The highlight of springtime in Wilmington has to be the North Carolina Azalea Festival, otherwise known as Azalea Fest. This community celebration runs from April 9-13 2014 and is sure to take over Historic Downtown and include an array of fun events for all ages.

The festival kicks off at Riverfront Park on April 9 with the Queen’s Coronation, where the Queen will officially be crowned in front of an adoring crowd of onlookers and celebrity guests. Don’t worry—you don’t need to be a debutante to enjoy Azalea Fest. You will, however, need your appetite. The Azalea Fest Street Fair spans Water, Front, and Market Street, and serves as the main walkway for food and entertainment. Over 40 food vendors are expected to participate, and will offer everything from lemonade, funnel cakes, and fried chicken to gyros, crab cakes, and even deep-fried Oreos.

Another main event of the week is the North Carolina Azalea Festival Parade, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 12. The parade attracts hundreds of people, so be sure to come early to get a good view of the floats, horses, band, and Queen Azalea herself. Azalea Fest is also bringing their A-game in the live music department this year. The headlining rock band is Widespread Panic, who will play the outdoor Miller Lite Main Stage (411 N. Front Street) at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12. The festival will also feature Country music stars Justin Moore, Randy Houser, and Josh Thompson, who will play the stage on Thursday, April 10 at 8 p.m.

There are plenty of offsite events during Azalea Fest. One of our favorites is the Historic Home Tour, which allows patrons to tour many of the beautiful, historic homes in downtown Wilmington. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13. We are also very excited that the Cole Brothers Circus is back in town from April 10-13, featuring amazing acrobats, motorcycle maniacs, White Tigers, a high wire troupe, The Human Cannonball, and more! Note that tickets for many Azalea Fest events should be purchased in advance.

There are so many other events that make up Azalea Fest—the best way to find out what they’re all about is to come see for yourself.