Weekend Fun: Free Festivals Offer Live Music, Art, Kids Activities

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Get ready for a range of family fun across the Triangle this weekend, from free festivals that feature live music, art, crafts and kids activities to a free antique auto car show. Attend a free family concert, visit a museum for First Friday fun, go on a walk to benefit people with disabilities, celebrate butterflies or visit a farmers’ market near your home.

Unless otherwise noted, you’ll find details of these events in our new and improved Daily Calendar, now featuring maps!


It’s First Friday in downtown Raleigh, a monthly art celebration when museums, galleries and other venues stay open late for those who want to browse, play, shop and eat.

* Marbles Kids Museum will be from 5 to 8 p.m. for First Friday. Admission if $5, and free for members. Check out “Play with Your Food” a program that explores the whimsical side of veggies and invites you to design creative sculptures..

* The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will also stay open from 5 to 9 p.m. for First Friday fun, and you can catch a free sci-fi movie, Assignment Outer Space, at 7 p.m. and wander through the museum’s exhibits. “Destination Station,” a free NASA exhibit on the second floor of the Museum highlights the work of NASA’s International Space Station and its potential impact on daily life.

The Contemporary Art Museum will also stay open until 10 p.m. for First Friday activities. Admission is $5 and free for members. Enjoy after-hours access to the Chris Bradley–Close One and Dara Friedman–Dancer exhibitions, a presentation of NC State College of Design student projects, a hands-on activity at the creation station, and a North Carolina Master Chorale performance.


The Lucy Daniels Center’s Bookmarked! Festival continues with events for children.  On Saturday, you’ll find a free family fun concert from 9 a.m.-noon at The Green at North Hills, in Raleigh. Enjoy music by the Sandbox band, readings by Audrey Penn and Ira David Wood III and other activities for families and kids.

Catch the Magic Wings Butterfly Festival at the Museum of Life and Science, in Durham, on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy insect racing, bug eating, crafts and other hands-on activities. How squeamish are you? The museum’s Dare Café will be serving up superworms, mealworms, crickets and possibly hissing cockroaches with an assortment of dipping sauces. Or you could take a trip through the Magic Wings Butterfly House, a lush tropical habitat filled with butterflies, including exotic species.  The festival is free with regular museum admission. Learn more about this festival and other upcoming events, in Festivals in Raleigh, Durham Offer Family Fun, Kids Activities.

The Apex Peakfest, in downtown historic Apex, offers arts and crafts, food and a kids zone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. This festival is free.

Head to downtown Smithfield, for the free Ham & Yam Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday to soak in live music, contests, races, food and more. See our Daily Calendar for details.

The OutRaleigh Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday on Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh. The festival is a welcoming and safe event for all ages to learn about issues affecting neighbors, friends, family members and others who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. Enjoy live music, kids activities, guest speakers and an expo area. The festival is free.

In Durham, the free Strawberry Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Old North Durham Park. Central Park School for Children’s annual, child-centered Strawberry Festival features live entertainment, face painting, strawberry manicures children’s games and treats made with strawberries. Proceeds will be used to enhance the school’s outdoor learning environment.

The Cary Baisakhi Festival will kick off at noon Saturday (gates open at 11 a.m.) at Booth Amphitheatre. Baisakhi is a Punjab holiday that represents the beginning of the new solar year and start of the new harvest season. Enjoy local and regional dance and music performances, vendors and ethnic food at this annual festival. See our Daily Calendar for details, including ticket prices.

The Antique Automobile Show runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Historic Oak View County Park, in Raleigh. The event is free. See our Daily Calendar for details.

Missed attending your high school prom? Head to the Mom Prom, at the Factory, in Wake Forest, from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday. Enjoy food, a bar, a silent auction, door prizes and more. Proceeds support Beads of Courage, Inc. and a triangle family coping with serious illness. Visit http://beadsofcourage.givezooks.com/events/mom-prom to buy your ticket.

The Easter Seals Walk with Me begins at 10 a.m., with registration at 9 a.m. Saturday on North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, in Raleigh. The 1.2-mile fun walk benefits the Easter Seals and people with disabilities. Festivities include games, activities, music and a picnic lunch. All ages and dogs welcome. See our Daily Calendar for details, including how to register online and registration fees.

Looking for a way to teach your child about being a good citizen? Children can step into a polling booth for early voting this Saturday at the downtown Durham Public Library and then join in a free celebration that features a voting-themed story time, crafts and snacks. See my earlier post, Head to Kids Voting, Free Party at Durham Library.

In historic downtown Hillsborough, the Eno River Farmers Market will run from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and will feature free make-and-take crafts for kids. See our Daily Calendar for details.

The Western Wake Farmers Market in Cary will be open from 8 a.m. to noon. You’ll find free programs offered each week in the Education Tent plus live music and more than 30 farmers and artisans.

Looking for a farmers market closer to your home? See our resource listing, Farmers Markets Grow in the Triangle. If you enjoy gathering your own local strawberries, see our listing of Triangle-Area Pick-Your-Own Strawberry Farms.

FREE DEAL: Saturday is also Cinco de Mayo, and Moe’s Southwest grill is offering free kid’s meals to customers under 12 all day (limit one per guest) with the purchase of an entrée valued $5 or more. To keep the family-fun festivities booming all day, Moe’s 15 Triangle locations will also be offering Cinco de Mayo themed activities such as games, coloring sheets and piñatas for the kids. The first 100 people in line when the Moe’s locations open at 11 a.m. also get a free limited edition 2012 Cinco de Moe’s t-shirt.


Don’t miss Carrboro Day, a free fun event, from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Carrboro Town Commons. Enjoy stories and photos about Carrboro, readings by local poets, live music and dancing, interactive field games, crafts, family activities and more. For a schedule of events, visit Bands who will be playing at the Town Hall Front Lawn include the McDougal Middle School Band, Saludo (Latin), the Gmish-Klezmer band and Selah Dubb (Reggae). For a schedule of events, see this link. The Carrboro Garden Club will also be sponsoring a plant exchange from 1-6 p.m. You’re invited to pack a picnic dinner to celebrate the “end to a perfect day: at 6 p.m. See our Daily Calendar for details, including the rain location.

Kidsfest, a free event at Dreamsports Center, in Apex, invites you to celebrate kids and sports from noon to 3 p.m. and a line-up of fun that includes inflatables, rock climbing, in-line skating, face painting and more. See our Daily Calendar for details.

Duke Gardens, in Durham, is offering Spring Family Fun, a free drop-in event, from noon-3 p.m. at the Doris Duke Center. Enjoy activity stations and displays. Make a craft to take home.

If you want to learn more wildflowers, creeks, pond critters, snakes and other native creatures, visit our Daily Calendar and check out the nature programs for children offered there. Some require registration.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can watch a performance of The Wind in the Willows by the North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre, in Raleigh. The plot revolves around the wealthy, spoiled and wildly enthusiastic Mr. Toad of Toad Hall who takes up a new hobby—motorcars—and terrorizes the once-peaceful English countryside along the Thames. For ticket prices and more information, visit our Daily Calendar.

Are you set for Mother’s Day? Find easy inexpensive gift ideas, children’s crafts, and garden excursions to take with Mom in our Mother’s Day Guide to the Triangle. Attend Triangle-area events that celebrate Moms and Mother’s Day, also featured in our guide.

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