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Friday, March 21, 2014

Epic Celebration of Spring in North Carolina

There’s no place like Wilmington, North Carolina and its island beaches during the spring when millions of azaleas are bursting with colorful blooms. 

The lush flowering landscape provides an idyllic backdrop for an epic Southern-style celebration known as the North Carolina Azalea Festival, a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event. The 67th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival will be held April 9-13 in Wilmington, North Carolina.

As the stage is set in early April, Wilmingtonians invite friends, family and visitors to help celebrate the season with Southern hospitality, style and fanfare. An annual tradition since 1948, the North Carolina Azalea Festival pays tribute to the rich history, arts, culture and natural beauty of Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach.

Perennial festival highlights include the Cape Fear Garden Club’s Azalea Belles who dress in hoop skirts to greet visitors and honor an era past. There’s also an elaborate 3-hour parade on Saturday morning, complete with azalea-laden floats, marching bands, clowns, show animals, local pageant winners and celebrity guests, including Queen Azalea. This year’s parade includes a “Best Entry” contest. There are also juried arts and craft shows, a traveling circus, fireworks (Saturday night), and a street fair (Sat./Sun.) with exhibits, vendors, live entertainment and kids’ activities.

Signature associated events include the Cape Fear Garden Club’s Azalea Garden Tour, April 11-13, one of the South’s longest-running and most popular garden tours. The 61st annual Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour theme is “For the Love of Gardening.” This year’s tour showcases 13 private and public gardens that include a mix of established and new lovingly tended landscapes. Garden tour price includes free admission to Airlie Gardens on Saturday and Sunday. For details and tickets: www.capefeargardenclub.org/azalea-garden-tour.

Another time-honored sanctioned event is the Azalea Home Tour, April 12 and 13, showcasing nine private homes and a church of historical and architectural interest. Homes are chosen to represent the wide variety of architectural styles found in Wilmington. For home tour tickets: www.historicwilmington.org.

Live music is a big part of every N.C. Azalea Festival. This year’s headline acts include the quintessential jam band Widespread Panic and country artist Justin Moore’s “Off The Beaten Path” tour with fellow musicians Randy Houser and Josh Thompson.

For a N.C. Azalea Festival schedule and concert tickets, visit www.ncazaleafestival.org or call 910-794-4650, or stop by the Festival ticket office (5725 Oleander Dr., Unit B7, Wilmington).

For more information about top events in North Carolina take a look at the Top Events USA selection of the annual main festivals and events in North Carolina