The 71st annual North Carolina Azalea Festival Parade kicks off at 9:30 am on Saturday, April 14th at the corner of Market and 3rd Streets. The viewing route will travel straight North on 3rd Street and end at Bladen Street. 2018 will feature three giant balloons, the Festival’s Multicultural March of Nations including a magnificent dragon, and Miss North Carolina Victoria Huggins singing on the Hotel Ballast Major Sponsor float. The Parade will also include other Festival Sponsor floats adorned with local organizations, characters, and the Cape Fear Garden Club Azalea Belles®! The Parade would not be complete without marching bands and the Queen Azalea float. This year the Queen’s float is being custom built by East Coast Autos and Trailers and decorated by Fiore Fine Flowers. All azaleas on the floats are being provided by Festival supporter, Tinga Nursery.
Pre-Parade entertainment consists of a Parade Mile along the Parade route (starting and ending in front of the Reviewing Stand Presented by Silverton Mortgage) at approximately 9:00 am. The Parade itself will kick off at 9:30 am with the National Anthem sung by one of this year's American Idol contestants and local high school student, Joshua Ward, a flyover by the Bandit Flight Team Presented by Wilmington International Airport (ILM), and a ribbon cutting at the corner of Market and 3rd Street.
Viewing areas will be along 3rd Street, from Market Street to Red Cross Street. Viewing along the route is always free, though reserved Festival bleacher tickets are available for purchase at the North Carolina Azalea Festival Ticket Office for $5-8 in advance, $7-10 day of at the Azalea Festival Ticket Tent (Corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets).
**Parking is available in all public parking decks downtown. Access to the decks is on Chestnut Street only, and only until 8:00 am. Once in the parking deck, cars will not be permitted to leave until after the Parade is over. ADA parking is on the corner of Chestnut and 3rd Street, and is accessible via Chestnut Street until 8:00 am.