So yes, these are free to go to. But bring cash. You might need it for food, parking, crafts or balloon rides.
Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Wearin’ ‘O the Green Festival
The details: 10 a.m., March 17. Downtown Raleigh & City Plaza. Free. raleighstpats.org
Sometimes it’s chilly on St. Patrick’s day; some years, it’s warm enough for shorts. Whichever 2018 brings, Raleigh’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade is likely to draw crowds. The parade runs from 10 a.m. until about 11:30, at which point the Wearin’ ‘O the Green Festival starts at City Plaza on Fayetteville Street.
Carrboro Open Streets
The details: noon to 4 p.m., April 8. Weaver Street, Carrboro. Free. 919-918-7392 or ci.carrboro.nc.us/745/Carrboro-Open-Streets.
Carrboro Open Streets closes Weaver Street to cars, opening it instead to cyclists, rock-climbers, yogis and dancers in what promises to be about as Carrboro a party as can be imagined.
Cary Spring Daze
The details: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 28. Bond Park. 801 High House Road, Cary. Free. 919-319-4560. townofcary.org.
Cary celebrates the return of warm weather with its annual art-oriented family fest. Expect 170-plus North Carolina artists, but also the usual spring fest attractions: bounce houses and face painting for the kids, food for sale and entertainment. Spring Daze also includes Cary’s Earth Day Celebration.
The details: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., May 5. Raleigh City Plaza. Free. 919-832-4484 or outraleigh.org
Raleigh’s family friendly pride festival, which has grown by the year, also serves as a fundraiser for the LGBT Center of Raleigh.
Wake Forest Meet in the Street
The details: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 5. Downtown Wake Forest. Free. 984-538-5251 or wakeforestnc.gov/meet-in-the-street.aspx.
Wake Forest’s spring street festival is headlined by Georgia-born country singer John King. Also find food, children’s activities and a beer garden downtown for Meet in the Street.
The details: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 5. Downtown Apex. Free. apexpeakfest.com
With entertainment options, kids’ activities, artists’ wares and festival food, Apex PeakFest zeroes in on the small town character of this Raleigh suburb.
The details: 1 to 5 p.m., May 6. Carrboro Town Hall. Free. carrboroday.com
With dance, music and poetry, Carrboro’s spring celebration is a reflection of the art-oriented town itself.
Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival
The details: noon to 8 p.m., May 19. Rock Quarry Park, Durham. Free. durhamnc.gov/999/Bimbe-Cultural-Arts-Festival.
Since 1969, the African and African American cultural celebration has been a Durham tradition. The main festival itself is Saturday, May 19, though Bimbé events start the evening of Wednesday, May 16, with a block party at Holton Career and Resource Center. On top of that, May 17 at 7 p.m. sees the Bimbé Basketball Classic at Southern High School’s gymnasium, while the Bimbé Teen Pool Party is 7:30 p.m. May 18 at Campus Hills Pool.
Artsplosure: Raleigh Arts Festival
The details: May 19-20. Downtown Raleigh. Free. 919-832-8699 or artsplosure.org
Before the Hopscotch Music Festival, before IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass, and well before Moogfest moved into Durham, there was Artsplosure’s Raleigh Arts Festival. The heart of Artsplosure is the sizable art market, and the fest’s footprint is felt throughout downtown courtesy of live music on Fayetteville Street and the children-oriented Kidsplosure.
Freedom Balloon Fest
The details: May 25-28. Fleming Loop Park, Fuquay-Varina. Free. freedomballoonfest.com
Freedom Balloon Fest hits Fuquay-Varina every Memorial Day weekend, filling the skies above this Wake County town with colorful hot air balloons. This annual fundraiser supports Project Uplift USA, a nonprofit that works with military families and children with mobility issues, offers educational programs and remembers and honors fallen soldiers. Admission is free, but balloon rides cost extra.