The North Carolina Azalea Festival is the premier event in Wilmington that takes place every April. A traditional celebration that lasts for five days is showcasing Southern charm, hospitality, and beauty. Major springtime pageantry is North Carolina's largest and most colourful event that attracts about 200,000 attendees. The festival features over 50 events: concerts, art exhibitions, a parade, a street fair, a circus and lots of entertainment.
The festival parade is the main highlight of the celebration and attracts about 100,000 spectators. Queen Azalea opens the event surrounded by her court, comprised of the most beautiful ladies. The parade passes the annual garden party with azaleas blooming everywhere.
The North Carolina Azalea Festival was held for the first time in 1948 to attracts visitors to Wilmington and showcase beautiful Airlie Gardens, Orton Gardens, and Greenfield Gardens. It has evolved into a large festival with big-name celebrities and entertainment. Ronald Raegan, Duran Duran, and Michael Jordan have been guests of the festival at different times.
Airlie Gardens are perhaps the most famous in the area that dates back to 1735 when King George II granted the land here. Opened in 1901, it occupies 67 acres or 270,000 sq. m of land. The gardens located near the ocean feature the butterfly garden, a mystery grave, and the Minnie Evans Sculpture Garden.