NC – April 2017 / Newsmaker Alert / April has arrived in all
its blooming glory just in time for the North
Carolina Azalea Festival, April 5 through 9. One of the state’s oldest
and largest annual events, the N.C. Azalea Festival celebrates 70 years
in 2017 with Southern flair and fanfare in honor of the millions of azaleas
making their perennial debut.
Certified by the Azalea Society
of America as an official “Azalea City”, Wilmington
is a flowering showcase during early spring when azaleas dominate the landscape
in shades of red, pink, and purple. Even during years when the blooms peak
a bit early (or late), the festival welcomes spring with a celebration
of Wilmington’s art, history, culture, and nature. Alison Baringer, the
N.C. Azalea Festival’s executive director, explains in a recent
blog how the festival’s mission encompasses more than a single flower.
Since its inception in 1948,
the N.C. Azalea Festival has blossomed into an extended weekend celebration
of spring that organizers estimate will attract more than 300,000 attendees.
To commemorate its 70th year, five days of fanfare will kick off with pageantry
on Wednesday as Queen Azalea Kira Kazantsev (2015 Miss America) opens the
festival with an official coronation, along with reigning Miss North Carolina
McKenzie Faggart and a court of Carolina festival queens at Greenfield
Lake. Queen Azalea and her court will be joined by Cape Fear Garden Club
Azalea Belles dressed in hoop skirts with matching parasols.
Time-honored events that
take place in conjunction with the festival include the Cape Fear Garden
Garden Tour and the Historic Wilmington Foundation’s Azalea
Home Tour. The Cape Fear Garden Club’s 64th Annual Azalea Garden Tour
is one of the South’s longest-running and most popular garden tours, showcasing
a dozen or so lovingly landscaped private and public gardens. For details
and tickets: www.capefeargardenclub.org/azalea-garden-tour.
Another time-honored event is the Azalea Home Tour, showcasing private
homes and a historic church that represent an array of architectural styles
found in Wilmington. For home tour tickets: www.historicwilmington.org.
Festival weekend events include
a two-hour parade in the heart of downtown Wilmington on Saturday morning
(begins at 9:30 a.m.), complete with flower-laden floats, marching bands,
clowns, local pageant winners and celebrity guests. There’s also a juried
art show (Fri.-Sun.), coin show, fireworks (Sat., 9pm), children’s art
contest, and street fair (Fri./Sat./Sun.) with exhibits, vendors, live
music, entertainment and kids’ activities. This year the festival welcomes
the return of the Riverwalk
Shag Dance Contest (Sat./Sun.) at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside.
New this year is Cirque
Maceo, an exciting gypsy-themed horse show circus on the grounds of
the Wilmington International Airport (Fri./Sat./Sun.). A special Wednesday
night concert at UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium will feature beach music by The
Live music is a highlight
of the N.C. Azalea Festival. This year’s national headline concerts include:
Swindell with Michael Ray and CJ Solar (Thursday); Duran
Duran with guest Roadkill Ghost Choir (Friday); and Jason
Derulo With Opening Act Morris Day and The Time (Saturday). All headline
concerts are held outdoors on the Miller Lite Main Stage at the Cape Fear
Community College Campus in Downtown Wilmington (411 N. Front Street).
Concerts begin at 7:00 p.m.; gates open at 5:00 p.m. Concerts are rain
or shine; standing room only. For tickets: ncazaleafestival.org/tickets.
Other notable celebrities
scheduled to make guest appearances include: Chaplain Major General Dondi
E. Costin (Chief of Chaplains, U.S. Air Force); Emily Loftiss (a.k.a. “Queen
of Everyday Glam”); Jordyn Wieber (Team USA Women’s Gymnastics 2012 Olympic
Gold medalist); Disney celebrity Paris Berelc (Disney XD “Lab Rats:
Elite Force”); and 2017 Festival artist Sean Ruttkay.
Attendees can stay in-the-know
by downloading the N.C. Azalea Festival App for up-to-date event details,
breaking entertainment news, behind-the-scenes buzz and insider tips. For
App details, a festival schedule and concert tickets, call 910-794-4650,
or stop by the festival ticket office at 5725 Oleander Drive in Wilmington.
Spring brings blooms, belles,
festivals and beach weather. Come for the N.C. Azalea Festival and plan
a return visit soon to enjoy the nearby island beaches of Carolina
Kure Beach and Wrightsville
Beach. For a free Official Visitors Guide, call 1-866-266-9690 or email
For visitor information and seasonal highlights, visit www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/things-to-do/seasonal-highlights.
and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau
New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority d/b/a Wilmington and Beaches
Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization
of New Hanover County, North Carolina that stimulates economic development
through the promotion of travel and tourism.