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How to Celebrate Labor Day in Durham

Estimated Read Time:
3 minute

Labor Day may mark the (unofficial) end of summer, but that doesn't mean the good times have to end.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff

When it's your last three-day weekend of summer, you've gotta go big and do it right. As we bid the longer days a bittersweet farewell and welcome all things fall (hello pumpkin spice), it's time to plan that final road trip and spend the long weekend resting, exploring, dreaming, and dining in Durham with family and friends.

If you enjoy outdoor activities, live music, cocktails, beer, and top-rated restaurants and accommodations, plan a weekend getaway to Durham and soak up the last rays of summer in those white shorts. Laborious? Nope, not this weekend. We're making things as easy as possible with this list of Labor Day accommodations, events, and fun things to do!

Enjoy Live Music, Events & Shows

From hip hop and soulful jazz to art galleries and shows, there’s always something exciting happening in the Bull City.

PLAYlist Concert Series: Gaby Moreno | September 2

Kick-off Labor Day weekend at Durham Central Park with the talented Gaby Moreno, a Grammy-nominated Guatemalan native. Enjoy her spirited mix of genres on September 2. Local food trucks, craft beer and other vendors will be on site.

Bull City Jam Session | September 2

Creatives of all forms: visual artists, musicians, dancers, storytellers, lyricists, poets, singers, and more will have the space to create, collaborate, and be inspired with & by other artists.

Triangle Blues Society | September 3

The Triangle Blues Society will be rocking the house all afternoon on September 3 from 12-3 p.m. Enjoy the Blue Note Grill's BBQ and brunch menu while listening to some Blues tunes. They do not take reservations and all seating is first come, first served.

Bull McCabes' Oktoberfest | September 3

Dust off your lederhosen and work out those forearms and thumbs so you can drink all the liters of Festbiers and eat your weight in bratwurst! Bull McCabes' Oktoberfest celebration is bringing Mountain Top Polka Band to lead everyone in song and dance and games from 2-5 p.m. and 6-10 m. No cover, first-come-first-serve seating only. ( Family friendly until 8 p.m.)

Bull City BBQ Bash | September 3

Mike D's BBQ and Mike D's BBQ Supply & General Store are joining forces to bring a premier barbecue event to East Durham. At Bull City BBQ Bash, there’s something for everyone: live music, shopping, food and most of all - an amazing atmosphere. The event is free to the public and VIP passes are available.

Queer Agenda Dance Party | September 3

Pinhook is hosting a dance party for queer folks! There's a $7 entrance fee and masks and proof of vaccination/proof negative PCR test from prior 48 hours is required.

Wonderbop | September 3

Blackspace and Wonderpuff have joined to feature talented artists and youth from the area. Get ready for music, dancing, and a whole lot of Wonderpuff cotton candy magic at Boxyard RTP.

21c Museum Hotel | September 2022

Make sure to stop by 21c Museum Hotel, a multi-venue contemporary art museum offering more than 10,500 square feet of art-filled exhibition and event space, a full-service boutique hotel with luxurious guest rooms and a restaurant. Current exhibitions include: Code of Ethics, This We Believe and Elevate.

Durham Bulls vs. Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
| September 5

Cheer on the Durham Bull as they take on the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders on Monday, September 5 at 5:05 p.m. at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Explore the Great Outdoors

Durham’s city vibe is paired with easy access to the wonders of nature in the form of lakes, forests, beautiful gardens, and trails. Our outdoor adventure guide will help you unplug for a few hours and get in touch with nature.

Labor day weekend is the perfect time to plan a trip to one of Durham's popular attractions. Explore Sarah P. Duke Gardens, a 55-acre botanical wonderland in Durham. The Museum of Life and Science has over 35 indoor and outdoor exhibits for all ages, including a zoo, an aquarium, an aerospace museum, a science lab, a nature preserve, a conservatory, an old-time railway. Forget the zoo. Head to the Duke Lemur Center (DLC), the world's largest sanctuary for endangered lemurs outside Madagascar, for various tours, including a VIP behind-the-scenes experience.

Make a splash at the West Point on the Eno or Eno River State Park when you need to cool off. Falls Lake is also great for dock or bank fishing. Experience the outdoors and sign up for a rock climbing, hiking and backpacking, canoeing, and paddling excursions with Frog Hollow Outdoors or take your adventure to the next level with Two Sisters Adventure Co., a local woman-led company. Join them on September 3 for a kayaking 101 class that's designed to give paddlers the needed foundation skills and techniques to kayak.

See Murals & Public Art

Whether you’re hoping to see some of the well-known murals and landmarks around the city or looking to learn about Durham's history, we’ll make sure you don't miss a thing.

Travel by foot, bike, scooter, bus, or car on a self-guided tour around the city and county to experience art while learning about Durham, enjoying unique attractions, and sampling local fare.

Whether you're searching for the perfect Instagram background or visiting and looking for something inexpensive and fun to do outdoors, our mural starin' and drink pairin' guide will help you discover art around the city while sipping on a refreshing beverage.

Markers, murals, homes, and heritage coalesce to honor the stories of our African American community. Check out Durham’s African American Heritage Guide to learn more about the people and events that helped shape Durham into what it is today.

Eat Finger-lickin' good Barbecue

We tend to grill burgers and hotdogs for Memorial Day; turkeys are gobbled for Thanksgiving; and everyone (well, almost everyone) eats barbecue for Labor Day. Ready for a weekend full of smoked meat and beer? Here's a list of some of Durham's best barbecue spots.

Dine outside at a local Restaurant

Craving Italian food, Ethiopian food, Southern food with a Caribbean flair, and more? What about cold and creamy ice cream treats? Here's a list of places where you can dine outside and enjoy the gorgeous weather.

Check out the Bars & Nightlife

Durham comes alive when the sun goes down. From late-night eats and dive bars to celebrated craft cocktails and venues with nationally touring acts, the Bull City’s energy will keep pace with you through the wee hours. Here's a guide to the city's vibrant bars and nightlife with the best music, drinks, and atmosphere to keep the party going strong.

Book the best Accommodations

Durham has approximately 70 lodging options (with nearly 9,000 guest rooms), ranging from large conference centers and boutique hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts and locally-owned inns, plus over 1,000 active rentals on Airbnb and VRBO. Find everything you need to know about where to stay, what to explore, and how to discover Durham safely.

For a comprehensive list of all of the Durham events happening on Labor Day weekend, visit our events calendar.

About the Author

Discover Durham Staff