J. Cole to host Dreamville Festival in Raleigh
Update: As of Thursday afternoon, the inaugural Dreamville Festival is officially sold out. Dreamville tweeted out the news around 5 p.m. that tickets are gone, topping out at 40,000.
Co-founder of Dreamville Records and J. Cole manager Ibrahim Hamad spread the word from his own Twitter account, saying the sell-out surpassed their expectations.
“Years of building this idea with the Dreamville team and our Scoremore Shows partners and I never thought we would sell 40k tickets our first year in North Carolina,” Hamad tweeted. “Extremely blessed and thankful for everyone that worked towards this and all the fans that always support.”
Original story published April 2.
It’s Dreamville weekend in North Carolina, the maiden voyage of what may prove to be the next great music festival in the Triangle.
J. Cole, the Grammy-nominated rap megastar who hails from Fayetteville and has made a home in Raleigh, announced the Dreamville Festival almost exactly one year ago. The plan was a summer sendoff in mid-September, a blowout festival with a dozen performers in Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park. Then Hurricane Florence intervened, pummeling the North Carolina coast and forcing festival producers to schedule a rain check.
That rain check is this Saturday, April 6. An expected crowd of 40,000 festival attendees will descend on Dix Park for the all-day festival. A dozen hip-hop and R&B acts — headlined by Cole himself and other nationally renowned acts — will perform on two stages from noon well into the night.
Dreamville is three years in the making, said Sascha Stone Guttfreund, festival executive director, in an email, crediting outgoing Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane as essential to making the event a reality.
In the past, Cole has said the festival is a way of giving back to the region he calls home.
“J. Cole is from nearby Fayetteville, and it is in North Carolina where their story began,” Guttfreund said in the email. “We also felt like Raleigh would be a special market for visitors from across the country to experience, as well as it houses a beautiful new park where this event could find its home for years to come.”
The festival was conceived as a fundraiser benefiting the Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy and J. Cole’s charity, the Dreamville Foundation, which last year said proceeds of the event would benefit hurricane victims.
There also will be mini golf, a festival marketplace with art vendors, an interactive art wall and a mini hip-hop museum.
Cole’s Dreamville label
Music takes place all day on two stages: the Rise stage and the Shine stage.
Cole is, of course, top billing, taking the stage at 9:15 p.m. as the final act. He is set to perform for over an hour. The Dreamville lineup includes some of hip-hop’s ascending stars, established headliners with Grammy wins and a number of North Carolina artists, including Raleigh’s Rapsody and Mez.
The festival is called Dreamville for a reason, taking its name from Cole’s own record label and offering a showcase of the company’s acts. In addition to Cole, artists Omen, Cozz, Bas, Ari Lennox, Earthgang, Lute and J.I.D. will all perform.
Guttfreund said the pitch to artists was simple.
“Come and be a part of Dreamville in real life,’” Guttfreund said of recruiting artists. “Cole and his team have done an incredible job of building the Dreamville brand as a whole, and artists now want to be a part of it.”
Expect SZA, Big Sean and Teyana Taylor to be some of the day’s biggest draws, along with Grammy winner Nelly, who will turn in a half-hour set. After the hurricane-related postponement, original acts Young Thug and Rich the Kid were unable to make the new date. In their place, Dreamville fest added 21 Savage and 6lack.
While the acts are staggered, so there’s not much overlap between shows on the dueling stages, plan on moving back and forth if you aim to see every artist.
Here is the Dreamville Festival schedule:
12 noon WQOK-FM DJ
12:50-1:10 p.m. Lute
1:30-2 p.m. Saba
2:30-3 p.m. Cozz
3:30-4 p.m. Ari Lennox
4:30-5 p.m. Teyana Taylor
5:30-6 p.m. J.I.D
6:30-7 p.m. Nelly
7:45-8:15 p.m. 21 Savage
9:15-10:30 p.m. J. Cole
12:30-12:50 p.m. Mez
1:10-1:30 p.m. Omen
2-2:30 p.m. Earthgang
3-3:30 p.m. Rapsody
4-4:30 p.m. Davido
5-5:30 p.m. Bas
6-6:30 p.m. 6LACK
7-7:45 p.m. Big Sean
8:15-9 p.m. SZA
Are there still Dreamville tickets?
As of Thursday afternoon, no. Dreamville officials announced Thursday that the festival had officially sold out, capping attendance at 40,000.
How to get to Dreamville at Dix Park
This will be the biggest event ever held at Dix Park, but Raleigh officials hope it’s just the start of discovering the park’s possibilities.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for Dix Park, and it’s something that’s been three years in the making,” said Joseph Voska, program supervisor for Dix Park. “It’s a chance to showcase what Raleigh is really about and what Dix Park can bring to the table.”
In proving itself, the park will have to handle thousands of concert-goers without twisting the roads in and around downtown Raleigh in a traffic jam.
City officials and festivals producers expect attendees to arrive at the park — sandwiched between Centennial Parkway and Western Boulevard — by car, on foot, ride services and even scooters.
Here’s the breakdown for each:
▪ By car: There is no parking available at Dorothea Dix Park, so don’t bother trying. The closest option is parking at NC State’s Centennial campus for $20. Shuttles will run from the university lots to the festival. Gorman Street is the recommended exit on Interstate 40. Tip: Reserve your parking space ahead of time at dreamvillefest.com/getting-here/.
Downtown Raleigh has plenty of free parking on the weekends and there will be a $10 Dreamville shuttle running from downtown to Dix Park. There are three pickup locations along South Blount Street intersections: at East Hargett, East Martin and East Cabarrus streets, all near public parking garages. Tip: buy your shuttle pass in advance at dreamvillefest.com/getting-here/.
▪ Ride shares: If you’re taking an Uber or Lyft, taxi or have a best friend willing to drop you off, there’s a designated lot. Dreamville’s preferred rideshare is Lyft, so there’s a slightly closer lot for those drivers and a promo code for first time riders (DREAMVILLEFEST).
▪ By bike or foot: Dix Park is about a mile from downtown Raleigh. Voska said a lit path is mapped out along South Saunders Street, to Western Boulevard and then Hunt Drive, leading straight into Dix Park. Give yourself a good 30-or so minutes to make the trek. For cyclists, there’s bike parking along Hunt Drive to the east and Blair Drive to the West. The newly rolled-out Citrix Cycle bike share also has a Dix Park station, but the dock is maxed out at 16 bikes.
Roads in and around Dix Park are closed this week and through the festival. That includes Barbour/Biggs Drive from Blair Drive to Goode Street. The park is closed to the public from 6 p.m. April 5 to 2 p.m. April 7. For a map of which roads to avoid in planning your route to the festival, visit dorotheadixpark.org.
For more information and to consult a Dreamville-centric map of Raleigh, visit dreamvillefest.com/getting-here/.
Raleigh’s weather at Dreamville
There shouldn’t be any hurricanes rolling through this Saturday. In fact, the weather looks to be quite pleasant, with the National Weather Service projecting a high of 75 degrees and a partly cloudy sky.
Streaming Dreamville on Tidal
If you can’t make it to Dix Park, you can watch the Dreamville Fest from the comfort of your living room. Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal will make the festival available online starting at 12:30 p.m. Tune in at tidal.com/DreamvilleFest.
Food at Dreamville
Food vendors will be set up around the festival, serving just about any craving or music-pairing delicacy one could hope for. There are 30 vendors in all, including 20 from North Carolina, including Big C’s Waffles, the Shrimp Truck, Qspresso and Oak City Fish & Chips. For drinks, the festival grounds will have a biergarten and multiple bars and water stations.
Hurricane Florence and Dreamville
Last year, Dreamville organizers were prepared to go on with the show, despite Hurricane Florence heading straight for North Carolina, Voska and Guttfreund said. But on the Monday before the Saturday festival, city officials and organizers met to discuss the impending storm and the limits of the rain-or-shine mantra, eventually agreeing to hit pause on Dreamville.
They weren’t the only ones, as numerous other athletic events and community festivities were canceled or postponed as the hurricane drenched the coast.
“It was a hectic week, no doubt about it, but we’re so glad that this community has triumphed in the face of adversity,” Guttfreund said in an email. “The safety and security of our fans, artists, and staff is always our number one concern.
“Moving to the spring felt like the right thing to do. This decision ultimately stemmed from the fact that we were so grateful for the thousands of people who bought tickets in advance of the festival dates (including many internationally) and we wanted them to get to experience the festival without waiting an entire year.”
If you bought tickets to last year’s festival, those tickets will get you into Saturday’s event. Refunds were available last year, but the deadline was Oct. 5, 2018.
More Dreamville to come?
It’s always presumptive to declare something the “first annual” event, but Dreamville Festival organizers say they’re already looking to next year. The influence of Hurricane Florence has permanently shifted the festival to a spring event, but producers seem excited about the future.
“April seems like a perfect fit now, and we look to target the spring of 2020 for our festival return,” Guttfreund said.