Here’s a sampling of festivities from the river to the sea (Pleasure Island events are in red):
Nov. 16-Dec. 22—A Christmas Carol. Fri. & Sat. The Dickens classic served with a Victorian meal. TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St., Wilmington. Admission charge; tickets required. 910-399-3669; www.theatrewilmington.com
Nov. 22—Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot. 7:30am. 5k Turkey Trot or 1-mile Gobbler Family Fun Walk. The Loop, Wrightsville Beach. Registration fee. 910-762-4744; www.precisiontimingsystems.com/racecalendar.htm?evrec=E193
Nov. 23—Wrightsville Beach Tree Lighting Ceremony & Launch Party. Tree lighting (free) 5:45pm, Wrightsville Beach Park; Flotilla Launch Party (admission) 7pm, Blockade Runner Resort. 910-256-2120; www.ncholidayflotilla.org
Nov. 23-24; Dec. 1, 8, 15—Christmas by the Sea. Boardwalk lights up at 8pm on Nov. 23. Open Saturdays from 6:30pm-8:30pm with family holiday activities & entertainment. Carolina Beach Boardwalk, www.boardwalkmakeover.org
Nov. 23—Downtown Christmas Tree Lighting. 5:30pm. Ceremony with music, caroling, and Santa. Tree shines nightly through the holidays. Free. Water Street @ Market St., Wilmington. 910-343-4114; www.wilmingtonnc.gov
Nov. 23-Dec. 22 (each Thur., Fri. & Sat.)—Enchanted Airlie (STS Top 20 Event). Lighted gardens, LEGOs, music, Santa. Two sessions (5pm & 7pm). Advance tickets required. Airlie Gardens, Wilmington. 910-798-7700; airliegardens.org.
Nov. 23-Jan. 2—Holiday Lighting of the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA. The Battleship NC is lit from the bow to the masts and stern. Nightly from dusk to 11pm. Best view from Downtown. 910-251-5797, www.battleshipnc.com.
Nov.23–Dec.31—Island of Lights Festival. Holiday lights & events. Carolina/Kure beaches. www.islandoflights.org.
Nov. 23-Dec. 24—Light-Up Celebration & Walking Tours of Lake. 7pm. Ceremony (Nov. 23) begins “Island of Lights Festival,” Carolina Beach Lake. Lit nightly for walks thru Dec. 24. Free. 910-458-6885. www.islandoflights.org
Nov. 23-Dec. 24—Mayfaire Winter Wonderland. 6:30pm. Entertainment, Santa, decorations, Polar Express train rides. Mayfaire Town Centre (near Cinema 16), Wilmington. 910-256-5131; www.mayfairetown.com
Nov. 23-Dec. 23—Santa Visits at Cotton Exchange. Each Sat. 12-4pm & Sun. 1-4pm. Cotton Exchange, Wilmington. 910-343-9896; www.shopcottonexchange.com.
Nov. 23-Dec. 22—Holiday Train Expo. Fri. 6-9pm; Sat. 2-5pm. Spectacular display of model trains in a holiday wonderland of villages, parks and landscapes. Independence Mall (Sears wing), Wilmington. Admission charge. www.facebook.com/pages/Holiday-Train-Expo-Wilmington-NC/442236089168193
Nov. 23-25, 30; Dec.1-2 & 7-9—“Santaland Diaries.” 8pm. City Stage presents this David Sedaris ‘anti-holiday’ cult classic. City Stage Theatre, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-342-0272, www.citystageatlevel5.com.
Nov. 24—NC Holiday Flotilla & Day in the Park Festival (STS Top 20 Event). Lighted boat parade & fireworks at Banks Channel (6pm). Day in Park (10am-4pm) w/crafts, bazaar, music at Wrightsville Beach Park. Free. www.ncholidayflotilla.org
Nov. 24—Dinner Cruise to view NC Holiday Flotilla. Board at 3pm. Admission charge. Advance reservations. Royal Winner Princess, Carolina Beach Marina. 910-458-5356; www.winnerboats.com
Nov. 24-25—Wilmington Art & Craft Show. 10am-5pm. Juried art and craft show. Wilmington Convention Center. Admission charge. www.holidayartshows.com/wilmington-art-craft-show.html
Nov. 24-25; Dec. 1-30—Christmas Train & Light Spectacular. Sat. & Sun. 6:30pm. Model trains in a seasonal wonderland with lights, music, Santa, cider. Admission charge. Wilmington Railroad Museum, Wilmington. 910-763-2634; www.wrrm.org
Nov. 24—Wilmington Roadrunners Turkey Trot. 9am. Four-mile run/walk through Carolina Beach State Park, Carolina Beach. Advance registration required by Nov. 22. 910-458-8206; http://tinyurl.com/CBturkeytrot
Nov. 24-Dec. 2—Cape Fear Festival of Trees. Tues.-Wed., Sun. 10am-6pm; Thurs.-Sat. 10am-8pm. Festive trees benefit Lower Cape Fear Hospice. Admission charge. Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington. www.capefearfestivaloftrees.org.
Nov. 25—18th Annual Post-Thanksgiving Tour with Architectural Historian Ed Turberg. Guided tour of the Alexander Sprunt House, 1615 Chestnut Street, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-762-2511; www.historicwilmington.org.
Nov. 28—Cherish the Ladies: Celtic Christmas. 8pm. Admission charge. Thalian Hall, Wilmington. www.thalianhall.org.
Nov. 30-Dec. 1—A Carolina Nutcracker. 7pm. This performance is a unique blend of Wilmington’s 1865 history and the cherished holiday ballet. Admission charge. Thalian Hall, Wilmington. 910-632-2285; 1-800-523-2820, www.thalianhall.org
Nov. 30—Island of Lights Christmas Parade. 7:30pm. Extraordinary nighttime lighted parade announces Santa’s arrival on the island. Lake Park Blvd/ Hwy 421 S, Carolina Beach. Free. www.islandoflights.org
Nov. 30 & Dec. 1—Moravian Candle Tea. Fri 6-9pm; Sat 10am-3pm. Experience Moravian holiday traditions, crafts, and foods. Covenant Moravian Church, Wilmington. Free. 910-799-9256.
Dec. 1—Island of Lights Holiday Flotilla. Lighted boat parade. 6pm. Carolina Beach Marina. www.islandoflights.org
Dec. 1-2—Wilmington Ballet Company’s “Nutcracker” Ballet. Sat. & Sun. 3pm. Admission charge. Minnie Evans Arts Center, Wilmington. 910-794-9590; www.nutcrackerwilmingtonnc.com
Dec. 1-2—Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour. Downtown candlelight tour of historic homes/sites. Sat. 4pm-8pm, Sun. 2-6pm. Latimer House, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-762-0492; www.latimerhouse.org.
Dec. 1-2—Wilmington Symphony Holiday Concerts. Sat. 8pm & Sun. 4pm (family matinee). Kenan Auditorium/UNCW. Admission charge. 910-962-3500; www.uncw.edu/kenan & www.wilmingtonsymphony.org
Dec. 1-29—Holiday Lights by Boat. Wed.-Sat. 4pm. Cruise of Cape Fear River’s holiday lights. Admission charge. Wilmington Water Tours, on riverfront between Orange & Ann sts. 910-330-3134; www.wilmingtonwatertours.com.
Dec. 1, 8, 15—Holiday Elf Camp. 9am-3:30pm. Holiday crafts/activities, aquarium tour for kids ages 5-12 while parents shop. NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach. 910-458-8257; www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher
Dec.2—Wilmington Holiday Parade. 6:15pm. Downtown Wilmington. Free. 910-341-4602, wilmingtonrecreation.com.
Dec. 2—Candy Land Christmas Celebration. 1pm-5pm. Visit with Santa, make gingerbread houses, crafts, caroling. Admission charge. Children’s Museum of Wilmington. 910-254-3534; www.playwilmington.org
Dec. 2—Poplar Grove Plantation Christmas Open House & Holiday Craft Fair. Noon-5pm. Victorian décor, crafts, handmade gifts, refreshments. Free. Poplar Grove Plantation, Hwy. 17 N. 910-686-9518, www.poplargrove.com.
Dec. 2—Viva Vivaldi Holiday Concert. 6:30pm. St. James Parish, Wilmington. Tickets required. 910-343-1079; www.chambermusicwilmington.org.
Dec. 6—Fort Fisher Holiday Open House. 10am-5pm. Wassail, decorations and music from Civil War era. Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Kure Beach. Free. 910-458-5538; www.friendsoffortfisher.com
Dec. 6-9; 13-16—“Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical.” Thur.-Sat. 8pm; Sun. 3pm. Thalian Hall, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-632-2285, www.thalianhall.org
Dec. 7—Santa’s SEAcret Supper. 6pm-8:30pm. Kid-friendly dinner with Santa, scavenger hunt, crafts, cookies. Admission charge. NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach. 910-458-8257; www.ncaquariums.com/fort-fisher
Dec. 7-8—Holiday Flea at BAC. 3-9pm Fri.; 10am-5pm Sat.; 12-5pm Sun. Shop for vintage, retro and upcycled treasures. Admission charge. Brooklyn Arts Center, Wilmington. 910-538-2939; www.brooklynartsnc.com
Dec. 7-9—Kure Beach Christmas Show. 7pm. Music, dancing, variety show. Kure Beach Fire Dept. Free. 910-279-0459.
Dec. 7—Victorian Concert. 6:30-8:30pm. Susan Savia performs seasonal classics and period pieces that date back 150 years. Bellamy Mansion Museum, Wilmington. 910-251-3700; www.bellamymansion.org
Dec. 8—Holiday Kids@CAM. 12pm. Holiday art, gifts, decorations and Santa visits. Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-395-5999; www.cameronartmuseum.com
Dec. 8-9, 15-16, 22-23—Polar Express Program. 4:30pm & 5:30pm. “Polar Express” story time, visits with Santa, cocoa, and more. Wilmington Railroad Museum. Admission charge. Advance tickets. 910-763-2634; www.wrrm.org
Dec. 8—Island of Lights Tour of Homes. 4-9pm. A self-guided tour of private residences all decked-out. Admission charge; advance tickets required. Various homes in Carolina/Kure Beaches. 910-458-8323; www.islandoflights.org
Dec. 8—Santa Claus Food Drive Cruise. Boards at 9:30am; departs 10am. Admission is 6 cans nonperishable food/per person. Henrietta III Riverboat, Dock & Water streets-Downtown. 910-343-1611, www.cfrboats.com.
Dec. 9—Budweiser Clydesdales. 2-4pm. Free. Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington. 910-256-5131; mayfairetown.com.
Dec. 9—Christmas Stroll Through the Past. 5-8pm. Luminaries light the way as you step back in time at the Burgwin-Wright House and Bellamy Mansion. 910-762-0570; www.burgwinwrighthouse.com & www.bellamymansion.com
Dec. 11—NC Symphony Holiday Pops. 8pm. Kenan Auditorium, UNCW. Admission charge. 962-3500; uncw.edu/kenan
Dec. 13-23—Trolley Tour of Holiday Lights. 6pm & 7:30pm. Tours of Wilmington’s decorated neighborhoods. Departs Downtown at Dock & Water sts. Admission charge. 910-763-4483; www.wilmingtontrolley.com.
Dec. 15—5k Jingle Bell Run. 7:30am registration. Wrightsville Beach Museum. 910-256-2569, www.wbmuseum.com
Dec. 21-24—Caroling by “Reindeer” Drawn Trolley/Carriage. 6-10pm. Horse-drawn carriage tour & caroling Downtown. Departs at Market & Water sts. Admission charge. 910-251-8889, horsedrawntours.com
Dec. 21—“It’s A Wonderful Life” 35mm screening. 7:30pm. Admission charge. Thalian Hall. www.thalianhall.org
Dec. 31—New Year’s Noon Downtown! 11am. Ring in the New Year at Noon with noisemakers, confetti and more. Children’s Museum of Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-254-3534, www.playwilmington.org
Dec. 31—Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Countdown Party. 9pm-12am. Music, fireworks, lighted beach ball drop. Kure Beach Pier, Kure Beach. Free. 910-458-8323; www.islandoflights.org.
Dec. 31—New Year’s Eve Cruise w/music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, champagne. 9pm-12:30am. Prepaid reservations only. Henrietta III Riverboat, Dock St. at Water St., Wilmington. 910-343-1611, www.cfrboats.com.
Dec. 31—A Night at The Moulin Rouge. Two seatings: 6pm & 9pm. Tickets include show, meal, party favors, and champagne toast at Wilmington’s newest dinner theatre. Advance reservations; admission charge. TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St., Wilmington. Admission charge; tickets required. 910-399-3669; www.theatrewilmington.com
Event details often change without notice. Please confirm event date, time, place before traveling any distance. For a FREE Wilmington, NC & Island Beaches Visitors Guide, email email@example.com. To download a 2012 Holiday Event Brochure, visit http://tinyurl.com/2012HolidayEvents. ‘Tis also the season when hotels and B&Bs offer super savings. For seasonal specials, visit www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/Wilmington/Packages-Deals and for last-minute travel discounts visit www.sunnysavers.com.
Pleasure Island photos by Southern Digital Art