Wilmington, NC: The last weekend in November officially kicks off the holidays with events for all ages that reflect the traditions, culture and spirit of Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. Colorful flotillas (lighted boat parades) usher in the season as they illuminate the waterways during the N.C. Holiday Flotilla in Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, Nov. 25, and again the following weekend when the Island of Lights Christmas Parade (Fri., Dec. 1) & Flotilla (Sat., Dec. 2) takes place in Carolina Beach. Throughout the season, there are twinkling enchanted forests, candlelight home tours, parades, model train Christmas displays, concerts, theatrical productions, holiday tours, cruises, and New Year’s celebrations. From the river to the sea, visitors can immerse themselves in holiday arts and cultural activities and shop for one-of-a-kind and locally crafted gifts at beach and riverfront boutiques, shopping villages, art galleries and museum shops.

Stray off course and see where the water takes you when you brighten the season with a visit to Wilmington and its island beaches. To download a free 2017 Holiday Events Brochure, please visit our Seasonal Highlights page.  Following is a sampling of holiday events.

Light-Up the Season – Holiday Lights & Parades

Ongoing through Dec. 31: Cape Fear Festival of Trees, N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach

Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2; 8-10; 13-22: Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington

Nov. 24-25; Dec. 1-2; 8-9; 15-16; 22-23; 29-30: Spirit of the Holidays Cruise, Wilmington Riverfront

 

Nov. 25; Dec. 2, 9, 16: Christmas By The Sea, Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Dec. 1: Island of Lights Christmas Parade, Carolina Beach

Dec. 2: Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla, Carolina Beach

Dec. 2-Jan. 8: Art of Illumination exhibition, Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 3: Wilmington Holiday Parade, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 8: Christmas Tree Lighting & outdoor holiday movie screening, Greenfield Lake, Wilmington

Dec. 8-9: Historic Wilmington Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll, Downtown merchants, Wilmington

Dec. 9: Island of Lights Tour of Homes, Carolina/Kure Beaches

Dec. 10: Floating Lantern Ceremony, Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 15-28: Holiday Lights Trolley Tour, Call 910-763-4483 for dates/times. Boards in Downtown Wilmington

Christmas Days of Yore

Nov. 26: Post-Thanksgiving Historic Home Tour, McGary-Brown-Davis House, 215 S. 5th Ave., Wilmington

Dec. 1-3; 8-10; 15-16: A Merry Little Christmas Festival: Candlelight Tours, Poplar Grove, Hwy. 17N, north of Wilmington

Dec. 2-3: Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour, Latimer House, Wilmington

Dec. 2: Moravian Christmas Candle Tea, Covenant Moravian Church, Wilmington

Dec. 2: Battleship Alive-Christmas Edition, Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington

Dec. 3: Wrightsville Beach Museum Holiday Open House, Wrightsville Beach

Dec. 3-4: Jingle Bells Holiday Tea, Bellamy Mansion, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 5: Fort Fisher Holiday Open House, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Kure Beach

Dec. 9: Christmas Stroll Through the Past, Bellamy Mansion & Burgwin-Wright House, Downtown Wilmington

Deck the Stages – Theatre, Dance & Film

Nov.24-25; Dec. 1-2; 8-9; 15-16; 22-23: The Greatest Gift, TheatreNOW, Wilmington

Nov. 30: Ballet for Young Audiences: Sleeping Beauty, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

Dec. 1-2: Ballet for Young Audiences: The Nutcracker, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

Dec. 1-3; 7-10; 14-17: “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)” Cape Fear Playhouse, Wilmington

Dec. 2-3: City Ballet-A Carolina Nutcracker, CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 6-7: The Sound of Music, CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 8-10; 15-17: A Christmas Story: the Musical, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

Dec. 9: A Charlie Brown Christmas, CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 14-17: Ebenezer: A Christmas Carol, UNCW Kenan Auditorium, Wilmington

Dec. 16-17: Wilmington Ballet Co. Presents: “Nutcracker,” CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 16-17: The Christmas Cabaret, Blockade Runner Resort, Wrightsville Beach

Dec. 21: “It’s A Wonderful Life” film screening, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

A Joyful Noise – Musical Celebrations

Dec. 10: Wilmington Choral Society: “Frank-Incense” & Myrrh: A Sinatra Tribute, CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 12: Handel’s “Messiah”: Choir of St. Paul’s Concert, St. Paul Episcopal Church, Wilmington

Dec. 14: Cherish the Ladies: Celtic Christmas, Thalian Hall, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 16: Toys for Tots Concert, Brooklyn Arts Center, Wilmington

Dec. 20: NC Symphony Holiday Pops, CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Oh What Fun! – Families with Young Children

Ongoing through Dec. 24: Santa’s Workshop & Photos with Santa, Mayfaire Town Centre, Wilmington

Nov. 24: Battleship Ho-Ho-Ho, Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington

Nov. 25; Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16; 22-24; 29-30: Christmas Train & Light Spectacular, Wilmington Railroad Museum

Nov. 30: Ballet for Young Audiences: Sleeping Beauty, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

Dec. 1-2: Ballet for Young Audiences: The Nutcracker, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17; 22-24 & 26: Holiday Train Expo, Independence Mall (Dillard’s wing), Wilmington

Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16: A Merry Little Christmas Festival, Poplar Grove, Scotts Hill (10 mi. north of Wilmington)

Dec. 2: Battleship Alive-Christmas Edition, Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, Wilmington

Dec. 2: Dashing Through the Glow 5k & Holiday Festival, River Lights Community, Wilmington

Dec. 2, 9, 16-17 & 23: Polar Express Program, Wilmington Railroad Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 3: Santa Cares: Sensory Friendly Santa Event, Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington

Dec. 8-10: Kure Beach Christmas Fantasy Show, K Ave., Kure Beach

Dec. 9, 16, 21-22: Holiday Elf Camp, NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach

Dec. 9 & 16: Polar Express Day, Wilmington Children’s Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 9: 5k Jingle Bell Run, Wrightsville Beach Park, Wrightsville Beach

Dec. 13: Kids’ Christmas Program, Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, Wrightsville Beach

Dec. 15-16; 21-24: Caroling with Santa & “Reindeer” Drawn Trolley/Carriage, 1st block of Market Street, Wilmington

Dec. 16-17: Santa By the Sea, NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach

Dec. 16: Kids@CAM: Holiday Arts & Crafts, Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 16: Holiday Super Saturday Fun Time, TheatreNOW, Wilmington

Dec 31: New Year’s Noon, Children’s Museum, Wilmington

Ongoing through Dec. 24: Visit with “Santa” at Cotton Exchange, Mayfaire Town Centre & Independence Mall

Shop ‘til You Drop

Nov. 24: Fourth Friday Gallery Night, Wilmington River District

Nov. 25: Kure Beach Holiday Market, Ocean Front Park, Kure Beach

Nov. 30-Dec. 2: Cape Fear Academy Market, Cape Fear Academy, Wilmington

Dec. 1-3: Holiday Flea at BAC, Brooklyn Arts Center, Wilmington

Dec. 8-9: Historic Wilmington Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll, Downtown merchants, Wilmington

Dec. 9-10: Poplar Grove Arts & Crafts Festival, Poplar Grove Plantation, Hwy. 17N, north of Wilmington

Dec. 22: Fourth Friday Gallery Night, Wilmington River District

Ongoing through Dec. 24: Shopping Center “Santa” visits: Cotton Exchange, Mayfaire Town Centre, Independence Mall

*Be sure to check out our museum shops for special mementos of your visit, unique gifts and stocking stuffers!

Happy New Year!  December 31

New Year’s Noon Countdown, Children’s Museum, Wilmington

Midnight in Paris, Le Catalan, Wilmington

Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Countdown, an STS Top 20 Event, Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Carolina Beach

New Year’s Eve: Bacchanalia, TheatreNOW, Wilmington

New Year’s Eve Gala-dinner, show “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” & dancing/midnight toast, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

New Year’s Eve Winner Party Boat Cruise, Carolina Beach Marina, Carolina Beach

Insider Tips: Event details often change without notice and/or sell out in advance, so please confirm event date, time, place before traveling any distance. For a FREE Official Visitors Guide, email visit@wilmingtonandbeaches.com. For seasonal highlights, specials and to download a free 2017 Holiday Event Brochure, visit http://www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/things-to-do/seasonal-highlights.