some events and experiences for First Friday. We love wandering around the Artspace studios in the City Market area.

  • Taverna Agora has a Greek night with food, drink, songs and dancing!! Opa!
  • Designed for Joy offers tours of their studio on First Fridays where you can also shop their wonderful brand of leather handbags, jewelry and home décor in the Warehouse District.
  • First Friday Night Markets is also on at Moore Square with local growers and makers plus entertainment and a free outdoor movie after sundown hosted by the City of Raleigh. Back to the Future will be September’s movie!

Bands, Bites, & Boats, Sept 1, 2023

people gathering by lake to listen to music
Bands, Bites, Boats Bond Park

On the first Friday of every month, Bond Park Boathouse hosts musicians, food trucks, and after-hours boat rentals. What a great sunset experience to kick off the weekend.

  • Band:  Misti Mayhem
  • Bites: Jerk Man Island Cuisine & Las Gringas
  • Brews: Fortnight

Dog Days of Summer Double Header, Sept 2, 2023

Soccer fans watching a game of soccer
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary

What a fun soccer event for Wake County. On one night out you get to see both North Carolina FC take on Fuego FC at 4:30pm, and then headlining is the women’s game between NC Courage vs NJ/NY Gotham at 7:30pm. There will be a fan fest starting at 3pm and attendees can bring their pups! It’s the Dog Days after all!!

African American Cultural Festival, Sept 2-3, 2023

  • Where: Fayetteville St, Downtown Raleigh
  • Time: TBA
  • Cost: Free
  • Website

Help celebrate African American culture this Labor Day weekend through art, music, food, and dance. An Art Gallery Wall will display works of local and national artists.

The festival has become Raleigh’s premiere destination for teaching, sharing and celebrating the distinctive folk and cultural traditions of African Americans in N.C. and from around the world.

Week 2: Sept 4 – 10, 2023

Hopscotch Music Festival, Sept 7-9, 2023

crowds enjoying concert at Hopscotch Music Festival
Image by

Earning notoriety as one of the country’s top music festivals is the Hopscotch Music festival, known for its eclectic music representation covering almost every genre —rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, electronic, experimental, and more.

This year’s headliners are Pavement, Denzel Curry, Japanese Breakfast, King Krule, Margo Price, Dinosaur Jr., and many more!

It’s three days of music celebration with a spirit and atmosphere that has been likened to the New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Outlaw Music Festival, Sept 8, 2023

  • Where: Coastal Credit Union Music Park
  • Time: 4:45pm
  • Cost: $35+
  • Tickets

The 2023 Outlaw tour continues the celebration of Willie’s legendary life and legacy in his milestone 90th birthday year. For the largest-ever Outlaw tour to date, Willie’s bringing his family and friends on the road for a can’t miss lineup of summer and fall shows. An amazing lineup includes Willie Nelson, Robert Plant & Alison Kraus, John Fogerty, The Avett Brothers and Nathaniel Rateliff.

Friday Night on White, Sept 8, 2023

Hundreds of people gathered in a downtown street for a festival
Friday Night on White
  • Where: White St, Downtown Wake Forest
  • Time: 6 – 9pm
  • Cost: Whatever you spend in the local stores
  • Website

If you’re looking for party with a community feel and great live music, head to downtown Wake Forest, North Carolina for their last Friday Night on White for the season.

We attended last month, and it was fun. Loads of food trucks, people, and good vibes. The cool boutique stores are open for some shopping as well. Watch our video below:

Atlantic Tire Championships, Sept 10-17, 2023

The Atlantic Tire Championships is back at the award-winning Cary Tennis Park. This ATP tennis tournament is a United States Tennis Association (USTA) Pro Circuit event and features top men’s tennis professionals from across the world. Players ranked as high as number 50 in the world typically compete in these Challenger events.

Week 3: Sept 11 – 17, 2023

What a busy week for us this week. We’ll be attending the State of Downtown Raleigh, Evening of Giving, Craig’s celebrating his 50th birthday, and then I leave for Banff, Canada for a week of fall adventure/ business retreat!

State of Downtown Raleigh, Sept 13, 2023

Aerial view of city buildings and surrounding streets and trees.

  • Where: Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts
  • Time: 1:15 – 5:30pm
  • Cost: $40 pre-session / $115 main session
  • Website

Expect to hear from the movers and shakers about the State of Downtown Raleigh. Get the latest in market trends, development updates, and comprehensive insights on everything–from arts and tourism to green spaces, and the local food scene. Includes a networking session with business leaders and owners in the community.

Designed for Joy, Evening of Giving, Sept 14, 2023

Angela Padgett & Kristen Sydow speaking to crowd
Angela Padgett & Co-Founder Kristen Sydow sharing good news
  • Where: CAM Raleigh
  • Time: 7pm – 10pm
  • Cost: Tickets start at $130
  • Website:

What a fantastic event to celebrate and support the incredible community service given by Designed for Joy. Over the past 5 years they have hired near 90 women with over $200,000 in living wages earned.

The event will include stories of success from artisans, a silent auction, DFJ products to purchase, opportunity to help sew a signature product, and food and drinks.

Be sure to come say hi to Caroline who will be attending the event. You can listen to our interview with co-founder Cary Heise here to learn more about the DFJ non-profit. You can read more about the Evening of Giving event here.

North Hills Nights, September 15, 2023

People sitting on camp chairs listening to a band on stage

  • Where: Coastal Credit Union Midtown Park
  • Time: 5-9pm
  • Cost: $5

North Hills Nights is back with a lineup that spans the decades! For five weeks on Friday nights live bands will be playing iconic hits from the 2000s to the 70s. Mix Tape Grab Bag will kick start the series!

Juniper Level Botanic Gardens, Sept 15-17 & Sept. 22-24, 2023

Waterfall and trees in a garden

Juniper Level Botanic Gardens is a 28-acre campus showcasing more than 27,000 different kinds of native perennials, exotic plants, rare delights and unusual specimens of trees and shrubs not found many (or any) other places on earth.

It’s a private garden, only open to the public 8 weekends a year. It is said to be one of the most spectacular gardens in the USA! We highly recommend visiting. It’s a hidden gem in Raleigh!

Watch the video below!

BugFest, Sep 16, 2023

butterflies on a plant stem

Bug lovers, get ready for the largest bug even in the USA. More than 100 exhibits on the fascinating world of arthropods. You can also participate in games and activities and chat with entomologists and scientists. This year, BugFest spotlights the spiders!

7th Annual Asia Fest with Dragon Boat Racing, Sept 16, 2023

The Greater Triangle Dragon Boat Festival, or Asia Fest, is a chance to celebrate Asian culture, diversity, and history. What better way to do it than with dragon boat races on Symphony Lake, games, stage performances and unique ethnic street food. 

La Fiesta del Pueblo, Sept 17, 2023

Another celebration of a vibrant culture living in Raleigh. La Fiesta del Pueblo is the time to honor Latin American culture with live music and dance performances, visual and folk-art exhibits, educational booths, and activities for the whole family.

Live music includes Grupo Mojado, internationally famous and nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best Group Album!

Week 4: Sept 18 – 24, 2023

Benson Mule Days, Sept 21 – 24, 2023

a parade of mules and carriages down main st benson
Mule Days Parade | Photo:
  • Where: Main St Benson, Johnston County
  • Times: Various (all day events)
  • Cost: Some free and some ticketed events
  • Website:

Benson Mule Days is a legendary 4-day festival, one of the largest in North Carolina drawing in 20,000-30,000 people. If you like quirky then this festival in celebration of all things mules and farms is for you.

The tradition began in 1949 when Nowell Smith, Jr. and the McLamb Brothers had the idea for a festival that would both celebrate the farmer and foster community spirit by incorporating the town’s main draft animal – the mule.

Expect Rodeos, mule competitions, arts and crafts, food vendors, dances, carnival rides, camping, parades, Bluegrass shows, and musical concerts. Saturday’s Mule Day parade is a highlight. Benson is about 30 minutes from Raleigh in Johnston County.

Marbles Imagination Ball, Sept 22, 2023

Mom and two daughters posing for a photo in front of a colorful mural on a building

  • Where: Marbles Kids Museum
  • Time: 7pm
  • Cost: Tickets start at $125
  • Website: Imagination Ball

Marble’s signature grown-up gala – the Imagination Ball – is on again this year. 2023’s Imagination Ball theme is “Sweet Sixteen” – taking party guests on an indulgent escapade to celebrate Marbles’ 16 years of changing lives through PLAY. Come ready for spectacular décor, creative eats & drinks, a one-of-a-kind auction, exciting games of chance and legendary live music.

The Imagination Ball raises money to ensure that every child has the chance to imagine, discover, learn and PLAY at Marbles.

Downtown Cary Fall Festival, Sep 23, 2023

Things to do in downtown Cary NC
Downtown Cary
  • Where: West Chatham Street and Ivey-Ellington grounds in Downtown Cary,
  • Time: 9am-3pm
  • Website: Cary Farmers Festival

Help celebrate the fall bounty of harvest season with our local farmers. There will be live music on the main stage, a kids performance area, fun games and interactive exhibits, local food and craft beer, art & crafts and a mid-day pie-eating contest.

Festa Italiana, Sept 23, 2023

Festa Italiana Raleigh was founded by a small group of Italian – Americans in the Triangle in 2018. Since then, it has become a much-anticipated annual event celebrating Italian culture, music, food, wine and more.

Features Italian food, wine, merchandise with cooking demonstrations, entertainment and a kid’s area!

Week 5: Sept 25 – 30, 2023

Carolina Hurricane Preseason Community Game, Sept 27, 2023

Thousands of fans at an indoor ice hockey game
PNC Arena
  • Where: PNC Arena
  • Time: 7pm
  • Cost: $10
  • Tickets

This will be your once chance all season for cheap Hurricane tickets. Who cares if it’s pre-season? It will be a fun night regardless and hooray the hockey is back! They’ll be taking on the Florida Panthers. They’ll also be taking on Tampa Bay the evening before Sept 26. Tickets start at $22

12th Annual Raleigh Blues Festival, Sept 29, 2023

  • Where: Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts 
  • Time: 8pm
  • Cost: $59+
  • Tickets

This Blues evening is like telling stories through music, packed with intense feelings and a constant reminder of real life. It’s all about being real and unfiltered, taking tough times, challenges, and heartbreak and turning them into a powerful and emotional experience.

This awesome night of heartfelt lyrics and guitar melodies will have performances by King George, Pokey Bear, Lenny Williams, Lebrado, Theodis Ealey, and J-Wonn.

IBMA World Of Bluegrass Festival, Sept 29- Sept 30, 2023

People watching an outdoor Bluegrass concert in Raleigh
Bluegrass Fest in downtown Raleigh

Are you ready for one of the most popular free events in Raleigh? The IBMA World of Bluegrass is a two-day urban bluegrass music festival that closes out the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass Week in Raleigh. NC.

Fayetteville Street is closed down and features five blocks and six stages of music from up-and-coming artists to bluegrass legends.

The event also includes an amazing street festival complete with delicious food, a dance tent, a BBQ cook-off, an arts & crafts market and many other activities for all ages. Read our full post sharing the World of Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh experience.

Comment: What events and festivals are you most looking forward to attending for the month of September?

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