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.

‘Tis the SEAson in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

snowman

The holidays are here again, and it’s time to get in the festive spirit – what better way than with an island getaway? In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, a white Christmas has a whole new meaning when you get the beaches’ pristine sand between your toes and take in the sound of the ocean waves. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year with both sunrises and sunsets over the blue water.

For a twist on your holiday, head to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands and make new memories and traditions with loved ones. These seasonal events and experiences are a must-add to your holiday wish list.

Replace Gingerbread Houses with Sandcastles

img_6632Forget the messy icing and sticky candy, and create your mansion masterpiece with powdery sand and decorative seashells. Enjoy the mild weather and spend your holiday break on the beach with stress-free access from a beachfront rental home with plenty of space for the extended family.

Shop Coastal

From The Christmas House in Southport to St. Nick Nacks Christmas Shop in Callahan’s of Calabash, you can find Christmas ornaments and mementos for everyone, all while enjoying the scenic coastal towns of the Brunswick Islands.  You can also find countless unique gifts with a coastal theme in the many gift shops and art galleries located throughout the island and inland communities.  Or for the golfer in the family, try the well-stocked pro shops at the over 30 golf courses in the Brunswick Islands.

Upcoming Holiday Events:

Southport Winterfest
Friday, December 2nd – Sunday, December 11th

img_2480-wmHistoric 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 2nd with the Christmas in Song event, followed by the Tree Lighting Ceremony in Franklin Square Park on December 3rd. The week’s activities include the Annual Cookie Contest, Costumed Holiday Tour, Winter Craft Festival, Historic Home Tours and much more. For the full schedule, visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/644.


Oak Island Christmas by the Sea Parade

Saturday, December 3rd

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. http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/202


North Carolina Christmas Festival and Parade

Saturday, December 10th

The 24th 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. http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/542


Southport Christmas Flotilla
Saturday, December 10th

img_9316-fb-southport_tonemappedSpectators 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. http://www.ncbrunswick.com/event/279

For a complete list of events and to plan your holiday getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Find Maritime Merriment Along North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

this holiday season, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands invites you to grab your family, hop in the car and pop in that Beach Boys Christmas album on your way to a coastal yuletide getaway. The holidays may be known for snow, sweaters and stockings, but that doesn’t mean your season can’t also be filled with sun, surf and sand.

While celebrating Christmas around palm trees, the ocean, and aquatic sea life might be unusual for many visitors, the locals of our islands know how to get into the holiday spirit even without the presence of snow. Let the locals be your guide as they bring on the Christmas cheer with an abundance of holiday festivities. Each of our islands and towns ring in the season with its own unique set of celebrations.

Oak Island awaIMG_9316 fb southportits the arrival of Little Saint Nick with the annual Christmas by the Sea Parade, held on the first Saturday in December. The parade travels 2.4 miles from Oak Island Town Hall to McGlamery Street. For a truly maritime take on a Christmas parade, the Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla and Southport Christmas Flotilla illuminate the Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River with a parade of beautifully decorated sailboats and power boats of all shapes and sizes.

Historic Downtown Southport spreads the spirit of the season with Winterfest, a four-day Christmas celebration with a uniquely southern charm. Winterfest features a craft festival along with other exciting holiday events.

With so many events to choose from, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands caters to all ages and beckons you to escape the temptations of typical mainland festivities. This winter, shake up the season and make the coast a must-visit holiday destination!

For a complete list of our Christmas parades, tree lightings and other festivities, please visit the calendar of events.  And if you don’t make it to the Brunswick Islands for Christmas, it’s also a great place to unwind after the holidays and to ring in the new year!

Carving Memories in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Thanksgiving is the oldest American holiday, its roots in celebrating the blessing of the harvest have grown into a national giving of thanks for all of life’s bounty. This national tradition has even sprouted mini-traditions of its own, whether it be inviting family and friends over for an elaborate home-cooked meal, watching your favorite team take on their biggest rival or tuning into the beloved Thanksgiving Day Parade.

This year, add spice to your season and start a new tradition by soaking in the season (and sun!) in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For the family who loves to travel when the kids are out of school, a fall escape to the beach is an escape from hectic holiday crowds. Let the gentle ocean waves, feel of the soft sand and warmth from the southern sun be the backdrop to a peaceful Thanksgiving retreat, perfect for catching up on some quality R&R before the winter holiday rush. With a variety of vacation specials, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands makes a Thanksgiving beach getaway both family and financially friendly.

DSC_1712A coastal celebration can also put you and your family in touch with the origins of this nation’s oldest holiday, which has come to be marked by stuffed turkeys, mashed potatoes and savory gravy. These items were likely not the only fare at the first Thanksgiving feast. Odds are seafood, available in abundance along and a signature of the New England coast, was also on the menu. Spend your Thanksgiving at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and you too can celebrate the season with fresh, traditional coastal fare such as roasted oysters, steamed clams, fish and shrimp.

If shopping is a part of your Thanksgiving tradition, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands has something for you too. Across the islands and towns, you’ll find a large selection of specialty shops, art galleries, local craft boutiques, and antique treasures. In Shallotte, enjoy shopping your favorite brands and finding those Black Friday deals. Whether your tastes are contemporary or old-fashioned, downright fun or reflect a more traditional view, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for.

IMG_8979Looking to get in the Christmas spirit on your Thanksgiving beach vacation? The 11th Annual Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla on Saturday, November 28, 2015 takes the term “parade” to an entirely new level. During this free event, the Intracoastal Waterway provides a fluid route for a host of beautifully decorated sailboats and power boats of all shapes and sizes lighting up the waterways.

So this season, treat your family with a trip to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands and experience a new tradition marked by togetherness and many thanks for years past and to come!

Christmas by the Sea

while celebrating Christmas around palm trees, the ocean, and aquatic sea life might be unusual for many visitors, the locals of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands knowIMG_2480 how to get into the holiday spirit even without the presence of snow.  In addition to holiday parades and tree lightings, each town has unique celebrations. For example, Southport shines when the town holds its ten-day Winterfest December 4 -13, which includes a craft festival and other holiday events. The stately homes of Southport’s Historic District are always admired from the street, but on one special Saturday in December you can see some of the beautiful interiors during the Southport Historical Society’s Christmas Tour of Homes (December 13).

If you’ve never celebrated the holidays with Santa arriving via schooner, get ready for a different kind of parade with two holiday flotillas – the Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla on November 29 and the Southport Flotilla on December 13. The Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River provide a fluid route for a host of beautifully decorated sailboats and power boats of all shapes and sizes lighting up the waterways.

For a complete list of all Brunswick Islands Christmas parades, tree lightings and other holiday events, please visit our calendar of events.Calabash xmas lights