I think nobody needs convincing that Raleigh is more mulitcultural than ever, but if you wondered just how many immigrant communities there are, come out to the International Festival at the Convention Center this weekend. From El Salvadorian dance to Lebanese food and Vietnamese cooking demos, you will find something from all the places you’ve always wanted to visit but never got to go.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Raleigh has snagged the Annual Bluegrass Convention and surrounding hootenannies from Nashville. If Bluegrass and Barbecue is not your world, it might be best to stay home for the weekend or go to the beach. (For better alternatives, see below.)
Assuming that you’re looking for some free entertainment with kids, here are the options: There are actually two kids’ areas, one next to the convention center facing the Marriott (Salisbury St.) and the other further up on Martin St. Near the main stage on City Plaza, there is a dedicated hula hoop space.
Want band recommendations? (see schedule for details):
Big Fat Gap (Fri 3p), Kruger Brothers (Fri 6:15p), Lou Reid and Carolina (8:15p) on Friday; then the Church Sisters (Sat 4pm), Vickie Vaughn Band (Sat 5:15) and Chatham County Line (9:30p) on Saturday.
And what about the barbecue?
The NC Whole Hog Barbecue State Championship is co-located with the festival. Pigs will go on the grill on Friday at 9pm, and will be ready on Saturday for lunch. Barbecue will be for sale after the judging is over.
Mud runs, basically 5Ks with obstacles, mud flats and other accoutrements are all the rage, and now also come in a family version! This Saturday, the Big Muddy Challenge takes place. And while registration has ended yesterday, some race-day spots should be available if you come early. The race is completed as a team of two – one parent and one child, age 6-12. Sounds like a lot of fun!
Not especially geared towards kids, but “for all ages” (kids under 7 run free and strollers are welcome) is a completely different race one week later, the Electric Run. Basically a linear rave, but possibly healthier and more fun, you don as many glow sticks and LED lights as you can find, and immerse yourself in a glowing, flickering landscape with pumping music.
With all these options – don’t take your kids to a dull, old school 5K!
If you’ve lived in Raleigh for a few years, you know that we’re getting ready for the busiest month: Babysitters are booked months in advance, OpenTable.com crashes and pedestrian traffic jams block downtown sidewalks. We used to call it just ‘busy September’, but this year it has become “The M.A.I.N. event“, a cleverly chosen acronym for music, art, innovation and, um, noise. So we’ll focus on the first two, since innovation is focused on grown-up stuff like entrepreneurship, angel funding and venture capital, and the noise, well, we parents have that year-round.
Of the 18 events that make up M.A.I.N, here are the best for families and kids:
- The African-American Culture Festival is this weekend on City Plaza, and features a family village, including a stage with kids’ acts.
- Hopscotch, a week later, has little to no kids-programming, but draws many fringe activities that make it fun to be downtown for all ages.
- On that same Sunday, the Fiesta del Pueblo will have ‘Ninolandia’ for the kids.
- Another week later, Sept. 12-15 is dedicated to SparkCon, with many options for kids, from music to street art to circus and fashion shows.
- After catching our breath (or attending a few entrepreneur event without kids), we put in the ear plugs and get ready for Capital City Bikefest, organized by Ray Price Harley Davidson, and declared “family-friendly”. If you think kids and bikers don’t go together, read this article. There will be stunt shows and more to excite little vroom vroom fans.
- As the bikers are rolling off into the sunset, we seamlessly shift into a quieter kind of noise, as Bluegrass takes over from Sept. 24-28. A whole week of music, trade fair and award show will offer plenty opportunities to bring your kids closer to this genre that is so closely tied to our state.
- To round off the month, Marbles‘ birthday party is on 9/28, as is the (re-)opening of the City Museum.
Ready? As the wild things said, “Let the wild rumpus start!”
It’s time again to feature First Friday, the evening where all art galleries and many museums are open late. One option is to drop them off at Marbles for their First Friday Kid Camp. You drop the kids off at 5:30 with a packed dinner, and pick them up at 8:30, having enjoyed some grown-up time exploring the art scene, having dinner or even a movie at the IMAX.
The other option is bring to the kids along for some art appreciation. Interesting openings this Friday are Paul Dagys‘ show (photography) at TRIG Modern; CANstruction, a fundraising event at 8 locations, and “The Life Aquatic With Less Anderson & More Puppy-Guppy” at Designbox.
One special treat this Friday is a free concert at the Red Hat Amphitheater, sponsored by Red Hat, and if I understand correctly, also Red Hat’s summer party. Goodbye Titan, MONA and Silversun Pickups are the bands on stage.
The Latin Rhythm Festival has rhythm, music, bands, and dancing, but also all the other ingredients for a good festival like food, vendors, artists, and stuff to do for the kids.
The event was rescheduled due to rain and is now planned for this Saturday.
Here a video of one of the bands, Orquesta K’che. (Skip to about 1min in.)