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66th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival Celebrates Spring

March 19, 2013 - Wilmington, NC - A springtime tradition since 1948, the 66th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival (April 10-14, 2013) celebrates the rich history, arts, and culture of Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. Each year in April when the landscape is dominated by thousands of brilliant pink, white, and purple azaleas, Wilmington pays homage to these dazzling flowers during the annual North Carolina Azalea Festival, a five-day celebration that ushers in spring with Southern hospitality and fanfare.

Highlights of the N.C. Azalea Festival include the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Belles dressed in period hoop skirts and an elaborate Southern-style parade on Saturday morning, complete with azalea-adorned floats, marching bands, clowns, show animals, local pageant winners and visiting celebrity guests, including Queen Azalea (TBA). There’s also a juried arts and craft shows, a traveling circus, concerts, fireworks, and a street fair with exhibits, vendors, live entertainment, and kids’ activities.

Azalea Festival signature events include the Cape Fear Garden Club’s Azalea Garden Tour (April 12-14), one of the South’s longest-running and most popular garden tours. The 60th annual Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Garden Tour theme is “Our Diamond Jubilee: Celebrating 60 Years of Beautiful Gardens.” This year’s tour showcases 13 public and private gardens that include a mix of established and new landscapes. Garden tour price includes free admission to Airlie Gardens on Saturday. For details and tickets: www.capefeargardenclub.org/azalea-garden-tour. The 2013 Azalea Home Tour (April 13-14), organized by the Historic Wilmington Foundation, showcases nine private homes and a church of historical and architectural interest. For home tour tickets: www.historicwilmington.org

Music plays a major role in every N.C. Azalea Festival. This year’s headline acts include Rock and Roll Hall of Fame classic Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd and North Carolina’s own indie folk-pop darlings The Avett Brothers. This year a third concert will feature country music artists Colt Ford and The LACS. And on Sunday from 1:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., a free beach music concert will take place on the main stage, featuring local favorites The Mark Roberts Band, The Craig Wollard Band, and Jim Quick and the Coastline Band.

Scott and Seth Avett have come a long way from their neo-punk band days in Concord, North Carolina. Their careers took an acoustic turn when they teamed up with standup bass player Bob Crawford and formed The Avett Brothers. They debuted in 2001 with a self-titled six-song EP, followed by several albums, including 2009’s “I and Love and You.” Their latest release, “The Carpenter,” is described as “poetry from the soul.” The Avett Brothers’ musical evolution from a hard-working indie band to their performance with Bob Dylan at the 2010 Grammy Awards bears witness to a huge fan base. Back by popular demand, The Avett Brothers will perform during the N.C. Azalea Festival on Friday, April 12th at 7:00 p.m.

With a catalog of over 60 albums, sales beyond 30 million worldwide, and their beloved classic American rock anthems “Freebird” and “Sweet Home Alabama,” the legendary band Lynyrd Skynyrd continues to bring fiery Southern-style rock and roll to their audiences. During a memorable performance on Thursday, April 11th at 7:00 p.m., Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform their classic hits, as well as music from more recent albums, including “Last of a Dyin’ Breed” (2012).

This year a Saturday night concert has been added to the musical lineup. The hick-hop and Southern rock sound of The LACS will kick off Saturday night festivities when they open for Colt Ford, the walking, talking celebration of country music and country living. Colt Ford will bring his “rural rap” and country music chops to festival audiences on Saturday, April 13th when The LACS open at 7:00 p.m.

All three concerts will take place outdoors on the main stage at Cape Fear Community College Campus in Downtown Wilmington (411 N. Front Street). Concerts are rain or shine; standing room only. Tickets for all concerts are available online at www.ncazaleafestival.org  and at the N.C. Azalea Festival Office (5724 Oleander Drive, Ste. B7; Mon.-Fri., 9am-5pm). Chairs, backpacks, umbrellas, coolers are not permitted inside the venue. Chairs, food and beverage will be available for cash purchase.

Attending festivals and events, such as the North Carolina Azalea Festival, is a fun and affordable way to experience a region’s history and culture. 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).



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