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5 Reasons To Check Out Rims On The River In Wilmington, NC (Updated 2022!)

2022 Update: Due to construction happening in downtown Wilmington, Rims on the River is canceled for 2022. It will be back next year from October 27 to 29, 2023.

If you’re planning a trip to the area, check out all of our Wilmington, NC posts.

If you love antique cars, you'll love Rims On The River in Wilmington, NC. Find out why you should attend in this post from

After being canceled due to the state of the world in 2021, Rims On The River is back. It’s the 17th anniversary of the event (although, Rims On The River 2020 was the 16th, so the math is a little fudged).

Rims On The River is one of those events that we always end up at, although we don’t always plan for it. In the past, we had been selling Pete’s marinara sauce at the weekly farmer’s market near the river, so it’s just a couple blocks walk to the event.

The Rims On The River annual antique car show is usually one block up from the river on Front Street between Ann St. and Red Cross St.

You should go, especially if you love antique cars. Even if you’re not a car guy or gal, it’s worth going to. Because there is actually more to do than just look at cars.

5 Reasons To Check Out Rims On The River In Wilmington, NC

Information for the 2021 Rims On The River is being slowly given to the public. So some of these items are based on previous events.

Drugstore Divas has no association with the event. But, as we see information online, we’ll update this post. So be sure to check back here as the event gets closer for more details.

The Rims

If you’re coming to Rims On The River, you’re coming for the cars. The show features pre-1980 cars in a main car show that begins in the morning. And over 500 cars are usually expected.

Later in the afternoon, awards are presented in various categories, like Best In Show, Best Antique (1940 & Older), and Spectators Choice. So if you come to watch, make sure you get your vote in.

This year, the car show portion is being held on October 30, 2021, so mark that down on your calendar.

The River

The car show is actually up on Front Street instead of on Water Street because Water Street is still under construction. It’s pretty much been under construction since just after our wedding, which was lucky because we were able to take the most beautiful wedding photos on the water.

But still, the car show is only one block away from the Cape Fear River, which is beautiful in October.

You can walk down one block, walk on the Wilmington Riverwalk, and sit on the outdoor patio of one of the restaurants on the boardwalk. You can watch the jet skis, get a great view of the USS Battleship, and just enjoy the sunshine.

If you love antique cars, you'll love Rims On The River in Wilmington, NC. Find out why you should attend in this post from

The Music

In years past, there had been a free all ages concert all day long. Then, in 2019, it was canceled because of all the construction happening downtown.

So instead, there was an after party at Reggie’s 42nd St. Tavern with music.

This year’s entertainment hasn’t been listed on the official website, so we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see what’s happening with that.

The Rims On The River Cruise

While the Rims On The River event is free, the weekend usually closes out with a cruise.

This year, nothing about the cruise has been mentioned, so we’ll have to keep an eye out to see if that’s happening.

The Perfectly Pinup Wilmington Contest

Perfectly Pinned Up is hosting the fourth (although calling it the fifth) annual Pin Up Contest this year. Contestants will be selected to compete in the contest, which is also a fundraiser for a (to be named) charity.

This isn’t an objectifying beauty pageant. The contestants aren’t able to wear bathing suits, costumes, or lingerie. The outfits must be family friendly and this year, since the event happens on October 30, 2021, the theme is: Queens of Horror.

Also, in the past, there was a Q&A round (about vintage, pinup, or car kulture); and some of the points are awarded for the contestant’s fundraising efforts.

Rims On The River: Frequently Asked Questions

Is this in conjunction with the Cape Fear Chapter AACA?

Rims On The River is completely independent of the car show in the Independence Mall in Wilmington, NC. That’s hosted by the Cape Fear Chapter AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America).

Although there are members of the AACA that attend Rims On The River, the Chapter does not host Rims On The River. It is hosted by Cool Wilmington.

Is there a website?

Yes. More information can be found at

Looking for more car shows in Wilmington, NC?

There are a bunch of car shows in Wilmington, NC scheduled between now and Rims On The River.

Head over to this link to see a list of Wilmington, NC car shows. It lists car shows near Wilmington, NC as well, including ones in Leland, Carolina Beach, and Southport, NC (all towns within driving distance of Wilmington)

The link will update with additional car shows as they’re posted, and remove car shows as they happens, so that link is a great resource if you’re someone who likes antique cars.

Wilmington, North Carolina can be a really frugal vacation. Find 10 Free Things To Do In Wilmington, NC in this post on

Planning a trip to Wilmington, NC?

If you’re planning a visit to Wilmington, NC for Rims On The River, you definitely want to plan out other activities to do that weekend. Rims On The River generally runs from 11 am to 5 pm, so that leaves you a bunch of time to eat and drink.

Plan you trip with the help of our Wilmington, NC travel guide.

A few other posts to help you choose your Wilmington itinerary are below:

Have you been to Rims On The River in Wilmington, NC? Let us know what you thought about it in the comments.


Monday 20th of May 2019

That's awesome that the cruise is for all to join in on the fun! If ever I'm around Wilmington, NC I'll have to check it out!

Alexandra Cook

Friday 17th of May 2019

I would have a blast there. My husband really enjoys things like this too.


Friday 17th of May 2019

I wish we had such cool events in Europe, or maybe we do and I just don't know about it LOL


Thursday 16th of May 2019

I love antique cars. This event seems to be interesting. Wish I was nearby to have the fun.

Krysten Quiles

Thursday 16th of May 2019

What a fun event! I've never been to Wilmington before but my favorite show, One Tree Hill, was filmed there so I'd love to one day!