First Friday makes valiant return in downtown Raleigh for first time since pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Kicking off the month of May is the largest First Friday event in downtown Raleigh -- the downtown hit returning for the first time since the pandemic took its grasp.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is hosting the celebration of arts and entertainment. A dozen events are happening around the City of Oaks.

The North Carolina Museum of Art is partnering up to promote the upcoming Art in Bloom extravaganza.

Staff is assembling a floral display inside Artspace on Blount Street and folks can have their portrait taken by photographer Guillermo Delgado.

First Friday was started years ago to drive people to downtown Raleigh to patronize galleries and businesses. --the need even greater now.

Bella Vita Downtown Market opened months before the pandemic and Manager Nicholas Hughes says sales have not been consistent.

"Up and down. One day it's great, next day it's not," he said.

He's looking forward to First Friday to bring in a good shot of sales.

"Every little bit helps," said Hughes. "Even someone coming in buying a bar of soap."

Other venues also getting ready for a return.

Red Hat Amphitheater announced it's appropriately named Amped Up Music Series. Several bands will be playing through July and tickets go live next week.

The changes are sparking some life back into downtown.

"I would say this is really good signs to help our storefront business economy. More foot traffic is always a good thing and so we're hopeful for the summer season," said Kathleen Louis from the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

"We actually need more businesses to open here and then it would just be better for everyone," Hughes.
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