Wilmington, NC: Fall festival season is underway in Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. For many who travel during that sweet spot between the end of summer and the holidays, off-peak rates make it an affordable time for a coastal getaway. With warm days and pleasantly cool nights during October and well into November, the weather is ideal for outdoor fun. Whether you’re into live music, craft beer, art, theatre, independent film, watersports, races or Halloween festivities, there’s something to suit every interest.
Here’s a sampling of fall festivals and competitive events taking place from the river to the sea. For a complete calendar that includes more arts, cultural and food events, Halloween and holiday festivities, click here.
Riverfest (Oct. 7-8): Held annually the first weekend in October, Riverfest is a family-friendly arts and cultural celebration along the Cape Fear River. Festivities include a street fair with live entertainment, special exhibits, art and craft vendors, fireworks, kids’ activities, a car show and more. Downtown Wilmington.
Fort Fisher Fall Festival (Oct. 7): Spooky programs, Halloween games, a pumpkin contest and more for all ages. Free. Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, Loggerhead Rd., Kure Beach. 910-458-5798.
Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival (Oct. 14-15): Two stages feature blues and jazz concerts, along with a selection of tasty seafood in a riverfront setting. Fourteen bands include five headline acts: “Mud” Morganfield Blues Band, Roomful of Blues, Nick Moss Band, Carolyn Wonderland, and Randall Bramblett Band. Bring a chair. Admission/tickets required. Fort Fisher Military Rec. Area, Kure Beach. 910-458-8434.
Taste of Wrightsville Beach Fest (Oct. 21): Savor island flavors at 30 food, wine/beer tasting booths. Admission/tickets required. Marine Max, Wrightsville Beach. 910-620-0281.
Wilmington Oktoberfest (Oct. 21): 15th annual Oktoberfest features German beer and brats, a Weiner Dog Race and Harbor Townfest Band. Rain or shine. Ogden Tap Room, 7324 Market St., Wilmington. 910-821-8185.
Oysterberfest (Oct. 21): A fall harvest festival with an oyster roast, German cuisine, live music and a selection of fall beers. Wrightsville Beach Brewery beer garden, 6201 Oleander Drive, Wilmington. 910-256-4938.
Voracious & Rare Beer Festival (Oct. 27): An event for the true beer aficionado, 30+ breweries will pour limited release beers and rare voracious brews, with appetizers and live music. Admission/tickets required. Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington. 910-256-8622.
Carousel Center/Lighthouse Beer & Wine Festival (Oct. 28): Explore the world of hops, grapes and grain with over 100 craft brewery & winery vendors. Admission includes a glass for sampling. Tickets required. Waterfront Park, 10 Harnett St, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-256-8622.
Cape Fear Kite Festival (Nov. 4-5): Flyers will paint the sky by the sea with incredible shapes, sizes, styles and colors of kites. Food trucks will be on-site. Free. Ft. Fisher State Rec. Area, Kure Beach. 910-520-1818.
St. Stanislaus Polish Festival (Nov. 4): Celebrate with traditional Polish food, dancers, crafts & music by Chardon Polka Band. Free. St. Stanislaus Church, 4849 Castle Hayne Rd., Wilmington. 910-675-2336.
Cucalorus Festival: *Film*Stage*Connect (Nov. 8-12). Now in its 23rd year, Cucalorus is a laid-back, non-competitive festival screening 300+ independent films, a diverse selection of bold Stage performances (dance, music, comedy, theater), and 50+ Connect Conference events (entrepreneurship-focused panels, speakers, and workshops). Passes and individual tickets available. Various venues. Wilmington. 910-343-5995.
Port City Rib Fest (Nov. 10-12): This 3-day festival is a celebration of culinary skill with live entertainment by nine bands. National BBQ teams will compete against each other for Best Rib bragging rights. Admission charged. New venue: Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Cape Fear Blvd. Carolina Beach. 910-465-4770.
Festival Latino (Nov. 11-12): A multi-cultural event that celebrates the cultural differences between all people with a Kids Fiesta area, food court featuring Latin American food, Latin music, dance, and exhibitors selling various crafts and products. Ogden Park, 7069 Market St., Wilmington. 910-341-0007.
Carolina Beach Marathon, Half Marathon & 5k (Oct. 8): This USTAF Boston qualifier marathon takes a tour of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. Both the half marathon and 5K are flat courses. Pre-registration required. Canal Drive, Carolina Beach.
PPD Ironman 70.3 North Carolina (Oct. 21): The PPD IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina triathlon will feature a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run. This "point-to-point-to-point-to-point" event begins in Wrightsville Beach and takes athletes along a fast channel swim. The bike course runs through the coastal countryside outside Wilmington, and the run traverses Greenfield Lake before athletes finish in historic Wilmington’s river district, across from the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. The 2017 PPD IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina will offer 30 qualifying slots to the 2018 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship.
N.C. Surf To Sound Challenge (Nov. 3-5): This paddle boarding tradition and WPA Sanctioned event attracts 100+ paddlers from across the globe, including pros like Elite race winner Larry Cain. Elite Paddlers will brave the Atlantic, battle through Masonboro Inlet and navigate the channel behind Masonboro Island. Blockade Runner Beach Resort, 275 Waynick Blvd, Wrightsville Beach. 910-256-2251.
Stray off course this fall and see where the water takes you! From the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach to Wilmington’s river district, there are year-round events, attractions and outdoor activities to satisfy the mind, body and soul. For special offers and seasonal highlights, click here. For a Free Official Visitors Guide, call 1-866-266-9690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.