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azalea festival

22 January . 2024

Wilmington’s Top 10 Festivals for 2024

There’s no end to things-to-do and places-to-go here in the Cape Fear. But there are some annual events that reliably top the locals’ list of Best-Of. Below is our list of Top 10 Festivals to enjoy. For many, it’s important to plan ahead as tickets often will sell-out. But, of course, that’s the beauty of annual events: there is always another chance next year!

North Carolina Jazz Festival 

February 1st - 3rd

Now in its 43rd year, the North Carolina Jazz Festival has an impressive history of bringing jazz greats to the Port City. The festival kicks off on Thursday night and carries through a Sunday Brunch concert with all shows taking place at Wilmington’s downtown Hotel Ballast. The Southeast Tourism Society has named this a Top 20 Events for years, so if you love jazz, don’t miss this opportunity!

Beer Bourbon and BBQ Festival

March 16th

Held annually at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion, Beer Bourbon and BBQ Festival brings together all the things that mark Southern culture: beer, bourbon, barbecue, boots, bacon, biscuits and bluegrass. The BBQ selections include pork, chicken, brisket, ribs, and sausage. Live music, games, and a vendor fair promise all the fixins for a memorable bash.

North Carolina Azalea Festival  

April 3rd - 7th

The Azalea Festival has been Wilmington’s premiere event since 1948 bringing celebrities and a who’s who to Wilmington for decades. Complete with crowned queens and pageantry, a parade, street fair, home and garden tours, concerts and more, this is a festival that celebrates Wilmington’s abundant spring color and offers something for everyone. Hint:  Wear fuchsia!

Orange Street Arts Festival

Memorial Weekend, May 25th - 26th

Local artists, makers and vendors assemble for the Orange Street Arts Festival annual event that is in the heart of downtown Wilmington.  A fundraiser for Thalian Association Community Theater, this festival celebrates the remarkable talent in Wilmington’s fine and performing arts. Live music and food trucks round out the fun.

Carolina Beach Music Festival

May 31st - June 2nd

This year will be the 38th annual event – and the Carolina Beach Music Festival is the only beach music festival that’s still on the beach. Three days of live music, shag contests and vendors in the prime of summer taking place on Carolina Beach and Boardwalk. Plan ahead – this event always sells out.


October 5th - 6th

Riverfest is a family-oriented festival that takes place downtown and celebrates the Cape Fear River. The street fair features food, arts, and crafts vendors; several live music stages and a children’s play area. Events also include a classic car display and fireworks at night.

Art in the Arboretum Arts Festival: 

October 11th – 13th

Art in the Arboretum combines art, craft, and coastal landscaping in one of Wilmington’s ideal settings – the New Hanover County Arboretum. Painters, sculptors, jewelry makers, ceramicists, woodworkers, photographers, print makers, textile artists and more are welcomed to this topflight show and sale. Food trucks ensure the culinary arts are also represented.

Lighthouse Beer & Wine Festival

October 26th

Enjoy a wide variety of breweries and vineyards that descend on downtown Wilmington for the Lighthouse Beer & Wine Festival that celebrates grapes, hops and the oh-so-appreciated skills of brewing and fermenting.  Live music and food vendors assure a good time for this event that is an annual fundraiser for The Carousel Child Advocacy Center.

Cape Fear Kite Festival

November 1st – 3rd

Professional kite flyers fill the sky with kites of all shapes, sizes, colors, and flight capacities to make us all feel like kids again. A beautiful sight to behold, the Cape Fear Kite Festival is hosted at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in Kure Beach.  Friday, after dark, enjoy Night with Kites when food trucks, live bands and vendors fill out the fun.

Cucalorus Film Festival


Without a doubt, the Cucalorus Film Festival is one of the coolest film festivals in the world – and that’s according to Movie Maker magazine which includes Cucalorus on that list year after year.  Narrative films, documentaries, shorts, and works-in-progress make up the schedule for this five-day screening extravaganza. Tickets available for one or several screenings or passes for the all-of-it.

Food, drink, art, music, film, and kite-flying! What a great assortment of options to enjoy! So, get out there and have a great festival time.