Art Infusion Runs Deep in Wilmington North Carolina

Best Art Towns

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Wilmington North Carolina has a long history as an active art community.  Its location, light, natural beauty and weather have drawn artists of all types of studies to the area making it one of the best small art towns in America. Many of the people who live or visit Wilmington buy and view art or are art collectors.

Artists looking for inspirational ideas know that they can find it in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Just take a stroll through this port city and it is evident why that is the case.   From its beaches, to its boardwalk and the sunsets, beauty surrounds this coastal getaway.  Henry David Thoreau said it best, “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” 

Wilmington’s cultural scene is to be envied.

But the allure of Wilmington is just one aspect that makes this one of the best cities in North Carolina to live. Wilmington also offers a wide range of visual and performing arts rivaling those of much larger towns. Live music, film festivals, dance and theater arts, museums, numerous art galleries, book signings, craft shows, and a healthy film industry are a few elements that add to the vibrant arts and culture mix.

One of the biggest nights where art takes center stage in Wilmington is on the fourth Friday of every month.  During Fourth Friday Gallery Nights art lovers and aficionados get a chance to peak inside the areas popular galleries for self-guided tours.  Staying on top of what’s hot and new in the art world is especially important for lifelong learning of the medium.

The participating Wilmington art galleries include:

  • ACES Gallery
  • ACME Art Studios
  • Art Factory Gallery & Studios
  • The ArtWorks
  • Bottega Art Bar
  • Dan Beck Gallery
  • Crescent Moon
  • The Wilma W. Daniels Gallery 
  • MC Erny Gallery at WHQR
  • The Golden Gallery
  • New Elements Gallery
  • Port City Pottery & Fine Crafts
  • River to Sea Gallery
  • Urban Revival

In addition to its art galleries, Wilmington is home to the Louise Wells Cameron Art Museum. The museum, offers several rotating exhibitions annually of historical and contemporary significance. Its permanent collection is composed of work by international, national, and local artists and covers a variety of disciplines. For those interested in lifelong learning, the Museum School at the Cameron Art Museum provides adult and youth art education including a range of beginning and master classes. 

Wilmington, NC also offers charm and sophistication with a modern flare. Add to those distinctions year round events and it is no surprise that Wilmington is among the best cities in North Carolina to live.  Moreover, this vibrant city, which sits along the Cape Fear River, is also well known for its family-friendly fun. Daily tours are available highlighting the city’s rich history. 

Unlike residents who aren’t under time constraints and can leisurely partake in all the activities Wilmington, NC has to offer, visitors may feel compelled to plan accordingly or schedule multiple trips to the area because there is so much to do in this coastal town.  Here’s a glimpse at the end of the year events calendar of fairs and festivals in the area:

2015 Wilmington Riverfest - October 2-4, 2015

This three-day free event is perfect for families and tourists.  More than 250,000 people are expected to converge on Historic Downtown Wilmington.  They’ll watch performances on several stages and the evening will be capped with a fireworks display.

North Carolina Oyster Festival - October 17, 2015

Get ready to dine on dishes made with different varieties of oysters at this festival.  Fried, smoked and raw are just a few of the ways cooks will be serving up this delicacy. There will also be an Oyster Stew Cook- off and Oyster Shucking Contest. 

Holiday Flotilla Festival In The Park - November 27, 2015

The Holiday Flotilla Festival in The Park is the perfect way to ring in the holiday season. Fireworks will kick it all off as a parade of boats make their way down Wrightsville Beach.  Check with the locals on the best places to view the parade. Organizers are already gearing up for next year’s events.

Southport Spring Festival - March 25-26, 2016 

This festival features a wide variety of activities such as musical entertainment, handmade arts and crafts, children’s activities, azaleas and other plants for sale, and food vendors. There will also be a 5k Run/Walk. 

North Carolina Azalea Festival - April 6-10, 2016

There’s no better way to usher in spring than with flowers. That’s what you’ll find at the North Carolina Azalea Festival.  It focuses on Wilmington's art, gardens and culture. Azalea Festival organizers set each year's dates hoping to catch the peak of the azalea blooming season. This year's festival takes place April 6 to April 10. 

Juried Spring Art Show and Sale 2016 - April 6-10, 2016

More than 100 North Carolina artists and national artists present fine paintings at the Annual Juried Spring Art Show and Sale.  The Art Show is a long-standing tradition of the North Carolina Azalea Festival.

Cape Fear Blues Festival - July 29 - 31, 2016

This popular summer music festival gives local, regional and national blues musicians the opportunity to show their stuff to enthusiastic audiences. Events begin with Friday night's not-to-be-missed Cape Fear Blues Cruise on Wilmington's riverboat, the Henrietta III. Other events include a free Blues Musicians' Workshop, an all-day Blues Jam and live Blues performances at various venues across the Port City, both indoors and out. 

Port City Ribfest - August 14-15, 2016

This sauce-soaked barbecue bonanza returns for a fourth year. In addition to food, attendees can take in live music and sample all the barbecue ribs they can handle.  The public judges the contest. Details and live music lineup at www.

Wilmington is one of the best small art towns in America offering something for everyone. If you have never considered visiting you should. It is an exceptional location for retirees, especially those who love and appreciate art.   The city is often recognized in the media as one of the best cities in North Carolina to live. In 2014, Wilmington was voted “America’s Best Riverfront” by USA Today and was ranked #5 on Forbes list of America’s Smartest Cities. 

It’s easy to see why this area continues to win so many accolades and winds up on so many “Best Of” lists.  Every day is an opportunity to experience something new.  From lifelong learning to outdoor fun at the beach, living in coastal North Carolina is truly an art lovers playground.

If you're exploring the south for retirement, ask for our free Wilmington North Carolina relocation information to help you learn more about the area.

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Timeframe for Purchase*
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