How to Hold a Family Reunion at the Beach

Brunswick Islands

It’s never too early to start planning a family reunion your loved ones will remember for years to come. With the area’s central Mid-Atlantic location, plenty of affordable accommodations, more than 45 miles of beautiful beaches, endless outdoor activities, and fairways as far as the eye can see, it is easy to see why hundreds of families host their annual reunion at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands each year. There is no better place to get the family together than at the beach, and the Brunswick Islands has offerings suited to every member of the family.

We spoke with Cheryl Summer, an Ohioan who has been visiting North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for more than 35 years. Cheryl originally started visiting the area with a few couples, and it has now morphed into a 20-person, two-house annual reunion with family and friends traveling from all over the country.

Check out Cheryl’s six tips on making the most of a family reunion, from planning to feeding a crowd:

  1. Find Accommodations That Can Hold Your Entire Family:

The Brunswick Islands has plenty of accommodations and meeting space that can accommodate families of all sizes! One of the most popular accommodations is a vacation rental home. Cheryl recommends booking one or more large houses, with spacious, equipped kitchens, lots of bathrooms, laundry facilities and plenty of areas to gather.

Vacation Beach house

  1. Plan Well in Advance:

Cheryl suggests that families start preparation for each beach reunion at least one year in advance. “We reserve the same two houses for two weeks every September,” she says. “We have families that stay for various lengths of time, and attendees from the current year get first pick on dates for next year’s reunion.”

  1. Organize and Delegate Shopping and Meals:

Feeding the entire family three times a day is no small feat! Cheryl suggests assigning each family a night to provide dinner. “They buy and prepare the main course, dessert and beverages,” says Sumner. Through the years, it’s developed into a friendly competition as each group tries to outdo the other. To save on labor, they use paper plates and cups.  “We don’t come on vacation to do dishes,” she laughs.

For the other meals and staples, Cheryl suggests that every person contribute $30 to the “kitty.”  At the beginning of the trip, Cheryl and her two organizing friends, Rosie and Debbie, make a grocery store run to purchase breakfast and lunch items, paper towels, zip bags, ice and other kitchen items.

“We designate one house for breakfast and lunch,” says Sumner, “and the other for dinner.” This provides the dinner crew a clear kitchen and enough prep time. “But both refrigerators have drinks, snacks and condiments for everyone,” says Sumner.

  1. Themes and Games Make It More Fun:

Perhaps the most fun and memorable part of each reunion is the changing theme. “We have a different theme each year. Once it was Christmas in July, another it was pirates, we vote on the next year’s theme at the end of the reunion” says Sumner.

Tuesday is designated as party night, with everything revolving around the theme, from costumes, décor, quizzes, music and activities. “The year of the pirate we created a treasure hunt throughout the house and onto the beach,” says Sumner. “Participants searched the house for clues, and followed a map onto the sand, where we had placed nine different ‘Xs’ to mark potential treasure.” These fun themed activities bring the family together in a fun and exciting way!

  1. Choose a Location with Many Activities:

Cheryl recommends that families pick a beach that’s not too busy and crowded, such as those in this southernmost corner of North Carolina. Yet the location should have activities for each age group. While each of the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands – Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island – has its own character and charm, they all offer plenty of activities for every age and interest. On the islands and the mainland are mouthwatering dining, museums and shops, boating, kayaking, fishing and championship golf, and riveting maritime and military history.

  1. Book Ahead:

While North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is a well-loved, best-kept secret, it’s best to book a vacation beach rental, especially very large or oceanfront homes, a year ahead or at least by January if visiting from May – August, as many families like Cheryl’s come back year after year to build upon what they call their best vacation memories ever.

Come see why the Brunswick Islands brings families together! To plan your family reunion in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to learn more, visit www.NCBrunswick.com

Follow NC’s Brunswick Islands on social media at www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/ and www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/

 

Upcoming Spring Events & Festivals in NC’s Brunswick Islands

Oak Island Lighthouse Run

Think past the chilly winter months and bulky sweaters forward to basking in the sun in your new bathing suit! Get rid of the winter blues by planning a picturesque coastal getaway this Spring to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Springtime in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands means tons of local events to entertain the whole family. The views are breathtaking, the food is exquisite, and the memories will last a lifetime.

Here’s just a taste of everything North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has to offer this spring:

Spring Art Show

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/spring-art-show-southport-nc

When: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  February 27 – March 18

Where: Franklin Square Gallery, Southport

Contact: 910-457-5450

Southport’s Franklin Square Gallery hosts the annual spring art show featuring paintings, pottery, sculptures, and handmade jewelry by both members of the gallery and local guest artists. The historic building is located near the live oak trees behind Franklin Square Park three blocks from Southport’s waterfront at 130 E. West Street. Over 100 artists will be displaying their work during the exhibit and an award ceremony will be held on Saturday, March 3rd from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. This ongoing event is free and open to all ages.

First Friday Gallery Walks

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/first-friday-gallery-walk-southport-nc-mar

When: Every first Friday of the month, ongoing

Where: Downtown Southport

Contact: 910-457-1129

Art enthusiasts of all ages are invited to attend this free event hosted by Franklin Square Gallery, The Ricky Evans Gallery, Lantana’s Gallery, Silver Coast Winery and Tasting Room Gallery to view the beautiful pieces created by some of North Carolina’s finest artists. Wine and appetizers will be served at each of these locations.

Badwater Cape Fear – Ultra Marathon Race

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/badwater-cape-fear-bald-head-island-nc

When: March 16, 2018 – 9:00 a.m. – March 18, 2018 – 10:00 a.m.

Where: Old Baldy Lighthouse, Bald Head Island

Contact: 910-477-3122

“The world’s toughest foot race” features a 12-mile warm-up on the peaceful, car-free roads of Bald Head Island and is followed by a 19 or 39 mile run through the beautiful and serene beaches that run between Cape Fear and Fort Fisher. Entry pricing is $195 for the 32-mile race and $225 for 51.4 mile race.

Southport Spring Festival

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/southport-spring-festival-nc

When: March 30-31, 2018

Where: Franklin Square Park, Southport

Contact: 910-279-4616 or 910-253-0731

Celebrate Easter weekend with friends and family at one of Southport’s biggest traditions for more than 30 years. Enjoy the 160 vendors of handcrafted home décor, jewelry, goodies and more. It’s not a party unless there is live entertainment for everyone to enjoy! Take walks around the historic waterfront and eat at one of the many restaurants. Admission is free to all.

Oak Island Lighthouse Run/Walk

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/oak-island-lighthouse-run-walk-oak-island-nc

When: April 20-21, 2018

Where: Middleton Park, Oak Island

Contact: 910-457-6964

Enjoy the views of North Carolina Coast’s salt marshes, beautiful beaches, foot bridges, and have a lighthouse as your cheerleader as you run or walk this years 5k, 10k and 1-mile run. The festivities start on Friday the 20th from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The next day after the run enjoy the After Run Celebration at Middleton Park extension. Participants will receive drink tokens and be eligible for cash prizes, while the half marathon runners will receive a finisher award. The price of admission ranges from $25-$75 depending on the race.

Days at the Dock Festival

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/days-at-the-dock-holden-beach-nc

When: April 28-29, 2018

Where: Jordan Blvd- Under Holden Beach Bridge, Holden Beach, NC 28462

Contact: 910-523-8523

Appreciate the finest arts and craft vendors, eat the delicious foods around the festival or go listen to some awesome bands. Don’t forget to watch the infamous Bopple Race, where you buy “Bopples” from the festival, drop them from the Holden Beach bridge and let the current push them towards the finish line. If your “Bopple” wins or comes in second, then you win a prize! Curious to find out what a “Bopple” is? You’ll have to come to Days at the Dock Festival to find out! With free admission and free parking, come out with your family and partake in this exciting tradition!

Howl at The Moon

Website: http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/howl-at-the-moon-bald-head-island-nc-april-29-2018

When: April 29, 2018

Where: East Beach Access 39, Bald Head Island, NC 28461

Come grab a spot on the beach and enjoy the largest beach party every month. Watch the full moon rise and “howl!” around a bonfire. Bring food and drinks to share while Maritime Market provides soup and appetizers. After the moon rises head to Mojo’s for “Moonrise to Midnight.” Admission is free to all.

To learn more about these spring events and others in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to plan your trip, visit www.NCBrunswick.com  Follow NC’s Brunswick Islands on social media at www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/ and www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/

Celebrate With A Very Merry “Island-Style” Holiday Getaway in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Holiday Flotilla

It’s time again to throw on a sweater, grab a cup of hot chocolate and feel the holiday spirit. North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands provides the perfect backdrop for a holiday getaway this season. From festive decorations to flotillas, the Brunswick Islands’ take on the phrase “’tis the season” is sure to make even Scrooge jolly.

Try something a little different this year and head over to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands for fun, new memories and stories your loved ones will tell for years to come. These are just some of the exciting must-do seasonal events and experiences happening this year.

Replace Snowmen with Sandmen

Forget the gloves and heavy coats, and create your winter masterpiece with white sands and decorative seashells. Make your holiday getaway memorable by spending it beachside. Take advantage of the mild weather and uncrowded beaches with your loved ones. Beach rental homes are available at great rates this time of year and ready to accommodate families of all sizes.

Enjoy a Different Type of White Christmas

While everyone else might be trying to de-thaw in front of a fireplace, you and your family can take advantage of the better weather and take a stroll on the beaches. Or visit the local costal shops and see why so many birds fly south for the winter. Either way you can’t go wrong by spending your holiday, Island-style.

Upcoming Holiday Events Include:

Ocean Isle Beach Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting

Saturday, November 25th – 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The seaside celebration begins outside the Museum of Coastal Carolina with the Ocean Isle Beach Holiday Parade at 2:00 p.m., where spectators can view golf carts and other vehicles dressed up for the season, decked with lights, tinsel and garland. Following the parade, attendees are invited to bring their best singing voices and holiday cheer to the annual Tree Lighting and caroling across from the Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department at 4:30 P.M. After the tree lighting, indulge in some sweet treats with Santa at the Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department beginning at 5:00 p.m.

www.ncbrunswick.com/event/ocean-isle-beach-holiday-parade-tree-lighting-nc.

Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla

Saturday, November 25th – 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Take the Christmas celebration dockside to view boats of all sizes dressed up for the holidays. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., spectators can view twinkling Christmas lights in this dazzling over-water parade. From illuminated snowmen to fishing Santas surrounded by festive palm trees, this is a not-to-be-missed beachside tradition. Parade judging and an after party will follow at local favorite Sharky’s Restaurant at 7:00 p.m.

www.ncbrunswick.com/event/ocean-isle-beach-holiday-flotilla-nc.

Southport Winterfest

Friday, December 1st – Sunday, December 10th

Historic Southport goes big for the holidays with its 10-day Winterfest celebration, featuring a range of events and activities for the whole family. The schedule starts off the weekend of December 1st with the Christmas in Song event, followed by the Nutcracker Tea Party on December 2rd. The week’s activities include the Annual Cookie Contest, Costumed History Tour, Winter Craft Festival, Historic Home Tours and much more.

For the full schedule, visit www.ncbrunswick.com/event/winterfest-schedule-southport-nc.

Oak Island Christmas by the Sea Parade

Saturday, December 2nd – 2:00 p.m.

In a celebration of the wonderful weather and the holidays, the Christmas by the Sea Parade steps off at 2:00 p.m. and invites spectators to enjoy floats with festive decorations traveling 2.4 miles through Oak Island. Awards will be given to the floats based on color, the best theme, overall beauty and originality.

www.ncbrunswick.com/event/christmas-by-the-sea-parade-oak-island-nc.

North Carolina Christmas Festival and Parade

Saturday, December 9th -10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.

The 25th annual North Carolina Christmas Festival and Parade will take place at Leland Town Hall Park with the goal of inspiring unity within the local towns and communities, and providing family fun to all! The parade kicks off at 10:00 a.m. with the festival beginning immediately after at 12:00 p.m. The event will feature craft and food vendors, along with children’s entertainment, and music and dance performances to celebrate the season.

www.ncbrunswick.com/event/nc-christmas-festival-and-parade-leland.

Southport Christmas Flotilla

Saturday, December 9th –  7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Spectators can cheer on their favorite vessel illuminated in twinkling Christmas lights as the boats travel upriver to Kingsley Park beginning at 7:00 p.m. Boats will illuminate the night all the way “From the North Pole to Southport.” Awards will be given at the end of the evening to vessels with the most creativity and variety of decorations.

www.ncbrunswick.com/event/christmas-flotilla-southport-nc.

Visit www.ncbrunswick.com/events for a complete list of parades, tree lightings and other holiday events. To plan your holiday getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

You can follow the North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands on social media at www.facebook.com/NCBrunswick/ and www.instagram.com/ncbrunswickislands/.

Immerse Yourself in the Art Galleries and Events of NC’s Brunswick Islands

Art Galleries

In addition to the scenery of the coast, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to even more beauty in the form of art galleries and events that showcase the work of incredibly talented local artists. Travel throughout the island and inland communities to discover art on display, taking inspiration from the nearby beaches and demonstrating the skills of a variety of creative talents. Beyond browsing, find the work of art that speaks to you, and take it home as a forever memory of your visit to the Brunswick Islands.

Looking to meet up with other art enthusiasts? Check out these upcoming local events.

Southport First Friday Gallery Walk
On the first Friday of each month, art lovers gather in historic Southport to enjoy the local culture with a Gallery Walk put on by the town’s art galleries. Enjoy wine and appetizers at Franklin Square Gallery and browse the many collections featured throughout the participating galleries – including Art@211 Ricky Evans Gallery, Lantana’s Gallery & Fine Gifts, and Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room. Shop for the next addition to your art collection. Admission to the galleries is free, and all are welcome! The next First Friday Gallery Walks in Southport are happening on October 6, November 3 and December 1.

Arts by the Shore
November 3 – 5, 2017, join the community of Oak Island for Arts by the Shore at the Oak Island Recreation Center. The 23rd annual art show will feature more than 200 works of art on display for art aficionados to admire. Don’t miss the reception on Sunday where awards will be presented at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Southport Winter Craft Festival
Get started on your holiday shopping, and find distinct, homemade gifts for everyone at the Southport Winter Craft Festival on December 9, 2017. The event, taking place in historic Franklin Square Park, showcases more than 140 vendors offering hand-crafted home décor, jewelry, crafts and much more.

Also, the North Carolina Oyster Festival October 21 and 22 in Ocean Isle Beach and North Carolina Festival by the Sea October 28 and 29 in Holden Beach feature arts and crafts as well as food and entertainment.

Visit www.NCBrunswick.com to learn more about the area’s art community and to begin planning your visit!

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.