A Blooming Fest

Looking ahead at the Azalea Festival
Azalea Festivalmain

Photos courtesy of Azalea Festival

While the annual Azalea Festival is steeped in tradition, the festivities continue to evolve each year adding new events that bring out the best of the region and spring.

This year, the festival has partnered with another Wilmington staple, Cucalorus Film Festival. The duo will be hosting a special Azalea Festival Friday Night Films featuring David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. In April, there will be a screening of the locally shot film joined by guest JEFF GOODWIN, a makeup effects artist and the man behind the iconic dismembered ear shown in the film.

Of this new partnership, ALISON BARINGER, North Carolina Azalea Festival executive director, says in a press release that it helps further the organization’s mission to stimulate the region’s economy and promote volunteerism.

“There is little dispute as to the economic impact the movie industry has had on Wilmington, and Blue Velvet is often said to be the film that was the catalyst for Wilmington becoming ‘Hollywood East,’” she says. “Cucalorus honors and reinforces the film industry’s ties to Wilmington, and for this, we are honored to partner together to celebrate the influence films have had in our community.”

Goodwin’s career was launched by his work on Blue Velvet, the press release states. Among films and TV he has worked on include Sleeping with the Enemy, JFK, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Scream 5. At the Azalea screening, he will participate in a Q&A following the film.

The event is on April 14 starting at 7:30 p.m. at Jengo’s Playhouse and will also include a “velvety” party with signature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

This year the festival has also introduced the Azalea Spring Fashion show featuring local clothing stores Monkee’s, the Gentlemen’s Corner, Meadowlark, Cabi, and more. The sold-out event will include a runway with models showing off spring styles, vendors, a brunch buffet, and drinks.

The festival is also connecting with the diversity in the community by introducing International Blooms.

“Wilmington is a diverse city with people from all different cultures, and we want to highlight that each year at the North Carolina Azalea Festival,” a social media post states. Each year, the festival will feature a different country.

This year, the festival will include different aspects of Mexican culture in all its festival events from musical and dance performances to food and art.

Here is a roundup of other Azalea Festival happenings taking place from April 12 to 16.


-Queen’s Coronation – 2 p.m. The official kick-off of the festival celebrating this year’s queen CARLI BATSON.


Celebrity Reception – Cape Fear County Club – 11:30 a.m. A private luncheon for partners and sponsors to meet Queen Azalea and other invited guests.

Carly Pearce Concert – Live Oak Bank Pavilion – 7 p.m. Concert featuring country artist Carly Pearce, also featuring Conner Smith and Jonathan Hutcherson. Ticket prices range from $40 to $80.


DGX Street Fair – Downtown Wilmington – 7 p.m. A fair featuring over 250 vendors and food along the streets of historic downtown. The fair is Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with family-friendly performances and a children’s area on Saturday and Sunday.

Queen’s Dance Party – City Council Chambers/Ballroom – 6:30 p.m. Limited tickets are still available for the night of dancing with Azalea Festival guests. The night includes heavy hors d’oeuvres and Queen Azalea, Miss North Carolina, the Azalea Festival Queen’s Court, and the Azalea Festival Princess and her Court in attendance.

Old Crow Medicine Show –  Live Oak Bank Pavilion – 7 p.m.


Boxing Tournament – Wilmington Convention Center – 2 p.m. A USA Boxing Sanctioned Tournament on Saturday and Sunday featuring boxers from throughout the U.S.

Historic Wilmington Foundation Azalea Festival Home Tour – Historic Downtown Wilmington – 1 p.m. “From the quaint to the grand, step inside bungalows, Queen Anne homes, and more—and in doing so, enter and explore our community’s past.”

Fireworks – Downtown Wilmington, Cape Fear River – 9 p.m.


Putt-Putt Party – Jungle Rapids – 10 a.m. NFL Pittsburgh Steeler and Wilmington celebrity, Alex Highsmith will be part of a putt-putt event. At one of the holes, Highsmith will be available to take photographs, sign autographs, and putt.

Click here for a full list of Azalea events.

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Categories: Features