Wilmington’s Outdoor Summer Concerts
Most people will agree that enjoying live music at an outdoor concert is one of the best ways to spend a warm summer evening. Luckily, summertime brings a variety of free concert series to Wilmington, NC. So pack a cooler, grab your beach chairs and head outdoors to listen to some great local music. Here are a few suggestions of places to find outdoor concerts in Wilmington this summer…
Downtown Sundown Concert Series
- Where: Held at Riverfront Park in Downtown Wilmington. Located at 5 N. Water St.
- When: May 24th-August 30th, every Friday evening; Music starts at 6pm
- Info: This popular Friday night live music entertainment takes place on the riverfront in downtown Wilmington. They usually feature cover bands of various musical genres (Journey, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, etc.). Coolers are not allowed but there is beer and wine available for purchase onsite. This is a picturesque concert venue, as listeners can watch the sun set over the Cape Fear River while nestled in the center of the ‘downtown’ scene. Admission is free.
WECT’s Sounds of Summer
- Where: At the Wrightsville Beach Town Park and Recreation area; 321 Causeway Drive Wrightsville Beach, NC
- When: June 13th-August 8th; Thursday Evening from 6:30-8pm
- Info: The WECT Sounds of Summer Concert Series features live music at the Wrightsville Beach Park. Pack a picnic, bring your beach blankets and chairs, and enjoy an evening of local music with family and friends. Admission is free.
Mayfaire’s Music on the Town
- Where: Bands set up on the Mayfaire Event Field located directly behind Ulta and World Market in the Mayfaire Shopping Center; 6835 Main St.
- When: May-July; Every Friday evening from 6pm until dark
- Info: The series delivers a tremendous line-up of bands appealing to all ages and musical tastes from Classic Rock, Beach, Blues, 80s, funk and everything in between. The kids can enjoy several moon bounce castles, cotton candy and snow cones for a small fee. Additional activities and goodies weekly for all. Bring a blanket or chairs and pack your picnic basket or cooler with whatever you please. You could also grab some food from one of Mayfaire’s restaurants afterwards or catch a movie at the nearby Mayfaire Cinemas. Admission is free.
Airlie Garden’s Summer Concert Series
- Where: On the Oak Lawn in Airlie Gardens; 300 Airlie Road
- When: May-September; the first and third Friday of every month from 6-8pm
- Info: Relax under the oak trees in Wilmington’s historical treasure and well-known formal Garden while the area’s premier musicians perform. The Airlie Gardens Summer Concert Series offers wonderful music, including beach music, dance bands and jazz. It also doesn’t hurt that the setting (Airlie Gardens) is arguable one of the most beautiful places in Wilmington. Picnics, chairs, coolers and blankets welcome. Admission ranges from $2-$8.
A stroll along the Riverwalk, located in the historic district of downtown, is a great way to experience Wilmington’s charm. This 1.8 mile boardwalk lines the Cape Fear River and, when complete, will run directly in front of the new Port City Marina.
The views along the Riverwalk are ever-changing. Take in sites of the bustling city or watch as boat traffic moves up and down the river. Keep your eyes open for wildlife as locals have been known to spot gators and dolphins in the water regularly.
If you happen to be around in late afternoon, take a seat at one of the many benches or picnic tables looking out onto the river and prepare to experience a sunset like no other. The scenery as the sun goes down over the Cape Fear River and the U.S.S. North Carolina Battleship is impressive.
Shops and Dining
Several restaurants and shops border the Riverwalk.
- Casual Elijah’s has a popular oyster bar and a primarily seafood based menu. A little more upscale, The George has everything from soups and salads to shrimp & grits. It also boasts a pretty impressive martini menu. The George is also the only restaurant in downtown to feature “dock and dine.” Boaters can pull up and dock free of charge while dining. Both establishments have outdoor patio seating overlooking the Riverwalk and Cape Fear River as well. For a quick snack, Bella’s Sweets and Spirits is a causal coffeehouse and bakery that offers delicious bagels (made fresh every day), pastries, paninis, and numerous coffee beverages.
- Chandler’s Wharf is a gorgeous warehouse building overlooking the Cape Fear River. Unique, locally owned shops, businesses, and galleries are nestled inside. Artichoke is a women’s designer clothing store offering choices from places such as France and Germany. River to Sea is an art gallery showcasing the work of Wilmington’s talented artists. In the gallery you will find photography, pottery, original paintings, jewelry, and more.
Events and Concerts
Special events and festivals occur along the Riverwalk during summertime.
- The Downtown Sundown concert series is particularly enjoyable. This popular Friday night live music entertainment is free admission and there is beer and wine available for purchase.
- The Riverfront Farmer’s Market takes place on Saturdays from 8am-1pm, in April through December. This riverside market is extremely popular with Wilmington residents and features local farmers, producers, artists and crafters. The market’s website states that products include “fresh fruits and berries, vegetables, plants, herbs, flowers, eggs, cheeses, pickled items, legumes, meats, seafood, honey, baked goods, jams and jellies, wine, art, crafts and more.”
The Riverwalk is the perfect place to get outside and experience historical Wilmington’s ambiance. It can be found along Water St. and it is wheelchair accessible.