One of our favorite things about North Carolina… you can actually enjoy every season! All year long, explore our parks – everything from kayaking and biking in Eno River State Park to art-filled adventures along the Art to Heart Corridor at North Carolina Museum of Art and evening strolls along the forest-like trails of Duke University; pack a picnic and enjoy live music at Durham Central Park’s PLAYlist Concert Series or spend the Third Friday of every month exploring Durham’s art scene with a gallery crawl; indulge in locally-sourced, one-of-a-kind eats all over town; and find no shortage of craft beer when you need to quench your thirst. But that’s not all. Here are some events that will have you coming back to Durham year-after-year with the season of travel in mind…
SPRING (March – May)
Spring into travel with beer, films and new blooms.
- Two words: BEER & FOOD. Need we say more? The beer scene alone is reason enough to visit Durham. You can find quality craft beer around every corner in this city. Delicious eats and craft brews collide at the Bull City Food & Beer Experience – a pairing and sampling event showcasing local restaurants and craft beers from the North Carolina region. Enjoy a day in downtown Durham with the Durham Food Truck Rodeo (held on the second Saturday of each month; click here to see 2021 dates) and sample some of the area’s best food, support local makers and enjoy live music for free.
- Nothing says Spring like floral art! Surround yourself with impressive displays of floral artwork at NCMA’s Art in Bloom, where floral designers are invited in the Spring every year to share their interpretation of works of art in the Museum collection.
- For the film enthusiasts. Mark your calendars for the Hayti Heritage Film Festival, a festival centered around keeping Black Southern film alive. Immerse yourself in film screenings by new and veteran artists while you enjoy great food, beverages, arts and crafts.
SUMMER (June – August)
Celebrate Summer with camp, dance and pageants.
- You’re never too old for Summer Camp. Relive your favorite childhood summer camp memories at the Museum of Life & Science’s Adult Summer Camp – make s’mores, play archery or climb the rock wall, all while enjoying your favorite adult beverage. And keep an eye out for AfterHours events like Beer & Butterflies! By day, your little ones can explore and discover indoor and outdoor exhibits like Carolina Wildlife, Aerospace and Dinosaur Trail.
- Who doesn’t love a good documentary? We sure do! That’s why we’re big fans of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an annual festival bringing filmmakers and film lovers from around the world to historic downtown Durham. Immerse yourself in four days of morning-to-midnight screenings of nearly 100 films and experience the story behind these non-fiction films in a whole new way with filmmaker panel discussions and conversations.
- Beaver Queen Pageant. Yup, you heard us. Light-hearted fun and advocacy for a cause join forces at the Beaver Queen Pageant (usually held in Duke Park). Each year the Durham community comes together to partake and observe folly, pageantry and humor as contestants take on beaver personalities, showcase their talents and are interviewed to bring awareness and raise money to restore and protect Durham’s Ellerbe Creek Watershed, which flows through some of Durham’s most historic and culturally significant areas, and is sadly listed as one of North Carolina’s most polluted streams.
Bonus! Because why not. If you love the performing arts, you can’t miss the American Dance Festival (ADF), a festival filled with movie screenings, beginner workshops, masterclasses and live performances.
FALL (September – November)
Fall in love with a city full of fun.
- Festivals, festivals and more festivals! Celebrate your favorite bock beers and lagers at Triangle Oktoberfest — sip on new and limited releases from breweries throughout the region, watch the wiener dogs race and get down to some polka music at the largest and most authentic German festival in North Carolina. Take home a piece of Durham and shop local art from all mediums at the Centerfest Arts Festival. Love a good music festival? Enjoy a weekend full of music and performances at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh. Photography fanatic? Expose yourself to exceptional photo-based works, artists and programming at the Click! Photography Festival. Are your two favorite things exercise and eating? Sign up for a morning of running, followed by an afternoon of delicious eats from local food trucks at the Bull City Race Fest.
- Cotton candy, corn dogs and agriculture. Take a short drive to Raleigh and ride the State Fair SkyGazer at the NC State Fair.
- It’s out of this galaxy… comic book creators, collectible enthusiasts and costume makers collide for a three-day comic book show in the Triangle at NC Comicon: Bull City.
WINTER (December – February)
Get in the holiday spirit with a Winter escape.
- Watch the city illuminate. Kick off the holiday season at the American Tobacco Tower Lighting & City of Durham Tree Lighting. With back-to-back performances in a twinkle light setting and a hot cocoa in hand, you are guaranteed to get all of the holiday feels.
- Unwrap some fun. Wake up early and head to the streets to watch floats, mascots and hometown bands at the Durham Holiday Parade. Find endless amounts of holiday fun at Durham Fun Fest, including sledding down the Peppermint Plunge. Stock the tree with one-of-a-kind gifts made by local makers at the Durham Art Walk Holiday Market.
- Watch the ball drop with First Night Raleigh, a family-friendly community celebration of art to ring in the New Year. Find over 100 performances and activities spread over 20 blocks of downtown Raleigh.
Featured photo courtesy of Discover Durham.