Experience the Flavors of the World at the International Food Festival in Raleigh, NC


The International Food Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina is a must-attend event for foodies seeking to immerse themselves in global cuisines and cultures. Taking place annually each summer, this lively festival transforms downtown Raleigh into a vibrant multicultural celebration with food vendors, live entertainment, shopping, and family-friendly activities that highlight cuisines from around the world.

When & Where Does the International Food Festival Take Place?

The International Food Festival is held each year in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, typically for a weekend in late July or early August when the weather is warm and ideal for outdoor festivities.

The 2023 event is expected to take place on the weekend of July 28-30, 2023 at the Raleigh Convention Center and surrounding streets. Hours of operation are:

  • Friday, July 28: 12 pm – 8 pm
  • Saturday, July 29: 10 am – 8 pm
  • Sunday, July 30: 12 pm – 6 pm

Centrally located in the heart of Raleigh, the Raleigh Convention Center provides an indoor and outdoor venue for the food vendors, entertainment stages, and activities. Nearby streets are closed to traffic during the festival, so visitors can comfortably stroll between over 200 street food stalls showcasing authentic global cuisines.

Key Information on 2023 International Food Festival in Raleigh:

  • Dates: July 28-30, 2023
  • Location: Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601
  • Hours: Fri 12-8 pm, Sat 10 am-8 pm, Sun 12-6 pm

Tickets & Pricing Details

Tickets can be purchased in advance online or on-site during the festival. Cash and all major credit cards are accepted.

  • Advance Day Pass – Adult: $12
  • Day Pass – Adult: $15
  • Day Pass – Child Under 12: FREE

Special advance discount ticket packages are also available, such as the 3-Day Meal Passport giving you 15 food tickets for $40.

There are designated free community days offering free admission, such as Friday daytime hours and Sunday all day. Check the festival’s official website as the event nears for any special ticket deals.

Know Before You Go: Parking & Transportation

As downtown streets are closed to traffic during the festival, parking is limited in the immediate vicinity. Public transportation via Raleigh R-Line and GoRaleigh buses is highly recommended.

For drivers, these downtown parking garages are within walking distance of the Raleigh Convention Center:

  • Moore Square Parking Deck
  • Wilmington Street Parking Deck
  • Cabarrus Street Garage
  • Halifax Square Underground Garage

Rideshare drop-offs and pickups are best along S Salisbury Street or McDowell Street adjacent to the venue.

Up-to-date parking maps and transit access info will be available on the International Food Festival website as the event date nears.

Cuisines From Around the World Showcased

The highlight of Raleigh’s International Food Festival is the incredibly diverse mix of authentic global cuisines that visitors can taste. Over 200 street food stalls line the blocked-off streets surrounding the Raleigh Convention Center, allowing attendees to take a culinary trip around the world.

Popular international cuisines featured include:

  • Mexican
  • Indian
  • Greek
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese
  • Korean
  • Caribbean
  • Middle Eastern
  • Peruvian
  • and many more!

Alongside established local restaurateurs, the festival welcomes international food vendors setting up shop in Raleigh for the festival weekend, bringing hard-to-find specialty dishes. Festival goers can taste one-of-a-kind street foods and indulge their adventurous palates with cuisine from countries they may have never tried before.

Lively Entertainment & Fun Family Activities

In addition to the fantastic food, Raleigh’s International Food Festival offers 3 stages of live entertainment highlighting traditional music and dance from featured cultures. Attendees can watch performances while enjoying their food samples for an immersive cultural experience.

Other activities to enjoy include:

  • Kids Zone with face painting, crafts, and games
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Multicultural parade with dancers in traditional costumes
  • Artisan merchant marketplace
  • Community tables to engage with local ethnic organizations

Entertainment & Activity Schedule Highlights

Friday, July 28

12 pm: Opening parade & ceremony

1-3 pm: Caribbean steel drum band

4 pm: Indian dance performance

Saturday, July 30

11 am: Kids salsa dancing

1 pm: Korean fan dance

3 pm: West African drum circle

Sunday, July 31

12 pm: Community award ceremony

2 pm: Mexican mariachi band

5 pm: Peruvian Harvest Dance

This lively mix of sights, sounds, aromas, and activities makes for an incredibly engaging event the entire family can immerse themselves in and learn about cultures from around the globe.

Shop for Exotic Goods at the International Bazaar

The Raleigh International Food Festival also hosts an International Bazaar area with over 50 artisans, crafters, and merchants selling exotic goods from around the world. Festival-goers can browse stalls carrying:

  • Handicrafts
  • Home goods
  • Clothing & textiles
  • Luxury/gourmet food products
  • Music & instruments
  • Fair trade wares
  • Personal accessories
  • Souvenirs
  • and more!

It’s a prime spot to pick up unique mementos and gifts during your visit to the festival, with shopkeepers on hand to share the cultural significance behind items they import. You’re sure to return home with extraordinary finds your friends will envy!

Plan Your Visit

To make the most of your experience at Raleigh’s International Food Festival, advance planning is advised with these handy tips:

Arrive Early

Many food vendors only make limited quantities and popular menu items tend to sell out fast. Arriving shortly after opening hours gives you first pick of the full food lineup.

Come Hungry…and Thirsty

With 200+ food stalls and countless cuisine samples to taste, you’ll want to come with an empty stomach prepared to take on the globetrotting flavors! Bringing a reusable water bottle helps you stay hydrated while exploring the festival grounds all day long. Cash is easiest for food stall transactions, though some accept credit cards too.

Dress Comfortably

July-August carries hot and humid temperatures, so wear breathable clothing along with sun protection like hats and UV-blocking sunglasses for long days spent outdoors. Comfortable shoes are a must for all the walking between rows of street food vendors.

Download the App

The festival’s mobile app (available on iOS and Android devices) offers handy tools like interactive maps, schedules, vendor menus, a savings wallet for discounts and rewards, and more.

Take Public Transit or Rideshare

With street closures limiting parking access, transit routes or rideshares make getting to the venue far easier. Have your drop-off/pickup spot planned in advance.

Family Friendly Aspects: Fun for All Ages

Raleigh’s International Food Festival offers plenty of attractions perfect for families:

Kid Zone
The supervised Kid Zone has craft stations, global music sing-alongs, costume dress-up, and age appropriate hands-on activities for young festival-goers to engage with world cultures.

Parade & Performances
Kids will delight at the vibrant costumes, music, and dance from the opening parade and various performance stages. Trying new dance moves is welcome!

Street Food Discovery
Children can embark on an adventurous mission to discover their new favorite foods from the incredible variety of cuisines represented. It’s an interactive way to explore food origins and traditions behind each culture.

With so much sensory immersion into global people and traditions in a lively street fair setting, the International Food Festival makes languages, customs, and faraway lands come to life right in downtown Raleigh!

Experience the Sights, Sounds & Flavors of the World

The International Food Festival delivers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse in diverse global cultures through cuisine, artisans, live entertainment, and interactive exhibits encompassing traditions from across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond.

It’s a vibrant world-class food experience right in the heart of Raleigh, appealing to all ages and guaranteed to inspire attendants to further exploration of world cultures.

Mark your calendar for July 28-30, 2023 and join fellow foodies, culture enthusiasts, entertainers, and the Raleigh community to embrace all the incredible diversity our world has to offer!

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One thought on “Experience the Flavors of the World at the International Food Festival in Raleigh, NC

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