Free Things to do in Raleigh

Even though most of the schools in Raleigh are on a year-round schedule, summer is full of lazing for kids. Making the most of your child’s summertime on a dime is simple with the numerous festivals, markets and park activities in the greater Raleigh area.


Ignore the official start date of summer, June 21st, the summer solstice. With the southern heat summer truly starts in May, and in Raleigh this is also the month that the traditional schools dismiss for the summer.

* Wake Forest’s Meet in the Street Festival – 1st Saturday of Every May Your child will enjoy this annual free festival, one of the largest in the south. Browse vendors, take horse and carriage rides and take advantage of free crafts for kids that local organizations sponsor. Although not free (but still affordable), enjoy kettle corn, cotton candy or even stop by A La Mode, Wake Forest’s staple ice cream parlor where you can enjoy a sweet treat while sitting on their horse saddle parlor stools.

* Artsplosure Mid-May This annual, two-day festival explodes on the streets of downtown Raleigh. Free activities abound at Kidsplosure, they include: hat creation, fan design and painting. There is also a Kidsplosure Stage that features young musicians and theatrical performances geared for the younger crowd.


* Fireworks 4th of July Pop a squat at Lake Wheeler, the NC State Fairgrounds or on the lawn at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Maybe you won’t have to look any further than your neighbor’s back yard. You can’t miss fireworks anywhere in Raleigh.


* Lazy Daze Arts Festival The Third Saturday of Every August in Downtown Cary This free festival is a summer requirement for children of the Triangle-area. With many sections specifically catered to children such as Hands on History (an interactive look into the local past), magic shows and crafty opportunities.

* Green Corn Festival Historic Yates Mill County Park in Mid-August Free educational opportunity for kids to learn about how Native Americans harvested corn. Games, storytelling, planting demos, artifact displays and interactive entertainment.

* Kickoff to Kindergarten Mid-to-Late August at the Marbles Kids’ Museum in Downtown Raleigh for the kids who are on the cusp of starting their academic career, bring them to this event to experience their first bus ride, first walk through the lunch line and receive their first library card. They will feel empowered for their real first day of school having become pros at it already!


* SparkCon 4-Day Festival Every September Visit KidSpark, a specialized section of the tremendous art festival that offers free face painting, art projects through the ScrapSpark (Scrap Exchange) and creating art with chalk, a kid-oriented version of the larger scale street painting festival.

Also, keep an eye on Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre’s summer schedule. Movies by Moonlight offers a few kid-friendly films throughout the season and is free for children under 12, and admission for adults is a nominal $3.

Enjoy the free activities every summer!