55 Events Not to Miss in Durham This Year

55 Events Not to Miss in Durham This Year

Mark your calendar for these great events and festivals that celebrate our dynamic city's culture, arts, music, food and more.

The American Dance Festival is one of the largest and most influential modern dance festivals in the world. Photo by Jim Coleman.


The African-American Dance Ensemble’s annual Kwanzaa festival features a children’s village – with dance classes, arts and crafts, and a face painter – plus drumming and dancing classes; food vendors; and entertainment from dance ensembles and more. Durham Armory, 220 Foster St.; 919-560-2729; africanamericandanceensemble.org

Carolina Godiva New Year’s Day Run
The track club’s annual 8K fun run to get everyone back into shape after the holidays. Duke School, 3716 Old Erwin Rd.; 919-929-8582; carolinagodiva.org

Triangle Restaurant Week
Twice a year, this week-long celebration of culinary excellence has participating restaurants offering special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, creating a great opportunity for residents and visitors alike to indulge in the finest cuisine in Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and beyond. Also in June. trirestaurantweek.com

RetroEpics Film Series
Movies three hours or longer in all genres from 1930-1995. 
Also in July. The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St.; 919-560-3030; festivals.carolinatheatre.org


Durham Martin Luther King Jr./Black History Month Parade
Floats, marching bands, step teams and more honoring the achievements of Dr. King and other African-Americans. The parade will start
at W.G. Pearson Elementary School and end at N.C. Central University; 919-680-0465; spectacularmag.com

Hayti Heritage Film Festival
Showcases diverse works of, by and about people of African descent through short and full-length films, supporting the talents of rising filmmakers and featuring classics as well. Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St.; 919-683-1709; hayti.org

Native American Powwow
Full day of traditional Native American dancing, singing, crafts, food and socializing. North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, 1219 Broad St.; 919-416-2849; ncssm.edu/powwow

Nevermore Horror
 and Gothic Film Festival
Created in 1999, this festival is a juried competition, which programs brand-new genre films from around the world. More than 500 features and shorts have screened at the festival in its 16-year run. Accepting submissions for horror, science fiction, mystery, thriller and action-adventure, it has gained an international reputation as one of the premiere genre festivals in the U.S. The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St.; 919-560-3030; festivals.carolinatheatre.org/nevermore


Durham Harley Owner’s Group Annual Bike Show
Includes a chili cook-off, bike show and door prizes. It also marks the start of the riding season, and features a live band, trophies for motorcycle category winners and a raffle for charity with grand prize of a new Harley. Rommel Harley-Davidson, 300 Muldee St.; 919-596-9511; durhamnchog.org

Combines fun and fundraising to benefit hungry people throughout the world. Durham’s event is the third largest CROP Hunger Walk in the U.S. Duke Chapel, 401 Chapel Dr.; 919-451-7203; durhamcropwalk.org


TASTE 2016
Presented by Durham Magazine and Chapel Hill Magazine, this three-day festival kicks off with the Grand TASTE Experience at the Durham Armory with food and drink samples from some of the best restaurants and local artisans. (You’ll be “Thanksgiving-full” by the end.) A portion of the proceeds support the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Stay updated by following us on Twitter – @tastetheevent! 919-933-1551; tastetheevent.com

Living History Civil War 
Surrender Commemoration
Commemorating the end of the Civil
 War with lectures, special tours, a living history program
 and the Blue & Grey Ball. Bennett Place State Historic Site, 
4409 Bennett Memorial Rd.; 919-383-4345; bennettplacehistoricsite.com

Duke Gardens Spring Plant Sale
Expert advice from staff horticulturists and master gardeners, plus specialized plant vendors. Also in the fall. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson St.; 919-684-3698; gardens.duke.edu

Durham Bulls Baseball
The Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays begin their minor league season at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. DBAP, 409 Blackwell St.; 919-956-2855; durhambulls.com

Durham Craft Market
This outdoor market has more than 30 rotating artists who showcase their work every Saturday morning from April until November.
 Durham Central Park, 501 Foster St.; durhamcraftmarket.com

Earth Day Festival
Go green and enjoy a day filled with entertainment, hands-on environmental education workshops, sustainability vendors and more. Rock Quarry Park, 701 Stadium Dr.; 919-560-4355; dprplaymore.org

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
An annual international event dedicated to the theatrical exhibition of non-fiction cinema. Various locations; 919-687-4100; fullframefest.org

N.C. Central University Jazz Festival
Features the NCCU Jazz Ensemble and special guests. N.C. Central University, 1801 Fayetteville St.; 919-530-6100; nccu.edu

Preservation Durham Home Tour
Preservation Durham’s mission is to protect Durham’s historic assets – each year, it offers the public a glimpse into a different historic neighborhood 
or thematic group of historic properties. The theme for the 2016 Home Tour will be bungalows. Various Durham locations; 919-682-3036; preservationdurham.org

Piedmont Farm Tour
Load up a car with your friends and family, choose the farms you’d like to visit and get out in the countryside for another year of self-guided tours. carolinafarmstewards.org/pft

Durham Art Walk
A self-guided shopping tour of galleries, artist studios and impromptu exhibits in businesses throughout downtown, featuring the original artwork of more than 200 artists. As the state’s largest walking studio tour, the event also features live music, food and fun activities for the whole family. Also in November. Downtown Durham; 919-560-2787; durhamartwalk.com

Great Human Race
This fundraiser, a 5K run/walk and timed race, benefits more than 80 nonprofit organizations. 919-684-9690; thevolunteercenter.org


The Art of Cool Festival
Nonprofit The Art of Cool Project, which showcases award-winning, world-class jazz/roots musicians, hosts this event of jazz-filled musical entertainment. It features outdoor stages, four indoor venues, more than 30 performances and an indoor market for local vendors and artists. Various outdoor and indoor music venues in downtown Durham, including The Carolina Theatre, PSI Theater, The Pinhook, Motorco and the Durham Armory; aocfestival.org

Bimbé Cultural Arts Festival
This African-American music and arts festival has been a tradition 
in Durham for over 45 years and is one of the oldest cultural festivals in the state. This family-oriented event is meant to celebrate African and African-American history, culture and traditions. Rock Quarry Park, 701 Stadium Dr.; 919-560-4355; dprplaymore.org

Music on the Lawn
The concert series features music from various genres reflective of WUNC Radio’s Back Porch Music program. American Tobacco Campus, 318 Blackwell St.; 919-433-1566; americantobaccocampus.com

Grab a leash for the annual walk around Duke University’s East Campus to support APS of Durham.

Animal Protection Society Walk for the Animals
A one-and-a-half-mile walk that raises awareness and funds for nearly 7,000 homeless, abandoned, neglected or abused animals cared for by APS of Durham each year. Duke’s East Campus; 919-560-0640; apsofdurham.org

Brightleaf Square Concert Series
Concert series features various music genres in the courtyard from May until September. Brightleaf Square, 905 W. Main St.; 919-682-9229; historicbrightleaf.com

By day, Moogfest is a platform for conversation and experimentation. This mind-expanding conference attracts creative and technology enthusiasts for three days of participatory programming right here in Durham. By night, Moogfest presents cutting-edge music in venues throughout the city. Performing artists include early pioneers in electronic music, alongside pop and avant garde experimentalists of today. moogfest.com


American Dance Festival
One of the largest and most influential modern dance festivals in the world, featuring more than two dozen modern dance companies and hundreds of choreographers, teachers and students participating in classes and performances. Various locations; 919-684-6402; americandancefestival.org

N.C. Juneteenth Celebration
Celebrating the anniversary of the end of slavery. This is a fun-filled, educational and uplifting day that features live entertainment, food, vendors, exhibitors and presentations on the origin and significance of Juneteenth. Corner of East Main and Roxboro streets; 919-680-0465; spectacularmag.com

Music in the Gardens
Duke Performances showcases independent rock and roots music with local ties. Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson St.; 919-684-4444; dukeperformances.duke.edu

Rock the Park
Durham Parks and Recreation offers this summer series till August that includes concerts and movies in Durham’s parks. Concerts are held from 6pm to 8pm and movies are held from 8:30pm to 11pm. Both are free and open to the public. Food vendors are available. Various Durham parks; 919-560-4636; durhamnc.gov


Every year, hundreds of local residents participate in the Bull Moon Ride and Run, a 12-mile bike ride and simultaneous 5K run that begins at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and raises funds for Habitat for Humanity of Durham. Photo by Karla Towle

Habitat Bull Moon Ride and Run
A family-friendly, evening 5K run/walk and 12-mile bike ride through downtown to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Durham. Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 409 Blackwell St.; 919-682-0516; riderunforhabitat.org

Pork, Pickles and Peanuts
A day of family activities celebrating N.C. food culture and history. Th
is extremely tasty event includes barbecue and pie contests, giving festivalgoers the opportunity to vote for their favorites, plus face painting, crafts, games, raffles and dancing. Duke Homestead Historic Site,
 2828 Duke Homestead Rd.; 919-477-5498; dukehomestead.org

Festival for the Eno
One of the region’s premier Independence Day celebrations with 
exhibits, displays, arts and live entertainment on the banks of the Eno River to benefit the efforts to preserve this beautiful natural area. West Point on the Eno City Park, 5101 N. Roxboro Rd.; 919-620-9099, ext. 203; enoriver.org/festival


N.C. Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
The second largest film festival in the Southeast and the largest cultural arts event serving the LGBT community in the Carolinas, with world-premiere screenings and more than 10,000 tickets sold each year. The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St.; 919-560-3030; festivals.carolinatheatre.org/ncgl


Bull Durham Blues Festival
An annual celebration of blues and other music featuring local, national and international artists, vendors, games and great fun for all. 919-683-1709; hayti.org

The longest running street arts festival in North Carolina and the largest arts and community festival in Durham, featuring paintings, photography, sculptures, jewelry, crafts, entertainment, food and fun. City Center, downtown; 919-560-2719; centerfest.durhamarts.org

Duke Homestead Harvest and Hornworm Festival
Cultural and arts festival centered on tobacco harvesting, curing and related activities in the fields and at the barn. Featuring local artists, costumed interpreters, entertainment and refreshments. Duke Homestead Historic Site, 2828 Duke Homestead Rd.; 919-477-5498; dukehomestead.org

Latino Festival
Participants learn about Latino and Hispanic traditions and folklore including live music, food, arts and crafts, entertainment and more. Rock Quarry Park, 701 Stadium Dr.; 919-560-4355; dprplaymore.org

The Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands raises funds for a new charity each year. Photo by Sally Scruggs

Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands
Hosted by local advertising agency McKinney, this rocking affair highlights bands from local companies, giving employees a chance to show their musical talents. Proceeds benefit a new charity each year. American Tobacco Amphitheater, 318 Blackwell St.; trianglebattle.com

Latin American Film Festival
Organized by the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill, this festival has featured work by Latin filmmakers from more than 20 countries in 13 languages, screening films and inviting speakers on issues such as migration and globalization. Various locations around Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh; 919-681-3883; latinfilmfestivalnc.com

N.C. Gay Pride Parade
The largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender event in the five-state area, attracting more than 8,500 festival participants. Duke East Campus and Ninth Street District; ncpride.org


Phoenix Fest
Celebrate Durham’s Hayti community with a parade, vendors and food. Fayetteville St. and Elmira Ave.; 919-680-2878; phoenixfestdurham.com

Pumpkin Patch Express
Celebrate fall every Saturday and Sunday in October with pumpkins, crafts and a train ride. Museum of Life and Science, 433 Murray Ave.; 919-220-5429; lifeandscience.org

Creative Food Drive
Put your creativity to the test by designing and constructing a sculpture out of nonperishable food items. Companies, organizations, students and community members raise or purchase the food, which is then donated to Housing for New Hope at the end of the competition. Also features live music from local bands, food trucks, local beer and a kids’ zone. Durham Central Park, 501 Foster St.; 919-682-2870; creativefooddrive.com

World Beer Festival
Plenty of beer samples in downtown Durham, plus beer appreciation, explorations of the use of certain ingredients and brewing methods, and information on selecting beers to enhance a culinary experience. Durham Bulls Athletic Park, 409 Blackwell St.; worldbeerfestival.com

Bull City Race Fest and Food Truck Rodeo
Run one mile, five miles or a half marathon while simultaneously raising money for Habitat for Humanity of Durham – then restore your energy with the downtown food truck rodeo, beer garden and kids’ zone. American Tobacco Campus, 318 Blackwell St.; bullcityracefest.com


Durham Art Walk Holiday Market
A celebration of visual arts and fine crafts, featuring the work of numerous talented artists in multiple locations. Visitors can purchase fine art and crafts at many sites including Durham Arts Council, Vega Metals, 
the Durham Armory and more. The event also features live musical performances and food trucks. Also in May. Downtown Durham; 919-560-2787; durhamartwalk.com

Comiquest Film Festival
A celebration of both comic book and superhero movies, from the ’70s through today, in conjunction with North Carolina Comicon.
 The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan St.; 919-560-3030; carolinatheatre.org


Christmas by Candlelight
A celebration of an 1870 Christmas with evening candlelight tours of the Duke Homestead featuring period decorations, caroling, hot apple cider and other goodies. Duke Homestead Historic Site, 2828 Duke Homestead Rd.; 919-477-5498; dukehomestead.org

Holiday Fun Fest
A host of activities and events for the entire family including snow sledding, holiday performances, a community care corner, food and non-food vendors, a visit from Santa and more. Rock Quarry Park, 701 Stadium Dr.; 919-560-4355; dprplaymore.org

Kwanzaa Celebration
A cultural community event with vendors, artists and speakers. Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St.; 919-683-1709; hayti.org

Lucky Strike Tower Lighting
A uniquely Durham tradition, the annual lighting of the Lucky Strike tower includes local performers, holiday music and food. Be sure to also check the Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge display at Diamond View Park, which features trees that have been decorated by Triangle nonprofits in a contest for cash prizes for their respective organizations. American Tobacco Campus, 318 Blackwell St.; 919-433-1566; americantobaccocampus.com

Santa Train
Take a nighttime train ride through a Christmas wonderland to meet Santa and his helpers. Museum of Life and Science, 433 Murray Ave.; 919-220-5429; lifeandscience.org

N.C. Jazz Ensemble Holiday Concert
The big band sounds of the N.C. Jazz Ensemble bringing the spirit of the season to Hayti. Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St.; 919-683-1709; hayti.org