Snoop Dogg and Garden Parties: The Azalea Festival Spectacle

As Wilmingtonians, we know a lot of things. We know where to find the best doughnuts (don’t tell me there’s anything better than Wake N Bake, I won’t believe you), where to find the best place to park at Wrightsville Beach, how to make others question the driving ability of our city’s inhabitants, and why Island’s $1 tacos supports the existence of miracles. But among all of these pearls of wisdom, we know one thing better than most: we know how to throw a spectacle of a festival.


For over 60 years, the Azalea Festival has been the calling card of Wilmington. For over 60 years, thousands have come to witness the extravagance of the parade, the multitude of artists, both musical and aesthetic, the garden parties, and of course, the street fair. For over 60 years, we have delivered one heck of a good time.

Originally a small gathering to celebrate the beauty of the gardens around town, the Azalea Festival has blossomed into “the greatest party in the South”. Since then, the mission of the Azalea Festival has been to showcase Wilmington’s art, history and culture, while also promoting participation in the community by contributing to the economy. The modern day Azalea Festival is an accurate representation of that mission.


The Azalea Festival truly has everything for everyone. There’s a parade for the family, concerts for the country and bluegrass fans, garden parties for those who love to wear their Sunday best, and much, much more. The Festival does a phenomenal job of showcasing the beauty that we Wilmingtonians refuse to take for granted. Somehow, it represents the river’s serenity, while also capturing the complexity of our city’s personality. And along the way, everyone can find something to feel included.

Recently, the Azalea Festival has gone in the hip-hop direction. Many have questioned the decision to place the atmosphere of a serene garden party with the fast-paced, rousing aura of hip-hop music. However, I absolutely applaud this recent change in direction. It represents the city of Wilmington as it is, a rousing and fast-paced city with a serenity and peacefulness that only this city can provide.

Snoop Dogg and garden parties. The words may not look like they mix, but to Wilmingtonians, we recognize, whether we want to or not, how well these two idea mesh together and represent us. Kudos to the Azalea Festival planners recognizing how this city has changed since 1947. Kudos to them for truly living up to their mission, and accurately providing “something for everyone among our community’s rich array of artwork, gardens, history and culture”. Kudos to them for throwing the best party in the South.

-Lane, Austin, Allen


21 thoughts on “Snoop Dogg and Garden Parties: The Azalea Festival Spectacle

  1. I think that inviting hip-hop artists to the Azalea Festival shows how Wilmington is able to grow and listen to their community’s interests. It also shows how they brand themselves; not just being the timeless port city, but also being a hip hot-spot for people to visit, enjoy, and possibly relocate. I haven’t been to the Azalea Festival since Freshman year, mainly because of timing, but I know thousands of people love it. My mom and step-dad came to visit me the weekend of the festival years ago and had a blast. However, my step dad did point out that he wish he had seen more azaleas… being a jokester of course. All in all, I think the people who put on the festival do a good job of engaging different audiences and making sure that there’s something for everyone.

  2. I think that through The Azalea Festival, Wilmington brands itself very strategically. While everyone knows that there will be girls in old timey southern gowns, and an encompassing aura of southern charm, Wilmington also keeps things fresh and new by growing with the times. Having entertaining artists, such as Snoop Dogg, is as essential to Azalea Festival as the traditions of the festival that have been around since the very beginning. The mixing of the old and the new is what I believe makes this festival so intriguing to thousands of people, from locals to out-of-towners.

  3. I think that the Azalea festival is really good at marketing itself to different groups of people. Inviting a local North Carolina band and a local country singer will spurs a sense of community and home for a lot of locals, but also intrigue tourists. By inviting a hip-hop artist like snoop dog, the azalea festival is showing that it is modern, diverse and for anyone. The festival is offering people different genres of music in order to appeal to a broad audience.

  4. Personally, I love that the Azalea Festival features such a wide variety of music this year. In the words of Dr. Persuit, it was “musical whiplash” in the best way, of course. Unlike many festivals which only have one genre of music or even one band, the Azalea Festival really reflected the city this year in providing something for everyone. For the more laid back festival goer, there was the street fair. For those of us who like to put on our Sunday best every now and then and have garden parties, there was a little bit of that too. I think every festival could be inspired by the Azalea Festival and not be afraid of a little change of pace once in a while.

  5. This article does a great job at capturing everything that the Azalea Festival has to offer. I have noticed the trend in Hip-Hop artists over the past few years, but the festival also includes other artists. The Avett Brothers also performed this year, appealing to more Indie and Hipster crowds. The festival has a broad range of activities and booths that capture the wide array of things Wilmington has to offer. The festival is a teaser that encourages tourists to come back and see more and permanent residents to get involved. It is true when you said that it boosts the economy and boosts the marketing the city does.

  6. It’s funny to me that Wilmington brought Snoop Dogg to the Azalea Festival. The two names alone are so contrasting that you wouldn’t expect them to go in the same sentence. However, I feel that Wilmington is changing and the city is truly embracing that. They can market the festival as something that really does have something for everyone.

  7. The Azalea Festival is such a huge part of Wilmington’s brand identity. It seamlessly ties together southern charm with contemporary modernism and that is why it is such a smashing success each year! I think that planning committee each year understands and recognizes the community dynamic and keeps that in mind when making decisions. The generation gap between the baby boomers and millennials can be problematic, but the Azalea festival makes it look effortless. Bringing in performers like Snoop Dogg and Chase Rice appeal to the younger college age crowd, and the Avett Brothers and traditional garden party events appeals to a less rowdy audience. From great food and shopping at the street fair, to amazing art and music offerings, there is really something to suit everyone’s fancy. That’s why the Azalea festival will continue to be “the greatest party in the South” for many years to come!

  8. The Azalea Festival does an excellent job in catering to the diversity of interests present within the city’s community. From North Carolina’s very own local folk rock band The Avett Brothers to country artist Chase Rice and the one and only hip-hop rapper Snoop Dogg, this year’s Azalea Festival Concert Series provided entertainment everyone can enjoy. Although I did not attend the Azalea Festival this year, I sure wish that I had. The festival shows how much the city values the sense of community. With a new flare to the mix of big hats and fancy dresses, the festival still maintained its image as being the ultimate southern party. Therefore, in doing so, the Azalea Festival helps Wilmington brand itself as both a modern and diverse location.

  9. The Azalea Festival is a huge staple of this community. It not only celebrates the beauty and history of Wilmington, but I also see it as a huge kick off for the Spring and leading into the Summer months. I agree that the change is noted positively because of the fast pace of this beautiful city. It’s important to keep up with the ever-changing people who call this great place home.

  10. I am also happy that the Azalea Festival planners decided to make this change! I personally love Snoop Dogg and while the Azalea Festival is always a treat, I am not really into the sometimes preppy theme that goes along with it. I think Snoop Dogg was a perfect twist in the event this year. Unfortunately, I am a broke college student so I was unable to attend his concert. But of course, I saw some snapchat videos of it that made it a little better.

  11. This years festivities were a bit of change of pace with snoop dog being there but honestly the mixture of new age excitement and our beautiful down town perfectly represents our city. An exiting river front city that offers something for everyone. That is why people love wilmington and its why I love wilmington. The team behind this years festival did an outstanding job representing to the rest of the country what it means to be a wilmingtonian and I cant wait to see what they come up with next year for the greatest party in the south.

  12. This year was my first year participating in the events of the Azalea Festival and I was not disappointed. I think that the festival truly does appeal to such a wide demographic and people underestimate how difficult it is to do that. Needless to say, I am extremely impressed with their ability to plan such an eclectic weekend of events. I think it accurately represents the many different communities that encompass Wilmington.

  13. I went to the Azalea Festival for the first time this year after living in Wilmington for three years. I definitely underestimated the spectacle that it truly is. So much beauty and fun. It’s so family friendly. It showcases the best parts of Wilmington. At first I thought it was weird that Snoop Dogg would be coming to perform this year because how random is that? But I babysat for a family who was attending the concert, the adults were in their upper 40’s and had a blast. I know high schoolers who went. I think Snoop Dogg and the Azalea Festival portrays the great paradox of Wilmington – the two biggest parts: history, beauty, and family friendliness and the college town that we are.

  14. I normally leave come the time of the festival every year. Except a few years back when Widepread Panic played for 2 nights! People seemed to be very unhappy with WIlmington for bringing the “hippie jam band” in for a two night run. Although the weekend was incredible for the local economy and brought THOUSANDS more people to wilmington just to see their favorite band. I guess you can’t please everyone.

  15. I think that inviting Hip-Hop artists to the Wilmington community helps locals connect with the younger generation that surrounds the city. Several college kids enjoy various types of music but demographically speaking, there’s several students who enjoy up tempo music such as Hip-Hop and House music which has taken over the main stream music industry for the past year or so now. We must understand that we have to replicate the transformation that Wilmington is making on becoming a better adaptable community that accepts all people and their particular interests. This year, the festival decided to treat the younger college kids with a relevant Hip-Hop artists that we connect with, and also an artists who older folks in the community can connect with as well seeing as Snoop Dogg was known for his older songs and popular dance tracks from the 90s and 80s. It’s great to see my community adapting to change, it’s something that sets us a part as a city and community. Great read!

  16. The Azalea Festival is such a great event that Wilmington puts on. It captures everything great about Wilmington from the music, to the parades to the garden party. There is such a wide variety of events going on that it targets so many different crowds to come and enjoy the festival. Its a great marketing strategy for Wilmington. This year they had such a variety of music which I thought was great. They had three completely different genres, featuring the Avett Brothers, Snoop Dogg and Chase Rice. That attracts all different crowds to come to the events. They also have great food, shopping and amazing art on top of the everything else. I have never been to the Garden Party or to one of the concerts, but next year I definitely plan too!!

  17. The Azalea Festival is an amazing event planned by Wilmington to get the locals together and attract more tourists from the surrounding areas. Not only does it have an amazing food fair, they have small stands selling different kind of things, such as, jewelry, paintings, hammocks, and way more. There truly are stands for everyone to enjoy the city and the people. I live downtown so I enjoyed the atmosphere starting last Wednesday until Sunday. The fireworks on Saturday were amazing and seeing so many people come in to Wilmington to support our festival was amazing.
    By giving one amazing honor guest to perform the opening of the festival attracts everyone to come. Last year it was Nelly, this year it was the one and only SnoopDogg. So many people came to see him and got together. The event was planned out well and it was an unforgettable night.
    From food, music, and shops to local art, there’s something for everyone! That’s why the Azalea festival is going to come back every year to give people the opportunity to enjoy “the greatest party in the South”.

  18. Upon moving to Wilmington, I was excited about the festival. Wilmington really does have so much to offer, and that is just proven with the festival. Even more so, through the recent change in traditional ways of the garden party and traditional music to hip hop artists, such as Nelly and Snoop Dogg. The festival shows how Wilmington and North Carolina over all are so eclectic.

  19. I think this is a really interesting article because it touches on the progression of this festival. It mentions that originally the festival was simply a way to showcase our city’s art, history and culture; but now it has taken that and bridged the gap to a new generation. Walk down the street during azalea festival and you will see anything from a 20 year old with blue spiked hair, to an elderly woman enjoying a nice Sunday with her kids and grand kids. The festival has a little bit of everything for people of all walks of life and has done that by bringing in music by artists such as Snoop Dogg and Nelly while still keeping more traditional country singers. .

  20. I don’t think anyone would suspect “Snoop Dog” and “Garden Parties” to ever be in the same sentence. However, I definitely agree that bringing in hip-hop music to the Azalea festival was a smart move. The festival brings in people of all ages with its many features and events, and inviting artists like Snoop dog to perform gives the event more of a young and fun vibe. It definitely shows how the city has evolved over the years and will draw in more revenue from various crowds.

  21. At first I thought, “Snoop Dog at Azalea Fest…. No way…. Who made that choice.” But as I have come to realize it was a great choice. Not only did he attract the hip-hop lovers but also the old school hip-hop lovers. He brought in the young fans and the ones that are a little older. It was actually a very smart tactic and I’m glad the Azalea Fest organizers made such a choice. I can’t wait to see who they decide to invite next year!

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