Small Town, Big Celebration: 4th of July Fun in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

4th of July

Summer is the perfect time for celebrations! Home to one of North Carolina’s biggest and oldest 4th of July events, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is the ideal destination to fly your American flag high and celebrate our nation’s independence. If you’re looking for a small, local celebration, you best look elsewhere because Southport does the 4th of July BIG – and this year the patriotic party will be bigger than ever before. Come and see why Coastal Living named Southport the “Best Beach Town in America for the Fourth of July.”

Since 1795, Southport has celebrated our nation’s Independence Day with grandeur. The NC 4th of July Festival is one of the most historic Fourth of July celebrations of any small town in America and annually draws crowds of 40,000 to 50,000 people. Scheduled for June 23 – July 4, 2019, the festivities commemorate our nation’s freedom with a multitude of events including a grand finale of fireworks over Southport’s iconic waterfront. A full calendar and schedule of events can be found here.

The celebration week continues with Beach Day at Oak Island on July 1. This beach day festival is the ideal event for families of all sizes and ages with live entertainment, inflatables, rides and games. Don your red, white and blue and show off your family’s skills in one of the day’s many family contests and competitions. As the sun sets on the festival, be sure to stick around for the annual Beach Day Concert. This year’s attendees are in for a real treat with a live performance by Steve Owens & Summertime Band, set right in the heart of the Beach Day grounds. Beach Day starts at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m. with a fireworks show at the Oak Island Pier.

beach day

After a fun day spent in the sand and sun, visitors are invited to join an expected 50,000 people in historic downtown Southport during a festival that remembers the sacrifices made by those who protected our country’s rights and freedoms. This celebration from July 2 – 4 is the crown jewel of Southport’s famed Independence Day celebration. Visitors can browse through more than 100 arts & crafts booths, taste local flavors at dozens of vendors and enjoy the entertainment of live music.

On the last day of the celebration, be sure not to miss the NC 4th of July Parade, an annual crowd favorite at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 4 in Southport. This parade is so notorious, colorful and festive that it was even recreated and featured in the movie “Safe Haven.” Live concerts, arts and crafts, concessions and a boat raffle all lead up to the main event, a spectacular fireworks display over the waterfront starting at 9:00 p.m. Southport’s explosive fireworks show is one not to miss so be sure to stake out your spot early, the space fills up quickly with eager spectators!

4th of July

For more information on the NC 4th of July Festival and other Brunswick Islands July 4th events and activities visit our calendar of events.

Brunswick Islands Fun That Won’t Break the Bank

budget

A vacation filled with golden memories doesn’t need to cost its weight in gold. In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, some of our best attractions are the most wallet-friendly, making it easy for you to enjoy a five-star vacation without the five-star price tag. Learn about the rich history of the area, explore Brunswick Islands’ stunning natural beauty or stroll around on a self-guided walking tour, all without breaking the bank.

Dive into the rich history

From Southport to Calabash, the Brunswick Islands are filled with a rich history, unique ecosystems and interesting animal life. Native American tribes, the Revolutionary War and even pirates have all impacted the area and formed the culture we know today. History buffs can pop into any of the several free or low-priced museums in the area to take a deeper dive into the events that formed the culture of the region today while ocean lovers can visit one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast to learn more about our marine and sea plant life.

Maritime Museum of Southport

Stop by the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport and discover all there is to learn about the maritime history of the area. The museum is located along the waterfront where the Cape Fear River, Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean merge, making it an ideal spot to learn about the local seafaring culture. Admission is free so visitors can easily explore exhibits about shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, commercial fishing, hurricanes and much more.

maritime museum

Museum of Coastal Carolina

The Museum of Coastal Carolina is a great way to spend an afternoon with your little ones or to simply learn about the diverse ecosystem of Coastal North Carolina. The museum offers many opportunities to experience marine life up close with hands-on activities like a fossil pit with shark teeth that you get to take home, life-sized wildlife dioramas and a Touch Tank with live animals like sea stars, sea urchins and more. You can also learn more about sea turtle nesting in the area with an informative and entertaining video of nesting sea turtles on Ocean Isle Beach! The museum is $9.50 for adults (13-61), $8.50 for seniors (62+), $7.50 for children (3-12) and free for ages 2 and under. The museum also offers a $2.00 discount if you bring your same-week Ingram Planetarium ticket.

museum of coastal carolina

Sunset Swing Bridge & Museum

Take a step back in time at the Sunset Swing Bridge & Museum and learn about the iconic bridge that linked Sunset Beach with the mainland. The bridge was decommissioned after the opening of the Mannon C. Gore Bridge in 2011. The old swing bridge and tender house still serve as a free museum for the public, only now they’re safely sitting on dry land. During your visit to the museum, be sure to check out the artifacts from the Blockade Runner Vesta which ran aground on Sunset Beach during the Civil War.

old swing bridge sunset beach

Outdoor Fun

With the diverse vegetation found throughout the Brunswick Islands, there’s always a new landscape to explore. Whether you’re most comfortable on the mainland, the islands or in the parks, our communities are filled with fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Live Music in All Settings

Keep an ear out for all the amazing free concerts in the area during your stay. Several of our towns and islands put on summer concert series that are free for all to enjoy. Recline in your beach chair while you listen to music when you stop by the concerts happening at Holden Beach, Southport, Ocean Isle Beach, Oak Island, Calabash or Sunset Beach. If an evening in the park sounds like more of your scene, head inland for the Leland Concerts in the Park series, Shallotte SummerFest series or the Boiling Spring Lakes concert series.

OIB concert

Island Farmers and Artisans’ Market

If you’re looking for a unique, locally made souvenir, or just want to sink your teeth into some fresh produce, be sure to check out the many farmer’s markets that take place from late spring to late fall and features vendors offering produce, homemade jams, cakes and a variety artisan goods like jewelry, furniture, rugs, potholders and much more. Chat with locals while you stroll the aisles of goodies.

Oak Island Lighthouse

When visiting Caswell Beach be sure to visit the Oak Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse opened in 1958 to replace the Cape Fear Light, and stands as the newest lighthouse in North Carolina. Climb to the top through a series of ship ladders for a stunning view of the Brunswick Islands. Top tours of the lighthouse are available for free year round by appointment and second level tours are available on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

oak island lighthouse

Family Tee Time

Spend some quality time on the course with your family.  Many area golf courses such as the Brunswick Plantation Resort and Golf, Rivers Edge Golf Club, Sandpiper Bay Golf Club, Crow Creek Golf Club and Sea Trail Golf Club, offer free golf for juniors while playing with a paying adult. Check their websites or call the pro shop for details.

junior golf

Walking Tours

If you’re looking to get some steps in on your vacation, a walking tour could be just the ticket. There are several guided and self-guided tours in the area highlighting everything from the islands’ rich history to popular movie shooting locations.

Self-Guided Movie Location Tour

Check out the backdrops for some of your favorite movie scenes with a self-guided tour of the movie and TV shooting locations in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands by picking up a map from the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitor Center. Our charming towns and beaches have been featured in box office hits like Iron Man 3, Weekend at Bernie’s and Safe Haven as well as episodes from popular television shows like Dawson’s Creek, Hart of Dixie and Matlock. See for yourself the familiar homes and beaches that brought these scenes to life!

safe haven

Historical Walking Tour of Southport

Get active and take a self-guided walking tour through historic Southport. The tour will lead you to architecture dating back to the 1800s, as well as several significant landmarks in the area. Grab a map from the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum & Visitor Center and make your way around while learning the history and events that shaped Southport into the town we love today.

fort johnston

Soak Up Some Vitamin Sea

No vacation to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is complete without a few hours simply relaxing on the sand and soaking up some rays. Take some time to slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of our beaches.

fun

Shelling on the Shore

If you’re looking for an active alternative to sunbathing on the beach, North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands’ 45 miles of breathtaking beaches offer a perfect spot to go hunting for beach gems like the variety of seashells that wash up on the sand. Shelling is a great activity to teach kids about the ocean, or just to take in the scenery. The most abundant types of shells that you might find include Angelwings, Olive Shells, True Tulips, Sand Dollars and Starfish. Take a scenic stroll down the beach and search for these little treasures of the tide!

shells

For more information on activities to enjoy during your vacation in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.ncbrunswick.com.

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.

FALL in Love with North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

september and October in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are packed with events attracting everyone from music lovers to runners to anglers to foodies to festival goers. Adults and children alike can enjoy a variety of attractions including fishing tournaments, movie nights on the lawn, grape stomping, sandcastle building, and a surf off. Add these exciting events with mild weather and great rates on accommodations and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable fall getaway. Here’s just a taste of our fall featured events:

Sixth Annual Southport Wooden Boat Show

Southport Wooden Boat ShowThe Southport Wooden Boat Show offers a chance to admire wooden boats, and talk with those who are passionate about making and owning them. The event will feature a contest where judges will be awarding the outstanding boat in a variety of categories, “Nauti-kids” activities for the young sailors, and nautical and maritime demonstrations. Exhibits from the North Carolina Aquarium and The Ft. Fisher Underwater Archaeology Branch will be on display throughout the afternoon. There will also be a Seafood Chowder Cook-off featuring five teams competing to win cash prizes and the title of the 2015 “SWBS Chowder Champion.”

North Carolina Oyster Festival

DSC_1242_Oyster EatersThe biggest food event of the season is the 35th annual North Carolina Oyster Festival that transforms the streets of Ocean Isle Beach into an open-air walking district, and boasts the best local cuisine, arts, crafts and entertainment. An Oyster Shucking Contest features professionals competing for the state title, perhaps dreaming of the national, or even the World Championships in Galway, Ireland. Amateurs are welcome to try their luck at local recognition. An Oyster Stew Cook-off allows attendees to try and rate local chef’s best recipes. More than 15 food and beverage vendors will be there offering everything from seafood and landlubber delights, to healthy or fun festival food.  Live music will be featured throughout the weekend.

NC Festival By The Sea

P1000027This two-day event kicks off with a parade down the Holden Beach causeway –  the one day of each year that locals and guests alike can enjoy the views of the Holden Beach Bridge on foot. Hundreds can enjoy taking pictures and absorbing the sights from the top of the bridge. A horseshoe tournament and sandcastle contest entertains the more competitive while kids can enjoy face painting, kite flying and more. The festival will also feature live music, arts and crafts and food vendors.

Check out our calendar of events for a full list of fun fall events!