At the close of the summer solstice, we often and quickly are urged to toss aside our bikinis and tank tops for cable knits and boots—hot, humid temps for crisp breezes, fallen leaves, and nights around a bonfire. What better way to bring the community together in celebration of the autumnal equinox (Sept. 22) than a commemoration of all cozy things? Wilmington has a bevy of upcoming festivals, some finding their footing in Wilmington and some as tried and true as 48 years serving the community. From the city’s very own Riverfest and Lighthouse Beer and Wine’s annual beer festival, to the newer American Craft Walk and Fire in the Pines, truly, no one will run out of options to entertain come fall.
SUMMER HARVEST FESTIVAL
POPLAR GROVE PLANTATION
SEPTEMBER 15-16 • $5
The Summer Harvest Festival is one that’s impossible to attend without a smile. The entire community is invited to Poplar Grove Plantation on September 15 and 16 to celebrate the summer’s end properly. The event will feature plantings for the upcoming winter, plus Folkstone Stringband will play, local artisans and crafters will be on site selling their ware, and barnyard activities and carnival games will be available for the little ones. All proceeds benefit Poplar Grove Foundation, Inc. in support of conservation, education and preservation.
6TH ANNUAL CAROLINA BEACH DRAGON BOAT & REGATTA FESTIVAL
THE CAROLINA BEACH YACHT BASIN
SEPTEMBER 14-15 • FREE
The 6th Annual Carolina Beach Dragon Boat & Regatta Festival will be a thrilling change-up in a line of otherwise more mellow events. Hosted at the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin, teams of 21 from around the region will compete on September 14 and 15 to raise funds for Step up for Soldiers. The nonprofit provides disabled veterans who experienced loss of limb and mobility problems with the resources necessary to adjust in a post-war environment. Any age, size, ability, and gender can participate in the activity. Live music from local band Machine Gun will play, and a large assembly of local vendors with artwork, jewelry, and other handmade goodies will be on site.
DOWNTOWN – MARKET & WATER
OCTOBER 5-7 • FREE
Wilmington’s annual Riverfest celebrates diverse community with street food and dance performances, wakeboard competitions and car shows, standup paddleboard races, live music and a street fair. The event, aptly taking place alongside the Cape Fear River, provides endless entertainment for all ages with events lasting from 9:30am to 11 pm.
FIRE IN THE PINES FESTIVAL
HALYBURTON PARK • OCTOBER 13
The Fire in the Pines Festival highlights a natural part of forest ecology: the controlled burn. These intentional wildfire settings allow pine tree seeds to disperse and promote greenhouse gas abatement. The annual event features a live controlled burn conducted in the park, as well as helicopters, live farm animals, and live music for the whole family. Food trucks will be on site as well to curb any fireside cravings.
VORACIOUS & RARE BEER / LIGHTHOUSE BEER AND WINE FESTIVAL
BATTLESHIP PARK, PORT CITY MARINA AND PIER • OCTOBER 26-27
Reserved for true beer and wine aficionados, the Voracious and Rare Beer event beginning at 6pm on Oct. 26 on the Battleship will preface Lighthouse Beer and Wine’s large-scale Beer Festival at Port City Marina and Pier on Oct. 27. On the Battleship, more than 30 breweries will be represented, showcasing their limited release beers. Live music and appetizers will be available too. On the 27, over 100 wineries and breweries will be represented with over 250 tasting options for ILM beer and wine lovers. Taxi services will be provided for attendees free of charge at the end of the festival, and a portion of the proceeds go toward the Carousel Center in their efforts to aid abused and neglected children.
24TH ANNUAL CUCALORUS FESTIVAL
NOVEMBER 8-12 • $50-$300
The Cucalorus Festival’s non-competitive platform has attracted submissions of both local and international cinematographers for years. Focusing on supporting innovative artists and encouraging creative exchange, Cucalorus screens more than 300 films downtown in Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts, Expo 216, Blind Elephant, Dead Crow Comedy Room, Bourgie Nights, CFCC Union Station, Jengo’s Playhouse, Hell’s Kitchen, TheaterNOW, and North Front Theater. Cucalorus has expanded beyond film in recent years to include an entrepreneur and technological two-day fair, Connect, as well as feature stage performances in theatre, and this year, they’re adding music to the lineup. NC’s indie rock band Superchunk kick off the five day festival on Nov. 8 at Brooklyn Arts Center. Tickets and passes for the fest on sale now.
For more fall festivities, be sure to also check out these upcoming events:
• NC Honey Festival – September 8 in Downtown Whiteville
• Community Day – September 9 at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington
• Carolina Soul Festival – September 15 at the Carolina Soul Festival Field
• Barn Dance BBQ – September 15 at Marker 137
• 4th Annual Native Plant Festival – September 15 at the New Hanover County Arboretum
• 16th Annual North Carolina Black Film Festival – September 20-23 at Various Venues
• Port City RibFest – September 21-23 at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk
• Homegrown Harvest Arts and Music Festival – September 22 at Waterline Brewing Co.
• Arts & Drafts: A Celebration of Art, Music, and Beer – September 22 at Fermental
• LakeFest – September 22 at Greenfield Lake
• 3rd Annual American Craft Walk – September 22 in Downtown Wilmington
• Neighborhood Pier Party – September 30 at Oceanic Restaurant
• Farewell Summer Jazz Funeral – October 5 at Ocean Front Park
• Riverfest – October 5-7 in Downtown Wilmington
• 6th Annual Taste of Wrightsville Beach – October 6 at MarineMax
• Oktoberfest Under the Bridge – October 6 at Waterline Brewing Co.
• 10th Annual Rock the Block Health Fair – October 13th at MedNorth Health Center
• Fire in the Pines Festival – October 13 at Halyburton Park
• 3rd Annual Wilmington Oktoberfest – October 13 at Palate Bottle Shop
• Fort Fisher Fall Festival – October 13 at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
• Hampstead’s Heavenly BBQ and Fall Festival – October 13 at the Hampstead United Methodist Church
• 25th Annual Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues, and Jazz Festival – October 13-14 at the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area
• Airlie Oyster Roast – October 19 at Airlie Gardens
• 48th Annual Waccamaw Siouan Pow Wow – October 19-20 at the Waccamaw Siouan Tribal Grounds
• Fall Festival – October 20 at The Children’s Museum of Wilmington
• Historical Society of Topsail Island’s Autumn with Topsail Festival – October 20 and 21 at Topsail Beach
• Trunk or Treat – October 27 at the Lake Forest Baptist Church
• Cape Fear Fair & Expo – October 29-November 4 at the Wilmington International Airport
• Holiday Artisan Fair – November 3 at the Church of the Good Shepherd
• Polish Festival – November 3 at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church
• UNCW Intercultural Festival – November 3 at the UNCW Burney Center
• Cape Fear Kite Festival – November 3-4 at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area
• Wilmington Music Festival – November 9-10 at the Beckwith Recital Hall