Your guide to 2023's can't-miss outdoor concerts in the Wilmington area

With the weather starting to warm up, that means outdoor concert season in the Wilmington area and Southeastern North Carolina is heating up as well.

Starting in early May and going through Labor Day weekend in early September, and even later in some cases, fans of seeing live music outside can find a show most any evening of the week except Monday (which is a day of rest for most area bands).

Use this handy guide of nearly two dozen concert series, from Calabash to Burgaw and all the beaches in between, to find the shows near you and yours, or to follow the bands you like. Plus, we'll continue to update this list as new concerts are announced.


Airlie Gardens Concert Series

Airlie Gardens Summer Concert Series in 2017.

Mega-popular concert series held under the famous Airlie Oak always sells out, so make your plans accordingly. Concerts run from 6-8 p.m. Fridays, and non-member tickets go on sale the Monday before each concert. Tickets for Airlie members go on sale earlier. Parking is off-site at the New Hanover County Public Library's Northeast Branch, which is where you catch the free shuttle. Concessions not available, but chairs, blankets and picnics are allowed. Tickets are $10, $3 for ages 4-12, free for ages 3 and under. 910-798-7700.

  • June 2: TripleWide, featuring Brett Johnson (funk, blues, rock, soul)

  • June 16: ReSoul (R&B covers)

  • July 7: Motel Soap ('70s & '80s pop, rock)

  • July 21: Jim Quick & Coastline (soul, blues, R&B, beach)

  • Aug. 11: Bibis Ellison (rock, pop)

  • Aug. 18: Brown Dirt Cowboys (rock and pop covers, originals)

  • Sept. 1: Signal Fire (reggae)

Cameron Art Museum Sunset Performance Series

Free performance series presented by TD Bank is designed to connect art with social justice. Performances are 7 p.m. Thursdays in PNC USCT Park. Beer, wine and a selection of light bites will be available at CAM Cafe.

  • May 25: Kevin Locklear Melvin and the Lumbee Tribe

  • Upcoming concerts TBA

Carolina Beach Boardwalk Blast

If the music on a bustling Boardwalk stage isn't quite enough for you, this Pleasure Island concert series also features fireworks. Concerts run 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, except Fridays where indicated. Fireworks on the beach strand start at 9 p.m. Free.

  • Friday, May 26: Jack Jack 180 (dance and party tunes)

  • June 1: Polar Bear Blues Band

  • June 8: Uptown Easy (dance and party tunes)

  • June 15: Down South Thunder (country rock)

  • June 22: Feebs (blues, rock, funk)

  • Friday, June 30: Carl Newton Review (R&B, soul)

  • July 6: The British Invaders (tribute to '60s British rock bands)

  • July 13: Pleasure Island & Cancel (rock originals)

  • July 20: Jim Quick & Coastline (soul, blues, R&B, beach)

  • July 27: Bibis Ellison (rock, pop)

  • Aug. 3: Justin Cody Fox Band (blues, rock, country)

  • Aug. 10: Kenny Reeves & Trainwreck (Southern rock)

  • Aug. 17: Blackwater Rhythm & Blues Band (beach)

  • Aug. 24: Will McBride Group (rock, funk, blues, jazz)

  • Friday, Sept. 1: The Main Event (beach, classic rock)

Carolina Beach Music Festival

People listen to music on the beach and in the water at the Carolina Beach Music Festival at Carolina Beach on Saturday, June 2, 2018.

Some say the beach music genre was born in Carolina Beach, and this annual festival (2023 is the 37th) brings it all back home. Festival runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 3, and tickets are $35. Bands this year are Jim Quick & Coastline, Band of Oz and the Cat 5 Band.

Fort Fisher Concert Series

This late summer, early fall music series hasn't announced its acts yet, but we'll be sure to update this story when they do. Held in the lovely environs of the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation in Kure Beach, with its scenic vistas of the Cape Fear River. Free.

  • Concert dates are Aug. 11 and 25; Sept. 1 and 22; and Oct. 13 and 27 TBA.

Free Concert Friday

The Eagle's Dare bar and beer garden at 420 N 3rd St. Wilmington.

Brand-spanking-new concert series from downtown beer garden and event space The Eagles' Dare, Third and Red Cross streets. Concerts, which feature a mix of area, touring and tribute acts, start with a 6 p.m. opener, with headliners going on at 8 p.m. Free as can be.

  • May 19: Night Train (Guns N Roses tribute) with Audiomelt (rock)

  • May 26: Cowboy (Kid Rock tribute) with Mark Sinnis & 825 (cemetery and Western)

  • June 2: Dr. Bacon (jam) with Churchyard Ghost

  • June 9: Jared Petteys & The Headliners (rockabilly) with the Phantom Playboys (psychobilly)

  • June 16: Same As It Ever Was (Talking Heads tribute) with The Swellians (surf, garage)

  • June 23: Silence and Light (rock), with Shallow Signals

  • June 30: Striking Copper (folk rock) with Justin Cody Fox Band (rock, blues)

  • July 7, 14, 21 and 28: TBA

More: Wilmington venue 'Dares' to start free summer concert series in spirit of Downtown Sundown

Friday Night Live

Concerts are held on the pier at Port City Marina in downtown Wilmington, and feature a variety of bands, mostly tribute acts. Concerts run from 6-9 p.m. and are free except where noted.

  • June 2: Satisfaction (Rolling Stones tribute)

  • June 9: Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi tribute)

  • June 23: 20 Ride (Zac Brown tribute)

  • June 30: Special "Reggae at the Pier" concert, with Steel Pulse, Collie Budz, Makua Rothman and Signal Fire. 5-10 p.m., tickets are $42.50.

  • July 7: The Breakfast Club ('80s tribute)

  • Aug. 4: Tuesday's Gone (Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute)

  • Aug. 11: Troubadour ('70s covers)

  • Aug. 25: Guardians of the Jukebox

  • Sept. 1: Departure (Journey tribute)

Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

The Head and the Heart performed a sold out show at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in 2019.

1,200-seat amphitheater managed by Live Nation has a full summer of concerts by major touring acts. Purchase tickets in advance, concessions available.

  • May 16: Dark Star Orchestra (Pink Floyd tribute)

  • May 21: Rival Sons (rock)

  • May 25: St. Paul & the Broken Bones (R&B)

  • May 28: Sierra Ferrell (pop)

  • June 3: Futurebirds (rock)

  • June 23: Rodrigo y Gabriela (rock)

  • June 27: Straight No Chaser (yacht rock)

  • June 29: flipturn (rock)

  • July 7: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (jam)

  • July 8: Mat Kearney (rock)

  • July 11: Allen Stone (R&B)

  • July 15-16: Michael Franti & Spearhead (rock)

  • July 19: Tommy Emmanuel (jazz)

  • July 22: Nickel Creek (country)

  • Aug. 2: Shakey Graves (rock)

  • Aug. 8: Mary Chapin Carpenter (country)

  • Aug. 9: Stephen Marley (reggae)

  • Aug. 10: Morgan Wade (country)

  • Aug. 18: Devon Allman and Donavon Frankenreiter, with JD Simo (rock)

  • Sept. 8: Judah & the Lion (folk pop)

  • Sept. 9: Keller Williams, with The Hillbenders (jam)

  • Sept. 28: Blue October (rock)

  • Oct. 12: Switchfoot (rock)

Jazz at the Mansion

Top jazz acts will play the Bellamy Mansion 6:30 p.m. the second Thursday of each month. Small coolers allowed, food and drink available for purchase. Tickets are $15-$25, and proceeds benefit the musicians, the Cape Fear Jazz Society and the Bellamy Mansion Museum910-251-3700.

  • June 8: Jay Killman Quartet

  • July 13: Teddy Burgh Trio

  • August 10: Jim Ferris Trio

  • Sept. 14: El Jaye Johnson Quartet

  • Oct. 12: Rain date

Kure Beach Boogie in the Park

People do, in fact, get down and boogie at this oceanside concert series, held 5-7 p.m. Sundays at Oceanfront Park, 105 Atlantic Ave. in Kure Beach. Bring a beach chair or blanket. Free. 910-458-8216.

  • May 21: The Phantom Playboys (rockabilly)

  • June 4: Uptown Easy (dance, party tunes)

  • June 18: Randy McQuay (blues, folk)

  • July 16: ReSoul (soul, R&B)

  • Aug. 6: David Dixon (pop, rock)

  • Aug. 20: Da Howlies (Southern-fried Hawaiian)

  • Sept. 17: Folkstone Stringband (bluegrass)

  • Oct. 1: The Holiday Band (beach)

  • Oct. 15: No Regretz (rock)

Live Oak Bank Pavilion

7,200-seat amphitheater managed by Live Nation has a full summer of concerts by major touring acts. Purchase tickets in advance, concessions available.

  • May 15: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (rock, country)

  • May 23: Incubus (rock)

  • May 26: Boyz II Men (R&B)

  • May 30-31: Dave Matthews Band (rock)

  • June 3: Parker McCollum (country)

  • June 14: boygenius (rock)

  • June 16: Rebelution (reggae)

  • June 22: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, with Ziggy Marley (jazz, reggae)

  • July 13: Riley Green (country)

  • July 14: Barenaked Ladies (rock, pop)

  • July 18-19: Phish (rock)

  • July 21: Darius Rucker (country)

  • July 28-29: GRiZ (electronic)

  • Aug. 6: Slightly Stoopid and Sublime with Rome with Atmosphere and The Movement (rock)

  • Aug. 18: Tyler Childers (country)

  • Aug. 19: Masters of the Mic, with Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh, KRS-One, Rakim and Slick Rick (hip-hop)

  • Sept. 7: Tedeschi Trucks Band (rock, blues)

  • Oct. 5: Jelly Roll (country)

Mayfaire Sunset Music Series

Concerts run 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays in the plaza by the Regal movie theater at the Mayfaire shopping center. Free, with food and beverages available for purchase from establishments bordering the plaza. Pets, outside alcohol not permitted.

Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar

Onward, Soldiers played to a packed pier at the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar in Carolina Beach in 2018.

Concerts on the former Center Pier take place 7-9 p.m. Thursdays at the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar in Carolina Beach. Admission is free, food and beverages available for purchase.

  • Aug. 17: The Shoaldiggers (Americana)

  • Aug. 24: CoverLip (rock covers)

Saturday Sunset Series

Machine Gun performs Saturday April 16, 2022 at the Boatyard at Marina Grill to kick off The Marina Grill's Saturday Sunset music series The series will continue most Friday evenings into the fall from 6-9 p.m. Saturdays and is free.  [KEN BLEVINS/STARNEWS]

Very popular concert series is held at the boatyard at Marina Grill, 18 Harnett St., just off the Wilmington Riverwalk. Free admission, with food and beverages available for purchase. Shows run 6-9 p.m.

  • May 13: Port City Shakedown (party, dance tunes)

  • May 20: Loud Music Company (pop, rock, country, soul, funk)

  • May 27: Papa Midnight Band (blues, rock)

  • June 3: Flashback

  • Upcoming acts TBA

WECT Sounds of Summer

Concerts run 6:30-8 p.m. Thursdays at Wrightsville Beach Park. Bring a picnic, lawn chairs and/or blankets. Coolers are allowed, but alcohol is not permitted in the park. Free.

  • June 15: Overtyme Band (rock)

  • June 22: ReSoul (R&B)

  • June 29: Southern Trouble (country, Southern rock)

  • July 6: Jack Jack 180 (pop, rock)

  • July 13: Loud Music Company (pop, rock, country, soul, funk)

  • July 20: Brown Dirt Cowboys (originals and pop and rock covers)

  • July 27: The Cruise Brothers (classic pop, rock, country)

  • Aug. 3: No Regretz (classic rock, blues)

  • Aug. 10: rain date


Calabash Summer Concert Series

Concerts are 6-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Calabash Town Park, 868 Persimmon Road. Hot dogs, kettle corns and treats available. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair. Free. 910-579-6747.

  • June 6: Band of Oz (beach)

  • June 20: Too Much Sylvia (beach, R&B, pop)

  • June 27: The Entertainers (beach, R&B, rock, country, Top 40)

  • July 4: The Embers, featuring Craig Woolard (beach)

  • July 18: The Extraordinaires (R&B, classics)

  • July 25: Chocolate Chip & Co. (soul, R&B)

  • Aug. 1: Southside Saints (rock)

  • Aug. 15: Thomas Road Band

Holden Beach Concert Series

Jim Quick & Coastline play Holden Beach Aug. 6.

Concerts are held 6:30-8 p.m. Sundays at the pavilion under the Holden Beach bridge. Refreshments available for purchase. Bring chair or beach towel to sit on. Free. 910-842-6488.

  • May 28: The Extraordinaires (R&B, classics)

  • June 4: Continental Divide

  • June 11: The Main Event Band (beach, classic rock)

  • June 18: Cat 5 Band (Top 40, classic rock, country)

  • June 25: The Embers, featuring Craig Woolard (beach)

  • July 2: The Tams (beach)

  • July 9: Chairmen of the Board (beach)

  • July 16: The Entertainers (beach, R&B, rock, country, Top 40)

  • July 23: Band of Oz (beach)

  • July 30: Blackwater Rhythm & Blues Band (beach)

  • Aug. 6: Jim Quick & Coastline (soul, blues, R&B, beach)

  • Aug. 13: Too Much Sylvia (beach, R&B, pop)

  • Aug. 20: Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot (soul, R&B, party)

  • Aug. 27: Carolina Kool

  • Sept. 3: North Tower (beach)

Oak Island 'Bands by the Beach' concert series

Concerts are Fridays (except where noted) from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Middleton Park Amphitheater. Free.

  • May 26: Blackwater Band (beach)

  • June 2: Christine Martinez Band (rock)

  • June 9: Autumn Tyde (oldies)

  • June 16: Old Man Mafia Band (classics)

  • June 23: The Entertainers (beach, R&B, rock, country, Top 40)

  • Saturday, July 1: Carl Newton's Review (soul, R&B)

  • July 7: Chocolate Chip & Co. (soul, R&B)

  • July 14: Rivermist (classic rock, R&B)

  • July 21: Too Much Sylvia (beach, funky '70s Motown, retro '80s)

  • July 28: The Sand Band (beach)

  • August 4: The Powell Brothers

  • August 11: The Embers, featuring Craig Woolard (beach)

  • August 18: Carolina Line Bluegrass Band

  • August 25: Back Porch Rockers

  • Saturday, Sept. 2: The Main Event Band (R&B, soul, beach, country, funk)

Ocean Isle Beach Summer Concerts

Also called the Peggy Hughes Concert Series, it runs 6:30-8 p.m. each Friday at Town Center Park, E. Second St. in Ocean Isle Beach. Free.

  • May 26: The Tonez (beach, dance, rock)

  • June 2: Uptown Easy (dance and party tunes)

  • June 9: The Magnificents

  • June 16: Special Occasion Band

  • June 23: Band of Oz (beach)

  • June 30: Blackwater Band (Top 40, blues, funk, country)

  • July 7: The Main Event Band (R&B, soul, beach, country, funk)

  • July 14: The Entertainers (beach, R&B, rock, country, Top 40)

  • July 21: Chocolate Chip & Co. Band (soul, R&B)

  • July 28: Too Much Sylvia (beach music, funky '70s Motown, retro '80s)

  • Aug. 4: North Tower (beach, Motown, disco, funk, rock)

  • Aug. 11: Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot (beach music)

  • Aug. 18: Continental Divide

  • Aug. 25: Cat 5 Band (Top 40, classic rock, country)

  • Sept. 1: The Extraordinaires (R&B, classics)

Sunset Beach Sound Waves concert series

Concerts will be held 6-8 p.m. Wednesdays at the Village Park gazebo, 1791 Queen Anne St. Free.

  • June 7: The Entertainers (beach, R&B, classic rock, country)

  • June 14: North Tower Band (top 40, beach, oldies)

  • June 21: Jukebox Rehab (classic rock, country)

  • June 28: Blackwater Band (beach, blues, country)

  • July 5: Too Much Sylvia (beach, funky '70s and Motown, retro '80s)

  • July 12: Julio & the Saltines (classic rock)

  • July 19: Chocolate Chip & Company (soul. R&B)

  • July 26: Southern Trouble (classic rock, country)

  • Aug. 2: Cat 5 Band (beach, classic rock, country)

  • Aug 9: Jan Michael Fields Band (classic rock)

  • Aug. 16: JB & the Get Down Browns (beach, classic rock, disco)

  • Aug. 23: The Tonez (beach, classic rock, country)

  • Aug. 30: The Extraordinaires


Burgaw Summer on the Square concerts

All concerts will be held 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays on the Pender County Courthouse Square. Food vendors on site. Free. 910-259-1330.

  • June 1: Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot (beach, pop, classics)

  • June 15: Rivermist (classic rock, R&B)

  • June 29: Carl Newton's Review (soul, R&B)

  • July 13: Bacon Grease (throw some cheese on it)

  • July 27: Blackwater Band (beach, blues, country)

Hampstead Alive After Five Concert Series

Concert runs 6:30-8:30 p.m. Fridays at Hampstead Kiwanis Park, 586 Sloop Point Loop Road in Hampstead. Bring chair or blanket. Food trucks available, alcohol and pets not permitted. Free. 910-259-1330.

  • May 19: Carl Newton's Review (soul, R&B)

  • June 9: Chocolate Chip & Co. (soul, R&B)

  • June 30: North Tower Band (top 40, beach, oldies)

  • July 21: Heartstop

Topsail Sounds Concert Series

Concerts run 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Topsail Beach Town Center, 624 S. Anderson Blvd. in Topsail Beach. Free. 910-328-5841.

  • May 23: Bacon Grease (rock, pop covers)

  • June 27: JT Parrothead (Buffet tribute)

  • July 25: The Cruise Brothers

  • Aug. 22: Dos Eddies

This article originally appeared on Wilmington StarNews: Outdoor concerts 2023 in Wilmington, New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender