Wilmington, N.C. July is upon us and a long Independence Day weekend beckons. July 4th falls on a Monday this year, providing a great opportunity to add on a few extra days and experience a full-on summer vacation in Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. Here’s a sampling of holiday weekend celebrations and family fun from the river to the sea:

Saturday, July 2nd:

N.C. SYMPHONY: “STARS & STRIPES”. 7:30 p.m. Patriotic and symphonic favorites. Admission charge. Wilson Center, Cape Fear Community College; 910-362-7999; http://cfcc.edu/capefearstage/north-carolina-symphonys-stars-stripes/

UNCLE SAM JAM. Get your country on at Pier 33 as they present Frankie Ballard LIVE as part of the Uncle Sam Jam Independence Day weekend. Admission charge. Pier 33, Port City Marina, 10 Harnett St., Wilmington. 910-612-1374; 

FREEDOM FEST. Live music, beer garden, food trucks, kids’ activities.  Waterline Brewing Co., 721 Surry Street, Wilmington. Free admission. 910-777-5599; www.facebook.com/events/139382349803021/

CAPE FEAR 7s RUGBY TOURNAMENT. 42nd annual tournament play begins at 9am. Ogden Park, Wilmington.  http://fear7s.com/

WILMINGTON HAMMERHEADS v. TORONTO FC. 7:00 p.m. Pro soccer. Legion Stadium, Wilmington. www.wilmingtonhammerheads.com

Sunday, July 3rd:

FIREWORKS BY THE SEA & BOARDWALK GAZEBO MUSIC. Enjoy live music by two bands: the David Dixon Trio and The Beachbilly Brothers. Oceanfront fireworks follow at 9:00 p.m. on the renovated Carolina Beach Boardwalk in Carolina Beach. Spend a few days on the island to enjoy boardwalk amusements and rides; see the rare Venus Flytrap at Carolina Beach State Park; rent a kayak; learn to surf; explore Civil War history at Fort Fisher; sign up for surf lessons; or visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s Dinosaurs! and Butterfly Bungalow exhibits. 910-458-8434; www.pleasureislandnc.org/events-details.php?id=1086&month=July

CAPE FEAR 7s RUGBY TOURNAMENT. 42nd annual tournament play begins at 9am. Finals begin at 1pm. Ogden Park, Wilmington.  http://fear7s.com/

FREE MOVIE BY THE SEA. “The Sandlot” (PG). Dusk. Carolina Beach Lake Amphitheater. 910-458-8434.

BOOGIE IN THE PARK. 5-7pm. Reggae concert. Free. Oceanfront Park, Kure Beach. 910-458-8216.

Monday, July 4th:

CITY OF WILMINGTON 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION. The celebration features music by the rock band “Machine Gun” at the new North Waterfront Park at the foot of Harnett Street (5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.). At 9:05 p.m., a choreographed fireworks display will launch from a barge on the Cape Fear River. Best view of the fireworks is from North Waterfront Park and along the northern Riverwalk. For details about the music, fireworks, parking and traffic details: www.wilmingtonnc.gov/community_services/parks_recreation/events_permits/special_events/4th_of_july

RED, WHITE & BOOM. Live music by EastBound (country rock) from 7-9pm and fireworks on the riverfront at 9:15pm. DJ/dancing follow. Admission charge. Pier 33 at Port City Marina, 10 Harnett St., Wilmington. 910-612-1374. www.eventbrite.com/e/red-white-boom-tickets-26123736800?aff=ebrowse

4TH OF JULY U.S.O. OPEN HOUSE. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center, Thalian Association Community Theatre will host an Open House on July 4 (1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.). Costumed docents—dressed in military and period clothing—will take visitors back to 1941, serving free coffee and doughnuts, 5-cent sodas and patriotic popcorn. One of only a handful of remaining WWII USO buildings, today the building serves as a community theatre headquarters and home to a WWII home front heritage museum. Free admission. Located at 2nd & Orange streets, Wilmington. 910-251-1788; www.thalian.org

JULY 4TH FIRECRACKER CRUISE. Boards at 7:00 p.m. A sunset cruise with appetizers and patriotic drink specials, followed by fireworks over the river. Advance reservations. 910-338-3134; www.wilmingtonwatertours.net

JULY 4TH FIREWORKS DINNER & DANCE CRUISE. Celebrate the 4th with a BBQ dinner/dance cruise to Southport’s epic 4th of July fireworks aboard the Royal Winner Princess II. Departs 6:00 p.m. from Carolina Beach Marina. Admission charge. Pre-paid reservations required. Carolina Beach Marina. 910-458-5356; www.winnerboats.com.  

City + Beaches: From its award-winning historic Riverwalk to oceanfront boardwalks, Wilmington and its island beaches are ideal for a full-on summer vacation. For seasonal highlights, visit www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/seasonal-pages. For a complete Event Calendar, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com/events-calendar.  For a free Official Visitors Guide for Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina BeachKure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach, call 1-866-266-9690 or email visit@wilmingtonandbeaches.com.