Wilmington, N.C. — The North Carolina Azalea Festival returns to downtown Wilmington this week, April 5-9.
The 70-year-old festival is one of the state’s oldest and largest annual events, meant to celebrate spring and honor the millions of azaleas making their perennial debut.
Festival weekend events include a two-hour parade in the heart of downtown Wilmington on Saturday morning featuring flower-covered floats, marching bands, clowns, local pageant winners and celebrity guests. A juried art show, a coin show, a children’s art contest, Saturday night fireworks and a weekend-long street fair with exhibits, vendors, live music, entertainment and kids’ activities also make up the well-known festival, which organizers expect will draw more than 30,000 people this year.
New events this year include Cirque Maceo, an exciting gypsy-themed horse show circus to take place on the grounds of the Wilmington International Airport on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Work week events include a special Wednesday night concert at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium featuring beach music by The Temptations, the Azalea Festival's “Loop The Lake” 5K/10K/1 Mile Fun Walk, art contests for kids and more.
Additionally, ticketed evening concerts will take place on an outdoor stage in downtown Wilmington on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Artists include Cole Swindell with Michael Ray and CJ Solar (Thursday), Duran Duran with guest Roadkill Ghost Choir (Friday) and Jason Derulo With Opening Act Morris Day and The Time (Saturday).
Visitors to the festival who appreciate history can view the inside and outside of historic and private homes and churches in downtown through the Azalea Home Tour or explore bountiful gardens through the Azalea Garden Tour and the Historic Wilmington Foundation’s Azalea Home Tour. Tickets for these and all other events are available online.
For a festival schedule, concert tickets and more, visit ncazaleafestival.org or stop by the festival ticket office at 5725 Oleander Drive in Wilmington.