27 of the BEST Raleigh Fall Festivals & Events (2022)

September’s here. September is here! In Australia, September was always the month that signaled we made it through winter and we’re moving into Spring and soon-to-be-summer. 

In the USA, September is the signal that Fall is approaching – a season full of exciting festivals, events, pumpkin treats and drinks, and happenings in Wake County and beyond to our North Carolina borders. 

people walking through a forest
Lake Johnson loop trail in the Fall!

Personally for us, it’s the kick off to a month-long celebration of all our birthdays over a 6 week period.

From a travel perspective, September and October are typically the best months of the year to be in any destination. Craig will be traveling to Ireland this month on a campaign with our global travel blog. We were hoping to squeeze in a trip to Paris for our girl’s Fall break now that direct flight to Paris from Raleigh are back, but I’m not sure we’ll make it happen this year.

I hope you can plan for travel this Fall. We highly recommend a trip to the North Carolina beaches. It’s still absolutely perfect weather wise, but with less crowds and cheaper prices!

We’ll be headed to Carolina Beach for a friend’s 40th birthday at the end of October which will be a ton of fun.

woman and girl looking over the Fall colors of Roanoke Virginia
Enjoying Fall in Roanoke, VA

And as we head through October, be on the lookout for leaf peeping opportunities in the North Carolina mountains. Roanoke in Virginia is even closer, and the North Georgia mountains aren’t too far away either. 

Check this post for road trip ideas from Raleigh for the Fall foliage.

There will be opportunities for you to enjoy the changing of the leaves in Raleigh as well. Stay connected to our Instagram as we explore those this year. 

Fall also sees the return of tailgating at our local sporting events. With three major universities surrounding us in the Triangle, football fever will be all around – with basketball soon to follow.

And our national Carolina Hurricanes ice hockey team always shows up with big action and crowds. The Caniacs have a reputation for being the LOUDEST fans in the country. Go Canes!

Fall Bucket List

cropped-asali-cafe-raleigh-3.jpg
Pumpkin cheesecake mousse, Asali Cafe, Cary

We have a Fall bucket list post that will give you a lot more tips on things to do in the Fall in Raleigh. And we will soon publish posts sharing this years Fall treats and drinks, Halloween events, and pumpkin patches near Raleigh (and corn mazes to visit).

Join our email community below so you don’t miss an update and to get access to our free printable Fall bucket list. It will help you keep on track for planning an awesome Fall.

For the purposes of this post, we are going to share the Fall festival and events from the beginning of September all the way to Thanksgiving.

We are going to complicate it even more, by not including the Christmas, or Holiday, events. Holiday events in Raleigh deserve their own celebratory post. 

When exactly is Fall in Raleigh?

family standing in front of a body of water
Lake Johnson in the Fall

This is a question I ask a lot and feel quite silly about. In Australia, there are no blurred lines about when Spring (September in Australia) starts. It’s clearly the 1st of September. We don’t care what the equinoxes are doing. 

We survived winter until Aug 31, so you better not try and claim any of September as winter. So I can’t help but look at seasons as a clear start of a month to end across a three month span.

You are not incorrect in viewing the seasons like that. The meteorological definition of seasons is based on temperature cycles and the Gregorian calendar and so pegs September 1st as the start of Fall.

But, technically, Fall in Raleigh begins with the Autumnal Equinox which occurs on Sept 22, 2022 (I like what those numbers are doing there!)

It then technically ends on Dec 21, 2022 with the winter solstice. This is the astronomical definition of seasons.

If you look at those two definitions, and compare that with Raleigh’s weather patterns, we’re a mixture of both and so the astronomical definition works with a September 22 Fall kick off.

Anyone who’s lived here for a few seasons knows it’s still hot as buggery usually all the way up to the end of October. And we get a series of false Falls up until then. Like we had for the past two weeks. Anyone notice how the humid summer heat is now back? #ThisIsRaleigh.

Top Fall Festivals & Events in Sept, 2022

Hopscotch Music Festival, Sept. 8-10, 2022

Hopscotch Music Festival
Hopscotch Festival. Image courtesy of VisitRaleigh.com

Earning notoriety as one of the country’s top music festivals is the Hopscotch Music festival held throughout various venues in downtown Raleigh.

Hopscotch is known for its eclectic music representation covering almost every genre  —rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, electronic, experimental, and more.

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

7th Annual Asia Fest with Dragon Boat Racing, Sept 17, 2022

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 18, 2022

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!

Benson Mule Days, Sept 22- 25, 2022

parade of mule drawn carriages main st benson
Mule Days Parade | Image by Johnston County Visitors Bureau
  • Where: Main St Benson, Johnston County
  • Times: Various (all day events)
  • Cost: Some free and some ticketed events
  • Website: www.bensonmuledays.com

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, you’ll love celebration of all our beloved, obstinate mules.

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. Well worth a visit for Mule Days!

Downtown Cary Fall Festival, Sep 24, 2022

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.

Farm Aid Festival, Set 24, 2022

Y’all, I only just heard about this annual event while researching for Fall festivals and events in September. Since its beginning in 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $64 million to promote a strong and resilient family farm system of agriculture.

It’s held in different US cities each year and Raleigh is the host for 2022!

The annual Farm Aid Festival is all-day celebration of music and family farmers.

The festival features performances by Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson & Family, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds, and Margo Price, as well as Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Lukas Nelson, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Allison Russell, Charley Crockett, Brittney Spencer, and Particle Kid.

The festival will also have family farm-identified, local and organic foods as part of our HOMEGROWN Concessions. (I can’t applaud this enough!!)

Festa Italiana, Sept 24, 2022

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 kids area!

Downtown Food Truck Rodeo, Sept 25, 2022

A group of people walking on a city street
Image courtesy of Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo

Get ready to chow down on your favorite food truck tasty treats. There will be a 1/2 mile of food trucks from across North Carolina spread out over 10 city blocks.

IBMA World Of Bluegrass Festival, Sept 30- Oct 1, 2022

People watching an outdoor Bluegrass concert in Raleigh
Enjoying the Bluegrass last year
  • Where: Red Hat Amphitheater and Downtown Raleigh
  • Time: Various
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: WorldOfBlueGrass.org

IBMA World of Bluegrass is an urban bluegrass music festival that closes out the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass Week in Raleigh. NC.

During the two-day festival, Fayetteville Street is closed down and features five blocks and six stages of music stretching from Martin Street to the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

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 blog post sharing the World of Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh experience. You can see why it’s one of the most popular free annual events in Raleigh.

Triangle Oktoberfest, Sept 30 – Oct 1, 2022

People standing in a line holding up glasses of beer
Image courtesy of TriangleOktoberfest.org
  • Where:  Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary
  • Time: Fri: 5pm-10pm | Sat: 12pm-8:30pm
  • Cost: $20 Friday | $35 Saturday | Kids under 15 free
  • Website: TriangleOktoberfest.org

The largest Oktoberfest in Central North Carolina is an authentic German festival focused on family fun, traditional Bavarian food and fare; and plenty of local and authentic German beers from Munich.

Of course, rest assured there will be Polka music to ramp up that Oompah vibe. And I can tell you from my Oktoberfest experience in the beer halls of Munich that it is a fun event you’ll never forget. Raise your stein and get prosting!

It’s such a shame it conflicts with the Bluegrass festival. Which one do you choose?

Read more: 13 Places to celebrate Oktoberfest in Raleigh

Top Fall Festivals & Events in October, 2022

Celebrate Fuquay Varina, Oct 1, 2022

pizza store in Fuquay-Varina, NC

This festival is all about celebrating the vibrant community of Fuquay-Varina. It includes live entertainment, craft beer, the Downtown Chili Cook-off, food trucks, arts & crafts, a free kids zone, and more

The 94th Wendell Harvest Festival, Oct 1, 2022

Wendell is celebrating this annual Fall festival with food trucks, a kids village, a parade supporting Hometown Hunger Heroes, and a free concert with the Brickhouse Band.

Cary Diwali Festival, Oct 8, 2022

  • Where: Koka Booth Amphitheatre
  • Cost: Free + $5 parking
  • Website: TownOfCary.org

The Cary Diwali festival includes music, dance, theater performances, a handicraft bazaar, Indian food vendors, sponsor booths, an exhibition of Indian art and culture, and activities for children.

It’s a celebration that marks the victory of good over evil, light over dark and the beginning of the New Year. It is one of the most widely celebrated religious and cultural events in Raleigh. 

Inter-Tribal Pow Wow, October 8, 2022

Let’s celebrate the legacy and culture of our Indigenous communities living in North Carolina today. This is a day of competition dancing, music, makers, and vendors. You may bring in your own food and non-alcoholic drinks.

SAS Championship, Oct 10-16, 2022

  • Where: Prestonwood Country Club, 2022
  • Time: (no times announced yet)
  • Cost: $25 Daily Grounds Passes. FREE public parking at Bond Park with shuttle to the tournament main entrance
  • Website: www.saschampionship.com

Craig keeps talking about attending this annual PGA Tour Champions event. Since it’s now near where we live, I think it’s time we went!

See some of golf’s best attend the the SAS Championship, widely recognized as one of the most important events of the year in Wake County. This golf event includes:

  • Pro-Am event
  • Food Truck Friday: some of the area’s best Food Trucks, plus live music, and youth entertainment
  • 5K Saturday race: Enjoy the unique experience of running, jogging or walking along the official tournament course prior to the second round of play.

N.C. State Fair, Oct. 13-23, 2022

Swinging chairs ride at the state fair
Fun at the Fair
  • Where: NC. State Fairgrounds
  • Time: 9am – 11pm with some nights closing at midnight
  • Cost: $10 adult, $5 youth entrance fee
  • Website: NCStateFair.org

Are you ready for a HUGE North Carolina event held right in the heart of Raleigh at the State Fairgrounds? It is the largest annual event in North Carolina and last year, I felt every one of those million visitors that attended the 11-day fair. 

As the biggest of the annual Raleigh events, it is a lot of fun with high-flying rides, deep-fried foods, live music, stunt shows and other entertainment (including nightly fireworks). It’s definitely worth experiencing once.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to the North Carolina State Fair

VIDEO: NC State Fair

Falling for Local, Oct 15, 2022

Falling for Local Festival, Dorothea Dix Park

We enjoy this festival filled with local makers and creators stalls, beer tents, live music from local artists, and activities for the kids, such as hayrides and pumpkin patches. It’s a great way to welcome in Fall while still soaking up the last warm rays of summer. 

Buy your drink tickets in advance as the lines can get long. And note, last year the food truck lineup was ridiculous! People were waiting for a long time, and many trucks had run out of certain foods, so it may be a good idea to bring your own picnic lunch!

NC Wine Festival, Oct 15, 2022

Did somebody say wine tasting? You may be surprised at the state of wine in North Carolina. For over 20 years, the NC Wine festival has been sharing NC wineries goodness with us all.

Paired with your chardonnay will be music, food and live entertainment from Chairmen of the Board, The Shakedown and The Patrick Rock Band. 

Clayton Harvest Festival, Oct 27 – 30, 2022

girls walking through pumpkin field
Boyette Family Farm, Clayton

As Johnston County is home to many farms, it makes sense that their Fall harvest festivals are worth visiting. The Clayton Harvest Festival features carnival rides and games, a Latin American festival, trunk or treat and movie night. 

Zombiepalooza, Cary, October 28,2022

outside a theater buliding
Cary Theater

We were quite surprised by the dedicated turn out for Zombiepalooza when we visited pre-COVID. The Cary Theater hosts a free event showcasing locally created zombie short films on a huge outdoor screen. Plenty of people dressed in their best zombie gear! 

Pumpkin Flotilla, October 28, 2022

woman looking out over Bond Park, Cary, NC
Bond Lake, Cary

Each October, pumpkins set sail across the Bond Park Lake at twilight accompanied by local music, snacks, and Halloween activities!

Floats are limited and first come first served. If you want to show off your carved pumpkin, drop it off at the Bond Park boathouse in the days leading up to the event.

If you miss the flotilla evening, the pumpkins are typically left on the lake and they relight them for the next couple of nights.

Movies on the Lawn: Halloween Double Feature, Oct 29, 2022

There is so much to love about this Scream fest in Dorothea Dix Park. Two classics back to back: Hocus Pocus (7pm) followed by Scream (8:30pm)

Come dressed in your favorite costume. There is a parade and prizes starting at 6pm/ Food trucks on site and you can BYO.

HollyFest, October 29, 2022

HollyFest is a celebration of the local community. This free annual event features local artists, food vendors, kids activities and entertainment. 

Top Fall Festivals and Events in Nov, 2022

North Carolina International Festival, Nov 5-6, 2022

Let’s celebrate holidays around the world with cultural performances, an international Dance competition, a holiday market and delicious food and drinks. Over 30 cultures represented!

North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival, Late Nov 18, 2022-Jan 8,2023

Chinese Lantern Festival
Image courtesy of visitraleigh.com
  • Where: Koka Booth Amphitheatre
  • Time: Mon.-Sun., 6-10pm; performances: 7pm, 8pm and 9pm, nightly
  • Cost: Start at $11
  • Website: BoothAmpitheartre.com

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival has exploded in popularity over recent years. So plan well and buy your tickets in advance. 

The festival has hundreds of larger-than-life lanterns on display creating an incredible, colorful adventure for you to walk through during the holiday season. 

More than 15,000 LED lights make up 20 distinct displays, including a 200-foot-long, 21-foot-tall mythical creature that sits on Symphony Lake. Hopefully this is the year we finally attend!

27th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration, Nov 19, 2022

Time to honor our Indigenous Peoples.  This annual event has been held in honor of American Indian Heritage Month in North Carolina for over 25 years.

The festival includes multiple demonstrations, presentations, and performances highlight the traditional and contemporary artistic, scientific, historic, and cultural contributions of American Indians in North Carolina for over 14,000 years. 

Remember to join our VIP email community so you don’t miss our Fall updates and recommendations. we’ll soon be publishing our guide to Halloween events, Fall pumpkin patches and corn mazes to visit, and Fall treats & drinks to indulge in!

Stay tuned. We’ll also soon update our Holiday Events post which will include the Christmas Parade and lighting of the tree that happens in November.

Comment: What Fall festival and event in Raleigh are you most looking forward to? Do you have one to recommend that we may have missed? Be sure to tell us why you love it!

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