Wilmington’s proximity to Wrightsville, Kure, and Carolina beaches makes the river city a popular destination for all walks of life during the summer, so don’t be surprised to find a mix of history buffs, party seekers, and families milling around the city. Temperatures typically top out in the mid 80s, accompanied by the standard Southern humidity. Downtown Sundown is a Friday night concert series in Riverfront Park that attracts a lively crowd, and most beach communities nearby offer similar events throughout peak season (Carolina Beach, for instance, offers fireworks and live music on Thursdays).
Fall is festival season, and Riverfest is the biggest of them all, attracting 250,000 people every October. Check out the Great Waiter Wine Race, where the city’s best servers navigate an obstacle course while toting a tray of wine. The Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues, and Jazz Festival, in October, along the Cape Fear River in Kure Beach, is more low-key. Encore Restaurant Week, also in October, gives local chefs a chance to showcase their skills, with special menus at participating restaurants. And the Lighthouse International Beer Festival pulls 90 breweries together for a day of sampling.
Come December, popular candlelight tours of Wilmington’s historic district kick into high gear. Winter temps average in the 40s, so bring your mittens.
If you can manage it, spring is an ideal time to visit, with fewer crowds and mild temperatures that hover in the 70s.