Fun Things to Do in the Triangle This Memorial Day Weekend

Photo courtesy of AJ Hoyle
Enjoy the WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest in Fuquay-Varina, offering four days of family activities including tethered hot air balloon rides and competition flights.

This Memorial Day weekend is chock-full of family fun, including the four-day Freedom Balloon Fest in Fuquay-Varina, a “beach” party at New Hope Valley Railroad, a big-band salute to Broadway and our veterans, and early-morning hikes to one of the Piedmont’s largest great blue heron nesting sites.

WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest in Fuquay-Varina FREE

The annual WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest offers a full weekend of family activities, including tethered hot air balloon rides and competition flights, live music and other entertainment, concessions including a beer garden, kids’ activities and an arts and crafts village. The festival runs 2-10:30 p.m., Friday, May 26; 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Saturday, May 27; 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sunday, May 28; and 6 a.m.-midnight, Monday, May 29, at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. Admission is free. Visit the website for a full schedule of events.

photo courtesy of Aj Hoyle

May Arts Night at The Durham Arts Council FREE

Enjoy new exhibits in the Allenton and Semans Gallery, a pop-up gallery of work from the current Durham Convention Center exhibit, lots of great crafts for kids, and performances by Durham Arts Council music instructors and students. This event takes place 6-8 p.m., Friday, May 26, at the Durham Arts Council building in downtown Durham. Free.

Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos with John Dee Holeman at Northgate Mall in Durham FREE

An amazing night of music is in store when local favorites Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos bring their Cajun/Zydeco mix to Northgate Mall as part of the “Music on the Plaza” series. They’ll be joined by John Dee Holeman, a Durham acoustic blues legend and recipient of the NEA’s National Heritage Fellowship. Enjoy food trucks, craft beer and dancing with family and friends. This performance takes place 6:30-9 p.m., Friday, May 26, at Northgate Mall in Durham. Free. Bring your own chairs.

photo courtesy of northgate mall

“Secret Life of Pets” at River Park in Hillsborough FREE

Bring your blanket and lawn chairs to an under-the-stars screening of the family film “The Secret Life of Pets,” part of the “Movie at the Park” series. The movie starts at 8:15 p.m., Friday, May 26, at River Park in downtown Hillsborough. Free. The rain date is Saturday, May 27. (Find more summer movie deals in our roundup!)

image courtesy of universal pictures

Brew ‘n’ Choo Beach Party at New Hope Valley Railway near New Hill

New Hope Valley Railroad is bringing the beach to the Piedmont with its first-ever Brew ‘n’ Choo Beach Party. The family-friendly event includes one-hour diesel-powered train excursions along the Bonsal rail lines (at 3, 4:15, 5:30 and 7 p.m.), plus festivities in the railyard including food, craft beer, local wine and live music. This event runs 3-8 p.m., Saturday, May 27, at the New Hope Valley Railway in Bonsal, near New Hill. Train tickets ($10-$12) are required for admission to the event and are available online.

photo courtesy of new hope valley railway

Triangle Wind Ensemble Presents “The Best of Broadway” at Cary’s Booth Amphitheatre

Enjoy an evening of the best numbers from classic and current Broadway shows, featuring Triangle Wind Ensemble’s “big band” and vocal soloists, plus a salute to America’s veterans in recognition of Memorial Day. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 28, at Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Tickets ($13-$26; kids 12 and under get in free) are available online or at the door. Gates open at 6 p.m.

Heron Rookery Nature Walk at Glennstone Nature Preserve in Durham FREE

This annual Memorial Day nature walk along Ellerbe Creek is so popular you’ll need to sign up in advance! Explore the preserve and its flora and fauna, including other birds, on the way to one of the Piedmont region’s largest great blue heron rookeries, or nesting grounds. Two hikes, at 7:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., will take place Monday, May 29, at the Glennstone Nature Preserve, located 15 minutes east of downtown Durham. The hike is free but spaces go quickly; online registration is recommended.

image courtesy of Larry Brockman/Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association


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