Here’s your ultimate guide to J. Cole’s 2023 Dreamville Festival in Raleigh this weekend
If haven’t felt the buzz yet, preparations are underway in Raleigh for one of the biggest music festivals of the year.
J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival kicks off at Dorothea Dix Park on Saturday with headliners like Usher, Sean Paul, Lil Durk, Ari Lennox and City Girls. The festival will continue on Sunday with performances by Cole, the Fayetteville rapper who created the festival, along with Drake and Burna Boy.
Cole started the festival in 2019 to give back to his home state and create a hip-hop and R&B festival for the East Coast, said Dreamville creative director Adam Rodney. It’s also a way to showcase the artists on Cole’s Dreamville music label.
“It’s exciting to be back here,” Rodney said. “To see it (grow) year over year and then over the hurdles we dealt with with COVID, hurricanes and everything — to still see this festival come back stronger and stronger every year is pretty awesome to see.”
The sold-out festival is predicted to bring about 100,000 people to Raleigh and to generate more than $7.8 million in economic impact to Raleigh and Wake County. Last year, the festival saw 80,000 people from all over the state, country and internationally, said Loren Gold, the vice president of Visit Raleigh.
Gold said Wake County was at about 92% occupancy for hotels last year. The demand this year is around 27,000 room reservations over the weekend.
Organizers with Dreamville Fest and the City of Raleigh are predicting major traffic delays in and around the park along Western Avenue.
If you’re going to the festival or want to know how it will affect Raleigh this weekend, here’s what to know about schedule, traffic, how to get there, security and more.
▪ Where and when: Dreamville Festival is in its third year at Raleigh’s Dorothea Dix Park. It will be held Saturday, April 1 and Sunday, April 2 with gates opening at 12 noon on both days.
▪ Where is Dreamville Festival: Dorothea Dix Park is located at 1030 Richardson Drive in Raleigh, near NC State’s campus. The festival’s West Entrance is at the intersection of Barbour and Blair drives. The East Entrance is near the intersection of Umstead and Hunt drives.
▪ Tickets: Most tickets are sold out, but the Dreamville website shows select tickets available starting at $549.99 as well as a waiting list for general admission tickets.
A portion of proceeds go to the Dreamville Foundation and the Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy.
Dreamville lineup and schedule
Organizers have not announced the stage times yet.
The lineup features all of the artists on Cole’s label: Ari Lennox, J.I.D, EARTHGANG, Bas, Cozz, Omen and Lute.
Here is who is scheduled to perform over two stages.
SATURDAY, April 1
SUNDAY, April 2
Waka Flocka Flame
J. Cole + Drake
What’s new at Dreamville Festival in 2023?
▪ Security: There will be greater police presence at the park this year, among other changes to security, including more screening booths at the two entrances.
Raleigh Police Department Lt. James Stokes said the “robust” security plan will include officers from other law enforcement agencies around Wake County.
Additionally, there are expansions to the box offices at the entrance of the festival, said Trey Hicks, Dreamville Festival PR director. There will be expanded capabilities at both entrances to get people in and out of the park, including more check points and screening tables.
▪ Bathrooms: This year, Dreamville has plans for improved bathrooms, instead of the typical portable potties stationed at the park, Hicks said.
▪ Wifi: Dreamville is working with AT&T and Verizon this year to improve cellular reception at the park. Towers are usually set up around the park to improve the reception.
Expect traffic delays
Traffic around the festival grounds is expected to be heavy, Stokes said.
“As you could expect with 50,000 people coming to an event, you’re going to have traffic backups in the roads that are around the park as well as the interstate,” Stokes said.
Parking — for cars and bikes
Event parking is available for purchase at NC State’s Centennial Campus across the street from Dorothea Dix Park. (Set your GPS to 883-881 Main Campus Drive). Parking is $50, plus fees.
The spaces are limited and are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dreamville organizers say the lot fills up quickly, and overnight parking is not allowed. Parking is only available for one day at a time.
People can ride their bikes to Dix Park and lock up their bikes at a lot outside of the park’s limits. It is a short walk to the festival from there. The bike lots are at:
On the corner of Centennial Parkway and Blair Drive
On the corner of Western Boulevard and Hunt Drive
Shuttles, ride shares and scooters
▪ Shuttle: The festival offers an official downtown shuttle from Moore Square, 209 E. Martin St., in Downtown Raleigh to the park. This year, organizers will double the number of shuttle buses to allow for more pick-ups and drop-offs from downtown to the park between Western Boulevard and Centennial Parkway.
A shuttle pass is $20, plus fees. Festival-goers will be able to use their downtown shuttle pass for the entire weekend to and from the park.
▪ Ride share: Uber and Lyft and other ride sharing will be operating in collaboration with Dreamville to drop riders off in designated zones on both sides of Dix Park with a short walking distance to the entrance.
▪ Electric scooters: Operators LIME and SPIN will have scooters available in the Raleigh area during the weekend. Information about where to find the e-scooters can be found at the City of Raleigh website. The operate seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
What’s allowed at Dreamville Festival
From bags and strollers to prescribed medicine, there is a list of items that are allowed and prohibited on the grounds of Dix Park for Dreamville. All bags will be searched before entry.
For all medicine, the pharmacy label must be present on the container that states the dosage, patient name and prescription. Medicine needing to be inhaled or samples are prohibited unless in a prescribed inhaler. Over-the-counter medicines are allowed but will need to be verified.
Some of the allowed items include:
small clutch purses and fanny packs — 6” x 9” or smaller
cameras and accessories — selfie sticks, tripods, GoPro mounts and monopods are not allowed
e-cigarettes and vape pens
hats, scarves, gloves and bandannas, sunglasses
blankets and towels
Items that are prohibited include:
Bag policy, lockers and phone charging
All bags will be searched before entering.
The festival will allow for:
Small clutch purses and fanny packs that are 6” x 9”. They don’t need to be clear but they should only have one pocket.
Bags must be clear if they are larger than 6” x 9” with a maximum size of 12” x 6” x 12”.
Hydration packs are allowed and must be emptied of all liquid. They do not need to be clear. There will be water refilling stations on site.
There will be lockers available for rent, starting at $49.99. They include 3-in-1 USB charging cables.
Dreamville vendors & activities
Dreamville organizers have been planning programs outside of Dix Park, including after parties, the return of the Ferris wheel, photo displays, and an industry panel of producers and artists on Friday at CAM Raleigh.
There is also continued emphasis on local vendors from the Triangle area. There will be over 50 local food vendors at the festival.
“With respect to local vendors, ambassador programs and staff we bring on, the impact we bring locally is really important to us, so we really try to source as much as we can from the Raleigh and Wake County community,” Hicks said.
Dreamville Festival livestream
For those who cannot attend Dreamville Festival in person, there is a live stream available online.
The livestream will be active during the festival beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Fans can tune in to the Amazon Music channel on Twitch and Prime Video. It is presented by Rotation, a global hip-hop and R&B brand from Amazon Music.
Unless you have a ticket to the festival this weekend, Dix Park will be closed to the public.
Throughout the week, the park will operate as usual. But as preparations continue, some park-goers can see some traffic delays or closures at the park, according to spokesperson Joey Vasco.
To receive alerts from the festival, text ‘Dreamville’ to 888777.
Where can I learn more?
The full list of allowed and prohibited items and all other information about Dreamville Fest can be found on their website’s FAQ page at support.dreamvillefest.com.
This story will be updated with more information throughout the week. Check back here for updates.