Airlie Gardens’ Signature Events

Rebecca Pierce explains what makes Airlie’s four annual events so popular.

In a city like Wilmington, there is always something worthwhile to be doing, no matter what time of year it is. That’s especially true at Airlie Gardens, the 67-acre public garden nestled between charming, historic downtown and the bustling beaches of Wrightsville.

With four signature events throughout the year, whether you’re in the area for summer vacation, stopping through during spring break or a resident looking for a new holiday tradition, there’s something happening for you at Airlie Gardens.

Rebecca Pierce, who has been with Airlie Gardens for the past 13 years and currently serves as the guest services manager, says that with all four signature events, there is an emphasis on ensuring there is something for everybody to enjoy.

“These events are family traditions,” Pierce says. “It’s a time for families and friends to come out, see all the gardens have to offer and experience one of these unique events. For the summer concert series, for example, that’s been going on 20 years now and there’s a group of the same friends that come every year and sit in the same spot. Or we’ll have people tell us, ‘I came to Enchanted Airlie as a child and now I’m bringing my own children.’ I just love seeing that.”

SPRING BLOOM
Mid-March through Mid-April; Included in the cost of admission
“We have more than 100,000 azaleas and 80,000 tulips,” Pierce says. “We don’t always know exactly when peak bloom is going to happen, but during it, you can — gosh I don’t even know how to describe it! You can’t. You need to see it for yourself. It’s just beautiful, flowers everywhere. You’ll see them throughout the entire garden.

SUMMER CONCERT SERIES
June 9 through September 2, 2022; Adult: $10, Child: $3
“We want to stay true to offering something everyone can enjoy,” Pierce says. “So, with our concert series, we really have a wide variety of music offered — R&B, rock, beach music, reggae — every other week it’s something different. It’s on the Big Oak Lawn, and you can bring your own picnic, food and beverages … whatever you’d like. I think that’s a big deal for people. We aren’t trying to nickel and dime anyone. It’s an affordable option for a family where everyone can enjoy music, nature and each other all at once.”

ART EXHIBIT: “HOPPY TIMES”
July 8 through December 31, 2022; Included in the cost of admission
“What started as a summer art exhibit has grown to something special that we can offer families in the gardens for six months,” Pierce says. “We have 10 large sculptures — in the past we’ve done gnomes, hearts, squirrels, owls — and this year we’re going to have rabbits. They are produced by 10 different artists, and they are larger than life. They’re scattered throughout the grounds, and we kind of place them so when you’re touring the gardens you can go through and find all the different rabbits.”

ENCHANTED AIRLIE
November 25 through December 22, 2022; Carload ticket: $30
“This is such an important tradition for so many families,” Pierce says. “We’re always adding new lights and decoration to the large trees of Airlie. This year we’re incorporating a giant heron, large flowers and just things you won’t see anywhere else to make it unique. We want to keep with the tradition, but always add a little bit extra to this holiday light experience. There’s holiday music throughout the gardens, and snow which you don’t see a lot of in Wilmington. I definitely recommend getting tickets early for Enchanted Airlie because it’s been selling out faster and faster over the last few years.”

For more information on any of these events, general admission information, and to secure those Enchanted Airlie tickets when the time comes, be sure to visit airliegardens.org.

“What sets events at Airlie apart is I think the atmosphere,” Pierce says. “I love that a family can come and children can run free and not worry about traffic. They can explore the gardens and might see a butterfly that they’ve never seen before. So, it’s not only experiencing an event, you’re seeing different parts of our nature.”

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