Looking for a patriotic destination for your July 4th getaway that won't break the bank? Consider Wilmington and North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast where you'll find free and low-cost events. There's also a variety of accommodations and attractions in all price ranges, including last-minute hotel discounts updated weekly at www.sunnysavers.com. Independence Day celebrations begin on Saturday July 3rd with Pleasure Island's Fireworks display. On Sunday, July 4th, Wilmington stages the July 4th Riverfront Celebration & Battleship Blast. Beginning at 5pm, visitors will enjoy live patriotic music along the Wilmington Riverwalk, followed by a choreographed fireworks display over the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. Other weekend events include dinner-fireworks cruises, outdoor concerts, a riverfront farmer's market, a rugby tournament, a jazz concert at Bellamy Mansion Museum, a blue marlin tournament, a family movie at Carolina Beach Lake, and much more. Here's a sampling of holiday weekend happenings.
JULY 3rd: PLEASURE ISLAND FIREWORKS DISPLAY.
At dusk, fireworks light the sky over the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Make a weekend of your visit to Pleasure Island (home of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher). Arrive by Thursday for live music and fireworks at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. See the rare Venus Flytrap at Carolina Beach State Park; venture out on a kayak tour; meet a rare albino alligator and observe marine life at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher; explore Civil War history at Fort Fisher State Historic Site; or enjoy carnival-style rides, games, and a water slide at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. You can also enjoy a free family movie on Sunday evening at the Carolina Beach Lake Amphitheater. For details: 910-458-8434; http://www.pleasureislandnc.org/ or http://www.carolinabeachgetaway.com/
JULY 4th RIVERFRONT CELEBRATION & BATTLESHIP BLAST
The riverfront celebration features food and patriotic music by the 440th North Carolina Army National Guard Band (5pm-9pm). At 9:05pm, the 14th Annual BATTLESHIP BLAST, among the largest fireworks display in the Carolinas, will illuminate the night sky over the Battleship and the Cape Fear River. Tour the Battleship earlier in the day because Eagles Island closes to the public at 6:00pm. View the fireworks from Downtown. For details about July 4 Downtown parking, call 910-341-4602 or visit www.wilmingtonnc.gov/Default.aspx?tabid=203 . For details about Battleship Blast fireworks, call 910-251-5797; http://www.battleshipnc.com/.
JULY 4th: THE HENRIETTA III RIVERBOAT offers a 4th of July cruise on Sunday July 4th from 6:30pm-9:30pm. Enjoy a buffet dinner and a great view of the Battleship Blast fireworks over the Cape Fear River. Admission charge. Pre-paid reservations required. Boarding begins at 6:00pm; departs at 6:30pm from the riverfront dock located at Water and Dock streets. 800-676-0162 or 910-343-1611; http://www.cfrboats.com/.
JULY 5th: WINNER PARTY BOAT CRUISE departs Monday evening July 5th at 6:30pm from Carolina Beach Marina with a Southern buffet and a sail across the Cape Fear River for a grand view of Southport's fireworks display. Admission charge. Pre-paid reservations required. 910-458-5356; http://www.winnerboats.com/.
Festivals and events provide a fun and affordable way to discover a region's history and culture. For a FREE Visitors Guide for Wilmington & North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast, please call 1-866-266-9690 or download a copy at the website www.gocapefearcoast.com. For a complete Calendar of Events with hundreds of listings, visit http://www.gocapefearcoast.com/ and click on the Event Calendar button at the top of the home page. For package deals, click on the Specials & Packages button. For last-minute hotel discounts, visit http://www.sunnysavers.com/.
Photo of Boardwalk fireworks from the CB Amusment Park facebook page (submitted by Paul Boroznoff)