Science Museum, DPAC Cater to Special Needs With ‘Sensory-Friendly’ Events


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Tickets are now on sale for Durham Performing Arts Center's first sensory-friendly performance on Dec. 3.

Photos of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” courtesy of Paparazzibyappointment.com

Going to the movies, theater or museum are fun outings many people take for granted, but for those with autism, they can be discomforting experiences. Two Triangle venues are working to tailor their entertainment and educational offerings so they can be enjoyed by those who have special needs.

A Special Night at the Museum

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh is offering an “Accessibility and Sensory-Friendly Night” for families with special needs 6-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 11 (doors open at 5:30 p.m.). The free event — presented in collaboration with ARC of Wake County, Arts Access and Marbles Kids Museum — is designed to offer a fully accessible, calmer visit at a time when fewer people are at the museum. Registration is not required.

“Sometimes visiting a popular venue or museum can prove overwhelming and can lead to uncertainty for people who experience the world in different ways,” says the museum's Accessibility and Inclusion Coordinator Liani Yirka. “We are excited to provide an evening that is quieter and has lower sensory experiences in order to assure all of our visitors that this is their museum, and that they can enjoy a visit here.”

During the evening, visitors are invited to meander through all four floors of the museum’s main building at 11 W. Jones St. They can stop by educational stations run by local organizations and agencies and enjoy live-animal programming and interactive activities. For a $5 charge, they can also watch a sensory-friendly 3-D movie — “Flight of the Butterflies” (6-6:30 p.m.) and browse the “American Adventure,” exhibition (6:30-8:30 p.m.). Those tickets can be bought at the door or online at naturalsciences.org.

The museum’s Discovery Room (for toddlers and preschoolers) and the Living Conservatory (home to butterflies, tarantulas, tropical plants and a two-toed sloth) will be open until 8:30 p.m. Families needing a few moments to retreat to a quiet room with dimmed lights can go inside the “Explore on 4” meeting space on the museum’s fourth floor.

A Special Evening at the Theater

Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham is also hosting its first sensory-friendly performance, Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, and tickets for the show are already on sale. Sponsored by Duke Health, the performance is designed for children and adults on the autism spectrum — or those who have sensitivity issues — and their families. The performance will feature a slightly lower volume and house lights will be dimmed rather than turned off during the show. The performance will be devoid of flashing lights, loud booms or elements of surprise that might be scary, says DPAC Community Relations Manager Tiffany Malory.

“We are eliminating anything that might upset any people or agitate people, just so they can come and enjoy the theater experience,” she says, noting that regular theater rules will be bent for the performance. “The kids don’t have to be quiet, so it takes the stress off. They can bring in items that give them comfort, if they like.”

Malory, who traveled to New York to research how to bring a sensory-friendly performance to DPAC, says she was motivated to do this because she has friends who have children who are autistic. “Here are DPAC, we want to make an effort to allow all families in the Triangle to enjoy the magic of theater. My hope is if this is successful, it is something we can do every year and maybe do more than one.”

On-site volunteers will be on hand to assist families as needed when they arrive at DPAC and throughout the performance. Quiet spaces will be available in the DPAC lobby for those who need to take a break from the show. “But the most important thing about this performance is that they will be in a very tolerant, accepting audience, where people can speak out if they need to, they can move, they can get up and leave and come back, and everyone there is very understanding and accepting,” Malory says.

Ahead of the performance, detailed instructions and character comparison hand-outs will be available for parents/caregivers to view, download and print at home, previewing in words and pictures the experience that families can expect during their visit to DPAC and this show.

For tickets, which start at $30 (plus taxes and fees), visit dpacnc.com/grinchsensory, or call or stop by the ticket center at DPAC: 919-680.2787, 123 Vivian St.

Special Needs Resources

Carolina Parent's Exceptional Child guide offers Triangle-area resources for children who have special needs, along with personal stories and advice. Browse our digital edition.

 

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Karen Shore lives in Holly Springs with her husband and two sons. By day, she works at the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce and by night, she's a cook, chauffeur, tutor, secretary and amateur therapist for her family. She will blog about family fun in the Triangle — including freebies and news that matters to local parents. Check back here Mondays and Thursdays for her weekday and weekend fun blog posts. 

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February 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Join park staff in collecting data for the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

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Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville , NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Cost: $18

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Dorton Arena
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

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Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Studio School of Durham
1201 W. Woodcroft Pkwy.
Durham, NC  27713
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Contact Name: Danielle Clark
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1222 Copeland Oaks Dr
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Cost: Free

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1001 Airport Blvd.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Cost: $32 and up

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Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Carolina Ballet presents Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers, dueling families, intrigue, deception and a tragic twist of fate. Dramatic sword fights, stunning costumes and...

Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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More information

Carolina Ballet presents Shakespeare’s story of star-crossed lovers, dueling families, intrigue, deception and a tragic twist of fate. Dramatic sword fights, stunning costumes and...

Cost: $32 and up

Where:
Fletcher Theater
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601


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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Join park staff in collecting data for the 21st annual Great Backyard Bird Count. We will look and listen for birds in a variety of habitats, and keep track of how many individuals of each species...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville , NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
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Cost: Free

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1001 Airport Blvd.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
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Crowder District Park
4709 Ten Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
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Telephone: 919-662-2850
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Cost: Free

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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New HIll, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
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There are many kinds of raptors or birds of prey that call Harris Lake County Park home. Some stay all year like the Bald Eagle and others like the Osprey live here only part of the year. Discover...

Cost: Free

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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919.387.4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Get snug in the farmhouse and listen to a nature story. Explore nature items and make a themed craft. Ages 3-5 with caregiver. Advance registration required online. Choose course #215883.

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Take part in an Open Studio Exploration. Children are invited to use the materials in the studio to create at their own pace. Parents and caregivers participate by helping children achieve...

Cost: Free

Where:
Our PlayHouse Preschool
3501 Highway 54 W.
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Our PlayHouse Preschool
Telephone: (919) 967-2700
Contact Name: Elizabeth Lenn
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Register online.

Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
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More information

Support the American Red Cross by making thank-you cards for its staff and volunteers. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course code #111616.

Cost: $2/resident, $3/nonresident

Where:
Cary Senior Center Ballroom
120 Maury O'Dell Place
Cary, NC  27513
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Website »

More information

See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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Website »

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Cost: $30

Where:
Baby + Company
226 Ashville Ave
Cary, NC  27518
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Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Telephone: 773-495-8117
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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Read "Secret Pizza Party" by Adam Rubin and make personalized pizzas. Register online. Choose course #109612.

Cost: $23/resident, $30/nonresident

Where:
Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC
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A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
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Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
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Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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Historic Stagville and Morehead Planetarium will present a stellar program that focuses on the astronomy and night sky myths and legends told in African cultures, as well as the related stories...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy.
Durham, NC  27712
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Telephone: 919-620-0120
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See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
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Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
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More information

See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
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Cost: $45-$175

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.996.8700
Contact Name: Blake Jones
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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
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Cost: $50-$80

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.996.8700
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Cost: $35-$89

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: Free

Where:
Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
2900 Horse Shoe Farm Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Cost: $55/child

Where:
SMILE Camp
6301 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: SMILE Camp
Telephone: 919-538-5278
Contact Name: Sheila Marsh
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Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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1709 High School Rd.
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Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina State Capitol
1 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

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City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: Free

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Cameron Village Library
1930 Clark Ave.
Raleigh, NC
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See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $10/person

Where:
The Scrap Exchange
2050 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, NC  27703
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Sponsor: The Scrap Exchange
Telephone: 919-213-1278
Contact Name: Anna Graves
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More information

Walk with a park naturalist to look and listen for wildlife in the woods and fields as daylight transitions to night. Ages 4 and older; children must be accompanied by an adult. Register...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

See L.M. Montgomery’s beloved novel "Anne of Green Gables" come to life in this stage adaptation by Peter DeLaurier. Enjoy the misadventures of Anne Shirley, a...

Cost: $12/adult, $6/ages 18 and younger

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second St.
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: Clayton Youth Theater
Telephone: 919-553-1737
Website »

More information

Applause! Cary Youth Theatre presents the tale of Scraps, who intends to go her own way until she happens onto an adventure that broadens her understanding of herself and the world around....

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Cary Arts Center
101 Dry Ave.
Cary, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See William Shakespeare's classical masterpiece brought to life on stage by director Leo Egger, who lends his own unique vision to production. Tickets are available at the door...

Cost: $10/person

Where:
Durham School Of The Arts Blackbox Theater
400 N. Duke St.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: The Un-Intentionals
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Cost: $50-$80

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Telephone: 919.996.8700
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122 E. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.