Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

First Friday packs in family-friendly fun in downtown Raleigh

Posted January 29, 2013

A reader asked me earlier this month about whether I could share more information about the family-friendly fun at First Friday in downtown Raleigh each month.

First Friday happens, as you may guess, on the first Friday of each month. Downtown Raleigh museums, galleries, shops and restaurants offer extended hours, activities or deals. They include special evening hours at Marbles Kids Museum and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Those are the events that I've written about, for the most part.

But, spurred on by the reader, I contacted the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which coordinates First Friday. They asked First Friday participants about any family-friendly activities planned. That email turned up some great information.

So I hope this will be the first of many monthly posts to come to with details about the family-friendly activities at First Friday. Of course,'s Out & About section also offers a round-up of First Friday activities.

The next First Friday is this Friday, Feb. 1. Here's what's happening for families:

  • Tir Na nOg, the Irish pub off Moore Square, offers Irish music every first Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sometimes Irish dancers, from ages 5 to 16, will stop in to perform. Craicdown, a trio, will perform on Friday. Tir Na nOg is just steps away from Marbles. It's a spacious restaurant with a room designed to look like a cottage that includes an 8 foot by 6 foot screen which the restaurant plays cartoons on if there are lots of families there. The restaurant offers a children's menu, along with crayons and coloring pages.
  • The Cupcake Shoppe, 104 Glenwood Ave., has free coffee and a buy one get one half off on all cupcakes deal from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. The shop also features a local artist. This month it's local photographer Sam Floyd. If you're looking to have dinner in the Glenwood South region, the folks from Zely & Ritz tell me that the restaurant's menu is great for families as the plates are portioned to share and the dining room features a huge table great for family-style meals. Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Kids eat free at Dickey's Barbecue Pit, 170 E. Davie St., on first Fridays. The same conditions apply on first Fridays as they do on Sundays when kids eat free. Limit one kid per adult meal, must order from kids menu, dine in only, can't be combined with other offers or discounts. There is free ice cream everyday with any purchase as always.
  • Artspace, which my family enjoys roaming on your average Saturday, is open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on first Fridays with special activities. This Friday, the collection of artist galleries in City Market will launch the Artspace Mystery Create. Artspace artists will be presented with a kit of materials and will be required to pick a special mystery material from the mystery box. Visitors can meet the guys who are supplying the mystery kits as well as the Artspace artists that will participate in the project.
  • Raleigh's Contemporary Art Museum, 409 W. Martin St., has all kinds of activities each month. February's First Friday program includes after-hours access to the galleries, student docents in the new Alistair McClymont exhibition, and hands-on activities at the creation station where all the supplies and clean-up are provided. You'll also find music by DJ Luxe Posh, food trucks, and a cash bar with soft drinks. Visitors can meet McClymont at the public opening of his new exhibition and see his nighttime rainbow, which will be on view only for the February First Friday. The hours are 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $5 and free for kids 10 and under.
  • Marbles will be open with special hours from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. They'll have special Valentine's Day crafts, along with deals in the store. Activities are free with admission, which is $5 per person.
  • The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences stays open until 9 p.m. The museum shows a free movie - this month it's "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea." And there's a special Science Cafe for teens start at 6 p.m. The Nature Art Gallery at the museum will celebrate the opening of an exhibit of two and three dimensional works on paper by award-winning NC artist-illustrator-author Anne Marshall Runyon called Natural Habitats.  All of her work will be for sale and the proceeds benefit the programs and exhibits of the Museum. Runyon also is the author and illustrator of "The Sheltering Cedar," a children's book set on Ocracoke Island. And she is the creator of the children's activity page found in each issue of Wildlife in NC magazine.

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