No self-respecting city situated between a river and sandy beaches would be complete without music everywhere coupled with a healthy nightlife scene. This Wilmington NC arts and entertainment overview is just that: a look at some of what the area has to offer. For the most part, music and nightlife in the downtown Wilmington area are intertwined. Restaurants, bars, lounges, cafés, clubs and theaters offer a wide variety of musical genres including cool and smooth jazz, rompin’ stompin’ blues, rock, Hawaiian, country and western, indie rock, Caribbean and pretty much everything else.
A newer nightspot downtown is Bourgie Nights, a wine bar located next door to Manna, one of Wilmington’s best restaurants. Bourgie Nights particularly supports talented bluegrass music and musicians thanks to the efforts of Billy Mellon, owner of both the restaurant and the music venue.
Downtown, thousands of college students from UNCW and Cape Fear Community College descend on the central city music scene with regularity and frequency, fueling the tremendous popularity of live music.
Coupled with the tourists, Marines from Cape Lejeune and regular residents, it makes for a lively situation. On-street parking places can be harder to find in the evening than in the daytime, but several conveniently located downtown parking decks and lots are available 24 hours a day.
Because of North Carolina’s unique and somewhat outdated liquor laws, the popular music scene is a bit more complex than in many other cities. If a music venue – for example, a restaurant and lounge – derives most of its revenue from food, there are no restrictions on accessibility. However, if a music venue gets most of its revenue from liquor sales or offers no food, it must function as a private club. Not to worry though, you can buy a membership, effective in three days, for a very nominal sum, and you can be admitted immediately as a “guest” of a member. Some of the jumping downtown venues, including those known as dance clubs, usually offer rock or some variation thereof.
Classical Music Presented
Devoted fans in the area continue to support classical music programs too. UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium and Cultural Arts building and Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center host the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra, Opera Wilmington, the North Carolina Symphony plus a variety of national touring groups.