Get Your Groove on at Free Outdoor Concerts in NC’s Brunswick Islands

outdoor concert

The fun doesn’t have to end at the beach when the day ends. Bring your beach chair or blanket and the whole family to enjoy free outdoor music concerts scheduled throughout the summer in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.  Dance like no one is watching or just sit back and enjoy music of all genres from talented local bands to well-known regional favorites. You can catch a free concert practically every night of the week. And you’re certain find music you’ll want to tap your feet to from beach tunes, blues, rock, and soul to reggae, bluegrass, big band, and country. Visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events to get a complete schedule of concerts and bands.

Calabash Concert Series
Tuesdays, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. (through August 29)
Calabash Town Park, Calabash

Sunset Beach Concerts
Wednesdays, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. (through September 6)
Gazebo in the Village Park, Sunset Beach

Southport Summer Concerts – Thursdays in the Park
Thursdays, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 21)
Franklin Square Park and Garrison Lawn, Southport

Shallotte SummerFest
Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. (July 6 through August 10)
Mulberry Park, Shallotte

Ocean Isle Beach Concerts
Fridays, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 8)
Museum of Coastal Carolina parking lot, Ocean Isle Beach

Oak Island Summer Concerts
Fridays, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (through August 31)
Middleton Park, Oak Island

Holden Beach Concerts
Sundays, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. (through September 3)
Holden Beach Pavilion, Holden Beach

No matter your musical taste, these summer concerts are sure to add to your summertime fun and relaxation. For a full list of the events taking place this summer and beyond in the Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events.

Celebrate Seasonal Freshness with Outdoor Markets in the Brunswick Islands

Summer is the prime time for fresh, local goods in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The area’s outdoor markets take place throughout each week so you never have to be without seasonal fruits and vegetables, whether you’re a local or a visitor. In addition to produce, the markets are filled with artists and artisans showing off their creative talents and offering pottery, photography, handmade goods, and homemade snacks and desserts. Topping off the perfect outdoor market scene, local musicians can also be found playing at several of the events, making these must-do summer and fall activities.

Southport Waterfront Market
Wednesdays through September 6, 2017; 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn, Southport
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1217

Local artisans come together by the Cape Fear River to offer fresh and local produce, baked goods, arts and crafts, and more. Enjoy the shade of ancient Live Oak trees with music and entertainment.

Oak Island Farmers and Artisans Market
Mondays through September 4, 2017; 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Middleton Park, Oak Island
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1306

Market-goers can pick up fresh produce, homemade goods, like cakes and jam, as well as a variety of handmade crafts, like jewelry and potholders.

Ocean Isle Beach Waterfront Market
Mondays through September 11, 2017; 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
East Second Street, Ocean Isle Beach
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1359

Held in the town center’s grassy field, feel the ocean breeze while shopping for local and homemade produce, baked goods, crafts and more.

Sunset Beach Waterfront Market
Thursdays through October 12, 2017; 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Sunset Beach Town Park
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1378

Set by the Intracoastal Waterway, the bustling market features local crafters and artists with their homemade treasures and original art. Shop for fresh produce from local farmers, fresh catches of the day, seasonal flowers and plants, and much more.

Shallotte Farmer’s Market
Saturdays through July 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Mulberry Park, Shallotte
http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/1278

The open-air market is filled with fresh, local produce, arts and crafts, and more. Entertainment by local musicians makes this market a must-visit on Saturdays. Four special seasonal markets will also be held during the fall and holiday season.

To see a full schedule of the outdoor markets and other events in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events.

Celebrate July 4th with Family Fun and Fireworks in NC’s Brunswick Islands

If you plan on being in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for the Fourth of the July holiday week, you’ll be in for a treat! The weather is warm, the days are long and sunny, and the sandy shores are awaiting your arrival and there is an abundance of festivities to celebrate all weekend-long.

IMG_2023The North Carolina 4th of July Festival in Southport, founded over 200 years ago, is one of the most historic celebrations in America. More than 50,000 people gather to commemorate the nation’s independence for several days full of family and fireworks. To kick off the week’s festivities, the pre-festival fun starts early at Waterfront Park on Bay Street with a Freedom 5K and 1-mile fun run on June 25 at 8 a.m. All ages are invited to participate in this family event.

Head over to Oak Island on July 1 for a family Beach Day of relaxation and entertainment. The celebration includes endless activities like sand sculpture building, volleyball, corn hole, bocce ball, and horseshoe tournaments. The fun continues into the evening with live entertainment and anniversary fireworks. Beach Day begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m. with fireworks at the Oak Island Pier.

OIB July 4 golf cart parade 2For Sunday evening celebrations on July 3, be sure to get a spot at Ocean Isle Beach by 9 p.m. as the community sets off fireworks from the pier.  Ocean Isle Beach’s golf cart and bicycle parade starts at 10 a.m. on July 4th at the Museum of Carolina.

Attend Southport’s daytime July 4th celebrations with North Carolina’s most patriotic 4th of July Parade. Beginning at 11 a.m., the streets of Southport are filled with a variety of over 120 floats and cars, along with live music, concessions and a boat raffle. It’s not Independence Day without fireworks, and Southport lights up the sky with the best of them! At 9 p.m., crowds line the waterfront and boats anchor in the harbor to watch the spectacular display to commemorate America’s birthday.

Calabash will celebrate the 4th with fireworks on the riverfront and entertainment by Gary Lowder and the Smokin Hot Band. Festivities start at 6 p.m.

It’s no wonder the islands are a popular spot for July 4th and all summer long, offering a number of events for locals and visitors to make the most out of their holiday weekend by the beach. Plan your stay around these events! For more information on festivals and activities for the Fourth of July in NC’s Brunswick Islands, please visit our calendar of events.

The Inside Scoop!

Flava Decorations 1“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy ice cream and that’s kind of the same thing!” says the sign outside Flava’s Ice Cream in Southport, NC. And who are we to argue? Better to step inside and enjoy a scoop of Death by Chocolate or their most popular flavor, Nutty Coconut, after a day out on the water or any of NC Brunswick Islands’ miles of pristine beaches!

In fact, you can easily satisfy your sweet tooth no matter where you are in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – each town and island has several choices as unique and individual as the islands themselves!

Holden Beach is home to three ice cream shops that are must-stops. Beaches N Cream’s all-original, small batch recipes use only the freshest, local ingredients that are free of harmful preservatives, additives and hormones for the ice cream purist. Try the Apple Crisp, Boston Cream Pie, Butter Brickle, or County Fair Funnel Cake – the winner of the 2016 New Flavor Contest! With a new flavor featured almost every day, there is always a reason to go back! Head to Fantasy Isle Ice Cream for a one-of-a-kind miniature golf course experience, shaded and hidden by oak trees. Their ice cream however, is no secret. Hundreds of photos of satisfied customers line the walls, and they boast a solid five-star ranking on Trip Advisor. Or walk right off the beach and get your ice cream with an oceanfront view at Haley’s Ice Cream Store. Known for their brightly colored buckets of retro-50s candies, Sandman’s Candyland on Holden Beach also serves ice cream and shakes.

IMG_8791Calabash may be known as the “seafood capital of the world,” but Calabash Creamery sets the standard for old-fashioned ice cream by making it with 16 percent butter fat cream to give it a one-of-kind taste. More than 50 year-round and seasonal flavors, including Brownie Batter, Cinnamon Bun, Mango Tango and the home-town favorite, Cow-a-Bash Crunch, offer just as many reasons to stop in.

DSC_3847_OCEAN ISLE ICE CREAM_LRThe cute yellow building that welcomes you onto Ocean Isle Beach is the home of the Ocean Isle Creamery where you will find at least 17 homemade flavors every day! All the ice cream has its start from a dairy farm in Dunn, NC, and some of the creative creaminess includes Pecan Caramel Swirl, DreamSicle, Cotton Candy and the perennial favorite, German Chocolate Cake. The Ice Cream Shoppe, another favorite place to chill out on Ocean Isle Beach, celebrates its 30th summer this year with a great selection of splits and the best Strawberry Milkshake around!  Build your own sundae at Build a Sundae or have a side of fudge with your ice cream at Pete’s Sweets.

Because a trip to Sunset Beach isn’t complete without a stop at How Sweet It Is, make sure you sample the brightly primary-colored Play Dough ice cream at this adorable ice cream parlor! How sweet it is to have so many options, indeed! You can’t go wrong with their Dutch Chocolate, Banana Pudding or Sea Salt Caramel.

From their striped awning and walk-up window, Spike’s Dairy Bar in downtown Southport churns out favorites like Almond Joy, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and the “to-die-for” Coffee Mud Pie! Be sure to treat your four-legged family member with the ‘Pup Cup,’ a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a dog biscuit!

Leaky Tiki Sign 2cropThe largest of NC Brunswick Islands’ five barrier islands, Oak Island offers several choices. Frosty’s is legendary for its ice cream and the tantalizing aroma of house-made waffle cones. Top the cone with a generous scoop of Peanut Butter Chocolate or Butterfinger Ice Cream for the ultimate sweet treat! Also on Oak island, Lil and John’s Sweetreat is great for a scoop of homemade ice cream and to pick up some house-made fudge for later.  In addition to ice cream, Tropical Treats offers a lighter take to cooling down with a variety of Italian ices and sno-cones. For a nostalgic taste, head to Dairy Queen for a Dilly Bar.

If you want to keep even lighter on the calories, touch down at, Ocean Isle Creamery, or Back Porch Ice Cream (Calabash) where frozen yogurt is served alongside ice cream.

Maybe you can’t buy happiness, but you can certainly find it in NC’s Brunswick Islands!

Updated June 9, 2017

Island Hop without a Passport in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

with five barrier islands, island hopping is a must when exploring North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this summer! Located in the southernmost corner of North Carolina, the islands of Brunswick County are strung together with forty-five miles of silken coastline.

Graced with sunny, secluded beaches away from high-rises and crowds, each island provides its own unique character, charm and activities. Here, beaches are perfect for family vacations, reunions, weddings, surfers, nature enthusiasts, and golf getaways, and each island has something different to offer its visitors. It is impossible to pick a favorite, so vacationers should visit them all!

Sunset Beach

Old BridgeStart your island hop on the southernmost island at Sunset Beach for a peaceful and relaxing experience. You will find this island top of the list for a quiet and quintessential beach town as residents are passionate about preservation. Take a mile walk from the last beach access south to Bird Island and the Kindred Spirit Mailbox to learn about sand dune wildlife and experience the habitats of the beautiful coastal preserve. Don’t forget to also tour the Old Sunset Bridge Museum, home to the last pontoon swing bridge on the East Coast!

Ocean Isle

Next hop over to the seven miles of Ocean Isle Beach, where you will find something for every generation! Stroll along the shoreline, scan for signs of sea turtles or catch a wave with private or group surf lessons. To experience sea life with a life-size diorama and touch tank make a visit to The Museum of Coastal Carolina. If you are feeling adventurous, try ziplining through a 300-year-old swamp cypress canopy at The Shallotte River Swamp Park, which is a challenging and thrilling adventure for all ages!

Holden Beach

DSC_7135_HOLDEN BEACH BRIDGENamed one of the best family beaches in the U.S. by National Geographic Traveler magazine and voted one of the top 10 beaches by USA Today readers, Holden Beach is your ideal destination for small town charm. Cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway by kayak and enjoy a day “downtown” with lunch at one of the several restaurant decks overlooking the waterway and the many shrimp boats that call Holden Beach home. In this wildlife haven, your family will enjoy spotting dolphins and playfully chasing ghost crabs with flashlights in the evening.

Oak Island

Ten miles of uncrowded beaches with more than 60 access points, two fishing piers, two marinas and three public boat and canoe ramps makes the town of Oak Island a perfect stop. You will have just as much fun touring the town on bicycles with bells DSC_2743_CASWELL_LRand baskets while eating ice-cream as you will in the water! Include your four-legged family members as Oak Island is one of the top dog friendly beaches in the country according to Dog Fancy magazine.  Sharing the same island, Caswell Beach is a quiet, laid-back beach that is also convenient to the shops and restaurants of Oak Island.  Standing sentinel over its uncrowded mostly residential shores is the Oak Island Lighthouse, a tri-colored beacon reaching about 16 nautical miles offshore. Make an appointment in advance to schedule a climb to the top.

Bald Head Island

Finish off your island hop by secluding yourself from reality at Brunswick’s resort-style, no-cars-allowed, Bald Head Island, only reachable by ferry. Explore the unspoiled natural surroundings hiking, biking or by golf-cart. Bald Head Island is an eco-lover’s paradise with 10,000 acres of nature preserves and extraordinary wildlife. North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse, “Old Baldy,” and Smith Island Museum are favorite attractions for the vacationers!

There are a variety of accommodations for every stop on your island hopping adventure, so start booking your vacation today!