October 27, 2010
WILMINGTON, NC — “What is a flotilla?” is a question heard frequently by Visitor Information Specialists in Wilmington and North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast (Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach). Flotillas are lighted boat parades made up of the tiniest of rowboats to the largest of motor yachts. While flotillas occur throughout the year, the holiday season is especially popular for this coastal tradition.
Two holiday flotillas capture the nautical essence and holiday spirit of Wilmington and North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast: the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla. Thousands of visitors celebrate the holiday season by traveling to Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach to experience their spectacular nighttime flotillas. People line the waterways and cheer for the twinkling boats as they drift by, each hoping to win the coveted “Best in Show” prize!
Celebrating its 27th year, the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla is an annual Wrightsville Beach tradition that kicks off the holiday season the weekend after Thanksgiving (November 26-27). On Friday night (5:45 p.m.) the island’s official Christmas tree is lit, followed by visits with Santa at Town Hall, which is also a collection point for Toys for Tots. At 7 p.m., there’s an “Anchor’s Away” Holiday Flotilla party at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort with music by The Four Knights (admission is $35 per person). On Saturday, a full day of entertainment begins with a free Festival in the Park from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at Wrightsville Beach Park with arts and crafts, kids’ activities, inflatable amusements, an open-air bazaar, food, music, and more. Then, at 6:00 p.m. the main event — the flotilla — gets underway, followed by fireworks along Banks Channel. Boaters interested in entering the flotilla for a chance to win prizes and a trip to Costa Rica, can access entry forms at www.ncholidayflotilla.org. For more information about the N.C. Holiday Flotilla, call 910-256-2120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the first Saturday in December (December 4th), the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla in Carolina Beach features lighted fishing boats and pleasure crafts in a spectacular display along the Intracoastal Waterway. Beginning at 6:00 p.m., the boat parade cruises from Snows Cut to Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back. The best viewing station is at Carolina Beach Boat Basin. For information about entering a boat call 910-458-0211. Visitors who arrive a day early will enjoy the annual Island of Lights Nighttime Christmas Parade on Friday evening (December 3). Santa’s official arrival in Pleasure Island is preceded by an elaborate procession of electrical floats, marching bands, queens, and more. The Friday night parade begins at 7:30 p.m. along Lake Park Blvd. from Atlantic Avenue to Federal Point Shopping Center in Carolina Beach. Plan a weekend getaway that includes both the parade and the flotilla. And while you’re on the island, you can shop for unique coastal gifts at shops in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. For more details about the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla and Parade, visit www.islandoflights.org.
More than 40 holiday events celebrate the season in Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. For holiday specials, featured events and experiences, visit www.gocapefearcoast.com/holidays. For a complete Calendar, visit www.gocapefearcoast.com/events.