1–2 AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL—Now in its third year,. this two-day event along Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh includes live music, dance performances, food and art vendors and a whole lot more. aacfralwake.org.
6–8 HOPSCOTCH MUSIC FESTIVAL—Also in its third year (and its final one associated with the Independent Weekly), the festival expands to 15 venues and 175 bands, covering and crossing boundaries. Day parties, after-parties and more. hopscotchmusicfest.com.
7–8 BULL DURHAM BLUES FESTIVAL—The 25th annual event features two nights of top talent at the historic Durham Athletic Park, including Marcia Ball and Wild Magnolias on Friday and Bobby Blue Bland and Otis Clay on Saturday. Music runs 6 p.m. to midnight both days. hayti.org.
9 NC SYMPHONY'S "POPS IN THE CITY"—For a post-Hopscotch change of pace, catch this free show by the symphony at 7:30 p.m. at Raleigh Amphitheater. ncsymphony.org.
13–16 SPARKCON—Billed as the Triangle's "annual creative explosion," this year's festival kicks off, for the first time, with an opening ceremony from 6–10 p.m. on Sept. 13 at the Raleigh Amphitheater. The four-day blowout features 1,700 artists and performers on Fayetteville Street, City Plaza and beyond. sparkcon.com.
15 BUGFEST—This year, the popular annual festival at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences promises Café Insecta, where the menu might or might not feature cricket and crawfish jambalaya, mealworm maque choux and chirps and superworm salsa. bugfest.org.
15–16 NINA SIMONE ... WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?—She was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Polk County, but the world knows her as Nina Simone. UNC's Stone Center has organized tributes, including two performances of an original one-woman, one-act play written by acclaimed local playwright Howard Craft and starring Yolanda Rabun. sonjahaynesstonectr.unc.edu.
17REVOLUTION—Courtesy of show runner J.J. Abrams and creator-writer Eric Kripke, this highly anticipated, post-EMP (electromagnetic pulse) event drama premieres on NBC. Jon Favreau directs the pilot; the show is being filmed in Wilmington.
19 AL GREEN—The living legend of gospel and soul music, a bona fide reverend to boot, implores us all to stay together at Durham Performing Arts Center. dpacnc.com.
20 NEIL GAIMAN—In the first of four (at minimum) massive literary fanboy events this fall, the author of Coraline comes to town with the Unchained Tour. Tickets for this event at the Varsity theater in Chapel Hill are available online or in person at Flyleaf Books. flyleafbooks.com.
JUNOT DIAZ—Tell us this didn't happen. Literary fan event No. 2 occurs on the same day as Gaiman's appearance, when the Guggenheim- and Pulitzer-winning Junot Diaz shows up at Motorco Music Hall to promote This is How You Lose Her. regulatorbookshop.com.
21 THE MASTER—Unseen since the movie in which Daniel Day Lewis drank the milkshake, director Paul Thomas Anderson returns with this tale of a Navy veteran who gets caught up in a mysterious faith-based cause. In a Durham-centric twist, co-stars Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman were originally slated to star in the Colin Firth flop Main Street.
22 GIRLTALK: WOMEN AND TEXT—The bustling hive that is CAM Raleigh opens a big show featuring nine female artists: Lisa Anne Auerbach, Dana Frankfort, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Marilyn Minter, Monique Prieto, Kay Rosen, Kim Rugg and Maya Schindler. camraleigh.org.
26 BATTLE OF ALGIERS—If you've never seen Gillo Pontecorvo's stunning depiction of an urban uprising, catch it on the big screen on the Duke campus. This film is part of the Feminism & Freedom Film Series; the rest of Screen/Society's adventurous schedule is at ami.duke.edu/screensociety.
27 ART WITHOUT ARTISTS—Co-curated by John Foster and Roger Manley, this show considers questions like "What is art?" and "Who decides what is art?" We're told the show includes "bullet-riddled deer crossing signs [and] industrial tools that might pass for contemporary masterpieces." It runs through Dec. 16; ncsu.edu/gregg.
28 TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE—Clint Eastwood may have endorsed Mitt Romney, but that's not going to stop us from watching him play an old baseball scout who goes on a road trip with his grown daughter (played by the delightful Amy Adams).
28–29 "THE MUSIC OF RAY CHARLES"—The North Carolina Symphony welcomes Charles' protege Ellis Hall, former Tower of Power frontman, to join in a celebration of the American master's R&B/soul repertoire at Meymandi Concert Hall. ncsymphony.org.
30 CARRBORO MUSIC FESTIVAL—For the 15th year, seemingly every inch of downtown Carrboro will be awash in a broad variety of music rendered by Triangle performers. It lasts all day and all night long, and it's all free. carrboromusicfestival.com.
30-OCT. 1 SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE WITH YO-YO MA—The celebrated cellist and his ensemble perform a program that includes a world premiere of Uzbeki composer Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky's Sacred Signs. carolinaperformingarts.org.
1 MICHAEL CHABON—Literary fanboy event No. 3: The author ofThe Yiddish Policeman's UnionandThe Adventures of Kavalier and Clay comes to Quail Ridge Books to read from and sign his forthcomingTelegraph Hill. quailridgebooks.com.
6 WORLD BEER FESTIVAL—Do you like beer? If you're at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, you're in the right place. $45 gets you a 2 oz. tasting glass and a lot of beer. allaboutbeer.com.
10HOW TO BUILD A FOREST—This Duke University installation by PearlDamour and visual artist Shawn Hall, which runs through Oct. 21, "meditates on creation, destruction, biodiversity and ecological sustainability." sites.duke.edu/howtobuildaforest.
11–13 YEP ROC 15—One of North Carolina's finest record labels celebrates 15 years with a blockbuster three-day bash at Cat's Cradle including performances by Nick Lowe, Robyn Hitchcock, Dave Alvin, Fountains of Wayne, John Doe, Chuck Prophet, Chatham County Line and more. catscradle.com.
11–14 CHRIS KATTAN—The former Saturday Night Live cast member takes the stage for four nights at Goodnights in Raleigh. goodnightscomedy.com.
11–21 NORTH CAROLINA STATE FAIR—Clog your arteries with deep-fried sugary treats and lose your lunch afterward on death-defying rides. Musical guests include Matthew West, Brian McKnight and Corey Smith. Scotty McCreery's two gigs are already sold out. ncstatefair.org.
14 HEART—Ann and Nancy Wilson are classic rock survivors with good taste, as evidenced by their inclusion of acclaimed singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo as the opening act for this Koka Booth Amphitheatre concert. boothamphitheatre.com.
16 JO NESB—Literary fan-person event No. 4: Never mind that hack Stieg Larsson. For hard-edged Swedish crime fiction, Jo Nesb is the real deal. The buyer at McIntyre's Books has sung his praises for years, and Nesb returns the favor at 6 p.m. in Fearrington Barn. fearrington.com/village/mcintyres.asp.
19–20 MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO—A highlight of this fall's Duke Performances schedule, the bassist, singer and songwriter plays a career-retrospective show on Oct. 19 at Reynolds Industries Theater and follows it with an evening of cover songs on Oct. 20 at Motorco Music Hall. dukeperformances.org.
19–21 DURHAM-ORANGE QUILTERS GUILD QUILT SHOW—Expect to see 300 quilts in competition in Bay 7 of the American Tobacco Campus. durhamorangequilters.com.
20 HENRY ROLLINS—Legit punk icons are relatively few and far between, but the former Black Flag frontman qualifies. His Lincoln Theatre show may include music, or spoken word, or political commentary, or a bit of all that. lincolntheatre.com.
22 RUFUS WAINWRIGHT—Headlining a bill at the Carolina Theatre that also includes Ingrid Michaelson and his sister Lucy Wainwright Roche, Rufus ended up reaching even greater musical heights than his noted father, Loudon (who plays this same venue on Nov. 10 with Dar Williams). carolinatheatre.com.
26 DAVID SEDARIS—The celebrated memoirist returns to his Triangle roots at Durham Performing Arts Center. dpacnc.com.
26 CAROLINA HURRICANES HOME OPENER—So this is the year the Canes return to the playoffs, right? Well, good luck with that: They start their season with six road games before finally taking the ice at PNC Arena against the New York Rangers. If a lockout occurs, the wait may be even longer. hurricanes.nhl.com.
28 AURORA MUSICALIS—Music by Edvard Grieg, Max Bruch, Alexander Scriabin, Arnold Schoenberg and Paul Hindemith accompanies the Edvard Munch exhibit at N.C. Museum of Art. ncartmuseum.org.
31 HEARTLESS BASTARDS—Halloween seems an appropriate evening for a visit from one of America's best garage rock bands. The Bastards will drive the devil out of the Haw River Ballroom in the deep dark woods of Saxapahaw. hawriverballroom.com.
2 YOUNG ARTISTS EXHIBIT—The Visual Art Exchange hosts its 24th annual art show for middle and high school students through Nov. 15; elementary school work is at Marbles Kids Museum Nov. 5–Jan. 7. visualartexchange.org.
2 JOSHUA BELL—He's the world-class violinist who played for tips in a D.C. metro station with hardly anyone stopping to notice who he was. Those who catch him at UNC's Memorial probably will have a pretty good idea. carolinaperformingarts.org.
4 TENEBRAE CHOIR—The renowned 18-voice English ensemble led by Nigel Short brings a program titled "Rachmaninov & the Russian Choral Tradition" to the hallowed halls of Duke Chapel. dukeperformances.org.
6 ELECTION DAY—But you'll have voted early, right?
9 LINCOLN—Daniel Day-Lewis seems to be the official portrayer of mighty, imperial American figures. This season, he's the Great Emancipator, in time for the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Steven Spielberg directs, from a script by Tony Kushner (who also wrote Spielberg's Munich). If this is too somber for you, the new Bond film Skyfall also opens.
16 ANNA KARENINA—Nothing says Important Holiday Movie like Keira Knightley in period garb. Jude Law co-stars and Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice) directs Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Tolstoy's doorstop.
16–17 THE MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY—Few gospel groups have reached the stature this multi-Grammy-winning outfit from Los Angeles, who play two nights at the Hayti Heritage Center as part of the Duke Performances series. dukeperformances.org.
18 CARRBORO FILM FESTIVAL—This annual celebration of local films returns to Century Center. carrborofilmfestival.com
21 SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK—David O. Russell is like a box of chocolates ... The director of I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings, Spanking the Monkey and, most recently, The Fighter returns with this tale of a man coming home after a stint in a mental hospital. Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro star.
30 GEORGE WINSTON—The "New Age" genre tag never really fit, but Winston's delivery of classical piano to the pop mainstream has endured for decades, as he'll demonstrate at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. artscenterlive.org.
1 ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF IMAGE MACHINES—This exhibit running through February at Durham Cinematheque, 305 E. Chapel Hill St., features "displays and hands-on demonstrationsof equipment (Magic Lanterns, motion picture cameras, projectors, and analog editing gear ... as well asephemera (a pair of original tickets to an Edison film program, a Polavision camera) and related film screenings."
7 ANNUAL TOWER LIGHTING EVENT—Those who haven't yet finished their holiday shopping and trimmed their trees may wish to welcome the season at the American Tobacco Campus.
7 NATALIE MACMASTER—A frequent highlight of the holiday season is the Nova Scotia fiddler's "Christmas in Cape Breton" tour, which stops at the Carolina Theatre in Durham this year. carolinatheatre.org.
14 THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY—Peter Jackson's inevitable juggernaut opens the first of three parts. The cast includes Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis and Benedict Cumberbatch.
25 DJANGO UNCHAINED—Quentin Tarantino tested the patience of even his most ardent admirers when the trailer for this runaway slave-Civil War-era-revenge-pulp movie landed. Still, Inglourious Basterds showed he has a knack for unsanctimonious, even revelatory period films. Bonus: This one has Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson.