It spreads its flower power only a few weeks a year, but in doing so Wilmington, NC, welcomes upward of 300,000 people over five days in honor of the blooms. Since 1948, the NC Azalea Festival has opened the warm season on our coastline, not to mention provided quite a boost to the local economy to the tune of $51 million. Multiple celebrities and princesses, tons of parties and activities, along with home and garden tours to boot, pack the long weekend as downtown streets are closed off to foot traffic and entertainment.
The 66th year of celebration encourages a host of civic and philanthropic happenings, as volunteers help host art shows, educational and family activities, and more. But before undergoing the hoards of people which flock our streets, keep in mind traffic patterns will provide a bit more congestion. Throughout the weekend, all city and county decks will be $10 a day to park (cash only). Naturally, during Saturday’s parade, access to the decks will be unavailable between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
On April 12th through 15th, from 6 a.m. through 8 p.m., downtown streets will be closed, including Water from Walnut to Market; Market from Water to Front; and Front from Red Cross.
The city parking deck entrance on Market Street will remain accessible throughout the street fair, except during the parade on Saturday, April 13th, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Second Street will stay open throughout the street fair, except during the parade hours on Saturday. The Water Street Parking Deck will remain open to monthly patrons until Friday at 6 p.m., and the Cotton Exchange lot will remain open until Friday at 6 p.m.
For ongoing information throughout the festival, booths are located downtown during street-fair hours, or folks can log on to www.ncazaleafestival.org. The official offices are at 5725 Oleander Drive, Suite B-7.
Williston Middle School • 401 S. 10th Street
April 13-14, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
The annual boxing tournament will feature national and international competitors, including those from military branches. Sponsored by the NC Azalea Festival, Friends of Boxing and NC Amateur Boxing Association, the tournament will showcase boxers from all states, ages 8 to 16 and 17 to 34, including master boxers, ages 35 and up. Six divisions are set up from 55 to 220 pounds.
Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour
Various gardens around Wilmington
April 12th – 14th, 10 a.m. – 6p.m.
Featured in Southern Living, the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour is one of the longest running and most popular tours in the South. Profits are distributed throughout the community as horticulture grants, as well as scholarships and conservative efforts. Over $83,000 was raised from the 2011 tour.
The official ribbon cutting will take place Friday at the home of Lance and Meredith Lewis, located at 708 Forest Hills Drive. Folks are asked to park and use the free roundtrip bus service starting 8:30 a.m. at Stein Mart in Hanover Center. Buses will run until noon. For a list of all the gardens, visit www.ncazaleafestival.org
Cole Bros. Circus
Wilmington International Airport
Thurs., Sat., and Sun., April 11th – 14th
Enjoy chills, thrills and laughter at The World’s Largest Circus under the Big Top this year at Cole Bros. Circus. In 2013 the performances feature a trio of elephants, fearless flyers, camels, clowns, motorcycle maniacs, acrobats and much more. Brand new also is a white-tiger act and a high-wire troupe.
The circus takes place at the Wilmington International Airport, with shows on Thursday, April 11th and Friday, April 12th at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, April 13th and Sunday, April 14th at 1:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and an additional showing on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28 for VIP; $25 for reserved adult or $20 for reserved seniors and children. Tickets must be purchased at the circus during performance times.
American Legion • 702 Pine Grove Drive
April 13th, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
April 14th, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
An event that’s fun for the whole family, the Coin Show gives kids free foreign coins to learn about currency from other countries. Over 30 dealers from surrounding states will be on site to buy, sell, and trade coins and currency. A $1 donation at the door earns you a raffle to win coin prizes. The event takes place on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday until 3 p.m.
Historic Home Tour
April 13th and 14th, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Tickets: $25, Children under 10 free
An annual event held by the Historic Wilmington Foundation, the Historic Home Tour shows off the architectural past of our community alongside its incredible history. It also serves to help protect and preserve the irreplaceable buildings across Wilmington by using proceeds to save properties from demolition. Since 1966, the foundation has successfully saved more than 200 historic properties.
Tickets to the event are only $25. To see all 10 homes being toured, go to www.ncazaleafestival.org
WAA Juried Art Show and Sale
Children’s Art Contest and Show
Hannah Block Center, 120. S. 2nd St.
April 12th – 14th
Friday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Fine paintings from over 100 North Carolina and national artists are presented at the Annual Juried Spring Art Show and Sale, held annually by the Wilmington Art Association (WAA). The show will be hung at the home location of WAA, Hannah Block USO on 2nd Street in the Community Arts Center, and folks can drop by to see over 150 pieces of 2D and photographic artwork throughout the weekend. Proceeds from sales of the works benefit scholarship funds for one CFCC and UNCW student.
Also hanging at the arts center throughout the weekend will be 16 chosen works from the annual Children’s Art Contest. Margaret Dill and Maddie Porter, both students at Cape Fear Academy in Wilmington, took the top honors in the elementary and middle school divisions. Dill won for her depiction of the Cape Fear Garden Club’s Azalea Belles, while Porter showcased a montage of her favorite Azalea Fest pasttimes. Over 286 entries from six public and private elementary and middle schools were considered. Each winner presented her work to Gov. Pat McCrory at the annual Azalea Fest Governor’s Press Conference.
NC Azalea Fest Parade
3rd St, Downtown
April 13th, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Led by Parade Marshal Gov. Pat McCrory, the annual NC Azalea Festival Parade is viewed by over 100,000 people. It showcases floats, marching bands, community organizations, horses, clowns and more. Celebrities, the Azalea Queen and her court, as well as the Azalea Princess, trek along downtown routes, waving to fans. It’s free to attend, but general-admission bleacher seating is $5 and $8.
Traffic and parking will be congested on Saturday, so keep in mind the decks with entry on 2nd Street will be open until 7:30 a.m. only on Saturday. Access to 2nd Street for these decks will be via Chestnut Street from 5th Avenue. Traffic from MLK will be directed off of 3rd Street via Davis Street, to 4th, and then to Chestnut Street. The WAVE Transit is providing shuttle services on Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. with pickup at Independence Mall, in the parking lot behind Firehouse Subs. They drop off at Dock and Front streets, and run every 15 minutes with a $2 each way ($1 for military and disabled patrons and free for students with ID); children under 5 years ride free with a paying adult.
Queen’s Coronation/Celebrity Visits
Riverfront Park, Downtown
April 10th, 3p.m.
Free, Standing Event
The 2013 Queen, Jennifer Wayne (granddaughter of John Wayne), will be inducted and crowned on Wednesday, April 10th at 3 p.m. at Riverfront Park, downtown. Arriving on the Henrietta III with her court, Wayne is best known as one of three from the singing group Stealing Angels. She also is a nationally ranked tennis player and currently is a part of “The Amazing Race.”
Open to the public for free, folks will be introduced not only to the Queen Wayne but numerous celebrity guests attending the festival, such as “Bachelorette” Emily Maynard, young actress Peyton List, NC State basketball champion Chris Corchiani, Miss North Carolina 2012 Arlie Honeycutt, actress Alexa Alemanni (“Mad Men”), journalist and on-air host Win McMurry, Colonel Joe Kittinger, surfer Benjamin Bourgeois, as well as Azalea Fest board members and Azalea Belles!
NC Azalea Fest Street Fair
April 12th – 14th
Friday: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. (fireworks, 9 p.m.)
Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Free • Downtown Wilmington
The NC Azalea Fest Street Fair is a family-friendly event, hosting over 200 arts and craft vendors, 40 food vendors, four stages of live entertainment and a children’s area. Face-painting, jewelry, T-shirts, photography … it’s all covered.
New booths this year will offer wine, hot sauces, candles and local honey. Food vendors will be filling the air with classic carnival smells, like cotton candy, funnel cakes and, yes, even giant turkey legs. Fireworks will be shot off at 9 p.m. on Saturday night; come early to secure parking!
For the first time the Street Fair will host the Street Fair Café where guests will have a place to sit and eat while enjoying a variety of entertainment (see page 14). The café will be located at the corner of Princess and Water streets.
There will be an RV and Car Show on Front Street. In Bailey Park on Saturday and Sunday, the Greater Wilmington Tennis Association will provide classes and technique demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday.
The Street Fair will have information booths in four locations with daily sheets of all performance schedules available. Also, please, don’t miss out on the downtown merchants, all of whom are open for business during Azalea Fest. Whether stopping in at a local watering hole for an adult beverage, a restaurant for a quick bite or a retail spot to score a unique and personalized item representative of arts and culture in Wilmington, be sure to scoop up downtown merchant coupons at the information booths.
Children’s Area Street Fair
April 13th – 14th, noon – 6 p.m.
Cotton Exchange Parking Lot
On the 13th and 14th, from noon to 6 p.m., a children’s area at the Cotton Exchange will feature fun and entertainment for the young ones. There will be bouncy inflatables, and even a stage with children’s dance troupes and other performances. Home Depot will feature plants for kids and the NC Science Fair will be provide demonstrations at their booth. On Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Peyton List will be signing autographs in the Cotton Exchange alcove next to the Children’s Area.
Performances throughout Saturday include: Dance Arts Conservatory, Performance Club, Techniques in Motion, Dynamic Footwork, DanZQuest, Carolina Gymnastics Academy, South East Dance Academy, Inspiration Dance Center Cloggers and NC Science Fair Live Demonstrations.
Sunday’s performances include: NC Science Fair Live Demonstrations with Cape Fear Children’s Museum, South East Dance Academy, A Leap Above, American Step Dance, Encore Dance Center, Dance Express and Dance Express Cloggers, as well as as students from Holly Shelter Middle School.
April 13th – 14th, noon – 6 p.m.
Corner of Walnut/Front Street
A multicultural stage will showcase ethnic performers dressed in authentic traditional costumes, doing everything from Irish to belly dancing and even exploring the moves in Mexican folklore. The shows take place between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. A “Children’s Multicultural March” takes place at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Stage performances by the cast from the award-winning musical “The Color Purple” will happen on Saturday, and local theatre troupe Techmoja will do a number from their musical “Dreamgirls” both days.
See the full performance schedule at www.azaleafestival.org.
Docking on Water Street
April 12th through 14th
Every year the NC Azalea Festival invites different visiting ships to join in celebration. Docked along the Cape Fear River, folks will be able to tour the ships and meet its crew, while seeing what life aboard the vessels is like.
See pages 14-15.
See page 11.
105 Market Street
April 11th-15th, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Though not an official Azalea Fest event, at 105 Market Street, in the heart of the festival, a Pop-Up Shop will be set up showcasing TAY HAM greeting cards, along with other art work. Endorsed by up-and-coming rap sensation Kitty, as well as sold at Edge of Urge, the cards won’t be the only attraction. Music videos will be streaming, and they’ll be giving away free posters of Wrightsville Beach by Logan Mock-Bunting with every purchase. Oh, and did we mention they’ll also be serving up ham biscuits and lemonade? Yeah, get there!