Coastal North Carolina: A great place to live and visit during the holiday season

Photo by Toni Cuenca on

Although, the weather may be a little cooler and the days are shorter, there is so much to do in our beach community this holiday season. Make sure to take time away from the hustle and enjoy quality time with loved ones this holiday season at one or more of these local events.

Cameron Art Museum

Floating Lantern Ceremony, December 9, 2018, 4-7 PM

open to the public at no charge (donations are appreciated). Lantern sleeves are available for purchase ($10 through Dec. 8, $15 on Dec. 9).

Remembrance, Reflection & Gratitude. Imagine hundreds of paper lanterns floating on water and glowing warmly from candlelight. Together, they become a soulful display of community spirit. Participants are encouraged to personalize a paper lantern sleeve to float on CAM’s Reflecting Pond as an expression of Remembrance, Reflection and Gratitude. Live music inside the museum and on the grounds enhance the late afternoon/early evening setting. Festive food and beverages from CAM Café available for purchase.

 Cameron Art Museum

Two Great events at Wilmington Railroad Museum

Polar Express Family Shows, December 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23 – 4:30 and 5:30 pm

Enjoy the season with a reading of the classic story by WWAY-TV personalities, visit with Santa, and sip on hot chocolate afterward.
Call (910) 763-2634 to reserve and pay for your tickets.
By prepaid reservation, only $5 each, children under age 2 free.

Christmas Train & Light Spectacular, Friday and Saturday Evening and the day after Christmas from 6:30 PM until 8:00 PM. Nov. 30, Dec. 1-29

A great walk-through show that will charm all ages. 
Come on down to see festive synchronized light & sound displays,
specially decorated holiday trains running on twilight layouts,
visits with Santa, sensational decorations, and hot cider and cookies afterward.

Wilmington Railroad museum

Airlie Gardens

Enchanted Airlie

A New Hanover County tradition since 2005, visit Airlie Gardens from Thanksgiving to Christmas to take in the sparkling sights and festive sounds of the season. Guests will experience a 0.5m stroll through the Gardens, on a self-guided walking tour while feasting their eyes on a spectacular array of lights and holiday displays. Also in attendance, Santa Claus himself, and a few local food and beverage vendors with hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies, beer, wine and more!  Tickets will sell out in advance so reserve yours early! 

Enchanted Airlie Tickets

Mikes Farm

Ho Ho Christmas Show: November 23-December 22

Old fashioned cooking followed by a musical variety show of Christmas Classics with a touch of comedy. Top the night off with our Festival of Lights Hayride. It will be an evening the whole family will enjoy! Held Wednesday through Saturday from Doors open 30 minutes prior to your meal.

Festival of Lights Hayride:  Thanksgiving night-December 23rd

Encore will be held December 26th-December 29th.Festival of Lights Hayride is a 30 minute hayride around the farm accompanied by Christmas music. Along the way are lighted holiday scenes and a live nativity. Held nightly (weather permitting) starting  First hayride goes out nightly at 6:00. Cost is $9.00 for ages 5 and up. No reservations needed.

Mikes Farm info and tickets 

Greenfield Tree Lighting & ELF Movie

Friday, Nov. 30 Starts at 5:15 @ Greenfield Amphitheater 

A free family event featuring entertainment, tree lighting and visits with Santa. Refreshments are available for sale. Elf movie will be featured at 7:00                             Tree lighting and movie information

Downtown Holiday Parade

December 2, 2018 at 6 pm in Historic Downtown Wilmington

Grab an early dinner at one of Wilmington’s local downtown  restaurants before enjoying a parade of lights, holiday music, marching, and Santa as residents and local venues parade around and spread holiday joy through historic downtown Wilmington. The Wilmington Holiday Parade will begin at North Front and Walnut streets and travel south on Front Street, ending at Church Street.
Parking is available in either the Market Street deck or the 2nd Street deck beginning at 5 p.m. for $2. On-street parking is free on Sundays. Parade information

North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher

Santa’s Magical Morning 8:00 – 9:30 am, Saturday, December 15

Enjoy a donut breakfast while Santa dives in the Cape Fear Shoals with his aquatic friends. Wonder at true tales of Santa’s North Pole neighbors and polar pals. Enjoy holiday storytime with Mrs. Claus and don’t be surprised by the giggles of glee when the jolly old elf presents a specially selected gift to each child. Breakfast will include holiday-themed donuts, provided by Wake and Bake Donuts, yogurt, juice, milk, coffee and hot chocolate.

2018 Cape Fear Festival of Trees 9 am-5 pm November 19-January 2

The Lower Cape Fear Hospice hosts this beloved tradition amidst the inspiring backdrop of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Thanks to the generosity of the presenting sponsor First Citizens Bank, visitors delight in dozens of dazzling, decorated trees in a unique aquatic setting. All visitors who purchase a general admission ticket to the Aquarium will also experience this festive event!                                                         Aquarium events

Holiday Shows

A Christmas Carol December 7th – 16th, 2018 @ Main Stage Thalian Hall
Friday & Saturday 7:30 pm & Sunday 3 pm

Based on the story by Charles Dickens, broadway heavy hitters Alan Menken (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) and Lynn Ahrens, breathe fantastic new life into the classic tale of A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge, a prosperous curmudgeon, is forced to face his selfish ways when three ghosts on Christmas Eve lead him through his Past, Present and Future.                                                                                                                                    Christmas Carol Tickets

The Great Wilmington Nutcracker December 15-16 @ the Wilson Center

United States International Ballet and Wilmington Ballet Company present The Great Wilmington Nutcracker at the Wilson Center. The production is under the leadership of Italian Ballet Stars, Walter Angelini and Ines Albertini, and features more than 30 professional dancers from five countries including local youth dancers and athletes from the Special Olympics.  Purchase tickets

A Merry Little Christmas Festival

December 14- 16th @ Poplar Grove Plantation Friday, 5-8 pm; Saturday, 12-8 pm; Sunday, 12-5 pm

Enjoy a Merry Little Christmas Festival, a European Winter Bazaar experience featuring arts and craft vendors, a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, visits with Santa, lawn games, and outdoors screenings of The Polar Express, A Christmas Story, and Elf. The grounds and barnyard will be decorated with seasonal vignettes and and the manor house will be open for evening candlelit tours. A Merry Little Christmas information

I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy some of these amazing events and have a wonderful holiday season. Know of an awesome event that’s not listed? I would love to hear your feedback and I can add it here.

I have been a resident of Wilmington NC  for 18 years and have seen our coastal community grow into the thriving city that it is. Wilmington is known for it’s pristine beaches, local venues, and strong community. Feel free to reach out with questions about our area, special events and any real estate needs. 
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