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5 Reasons To Check Out Rims On The River In Wilmington, NC (Updated 2023!)

2023 Update: Despite wishful expectations (and a date set last year), Rims on the River is canceled for 2023. It may not be back in the future. ” … Never say never again,” though, the official Facebook page says.

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

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.

The Battleship North Carolina on the Cape Fear River with the words "Wilmington, North Carolina Travel Guide From A Local" digitally written on top.

Planning a trip into Wilmington, NC for Rims On The River? Get help planning your trip with this Wilmington, North Carolina Travel Guide.

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

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Information for the 2023 Rims On The River is being slowly given to the public. Since it’s more than a year away, we have to base this on the 2021 event. (The 2022 event is canceled.)

A painted car at Rims On The River in Wilmington, NC.

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.

The George restaurant in Wilmington, NC.

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.

We don’t know what’s going to happen in 2023, so we’ll have to wait a little bit longer to see what the music portion is.

The Rims On The River Cruise

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

Nothing about a 2023 cruise has been mentioned yet, so we’ll have to keep an eye out to see if that’s happening in the future.

The Perfectly Pinup Wilmington Contest

Perfectly Pinned Up is hosted the fourth (although calling it the fifth) annual Pin Up Contest at the most recent Rims On The River. The contest is also a fundraiser for a 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.

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 2023.

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.

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

A street fair with the words "A Guide To Festivals In Wilmington, NC" digitally written on top.

More events near Wilmington, NC:

If Rims On The River is your introduction to the Wilmington area and now you want a reason to come back, there are some other events you’ll want to put on your calendar. For all of them, check out this Guide To Festivals In Wilmington, NC, with a breakdown by month.

For our favorites, check out the links below:

In the spring, add the North Carolina Azalea Festival (the biggest annual event in Wilmington) and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival to your list.

For the fall, there’s Wilmington Riverfest.

In the winter, there’s Enchanted Airlie (the light display at Airlie Gardens) and Leland in Lights (a light display in neighboring Leland, NC).

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!