A Winning Sports Destination for Participants and Spectators Alike

Wilmington, NC has become a sought after destination for sports events planners thanks to good weather year-round and its location situated along the Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. The convenient location to get here by car or plane and the opportunity to increase participant and spectator attendance are just some of the reasons why many sporting event planners have selected Wilmington and our island beaches and here are a few more.

View our Sports Planning Guide for more information.

Everything You Value for Extraordinary Events

A Distinctive Destination

  • Voted as America’s Best Riverfront by USA TODAY
  • Downtown walkable access to entertainment, shops and cafes, many of which offer outdoor dining and views of Wilmington’s spectacular sunsets over the river
  • Competitors and spectators can take advantage of Wilmington’s proximity to three island beaches: Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach


  • As North Carolina's most accessible coastal destination, it's convenient to get here no matter how you're traveling.

Exceptional Facilities

  • Largest convention center on the NC coast and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified
  • Indoor and outdoor athletic facilities like Miracle Field at Olsen Park
  • Althea Gibson Tennis Complex
  • Cape Fear Regional Soccer Complex
  • Long Leaf Athletic Complex
  • Legion Sports Complex
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Wilmington Ice House
  • Over 8,000 guest rooms and suites

Home to Award-Winning Sports Events

  • Carolina Cup, which takes place in Wrightsville Beach, is ranked as the #2 race in the world in the category of professional men and #3 in the category of professional women, according to Australia’s SUPracer.com.
  • IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina won in two worldwide categories in the Athletes' Choice Awards. The triathlon spans Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington and ranks second for best overall run and tied for fifth in best overall swim in the world.
  • The annual Wilmington, NC Marathon Madness is a Boston Marathon qualifying event and an USATF certified qualifier.
  • The U.S. Open Fat Bike Beach Championship brings fat bike cyclists from all over the country each year to compete on the sandy shores of Wrightsville Beach.

Notable Sports Accolades

  • Wilmington is one of the top destinations in the country for a “Weekend Runcation” according to Runner’s World, which makes it ideal for running events.
  • TrailRunner.com featured Carolina Beach as a featured Trail Town.
  • Triathlete Magazine includes Wilmington among its “Best Places to Live for Triathletes,” citing mild winters, triathlon clubs, ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, historic riverfront and the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail.
  • Zozi.com includes Wrightsville Beach in its list of “Where the Swell is Up: 13 Epic Surf Spots in the U.S.”
  • Men’s Health includes Wrightsville Beach among its roundup of Summer Hot Spots that highlight “the five best places to ride a wave, spike a volleyball, or paddle into the blue.” 
  • Wrightsville Beach made Outside Magazine’s ­list of top “Stateside SUP Hubs” as the best place for SUP “variety.”
  • The League of American Bicyclists designated Wilmington as a Bicycle Friendly Community. This award is presented to communities that have shown a significant commitment to bicycling.
  • National Geographic previously named Wrightsville Beach one of the World's 20 Best Surf Towns, saying “It’s a great surf town for two main reasons—attitude and access.”
  • Men’s Journal previously named Wrightsville Beach North Carolina’s most naturally gifted water sport hub.

Plenty to See and Do

  • Wilmington’s River District features more than 200 restaurants, shops and attractions, most of which are within walking district
  • Visitors can choose from an assortment of water- and land-based activities, as well as a variety of tours including history, craft beer and theme walking tours, trolley, horse-drawn carriage and Segway tours, kayak/canoe excursions, biking and nature trails, narrated cruises, behind the scenes film tours and culinary adventures
  • The area hosts a busy lineup of festivals and special events throughout the year that may already be taking place during planned sporting events
  • Attractions for visitors who want to ‘get physical’ with activities like laser tag, climbing walls and more
  • Multiple championship golf courses located nearby
  • Check out our roundup of top things to see and do before and after the event and make it a vacation

Maximum Registration Potential

  • Wilmington offers all the perks that come with a coastal destination, along with the conveniences and amenities of a big city
  • Many groups max out their registration at sporting events held here
  • Attendees can arrive early or stay late to enjoy our three beach towns or the historic charm of Wilmington.


  • Book off-season dates November through March for the best savings
  • Sunday arrivals and mid-week arrival and departure patterns are most affordable

Wilmington has experience in hosting signature sporting events of all kinds. We invite you to check it out and see for yourself.