The Ladybug Festival
June 2, 2023
“Empowering Women in Music!” is the slogan of the “all-free, all-fun” Ladybug Festival. From its modest beginnings a decade ago, Ladybug has become the largest free celebration of its kind in the country, and again this year – as it has from the start – this annual festival boasts a 100% female-fronted lineup.
This award-winning gathering started off in 2012 as a small downtown Wilmington block party, created originally to help the city’s drive for economic revitalization. Now, it’s one of the iconic spring downtown events, credited with greatly energizing Wilmington’s music scene.
This year, Festival performances start at 5pm on Friday, June 2nd, and they go nonstop till 10 pm that evening. The 400 and 500 blocks of downtown’s North Market Street will be filled with music as Ladybug rocks in an evening that features headliners Adia Victoria and Nitro Nitra, along with more than 30 bands.
Leading up to the festival, and afterwards too, Ladybug merch – tee shirts, bags, hats – is available on the website. There’s a pre-party from 4-5 pm with DJ Shady Lady at Willingtown Square – also on Market Street, just adjacent to the band area – and a bound-to-be-hot after-party at the popular Stitch House Brewery (at 829 North Market Street) that will run into the wee hours.
Start off your summer with this one-of-a-kind musical night!
36th Annual Clifford Brown Jazz Festival
June 21-24, 2023
Each June, downtown Wilmington buzzes with excitement when the beloved and much-anticipated Clifford Brown Jazz Festival lights up Rodney Square. The event starts at 5pm on June 21st and goes every day till 10pm on the 24th. Begun in 1988 and now in its 35th season, it’s the largest free gathering of jazz musicians and audiences on the East Coast.
This iconic Wilmington festival was created to honor and celebrate the legacy of Clifford Brown, the brilliant Wilmington trumpet player, unforgettable composer, and dynamic entertainer. The multi-day celebration of the music, culture, and art of jazz takes place in downtown Wilmington’s beautiful Rodney Square, just a few short blocks from “Brownie’s” childhood home.
When he died at the age of 25, Clifford Brown had already left an indelible mark on jazz. Poised to take his place among premier jazz trumpeters such as Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, Brownie left us far too young. But here – and throughout the jazz world – his legacy lives on.
Featuring artists from all over the world, CBJF brings hot music and cool jazz – the best in the field ranging from legendary performers to talented newcomers – that musically lights up the City’s center.
This year’s festival, opening on June 21st, is headlined by Angélique Kidjo, whose album Mother Nature just won the singer-songwriter her fifth Grammy. She has sold out Carnegie Hall and venues worldwide and appears in Wilmington fresh off an engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Kidjo is recognized as one of the world’s most influential musicians, and her genre-bending music incorporates African traditions with R&B, funk, and jazz.
Opening day will also feature Monty Alexander and the Harlem Kingston Express – Alexander’s 2022 album The Montreux Years was hailed as the best jazz album of the year – and trumpeter Marquis Hill, who just released his first album titled New Gospel Revisited.
And that’s only for starters! The weekend’s activities are presented and produced by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs through its nonprofit arm Cityfest. For over three decades, thousands of excited jazz afficionados have brought their lawn chairs and blankets to Rodney Square, where all ages are welcome. As well as great music, throughout the Festival, the Square will also be lined with food trucks and vendors.
Each year the weekend’s eclectic offerings have been eagerly anticipated, rapturously received, and highly praised. And this year’s Festival promises more of the same. New performers often join the line-up, so check your favorite social media outlet for all the latest news. And even after the lights are turned off each night on Rodney Square, music continues at clubs and venues and homes for this huge civic party fueled by great jazz.