Monday, November 12, 2012

IBMA 2013 - Fan Fest

IBMA's World of Bluegrass, as most of you know by now, will be held in Raleigh, NC from September 24 - 28, 2013.  The events will center on the Convention Center complex, which includes the Raleigh Convention Center, two key hotels (The Sheraton & the Marriot) and the Red Hat Amphitheater, a 5,990 seat outdoor performance area located directly behind the Convention Center.  The Amphitheater is designed to accommodate large events in comfort. Some considerable criticism of recent Fan Fests has rested on the grounds that bluegrass music works best in an outdoor, festive environment.  Boasting flexible seating, a huge stage, and easy accessibility, the Red Hat Amphitheater offers unparallelled opportunities for Fan Fest to schedule the best in bluegrass while attracting a large audience to support the Bluegrass Trust Fund and IBMA's efforts to promote bluegrass around the world.  September weather in Raleigh features an average high of 81 and an average low of a comfortable 61 degrees. Precipitation may be expected on 8.0 days in September, the second driest month with October being the driest. The convenience of the Convention Center across the street from the Red Hat Amphitheater makes this a highly promising location for a shortened, but extremely attractive outdoor event.

Red Hat Amphitheater
from rear porch of the Convention Center 

Main Stage

While a little difficult to show, the Convention Center complex and Red Hat Amphitheater are surrounded by abundant and reasonable indoor and outdoor parking. A large parking lot for buses, performer and attendee owned, is located beside the amphitheater as well as another open lot behind a berm within an easy walk. Although there are no hookups, self contained rigs might find this highly convenient. Additional camping facilities are available at the State Fairgrounds, a few miles away. We were unable to visit these in October due to the State Fair. We expect to return to Raleigh to take a look at the fairgrounds and explore options further in January.  

Sign at Outdoor Lot

Parking Beside Amphitheater
note berm behind lot - more parking behind 

There's Plenty of Indoor Parking

Here's a map and guide to parking facilities within easy walking distance of the Convention Center and Amphitheater complex. Note that the free R-bus provides frequent and easy to use transportation from all around the downtown area.

Parking Map

The Rear of the Convention Center
Note the living mural on the back of the Convention Center. Activated by local breezes, the mural provides a lighted backdrop at night and is part of the building's cooling system. Another example of design and functionality working together.  Also, take a look at the gentle rake on the seating area, providing wonderful site lines.

Fan Fest for 2013 remains an open book with a great deal of flexibility. Carl Jackson and Mark Newton have served as producers of the event for the past several years. This facility provides a significant opportunity for them to expand their concept of Fan Fest within the reduced time provided. I understand that the Grand Master Fiddle Championship has already agreed to move to Raleigh with World of Bluegrass. There's plenty of opportunity for the traditional exhibits, merchandise tables, and workshops just across the street in the Convention Center. Looks like it'll be lots of fun.


  1. What a bad move! I don't see any shade, and I can't imagine people wanting to sit out in the sun in 70-80 degree heat. I was looking forward to going to Raleigh, but this let me out.

  2. Thanks for the photos and the information, Ted. My crew and I are excited about going to Raleigh in 2013. IBMA WOB has been fun and convenient for us in Nashville, but I'm looking forward to trying something new. The Red Hat Amphitheater stage looks great and I sincerely hope to have an opportunity to play on i!

  3. This will be interesting and time will tell if it is a good move. I agree with the sun problem, indoors with air conditioning in Nashville was pretty nice. Do you have any idea about rv parking in the lot area? Does the city allow overnite parking? How many rigs can the parking area hold, what is the first day we can arrive and park an rv? Thanks for whatever info you can provide.

  4. Going there today to answer just these kinds of questions. Will post when I can.