Folks across the country are gearing up for fireworks, waving flags from the deck of their boats, filling their coolers, and putting on their best red, white and blue. America once again is ready to blow out the candles this July 4th, and the Port City is offering a host of activities to usher in one of the year’s biggest celebrations. Here’s a preview of the hottest 4th celebrations in town:
NC 4th of July Festival
July 1-4 • Free
Though the fun began last Saturday with an opening ceremony, the Freedom Run/Walk, the Firefighters Freedom Competition, and a host of other activities, it will continue this Wednesday, July 1, as folks gather up their beach towels and sunglasses and head down to Oak Island for a day of fun in the sun. Kicking off their 4th of July celebrations early, they’ll be hosting a full day of family-friendly fun. There will be a sand-sculpture building contest (1 p.m., corner of SE 46th Street & Beach Drive), volleyball, a skateboarding competition (4 p.m.; Kevin Bell Skate Park, corner of SE 49th Street and Beach Dr.), bocce ball, music by Gary Lowder and Smokin’ Hot, evening entertainment, and even a shag contest, organized by the Society of Brunswick Shaggers. Registration for the shag competition is from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., and the shaggers get their footing at 7 p.m. at Middleton Park Extension, corner of SE 46th Street and Dolphin Drive. As well, there will be a quintessential fireworks show, starting at approximately 9 p.m.
Plus, the sprawling, multi-day festival will welcome the Associated Artists Summer Art Show at Franklin Square Gallery (130 E. West St.). Admission for the exhibit is free, and people can view the art daily through Saturday, July 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A raffle, with proceeds benefitting the Associated Artists of Southport, will be held on July 4th at 5 p.m.
Thursday, July 2, will kick off the official street festival in Southport. Children’s entertainment will begin at 9 a.m. in Keziah Park, at the corner of West Moore and South Lord streets. Coloring, beading, singing, dancing, face-painting, and more will get kiddies in the 4th of July spirit. Arts and crafts vendors will set up shop at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in Franklin Square Park on Thursday, July 2.
Food concessions will take over the waterfront (South Howe to E. Bay street) from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4. Throughout the week, the festival also will have a community organization spotlight booth, which will rotate daily, to showcase area nonprofits. The booth will be set up in Waterfront Park.
Music, too, will take Waterfront Park by hold, with a plethora of bands and performers getting their groove on at the 101 E. Bay Street stage. Inspirations Dance Center will get the party started on Thursday, July 2 at 2 p.m., followed by Jilli & The River Rat Band (rock, country and blues) at 3 p.m., Mad Dog Radio (rock) at 4 p.m., and CC Martin (country) at 7 p.m.
The entertainment will continue on Friday, July 3, with gospel troupe Glory Girls taking the stage at 1 p.m. The Lucky Girls Band (bluegrass) will keep things going at 2 p.m., followed by Street Dance and the Tim Clark Band at 7 p.m. The Brunswick Concert Band also will perform at 3 p.m. on Fort Johnson’s Garrison Lawn (203 E. Bay St.).
Finally, on July 4th the Waterfront stage will house a full day of performers, getting the fun underway at 1 p.m. with Christian rock group Generations Live. Sound Creek (folk, rock, country) will go onstage at 2 p.m.; Parker Lanier and Mandee Schaub (country) will perform at 3 p.m.; Ava Johnson will play at 4 p.m.; and The Catalinas at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The Lions Club Boat Raffle drawing will occur on the Waterfront Stage at 8:55 p.m. Raffle tickets for the boat can be purchased throughout the week at Island Area Chamber of Commerce (4433 Long Beach Rd.).
Honoring the true spirit of July 4th, there will be a Veterans Recognition event on July 2 at 6 p.m. in the Southport Community Building, 203 E. Bay Street. The ceremony will feature a live performance by Letters from Home (a.k.a. America’s Bombshell Duo), a group that started in Winston-Salem, NC, in 2010. The duo’s repertoire combines harmonies, tap dancing, comedy, and an overall patriotic experience. Dinner also will be provided.
The festival will usher in games for the kids on July 3, with registration at 8 a.m.; games will begin at 9 a.m. Kids 5 and under will meet at Fort Johnston’s Garrison Lawn (203 E. Bay St.), and kids ages 6 to 11 will compete in Waterfront Park (101 E. Bay St.). Free T-shirts will be on hand while supplies last.
This being an election season, the 4th of July Festival also will provide an opportunity for eligible voters to register on July 3 from 4:45 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the at the Southport Community Building (203 E. Bay St.).
Floats, music, cars, queens, and more will be on display as part of the 4th of July parade taking place on Saturday, July 4, at 11 a.m. The parade will be followed by a pole-vault competition on the lawn at Yacht Basin Drive and Moore Street. The Shine and Show Classic Cars show also will begin at 11 a.m. on Independence Day.
Aside from the parade and street happenings, folks can enjoy the 21st annual Cape Fear Yacht Club/State Port Pilot Commodore’s Regatta (viewable on Bay Street) at 2 p.m. on July 4. The event is open to any area sailboats. As well, the festival will ring the bell for a live pro-wrestling event at 3 p.m. on Fort Johnston’s Garrison Lawn (203 E. Bay St.) on July 4.
The festival will conclude with a fireworks finale at 9 p.m. Folks can check out a full list of events at www.nc4thofjuly.com. All events are free and open to the public.
Independence Week Fireworks
Extravaganza and Music by the Sea
Thursday, July 2, 6:30 p.m. • Free
Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Cape Fear Blvd.
What’s a 4th of July celebration without music? Luckily, Cape Fear-area residents can enjoy the sounds of Southern Trouble’s modern country stylings. Southern Trouble just celebrated their third year together as a five-piece collective. They cover rock, blues, beach, and country. The concert, which will take place in the gazebo, augmented by a state-of-the-art fireworks show over the Atlantic Ocean, beginning at 9 p.m., on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.
Stars and Stripes
Thursday, July 2, 7:30 p.m.
Kenan Auditorium, 601 S. College Rd.
www.ncsymphony.org • $10-$27
Give America a big ol’ salute this Thursday, July 2, with the NC Symphony’s annual Stars and Stripes concert at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium. Featuring patriotic favorites like Root’s The Battle Cry of Freedom and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, the performance will be led by conductor David Glover and baritone/narrator Scott MacLeod.
4th of July Celebration
Friday, July 3, 6 p.m.
Cape Fear Coast Seafood
8130 Market St., Bayshore, NC
Everyone knows it’s impossible to have a proper 4th of July bash without delicious cookout fare. Folks can head over to Cape Fear Coast Seafood for an upscale all-American backyard BBQ, with food being served by Funky Fresh Food Truck and chef Josh Petty. Menu items will include Kobe beef sliders, gourmet hot dogs, blackened grouper dogs, lobster rolls, open-face soft-shell crab BLT, grilled honey-chipotle shrimp skewers, and more. Diners also can sate their sweet-tooth with red, white and blue snow cones, candied bacon and maple doughnuts, ice cream, banana pudding, and Key Lime pie. Beer and wine will be available for tasting, and live music will be on tap.
Independence Day Celebration
with 2nd Marine Division Band
Mayfaire Event Lawn, 6835 Conservation Way
Friday, July 3, 6 p.m., free
This week Mayfaire’s Music on the Town Concert Series gets a little patriotic with the 2nd Marine Division Band. Complete with horns, percussion and more, the marching band’s big sound will permeate the event lawn, conveniently located behind hhgregg. While perusing myriad shops at the Mayfaire Town Centre, folks can stop in with their blankets, lawn chairs and the like to enjoy a night of Yankee Doodle Dandy tunes.
4th of July Dinner Cruise
Cape Fear Riverboats, 101 South Water St.
Set sail this 4th of July with a dinner cruise presented by Cape Fear Riverboats. The boat departs a 6:30 p.m. from the dock at 101 South Water Street. The onboard meal will comprise a BBQ dinner buffet. Plus, the cruise will offer up a spectacular view of the dockside firework show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $44 to $64 and can be purchased at www.cfrboats.com.
Wilmington 4th of July Celebration
Riverfront Park, Water Street at Princess
Saturday, July 4, 5 p.m. Free
Food, fun, live music and more will take hold of downtown Wilmington this July 4th. The free annual event, presented by the City of Wilmington and Carolina Marine Terminal Entertainment, will culminate in a firworks show at 9:05 p.m.
4th of July Bash with The Fury
The Beach House Bar & Grill
7219 Market St. • Free – $5
Saturday, July 4th, 8 p.m.
Things will be getting hot at Beach House Bar and Grill come Saturday, as local band The Fury will take the stage with their energetic rock ‘n’ roll. The show starts at 8 p.m., and there will be no cover before 9 p.m. Afterward it will cost $5 for non members and $3 for members.
Friends of Battleship: Fireworks
Sautrday, July 4th, 7 p.m.
Members of the Friends of the Battleship North Carolina can enjoy a special event aboard the historical ship this Independence Day. Beginning at 7 p.m., members will get exclusive access to the ship, so they can enjoy the City of Wilmington’s fireworks show from the battleship’s deck. Memberships are $35 and can be purchased online at www.battleshipncfriends.org or by calling (910) 251-5797.
Independence Day Cookout
Wild Wing Cafe, 1331 Military Cutoff Rd.
Saturday, July 4, 11 a.m. • Free
Wild Wing Cafe will come alive with hues of red, white and blue this Saturday. The celebration will feature live music from local rock ‘n’ roll outfit Band on Fire. As well, party-goers can indulge in $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon and $4 Fireball shots. Plus, Wild Wing Cafe’s will be serving up items from their regular menu. The event is free to attend.