5 Reasons to Visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands this Winter

snowman

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, to visit North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands that is. Winter is one of the best seasons to come to the Brunswick Islands. Escape from the snow, freezing temperatures and frost bite with a winter getaway to these beautiful, pristine, peaceful beaches.

Here are five reasons why you should make the Brunswick Islands your next winter getaway:

1. It feels like you’re on your own private island.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to have your own private island? With relaxing, serene beaches the Brunswick Islands feel like just that. With enough space for everyone, there is room to spread out and enjoy the company of your family and loved ones without encroaching on someone else’s beach spot.

sunrise on sunset

2. Get more bang for your buck.

In the off-season vacation accommodations, golf courses and other area attractions will often offer special promotions to entice visitors to come and see how wonderful this area is in the winter. And don’t forget about the big holidays that are coming up! A weekend getaway or a round of golf would make an excellent present for anyone who needs a winter vacation.

3. Relaxed pet regulations.

The off-season is the best time to take a dog-friendly vacation! With relaxed beach regulations, your furry friends are bound to have the time of their lives. Rules and regulations vary from beach to beach, but in the winter dogs are allowed all day on every beach in the Brunswick Islands. And if you want to give your dog a chance to be off-leash, take them up to Caswell Beach, Oak Island or out to Bald Head Island for some fetching fun! For tips on how to better prepare for a beach trip with your pup, click the link blog.ncbrunswick.com/dog-friendly-beaches/.

beach dog

4. Watch both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean.

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are quite unique compared to other beaches in North Carolina. It’s because they have a rare distinction in that they run east to west, parallel with the shore, and generally face south. Because the sun reaches far enough south in the late fall through early spring, you are able to see both the sunrise and sunset over the ocean. This phenomena has been called one of the “10 Incredible Phenomena You Have to See in Fall” by Weather.com.

Sunset Ocean Isle Beach

5. Your new spot.

Make the Brunswick Islands your new winter getaway for years to come! Come and rejuvenate or have some fun by attending an outdoor market, festival or parade. The winter is chock-full of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy! Especially around the holidays, the quaint coastal towns of the Brunswick Islands are in no short supply of fun things to do. Or come after the holidays and spend some time relaxing and unwinding from the holiday hustle and bustle. And who knows, you might even start a new family tradition!

couple on sunset

The average winter temperature in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is around the mid 50s. So ditch that snowman for a sandman and spend this winter on an incredible beach vacation. To learn more about the Brunswick Islands or to start planning your winter getaway, check out ncbrunswick.com.

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.

Eight Free Things To Do in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Caswell Beach Oak Island Lighthouse

Sometimes the best things in life are free, and that is no exception in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. This summer discover just how easy it is to go big on a budget in the Brunswick Islands. When you’re visiting, be sure to check out the below eight free activities that are sure to bring on the smiles without breaking the bank or sacrificing the fun factor.

1. Oak Island Lighthouse

Located on Caswell Beach, the Oak Island Lighthouse is a must-visit spot that proves it is possible to elevate your vacation experience at no added cost. The 153-foot structure is the last lighthouse built in North Carolina. While tours to the top of this 15-story beauty are free, friendly donations from visitors are always appreciated and help ensure that future travelers to the area will enjoy the scenic views awaiting atop the 131-step series of ships ladders.

Kindred Spirit Mailbox

 2. Kindred Spirit Mailbox

While walks along the beach are always a priceless perk of a coastal getaway, at the Brunswick Islands you can take a tranquil stroll to a tucked away mailbox full of secrets. Standing in the sands of beautiful Bird Island is the Kindred Spirit Mailbox. This mailbox to nowhere is a true hidden gem holding small notebooks full of the thoughts, dreams, wishes and prayers of wayward travelers. Walk along Bird Island and see the mailbox firsthand to soak in the magic and add your own musings to the ever-growing collection.

 

3. North Carolina Maritime Museum

Venture to Southport to visit one of the three maritime museums sponsored by the state of North Carolina. Visitors to the museum can dive into the rich history of the Cape Fear River region. The museum’s well curated collection tells the story of the region and covers shipwrecks, piracy, the Civil War, and other nautical adventures. While admission to the Maritime Museum is free, donations are appreciated.

Southport tour

 4. Self-Guided Tour of Southport

One authentic and charming way to explore the area is by foot. Spend less and see more with a self-guided tour starting at the Fort Johnston – Southport Museum & Visitors Center. Here maps and brochures that will lead your journey through historic Southport can be found. Stops include churches and homes dating back to the 1800s as well as landmarks like City Hall, the Old Brunswick Jail, Old Smithville Burial Grounds and River Pilots Tower. Southport, “American’s Happiest Seaside Town” as noted by Coastal Living, has been a beloved Brunswick Islands destination since the late 1700s. No stranger to the spotlight, Southport’s innately picturesque scenery has served as the backdrop to many popular films and TV shows such as Safe Haven, A Walk to Remember and The Secret Life of Bees.

Brunswick Town

5. Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson

History buffs will delight in a day trip to the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site. Admission is free and grants visitors access to tour and roam what is left of old Brunswick, a major pre-Revolutionary port on North Carolina’s Cape Fear River. Brunswick Town was razed by British troops in 1776. While the town was never rebuilt, during the Civil War, Fort Anderson was constructed on the old town grounds and functioned until the fall of the Confederacy. Today notable sites include the hulk of what was once Brunswick’s St. Philip’s Anglican Church and remains of a sea captain’s house used by royal governors.

sea turtle

 6. Turtle Talks

North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is home to unforgettable and wonderful wildlife experiences. Loggerhead sea turtles are known to frequent the area, and sometimes lucky visitors are able to catch a glimpse of a magnificent sea turtle gliding through the ocean waves or watch in awe as baby sea turtles make their way toward the sea. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free seminars, designed for the whole family, to share important information about protecting loggerhead sea turtles. These “Turtle Talks” can are held late spring through summer. See our calendar of events for details.

7. Summer Concerts

The ways to enjoy some free fun in the sun continue with summer concerts at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Starting in May through Labor Day week each of our beach communities hold live music performances that are free to enjoy and perfect for family members of all ages. Each community has their own schedule and performing artists change every week, so be sure to check out our calendar of events for more information on who will be playing during your stay.

Farmers Market

8. Farmers Market

In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, it is easy to live like a local with summer outdoor farmers markets starting up in May. Many of our friendly beach communities host their own outdoor market, some located along the waterfront, offering fine artisanal goods, locally grown produce, baked goods, photography, pottery and other handcrafted items. While the fresh and local goodies are for sale, a stroll through one of our quaint farmers markets is a relaxing way to enjoy a morning at the beach.  See our calendar of events for locations and times.

For more information on things to do at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Celebrate Seasonal Freshness with Outdoor Markets in the Brunswick Islands

Farmers Market

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.