Daily Destination: Raleigh, N.C.

Christy Karras

This week, Raleigh is the epicenter of all things bluegrass. Tonight, it’s hosting the 24th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, where top performers recognize their colleagues in the genre.

But that’s just one of many events during the International Bluegrass Music Association's Wide Open Bluegrass festival, which runs Sept. 24-28 this year. The festival showcases both big names (Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers) and lesser-known ones, all dedicated to keeping that old-fashioned twang going strong.

Bluegrass fans will pile into some of Raleigh’s biggest venues, including the outdoor Red Hat Amphitheatre, right in the middle of downtown. Other concerts will be at bars and clubs all over the city. But you don’t need to shell out for tickets to see bluegrass this weekend: performances at all-day street festivals on Friday and Saturday are free.

The festival is just one of the crowning events in Raleigh’s “Summer of Music Mania,” emphasizing one of the best things about North Carolina’s capital city. Since the weather remains relatively balmy well into the fall, “summer” events continue through October.