Sunday, October 2, 2022

9 things to know ahead of your first Riverfront Park concert

The first Live Nation concert at Riverfront Park is July 16. The City of Wilmington held a grand opening to the public to test out the stage on the Fourth of July. (Port City Daily photo/Kristen Witkowski)

WILMINGTON –– Riverfront Park is officially open for park goers, and in nine days it will host its first of many major concerts. For three consecutive nights, Widespread Panic will play the sold-out amphitheater. In the following weeks, GRiZ, Miranda Lambert, Train, and a lineup of others will follow in performing on the open-air stage to crowds of up to 7,200 people.

Concerts must end by 11 p.m. unless uncontrollable circumstances delay the event until midnight.

Riverfront Park is already proving to be a successful concert venue. According to the city’s community services director Amy Beatty, the market for ticket sales is hotter than anticipated. Approximately 130,000 people are projected to visit the venue during its first concert season, 50,000 more than what Live Nation originally predicted when the park was still being designed.

The experience is new for all involved. Attendees will learn the ins and outs of the venue for the first time and inevitably have questions before, during and after the show: Can I bring a chair? How much money should I plan to spend on beer? Where are the restrooms?

We’ve got answers. Here are the 9 things you need to know before attending your first Riverfront Park concert:

1. First and foremost: There will be $4 beer.

The predicted price of beer at this establishment has been a source of longstanding criticism, with many rolling their eyes at similar venues that charge $12 for a Bud Lite. It seems Live Nation has listened to that pain. During all shows at Riverfront Park, there will be a $4 “value beer” available to fans.

Other beers will range from $10 to $14.25 for 24 ounces. There will be locally crafted beer too: The Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance is helping Live Nation curate regional craft beer options for its events. According to Live Nation, local brews are central to its beverage program.

Wine, spirits and specialty cocktails will be for sale as well. 

Designated drivers who identify themselves at the guest services booth can get free fountain sodas all night.

2. Don’t know where to park? Check out this online map.

A brand new park with no parking? Many are dreading the search for a spot before a show since Riverfront Park was built without any new spaces. However, the venue is located downtown, which means multiple parking decks and numerous off-street parking spaces are available –– just expect to walk.

Cape Fear Community College is allowing concertgoers to use its nearby decks and lots during events. There are nine total parking decks patrons can park in along Front Street, as far back as the Market Street intersection. A map online shows the potential parking locations, as well as recommended walking paths to the venue.

3. Uber and Lyft riders will get dropped off on Harnett Street.

If you might be drinking, consider not driving. (Ride-sharing apps are also a way to avoid the anticipated parking debacle.) Ubers or Lyfts will be dropping riders off at a designated area, 201 Harnett Street, near the main entrance to the amphitheater at the corner of Nutt Street. Guests with disabilities can also get dropped off here.

4. Plan to fill up on the classic concert concessions, plus local food trucks.

At Riverfront Park, Live Nation is offering typical concessions: nachos, soft pretzels, chicken tenders, and hot dogs. Any protein sold in the general concessions is “sustainable and humanely raised,” according to Live Nation.

Expect to pay between $6 to $15 for each item.

Various and rotating local food trucks will set up at each concert as well.

5. Bathrooms are next to the stage.

In search of a place to tinkle, look for the VIP viewing deck to the right of the stage, then look down. Those are the bathrooms. There are 30 toilets built into the park, and Live Nation also intends to set up temporary restrooms during popular shows.

6. Yes, you can bring a lawn chair and blanket for general admission.

People with general admission tickets can bring a lawn chair to set up on the graded lawn. The seat can’t exceed 9 inches off the ground. Standard lawn chairs are about 20 inches, so you may want to look into purchasing a low-lying one.

Small blankets are also allowed, but they shouldn’t be bigger than 4 feet by 8 feet.

The lawn features a gradual incline, and according to the city, it offers sightlines while remaining somewhat flat. (Keep in mind: The park was built for people to enjoy while it’s in “park mode.”)

General admission is “first come, first serve,” so get there early to set up a chair or blanket in a prime spot.

Those who purchased tickets in a physical seat will be closer to the performers. Live Nation is installing 2,400 seats on concert days and packing them back up once the show ends.

7. Be smart about your bag choice to avoid refused entry.

Live Nation is particular about what bags are allowed into shows and will search each one upon entry. Either use a clear bag, no larger than 12 inches by 6 inches by 12 inches, or bring a small clutch.

According to Live Nation, its bag policy is intended to reduce staff contact with others’ belongings.

Guests can also bring a nonprofessional camera (non-detachable lens) and up to 1 gallon of water in a factory-sealed bottle. Just don’t bring weapons, fireworks, illegal drugs –– use your best judgment.

Security officers donning white shirts and law enforcement will work together to ensure safety at the event, and everyone who enters will either be searched using a metal detector or a pat down.

8. Browse merch at a booth on site.

Merchandise is sold at a concert gear booth within the amphitheater.

9. Lose something? Find a fan ambassador. Get hurt? Find the medic.

Live Nation directs anyone who loses an item to hunt down one of their “fan ambassadors” who can assist. Those who have a medical issue can visit first aid at the south entry gate.

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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at or on Twitter @alexsands_

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