Weekend Family Fun: 3 Free Things to Do in Raleigh, Durham

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Museum of History
See more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, authors, artists and chefs at the African American Cultural Celebration Jan. 30 in downtown Raleigh.

1. Enjoy the annual African American Cultural Celebration, a free, fun and educational event, Saturday, Jan. 30, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., at the North Carolina Museum of History in downtown Raleigh. Go to see more than 75 musicians, storytellers, dancers, authors, artists, chefs as they help kick off Black History Month and celebrate African American heritage and culture.

Presenters include gospel singer Mary Williams and the MLK All-Children’s Choir, New York Times best-selling author Damon Tweedy and “Personal Chef to the Stars” Chef Rome. Arrive at 10:30 a.m. on Bicentennial Plaza outside the museum and you’ll see the Tryon Palace Jonkonnu Drummers and A Drummer’s World Drumline process to the museum to open the event. Take your children for hands-on activities, including a scavenger hunt and a cowrie shell necklace-making activity. This year’s theme is Civil Rights—March On! For a complete schedule of all performances and presentations, visit the museum's website

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Museum of History

2. Head to “Astronomy Days,” a free two-day annual event covering the science of celestial objects, Saturday, Jan. 30 (9 a.m.-5 p.m.) and Sunday, Jan. 31 (noon-5 p.m.) at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh. Fun for all ages, the event will feature displays and presentations, as well as activities covering everything from exoplanet geology to learning how to identify a meteorite.

Aspiring rocketeers can gaze at the 40-foot working models of the Tripoli Rocketry Association. Sun worshipers can peer at the Sun safely through solar telescopes. “Astronomy Days” will span the museum’s Nature Exploration Center in the main building, the connecting Nature Research Center and the Bicentennial Plaza outside of the museum, where kids can make and blast off their own bottle rocket. Hear from experts, including Astronaut Christina H. Koch, a North Carolina native, and NASA representatives. Those interested in the possibility of alien life should note the event’s theme this year: “The Search for Life Beyond Earth.” Learn more.

Photo courtesy of  Karen ‘Nik’ Swain, North carolina Museum  of Natural Sciences

3. Take your kids to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham  for a “Free Family Day,” noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31. The museum’s “Free Family Days” offer free admission and feature live entertainment, hands-on projects and an opportunity to explore exhibitions with a gallery hunt. This Sunday, hear Diali Cissokho perform on the kora (an African harp) and play the djembe drum, accompanied by Hilary Cissokho on various percussion instruments. Enjoy singing in Wolof, a Senegal language, and clapping rhythms, and experience West African drumming. The Nasher will also debut the new African Touch Collection, a variety of African works of art representing a range of cultures and object types. Visitors can touch and examine the pieces to learn more about the materials used and the function of the objects, which complement the museum’s African gallery in "The New Galleries: A Collection Come to Light." 

Courtesy of Diali Cissokho


Ready for an outdoor escape with your little ones? Visit our Daily Calendar to find nature programs for children, from “Outrageous Owls” to “Winter Birds” and “Salamanders” at local parks this weekend. Discover how the parks are nurturing children’s natural curiosity in Mother Nature. Some programs require registration and a small fee.

Photo courtesy of Gemenacom/Shutterstock

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