November 24, 2012

2012 Holiday Events Reflect Coastal Traditions, Culture and Spirit of Wilmington, North Carolina & Island Beaches

Cape Fear - Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville BeachWilmington, NC – This holiday season experience the color and pageantry of events that reflect the coastal traditions, creative culture and independent spirit of Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. More than 50 holiday events include candlelight home tours, light displays, period celebrations, flotillas and parades, cruises, model train expos, and New Year’s Eve celebrations. And that’s not all—the arts are alive with music, dance and theatre, and there are shopping opportunities galore at locally owned Downtown shops and beach boutiques! To download a holiday event brochure, visit or call 1-866-266-9690 to request a free copy. For seasonal specials, featured events and experiences, visit

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;

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;

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;

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,

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;

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;

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,

Nov.23–Dec.31—Island of Lights Festival. Holiday lights & events. Carolina/Kure beaches.

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.

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;

Nov. 23-Dec. 23—Santa Visits at Cotton Exchange. Each Sat. 12-4pm & Sun. 1-4pm. Cotton Exchange, Wilmington. 910-343-9896;

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.

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,

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.

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;

Nov. 24-25—Wilmington Art & Craft Show. 10am-5pm. Juried art and craft show. Wilmington Convention Center. Admission charge.

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;

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;

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.

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;

Nov. 28—Cherish the Ladies: Celtic Christmas. 8pm. Admission charge. Thalian Hall, Wilmington.

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,

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.

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.

Dec. 1-2—Wilmington Ballet Company’s “Nutcracker” Ballet. Sat. & Sun. 3pm. Admission charge. Minnie Evans Arts Center, Wilmington. 910-794-9590;

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;

Dec. 1-2—Wilmington Symphony Holiday Concerts. Sat. 8pm & Sun. 4pm (family matinee). Kenan Auditorium/UNCW. Admission charge. 910-962-3500; &

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;

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;

Dec.2—Wilmington Holiday Parade. 6:15pm. Downtown Wilmington. Free. 910-341-4602,

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;

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,

Dec. 2—Viva Vivaldi Holiday Concert. 6:30pm. St. James Parish, Wilmington. Tickets required. 910-343-1079;

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;

Dec. 6-9; 13-16—“Miracle on 34th Street – The Musical.” Thur.-Sat. 8pm; Sun. 3pm. Thalian Hall, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-632-2285,

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;

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;

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;

Dec. 8—Holiday Kids@CAM. 12pm. Holiday art, gifts, decorations and Santa visits. Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington. Admission charge. 910-395-5999;

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;

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;

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,

Dec. 9—Budweiser Clydesdales. 2-4pm. Free. Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington. 910-256-5131;

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; &

Dec. 11—NC Symphony Holiday Pops. 8pm. Kenan Auditorium, UNCW. Admission charge. 962-3500;

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;

Dec. 15—5k Jingle Bell Run. 7:30am registration. Wrightsville Beach Museum. 910-256-2569,

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,

Dec. 21—“It’s A Wonderful Life” 35mm screening. 7:30pm. Admission charge. Thalian Hall.

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,

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;

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,

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;

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 To download a 2012 Holiday Event Brochure, visit ‘Tis also the season when hotels and B&Bs offer super savings. For seasonal specials, visit and for last-minute travel discounts visit

Pleasure Island photos by Southern Digital Art
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