Wilmington, N.C. & Beaches: Just in time for summer vacations, the lifeguard stands and ocean rescue programs at Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach are staffed daily (Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day) with USLA-certified lifeguards and beach patrols. Memorial Day weekend also kicks off the summer season in Wilmington, North Carolina and its island beaches with live music, theatre, arts and history. From the river to the sea, weekend summer concerts and seasonal events debut Memorial Day weekend and continue throughout the summer. At Carolina Beach, you’ll find amusement rides at the renovated historic Boardwalk, as well as weekly gazebo concerts and fireworks by the sea, and free farmer’s markets and outdoor movies at Carolina Beach Lake. In Kure Beach, there are summer concert series and special events at Oceanfront Park and just down the road at Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. In Wrightsville Beach summer concerts are held monthly at the Town’s municipal park and weekly at Blue Water Grille and on The Oceanic’s Crystal Pier. In Wilmington, the Friday evening Downtown Sundown Concert Series rocks the riverfront. A few miles south, the Monkey Junction Concert Series jazzes up the Home Depot parking lot. Summer 2016 exhibitions include the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s Butterfly Bungalow and life-size animatronic DINOSAURS! In Wilmington, metal sculptures grace Airlie Gardens’ with the return of Ribbit the Exhibit. And if you’re interested in all things Hollywood East, you can explore the Cape Fear Museum’s new STARRING CAPE FEAR! exhibition (through Sept. 5).
Here’s a sampling of Memorial Day weekend events (indoors and outdoors) that are sure to engage visitors of all ages:
Friday - Sunday, May 27-29:
- Cape Fear Shakespeare on the Green Youth Theatre “Two Gentlemen of Verona”. 8pm. Free; donations welcome. Greenfield Lake Park, Wilmington. www.facebook.com/capefearshakespeareotg/?fref=ts
- Carolina Pines Music Festival. Admission. Various times/venues. Wilmington.
- “The Fantasticks” 7:30pm (Fri.-Sat.); 3pm (Sun.). Admission. Thalian Hall, Wilmington; 910-632-2285; thalianhall.org
- “Noises Off!” 7:30pm (Fri.-Sat.); 3pm (Sun.). Admission. Thalian Hall, Wilmington; 910-632-2285; thalianhall.org
- Wiley Cash’s “The Kudzu Queen”. 7pm (Fri./Sat.); 3pm (Sun). Dinner theatre or Show only options. Admission charge; reservations required. TheatreNOW, Wilmington. 910-399-3669; www.theatrewilmington.com.
Friday, May 27:
- Downtown Sundown Concert Series. 5:30pm. Music by “42” (Cold Play tribute band). Free. Riverfront Park, Wilmington. 910-763-7349; www.wilmingtondowntown.com/events/downtownsundown.
- Monkey Junction Concert Series. 6-9pm. Music by Chillin’ Dixie (country). Free. Home Depot parking lot, Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington.
- Fireworks by the Sea & Gazebo Music Series. Music at 6:30pm; fireworks at 9pm. Music by JackJack 180 (rock/pop). Free. Carolina Beach Boardwalk. 910-458-8434; www.pleasureislandnc.org/events-details.php?id=1079&month=May.
- Fourth Friday Gallery Walk. Downtown art galleries & studios. http://artscouncilofwilmington.org/?page_id=907#sthash.1AbEBhCj.dpuf
Saturday, May 28:
- Riverfront Farmers Market. 8am-1pm. Free. Wilmington Riverwalk, 910-341-7855; www.wilmingtonfarmers.com
- Carolina Beach Farmers Market. 8am-1pm. Carolina Beach Lake; www.facebook.com/CarolinaBeachFarmersMarket
- Battleship Alive! Living History Event. 8am-5pm. Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, Wilmington. www.battleshipnc.com/Events/Battleship101Alive
Saturday - Sunday, May 28-29:
- Orange Street Arts Festival 2016. Sat. 10am-6pm; Sun. 10am–5pm. Art, jewelry, pottery, entertainment, food trucks. Free admission; food/art for sale. Community Arts Center, Orange & 2nd streets, Downtown Wilmington; 910-251-1788; www.thalian.org.
- Carnivorous Plant Hike. 11am. Hike with a park ranger & learn about carnivorous plants such as Venus Flytrap. Nature Trail parking lot, Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. 910-458-8206; www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/cabe/main.php.
Sunday, May 29
- Sunday Night Movies at the Lake. 8:45pm. Outdoor family films on Sunday eves (thru Labor Day). Tonight: “Minions”. Free. Carolina Beach Lake Amphitheater. 910-458-8434; www.pleasureislandnc.org/events-details.php?id=778
- Historic Downtown Wilmington Marketplace. 10am-3pm. Riverwalk, Wilmington. www.facebook.com/pages/Historic-Downtown-Wilmington-Marketplace/1377439359159975
Monday, May 30
- 52nd annual Memorial Day Observance. 5:45pm. Ceremony with guest speaker, gun salute, patriotic music. Free (ship admission not included). Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington. 910-251-5797; www.battleshipnc.com.
- Peter Frampton in concert. 7pm. Greenfield Lake Amphitheater. http://greenfieldlakeamphitheater.com/event/peter-frampton
- Wrightsville Beach Farmers Market. 8am-1pm. Free. Causeway Drive, Wrightsville Beach; 910-256-7925.