Want to experience what all the hype is about in Wilmington, North Carolina? Home to Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill, and many of your other favorite T.V. shows and movies, Wilmington has a culture and a feel that is one-of-a-kind. Springtime is ideal to experience events that are unique to Wilmington and its island beaches.Held each year in early April (since 1948), the North Carolina Azalea Festival is Wilmington’s annual community celebration and the largest festival of its kind in the state. The 72nd NC Azalea Festival (April 3-7, 2019) showcases five days of natural beauty, big-name entertainment, festive galas, fun family events and Southern hospitality that showcase the charms of the Wilmington area. Here’s a preview of this year’s festival highlights:

Crowning at NC Azalea FestivalDay One – Wednesday, April 3
Spend the morning taking in the sun along the riverfront or at one of our island beaches: Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Kure Beach. Later that afternoon meet and welcome this year’s North Carolina Azalea Festival’s Queen Azalea and other celebrity guests at the Queen’s Coronation at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.  Afterward, choose from a variety of great restaurants, craft breweries and nightlife from the river to the sea.

Day Two – Thursday, April 4
This is a great day to explore Wilmington’s River District and to check out the Festival’s ongoing Juried Art Show and Sale at the Historic Hannah Block USO Building. Tonight the festival’s Main Stage Concert Series kicks off with this year’s first big-name concert featuring country music artist Tyler Farr with Josh Phillips.

Day Three – Friday, April 5
Start your morning attending the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour Ribbon Cutting. Queen Azalea officially cuts the ribbon to kick off the Azalea Garden Tour, organized by one of the largest and oldest garden clubs in the country. Tonight you’ll want to head back downtown on the river for the second Main Stage Concert Series act with the legendary Hank Williams, Jr. with Frank Foster.

Tyler Farr - 2019 Azalea Festival Performer Hank Williams Jr. - 2019 Azalea Festival Performer Ice Cube - 2019 Azalea Festival Performer

Day Four – Saturday, April 6
Saturday morning start early to reserve your bleacher seats for the 72nd North Carolina Azalea Festival Parade. Floats, marching bands, and balloons dazzle the streets in this 2-hour Parade. Afterwards, walk a few blocks to the Waterfront Street Fair, where 300 arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, and three stages of entertainment can keep your attention all day. With a free Children’s Area, Multicultural Stage, and Music and Beer Garden, there is truly something for every taste. There’s also a lot of shag-dancing going on during the Riverwalk Shag Contest at the Hotel Ballast, Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Tonight’s featured entertainer for the third Main Stage Concert Series is award-winning musician/actor/director/producer Ice Cube. Saturday night’s festivities culminate with fireworks that illuminate the sky over Wilmington’s Riverfront.

Azalea Queen and Citadel Summerall Guards Exterior of a Historic Home Azalea Festival Garden Club Ribbon Cutting

Day Five – Sunday, April 7
The final day of the festival is a great day to visit ongoing Festival events that you may have missed earlier in the week: the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour; the Historic Wilmington Foundation’s Historic Home Tour; the Juried Art Show and Sale at the Historic Hannah Block USO Building; live theatre with the Thalian Association’s performance of Damn Yankees; a multi-state Boxing Competition at the Wilmington Convention Center; a Coin Show at the Elks Lodge, and the Waterfront Street Fair with two stages where you can catch local and regional musicians performing a variety of rock, blues, and folk tunes.

Want to Experience the North Carolina Azalea Festival VIP-style?
Visitors who wish to experience the festival in VIP-style can purchase the 3-Day Southern Getaway Patron Package (April 4-6), which includes signature events such as the parade, street fair, main stage concerts, and the garden tour ribbon cutting, as well as private VIP events. The patron package includes Thursday’s Celebrity Reception on the grounds of the beautiful and historic Cape Fear Country Club where you’ll sip on mimosas and try the chef’s take on the classic Shrimp & Grits. Band at Bluewater GrillOn Friday immediately after the Ribbon Cutting, head to Airlie Gardens to join 2,500 festival friends at the “can’t miss” event in Wilmington of the year – the Airlie Luncheon Garden Party. Make sure to don your seersucker suits, bow ties, and large garden party hats as you enjoy the full open bar and BBQ. Keep your eyes out for the hottest spring fashions on display! Afterward, there’s an After Garden Get Down party with live music and drink specials at Bluewater Waterfront Grille on the dock overlooking the picturesque Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. On Saturday evening you’ll need your dancing shoes for the black-tie Patrons’ Party Gala where you’ll dance the night away to the hippest party bands around, while enjoying the newest cocktails and food displays. This year the theme is Boots and Bowties: a black-tie affair with boots to add flair. For more information on how to purchase this one-stop-shop VIP package for all the Festival fun, email or call the Azalea Festival Ticket Office at 910-794-4650. Insider Tip: You may need to take Monday off work to catch up from all the festivities!

For more information about the NC Azalea Festival and a complete schedule of events, please visit www.NCAzaleaFestival.org