Check out this roundup of the best outdoor concerts, movies, festivals, terraces and rooftop bars to enjoy around the Triangle this summer.
Summer music festivals feed our love of music and our need to be outdoors to commune with others when the weather is nice (and by nice we mean warm or even hot, but not rainy, s ‘please !).
Add to that the fact that most of our picks here for the best summer music festivals in North Carolina also come with an added element like arts, crafts, dance, and of course, food and beer. , and the experience can be pretty close to perfect.
We’ve tried to stick to festivals that were in the Triangle or at least fairly close to it, but there’s a new one on the scene that will require a little road trip – but we think it’s worth it the penalty.
Festival for Eno
When: July 2 and 4; Where: West Point on the Eno – Durham City Park, 5101 N Roxboro Road, Durham; Cost: $35 per day or $60 for a two-day pass. Children 5-17 are $10 per day or $15 for two days. Children 4 and under admitted free. Information: enofest.org
What is it about : This annual festival has topped Triangle summer to-do lists for over 40 years. It features live music with dozens of artists, a juried craft show, great food (and beer), and the general fun that comes with being located right on the river. The festival takes place over two days, with a rest day in the middle.
Performers: HC McEntire, Tumbao, The Gospel Jubilators, Sonny Miles, Jon Shain & FJ Ventre, Joe Newberry, Dissimilar South, The Branchettes, Cane Creek Cloggers, Secret Monkey Weekend, Apple Chill Cloggers, Leah Magner, Tray Wellington, Nightblooms, Ned and Wendy the Band!, Paradise Motel Lounge, Weirs, Molly Sarlé, Daughter of Swords, Blackhaus, Pie Faced Girls, Willi Carlisle, the Gospeltones, African American Dance Ensemble, Mellow Swells, Javier Montano, Libby Rodenbaugh, Lightnin Wells, Al Riggs, XOXOK , TGold, Trippers and Askers, Paper Hand Puppet Intervention, Beauty Operators and Spiritual Sounds from Durham.
Earl Scruggs Music Festival
When: September 2-4; Where: Spring Mill; Cost: $150 to $6,000; Information: earlscruggsmusicfestival.com
What is it about : This one’s about a four-hour drive from Raleigh, but if you like bluegrass, folk, and American music, it’s definitely worth it. This brand new festival – it’s its first year – is in honor of bluegrass banjo legend Earl Scruggs and is hosted by the Earl Scruggs Center and WMCW FM (Isothermal Community College radio station). Tip: Take the whole week off and enjoy Asheville and the mountains of North Carolina while you’re there.
Performers: The Earls of Leicester, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sam Bush Band, “My Bluegrass Heart” by Bela Fleck, Alison Brown, Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway, Leftover Salmon, Chatham County Line, Rissi Palmer, Jerry Douglas, Acoustic Syndicate, Balsam Range , Dom Flemons, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, Becky Buller Band, Laura Boosinger and Josh Goforth, Lakota John, Chatham Rabbits, John Stickley Trio, Fireside Collective, Unspoken Tradition, The Barefoot Movement, Bella White and others.
North Carolina Folk Festival
When: September 9-11; Where: Downtown Greensboro; Cost: Free; Information: nfolkfestival.com
What is it about : If you’re low on funds after the Earl Scruggs Festival extravaganza, this three-day festival in Greensboro (which is much closer than Mill Spring) is free. And you won’t just get performances from folk musicians, but there are also hip-hop, afrobeats, cajun, funk, country, indie rock artists and more. The festival has over 300 artists on multiple stages with continuous performances. The “Not Your Average Folk Contest” invites local musicians (of all genres) to apply to perform at the festival.
Performers: Sam Bush, Karan Casey, QWANQWA, Michael Winograd & The Honorable Mentshn, Kaleta & Super Yamba Band, Big Bang Boom, Jeff Little Trio, Symphony Unbound with Dori Freeman and the Winston-Salem Symphony String Quintet, Futurebirds, Black Opry Revue with Joy Clark, Autumn Nicholas, Tae Lewis, Chris Pierce and Aaron Vance, BeauSoleil with Michael Doucet, The Rumble, Soultrii, The Secret Agency and others.
IBMA Bluegress live!
When: Sept. 30-Oct. 1; Where: Red Hat Amphitheater, Fayetteville Street and other downtown Raleigh locations; Cost: Street performances are free. Hiking tickets cost between $25 and $60. A limited number of free general admission tickets will be available for Red Hat shows. Reserved seating is recommended to guarantee admission. One-day passes for Red Hat cost between $50 and $70 and two-day passes cost between $100 and $140. Information: worldofbluegrass.org/festival
What is it about : Considered the largest free urban bluegrass festival in the world, IBMA Bluegrass Live! The event features IBMA and Grammy Award-winning bluegrass artists performing on street stages, at nearby small local venues (the Bluegrass Ramble), and in big shows at the Red Hat Amphitheater. You will also get about two blocks of food and goods vendors.
Performers: There are plenty of street and club stages that have yet to be announced, but the 2022 main stage will include The Infamous Stringdusters, The Jerry Douglas Band (with special guests), Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band and more.
Shakori Hills GrassRoots Music and Dance Festival
When: Oct. 6-9; Where: Shakori Hills Community Arts Center, 1439 Henderson Tanyard Road, Pittsboro; Cost: Day tickets range from $35 to $53, and several discount options are available. Additional charge for campers.; Information: shakorihillsgrassroots.org
What is it about : There’s no better way for a music lover to head into fall than with this family-friendly music and arts festival in Pittsboro. It has been a tradition for many in the Triangle since its launch nearly 20 years ago. Plan to camp there to fully enjoy the experience.
Performers: Donna The Buffalo, Hiss Golden Messenger, Eric Krasno Trio (ft. Otis McDonald & Eric Finland), Andy Frasco and the UN, Kaleta & Super Yamba Band, Driftwood