This coastal city sure looks pretty in pink. Spring's azaleas gush all over Wilmington come April, spilling onto wrought iron fences and porch rails with gentle waves of soft, soothing colors. Flowering cherries, tulips, wisteria, dogwoods, and other botanical wonders join in the beautiful displays that dazzle visitors.
Henry Rehder considers his porch to be one of the best places to see the North Carolina Azalea Festival, scheduled for April 1 through 4 this year.
We think so too. This 92-year-old gardener righteously asserts his opinion. "My garden was part of the first festival back in 1948," he says. "The official portrait of every Queen Azalea has been in my garden, and I've kissed every one of them."
Romantic thoughts do come to mind when roaming around his garden on Oleander Drive, as well as those surrounding other homes downtown. No wonder the months of April, May, and June form a trifecta of trysts: The number of wedding licenses issued peaks during this flower-filled season.
Wilmington gives visitors coming to admire the azaleas lots more to do when they're in town. There's a proud parade through downtown on Saturday morning. Get there early: We'd suggest finding a parking space around 7 a.m. for the parade, which starts at 9 a.m.
Then there's the street fair, spread out on Water Street alongside the Cape Fear River. With arts and crafts vendors, food, music, and a play area for children, it's the place to be after the parade. Concerts, art shows, homes tours, a designers' showcase home, and the coronation ceremony for the Queen Azalea fill out the four days.