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24 June . 2024

Red, White and Star-Spangled Spirit: Celebrating the Fourth of July in the Cape Fear Region

The Fourth of July just demands certain activities: enjoying parades; wearing your red, white and blue, and gathering for the spectacle of fireworks. It’s all just non-negotiable.

Fortunately, Wilmington and the Cape Fear region deliver all this and more for residents and the multitudes of visitors that an historic downtown and sparkling beaches reliably draw. 


On July 2nd, the Wilson Center welcomes the North Carolina Symphony for a concert of American favorites. Tickets always sell out so make plans ahead of time.  The Wilson Center is a beautiful, modern concert hall with acoustics that will surely ignite one’s patriotic spirt.

Enjoy America’s pastime, from July 2 – 4th, with the Wilmington Sharks. Stick around after the games for fireworks these three nights. Tickets are generally in high demand, so get them ahead of time. The Sharks play at Legion Stadium on Carolina Beach Rd.  

On July 4th, drop by the Hannah Block Historic USO Building on Second St for their Independence Day Open House. From Noon to 4 PM, enjoy WWII exhibits with staff in 1940’s attire. Sodas are 5 cents; coffee and doughnuts are free. A documentary celebrating this historic and local USO venue will be screening all afternoon.   

The Big Show, the fireworks, are best enjoyed at Live Oak Pavillion, downtown’s concert venue by the river. The Wilmington Symphony Orchestra will play before the spectacular fireworks display. The show is free, but food and drink are available for cashless purchase. Family fun and music begin at 5 PM, the symphony begins at 7 PM, with fireworks starting at approximately 9 PM.  

You can also enjoy the fireworks from anywhere along Wilmington’s celebrated Riverwalk, with restaurants, bars and live music animating the scenic view of the Cape Fear River and the USS Battleship North Carolina

On July 5th, keep the festive spirit going with Friday Night Live on the Pier.  Downtown’s Pier 33 welcomes Yacht Rock Schooner, a dance party band of eight with smooth sounds of the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Tickets are just $10; show starts at 7 PM.  

Around Town

On July 3rd, Carolina Beach gets a jump on the holiday with its Independence Day Fireworks by the Sea and Boardwalk Blast.  Arrive early to get you best spot on the beach; pack a picnic or grab takeout from any of the nearby food vendors and restaurants. Enjoy the high-energy seven-piece party band, Port City Shakedown, at the Gazebo Stage at 6:30 PM; fireworks at 9PM. Check out Carolina Beach’s Facebook page for updates. 

Start your Independence Day with the Battle for Independence Road Race, either a 5K or a one mile run along Independence Blvd. on Wilmington’s scenic and shady Gary Shell Cross City Trail. Register to run ($35 for the 5K, $30 for the one-mile) to support student athlete scholarships. 

On July 5th, enjoy a summer concert at Airlie Gardens.  Lilly and the Loud Music Company delight with their performance of pop, rock, country, soul and funk. Tickets are $10 (children 4-12 are $3) in advance only (no gate ticket sales). Parking available at satellite lots with shuttle service to the gardens. BYO picnic and chairs to enjoy this favorite Wilmington summer delight.


If you’re up for a daytrip, consider making Southport your destination for July 4th frolicking. This is the home of North Carolina’s Official July Fourth Festival and there’s almost no end to the celebration.  Begin your day with a pancake breakfast; proceed to a reading of the Declaration of Independence, then find your spot to enjoy the traditional parade, with exhibits, special programs, live music and fireworks rounding out the day.  Definitely plan ahead!

Right Here in Riverlights

The 3rd Annual Red, White and Riverlights, takes place on July 5th at 4:45 PM at our Lakehouse. A gathering for property owners only, enjoy a festive golf cart parade, led by one of Wilmington’s finest, a WFD firetruck! This patriotic celebration will include a DJ spinning tunes, yard games, axe throwing, and an amazing Interactive Bubble Show. From 6 to 7 PM, line up for the BBQ buffet with a full menu of classic American fare.  Tickets are available on the Riverlights app.

There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate this most-American day.  Gear up, get ready and make your plans soon!