White Christmas Island-Style: Holiday Events and Traditions

beach christmas tree

Winter days may be shorter, but there is no shortage of things to do in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. This holiday season take Christmas coastal and trade in Santa Claus for “Sandy” Claus. Families that shake up their holiday travel plans with a little bit of sun, sand and surf will be rewarded with the gift of a White Christmas celebrated island-style. The only blanket of white you will see here is that of a long stretch of sand on the beach. At North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, there are countless celebrations, parades, markets and festivities throughout our friendly coastal communities perfect for spreading holiday cheer.

Check out our list of can’t-miss holiday events perfect for every member of the family.

Tree Lightings 
Kick off the holiday season with a spectacular tree lighting ceremony guaranteed to enchant and excite people of all ages. Many of our islands and towns host special tree lighting events, so locals and visitors alike have many chances to capture a magical moment of their own.

Tree Lighting Ceremony – Southport
Nov 23, 2018, 4:30 p.m.

Join Southport revelers in Franklin Square Park as the holiday season kicks off with a countdown to the lighting of our big holiday tree. Sing classic Christmas songs and delight in a reading of The Night Before Christmas. Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and some holiday cookies that will be provided, under the glow of Southport’s holiday lights. The event is free but donations will be appreciated.

Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony – Holden Beach
Nov 29, 2018, 5:30 p.m.

Gather Thursday, November 29, 2018 at the Holden Beach Pavilion for this family friendly event. Enjoy live entertainment beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the tree lighting at 6:00 p.m. Enjoy chorus entertainment, games and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Tree Lighting – Oak Island
Nov 30, 2018, 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Celebrate the season with a tree lighting at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, November 30 at Middleton Park. There will be crafts and entertainment before and after the tree lighting. Local musicians will play your favorite Christmas songs as you sip on free hot chocolate. A special visitor from the North Pole will make a visit!

North Carolina Christmas Festival and Parade – Leland
Dec 1, 2018, 4:00 – 9:00 p.m.

The North Carolina Christmas Festival and Parade is back and better than ever! The festival will be on Saturday, December 1 from 4:00 – 9:00 p.m. The parade will begin at 5:00 p.m. and will be followed by a Christmas tree lighting with Santa and Mrs. Claus at 6:30 p.m. Pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available after the tree lighting.

Calabash Tree Lighting – Calabash
Dec 7, 2018, 6:00 p.m.

Help decorate the tree, visit with Santa and enjoy hot chocolate and snacks while seeing the tree light up for the first time of the season.

Parades
Nothing shares the spirit of the season much like a celebratory parade. In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, holiday parades are in no short supply. By land and by sea, Santa is coming to town and the communities of the Brunswick Islands welcome you and your family to join in some of the maritime merriment.

Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla – Ocean Isle Beach
Nov 24, 2018, 5:30 p.m.

The 15th Annual Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla will take place on Saturday, November 24, 2018. The boat parade lines up at 5:30 p.m. in front of Inlet View Bar & Grill. Once dusk has fallen and all the lights are on and ready to go, they will begin their way down the Intracoastal Waterway, ending at Sharky’s restaurant around 7:00 p.m. for awards and an after party. You will find excellent viewing spots between both restaurants, including the ending point in the commercial canal in front of Sharky’s Restaurant.

OIB flotilla

Christmas by the Sea Parade – Oak Island
Dec 1, 2018, 2:00 p.m.

Christmas is perhaps the best time of year to visit the North Carolina coast. The average air temperature is 59.4 degrees and the sun is warm. In celebration of this wonderful weather and the holidays, the Chamber organizes the Christmas by the Sea Parade. The parade is on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 2 p.m. on the 2.4-mile parade route from Oak Island Town Hall, traveling Oak Island Drive to McGlamery Street. The parade showcases the businesses and organizations in our community. The hometown feel of the parade makes it a favorite event of locals, second homeowners and visitors.

Shallotte Christmas Parade – Shallotte
Dec 1, 2018, 10:00 a.m.

Shallotte’s Christmas Parade is on Saturday, December 1 at 10:00 a.m. The parade starts from the intersection of Main Street & Whiteville Road and ends at the intersection of Main Street & Smith Avenue. The roads close at 8:00 a.m.

Sandy Paws Parade – Holden Beach
Dec 7, 2018, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

Celebrate this holiday season with your pup on our pet-friendly beaches! Bring your dog out for a short stroll in the doggie parade and then have a picture made with Santa. The event will begin at Town Hall at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, December 7. Picture opportunities will take place at the Holden Beach Pavilion after the parade.

Southport Christmas Flotilla – Southport
Dec 8, 2018, Approximately 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

Come and see a holiday parade on the water. Bring a chair and choose your viewing spot along the historic banks of the Cape Fear River. Boats of all sizes (power, paddle, sail) will be dressed in holiday finery. Witness the lights twinkling on the water and lighting up the night sky. Cheer for your favorite boats judged by guest judges, students from the Southport Elementary School Art Class. Come early and enjoy one of the many activities there is to offer in Southport.

southport flotilla

Markets and Festivities

Kick ordinary beach souvenirs to the curb and stop by a local holiday market to find something unique for that special someone. Who knows, you may even discover a little holiday treat for yourself along the way.

Ocean Isle Beach Holiday Market – Ocean Isle Beach
Nov 23, 2018, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Come on out to the Ocean Isle Beach Holiday Market on November 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Over 60 of our area’s finest artisans will participate to create a unique holiday shopping experience. All items for sale will be handmade, homemade or homegrown.

Sunset Beach Waterfront Holiday Market – Sunset Beach
Dec 1, 2018, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

This holiday market will include a variety of the area’s finest artisans selling their unique handmade, homemade or homegrown items that will make the perfect holiday gift. Pictures with Santa will be available. There will be food trucks, hot chocolate and treats to enjoy as you shop the various vendors. So come, shop, eat and enjoy the start of a wonderful holiday season.

Holiday Craft Market – Oak Island
Dec 1, 2018, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Find a unique token from the beach to gift to your loved ones this holiday season. This year’s Holiday Craft Market will offer both indoor and outdoor shopping.

Winterfest – Southport
Dec 1, 2018 – Dec 9, 2018, Daytime and Nighttime Holiday Events

Kick off the holiday season with a week of celebration and events throughout the downtown area. Guests of all ages may enjoy live theater, a WinterFest Tea Party, cookie contest, supper with Santa’s elves, a viewing of the Polar Expressa costumed history tour, Christmas fire engine parade, Winter Craft Festival, book sale, performing arts, Santa’s workshop, historic jail tour, Christmas Tour of Homes, and to wrap up the week with the Christmas Flotilla.

Shallotte Christmas Village – Shallotte
Dec 15, 2018, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The Shallotte Christmas Village will take place on Saturday, December 15 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Mulberry Park. Local farmers and vendors will be in attendance.

merry christmas

This winter, swap snow for sand and start a new holiday tradition with your family and loved ones at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For a full list of holiday happenings, please visit ncbrunswick.com/events.

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/.