The arrival of spring signals the beginning of the festival season in Wilmington & the Brandywine Valley. Some of these festivals are established favorites; others are just making their debut. Here's a list of ten festivals that warrant serious attention:
Celebrity Chefs' Brunch (April 19)
Chefs from across the United States and Canada display their culinary talents during this annual event held in the Hercules Building in Downtown Wilmington. This year's participants include The Beekman Boys, winners of "The Amazing Race" and authors of two cookbooks, Nicholas Elmi, winner of "Top Chef: New Orleans", and Joy Crump, contestant on this season's "Top Chef: Boston. Proceeds from this event benefit Meals on Wheels Delaware.
WilmFilm Festival (April 23-26)
The city's annual film festival showcases "movies that matter" with more than 50 screenings of independent, foreign and documentary films over four days at Penn Cinema Riverfront.
Wilmington Garden Day (May 2)
Wilmington Garden Day is a one day, self-guided tour of some of the Brandywine Valley's most distinctive homes and gardens. It's the perfect way to get new decorating ideas-both inside and outside.
This annual event features exciting horse races, an antique carriage parade, kilted bagpipers, pony rides, special demonstrations and lavish tailgate picnics all in the setting of an exceptional American country estate.
Highlights of this three-day event which has been supporting Delaware's children for 95 years include expansive plant sales many of which are donations from local gardens, colorful hanging flower baskets, crafts, vendors, games, carnival rides, mouth-watering foods and plenty of live entertainment.
OperaDelaware Festival 2015 (May 8-17)
For the first time ever, OperaDelaware presents multiple performances of three productions-- Carmen, Lakmé and Wine, Women and Food-concentrated in two weekends. It's a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in culture.
MidAtlantic Wine + Food Festival (May 13-17)
This one-of-a-kind epicurean experience attracts chefs, vintners, brewers and culinary enthusiasts throughout the area and around the world. Sponsored by the Bank of America, 35 individual brunches, lunches, tastings and dinners at memorable venues are planned.
Wilmington Grand Prix and Gran Fondo (May 15-17)
The bikes return to Wilmington for the annual Grand Prix and Gran Fondo. The U.S. Cycling Association has designated the Grand Prix as one of the country's top 10 criterium races. The action starts on Friday with the Monkey Hill time trials in Brandywine Park. It continues on Saturday in Downtown Wilmington with a series of men's and women's amateur and professional races over an incredibly fast-paced, one-mile course with multiple laps. A bike parade and street festival complete with live music, sidewalk sales and food vendors add to the excitement. Both amateurs and professionals participate in Sunday's Gran Fondo, Medio Fondo or Governor's Ride over spectacular 62-, 30- or 15-mile courses mapped through the Brandywine Valley's glorious chateau country.
A Day in Old New Castle (May 16)
This is the nation's oldest, continuously running house and garden tour. Located off Interstate-95 just minutes south of Wilmington along the Delaware River, Historic New Castle exceeds Williamsburg in the number and authenticity of its historic structures, but unlike Williamsburg, it is a fully occupied, vibrant community. During this festival, residents in this charming 350+-year-old-town open their homes and carefully tended gardens to the public. There's also a full complement of historical re-enactments, military maneuvers, craft demonstrations, storytelling, period games, colonial dancing and music.
Dragon Boat Races have been popular in China for thousands of years, but now they are coming to Wilmington in May. From 9AM to 3PM, regional and local racing teams are scheduled to compete on a 300-meter course on the Christina River in front of Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park to raise money for the Delaware Children's Museum.