During the month of September, Wilmington, North Carolina’s vibrant historic river district will host events that pay tribute to its history, arts, and natural beauty. In addition to daily narrated history tours, cruises and perennial September events, this year an arts-centric birthday bash will commemorate 275 years since Wilmington was incorporated in 1739.
On Saturday, September 27, the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, the Arts Council of Wilmington/New Hanover County, and StarNews Media will present Wilmington’s 275th Anniversary Celebration with art and music. From 10am until 2pm, plein air artists will line the Wilmington Riverwalk with 275 works of art available for show and sale. The art will be the result of artists capturing Wilmington’s rich history and natural beauty on canvas in the days preceding the event. Five local bands and musicians will entertain at the U.S. Coast Guard station against a backdrop that showcases the majestic Battleship North Carolina and the scenic Cape Fear River. Scheduled bands include: Stray Local (Americana), Keith Butler Trio (jazz), Nicole Thompson (jazz, pop), El Jaye Johnson (jazz, funk), and The Clams (electric rock). The Historic Wilmington Foundation will lead free guided historical tours. There will also be a giant community birthday card, a virtual time capsule, food vendors and more.
Recurring September events that embrace Downtown Wilmington’s creative culture include: 11th Annual Secret Garden Tour (Sept. 19-20); A Taste of the Town restaurant walk (Sept. 23); Fourth Friday Gallery Night walk (Sept. 26); and Battleship Alive! (Sept. 27). September is also shining a light on the arts with theatrical, musical and dance productions in Wilmington’s historic river district at Thalian Hall, TheatreNOW, and Cape Fear Playhouse.
Visual Arts are on display each Sunday at Riverfront Park during the Historic Downtown Marketplace, featuring work by local artists and crafters. On Friday the 26th, join the monthly Fourth Friday Gallery Night Walk from 6pm until 9pm when downtown art galleries stay open late to entice with great art, live music, refreshments and artist receptions. And be sure to check out Cape Fear Museum’s exhibit “WW II: A Local Artist’s Perspective.”
Nature’s beauty is showcased during the 11th Annual Secret Garden Tour on September 19 and 20 when elegantly manicured gardens are revealed in Wilmington’s historic river district. The hidden gardens complement beautiful homes with Old Wilmington charm and are available for touring Friday and Saturday, 10am until 4pm. Tours begin at the Latimer House Museum (126 S. Third Street) and are held rain or shine. For details: 910-762-0492 or www.hslcf.org. You can also catch daily cruises aboard Cape Fear Riverboats’ Henrietta III riverboat and Wilmington Water Tours’ Fast Cat.
Culinary arts take center stage on September 23rd during “A Taste of the Town,” a downtown restaurant walk that benefits Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts. The event begins at 6pm at Thalian Hall where guests receive maps, then walk or ride a free trolley to participating restaurants for food, fun, and voting for their favorites. For details: www.thalianhall.org/events#. Each Saturday, there’s the Riverfront Farmer’s Market and weekly gourmet food tours led by Taste Carolina. The bi-annual Wilmington Wine & Beer Walk returns on Saturday, September 27 with spirited tastings for wine and beer enthusiasts from 1pm-6pm. For tickets and event details: www.wineandbeerwalk.com.
Performing arts include theatrical productions at Thalian Hall (“Into the Woods” & “Peter Pan”); Hannah Block Historic USO (“The Music Man”); and TheatreNOW (“The Bard’s Broads” & “Rude B*s Make Me Tired”); Cape Fear Playhouse (“Hermit of Fort Fisher”) as well as musical performances at Bellamy Mansion (Liz Pena jazz), Brooklyn Arts Center (Marc Broussard), and Battleship Park (California Roots Session - Reggae). The Forward Motion Dance Company will also present their annual show featuring the N.C. Guitar Quartet at Thalian Hall (Sept. 12-13).