Plan Your Visit to the 37th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival

North Carolina Oyster Festival

October is the start of North Carolina’s oyster season, and the magnificent mollusk has been revered in the state for centuries as an important source of food in the coastal areas.  The 37th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival, returning on Saturday, October 21, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 22, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., is the state’s official celebration of the oyster.  During the Festival, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands will celebrate all things oyster as a section of Ocean Isle Beach is transformed into a walking district, filled with a variety of foods, crafts, music and more.

North Carolina Oyster FestivalAt this year’s celebration, test your oyster shucking skills in the North Carolina Oyster Shucking Championship where the area’s fastest shucker will earn a cash prize, as well as the opportunity to compete in the National Oyster Shucking Contest in Maryland.  Not up to competing against the professional shuckers?  You can enter the amateur division.  If you are an advocate of the motto “you can never have too much of a good thing?” Put on your stretchy pants and participate in the Oyster Eating Contest! Continue to delight your taste buds at the Oyster Stew Cookoff, featuring delicious samples from some of Brunswick Islands’ best restaurants. Work off some of the calories you have consumed on the dance floor and compete for the top spot in the Shag Dance Competition, whether you’re an amateur or more experienced dancer.

In addition to copious amounts of fried and steamed oysters, festival-goers will have the opportunity to sample an array of foods for every palate, from crab cakes and BBQ, to pizza and sweet treats. Visitors can also admire a wide variety of crafts and artwork available throughout the festival grounds, including handmade furniture, stained glass, wood carvings, sculpture, pottery, leather goods, and jewelry. Don’t miss out on the live music, bring your chairs and enjoy the lineup featuring popular beach bands, cover bands, and everything in between.

Admission is $5.00 for adults and free for children under 12, so bring your family and experience a not-to-be-missed tradition in the Brunswick Islands!

To learn more about attending the 37th Annual North Carolina Oyster Festival, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/north-carolina-oyster-festival-ocean-isle-beach-nc.

 

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