Celebrating Diversity in the Triangle

African American Cultural Festival 2
Performers at the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County lead festival-goers in celebrating African American culture.

All you have to do is look around to see that the Triangle is becoming a patchwork quilt of diversity, with every square as important to the whole as the next. Teaching children to learn about diverse cultures helps them appreciate and adapt to their expanding world. Here are 13 ways your family can experience a variety of cultures throughout the region.


Festivals and Events


African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh and Wake County

Sept. 2, 2017, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sept. 3, 2017, 1-10 p.m.

Fayetteville St., Downtown Raleigh

This annual festival celebrates African-American culture through art, music, food and community. Kid-friendly activities include performances by storytellers, dance troupes and drum circles; African-American children’s book authors and illustrators; and make-and-take crafts. Admission is free.


East Meets West Festival

Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Town Hall Dr., Morrisville

Families can experience food, culture, crafts and music from different parts of the world. Children can jump in a bounce house, have their faces painted or try a new food. Admission is free.


Durham Latino Fiesta and Soccer Challenge

Sept. 23, 2017; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Rock Quarry Park, 701 Stadium Dr., Durham

This event features a soccer tournament, food trucks, community resources and a family fun zone. Admission is free. 


Cary Diwali

Oct. 14, 2017 (time to be announced)

Booth Amphitheater, 8003 Regency Pkwy., Cary

This annual event offers families a chance to learn about Indian culture through performances, dance, arts and crafts, costumes, music and Indian cuisine. Admission is free.


32nd International Festival of Raleigh

Oct. 20, 2017, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Oct. 21, 2017, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Oct. 22, 2017, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh

This festival celebrates art, culture and history through authentic food, desserts from around the world, two stages with nonstop international dances, and special programming for children. Admission is $10-$12; admission on Friday, Oct. 20 between 9 a.m.–4 p.m. is $5.


22nd Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration

November 2017 (date and time to be announced)

North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh

This popular family event features musicians, dancers, artists, storytellers and authors from North Carolina’s eight state-recognized tribes. It includes craft demonstrations, hands-on activities, games and food. Admission is free.


Chapel Hill LIGHTUP Lantern Festival

January of February 2018 (time and date to be announced)

University Place, 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill

This festival celebrates cultural diversity and the Chinese New Year through lantern decorating with local artists, interactive arts and craft creations, a dragon dance workshop, a Peking opera, a Chinese orchestra, old-fashioned Chinese games and traditional cuisine. At dusk, participants are treated to a lantern light-up and parade. Admission is free.


17th Annual African American Cultural Celebration

January 2018 (date and time to be announced)

North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh

Celebrate African-American history through music, dance, literature, drama, art and food. The event features more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, playwrights, authors, artists and re-enactors. Admission is free.


Hayti Heritage Film Festival

February 8-10, 2018 (time to be announced)

Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Fayetteville St., Durham

The festival showcases full-length feature films, classics, documentaries and shorts by and about African-Americans and black culture. Admission is free.


Basant Bahar

March 2018 (date and time to be announced)

Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary

This event makes use of elaborate costumes and props to share Indian folklore and culture with families through a storytelling dance form. Multiple stories from Indian mythology are performed. Admission is free. 


Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival

May 2018 (date and time to be announced)

Rock Quarry Park, 701 Stadium Dr., Durham

Experience African and African-American traditions through music, dance, art and food. A Family Fun Zone is also available for face painting, games and storytelling, as well as where children are taught African drumming. Admission is free.




Hayti Heritage Center

804 Old Fayetteville St., Durham; 919-683-1709

The center hosts cultural arts programs and special events related to the African-American experience year-round. Most events are free, but check the website for details regarding specific programming.


North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

“Race: Are We So Different?” exhibit runs through Oct. 22, 2017; Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday: noon-5 p.m. (last entry is at 4 p.m.)

11 W. Jones St., Raleigh; 919-707-9800

There are three unique experiences incorporated into this exhibit. The Penny Poll gives children a chance to pledge a penny to make their community a better place. All money is donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. Cultural Conversations features interactive facilitator-led family discussions about race, and a resource guide suggests resources for children and adults to learn more about diversity. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Get free tickets online or at the museum.

The Triangle is truly one of the most diverse areas of the state, so get out and celebrate how various cultures and history bind us together and make us unique.


Robyn Kinsey Mooring is a Durham-based writer and the mother of two boys.


Categories: Cultural, Festivals, Outdoors, Seasonal Fun, Things To Do, Triangle Go-To Guide