Say good-bye to 2012 and usher in the new year with a relaxing weekend getaway to Wilmington, North Carolina’s historic river district and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. From the banks of the storied Cape Fear River to the luminous shores of barrier island beaches, there are many ways to celebrate.
On New Year’s Eve families can welcome 2013 at the strike of 12:00 noon with fun and games at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington. Then at 9:00 p.m. head to the Kure Beach Pier to ring in the new year with a street dance and a giant lighted beach ball that drops into the ocean, followed by fireworks at midnight. There are also special holiday cruises that sail into 2013 with a champagne toast aboard a riverboat or party boat, as well as theatrical galas, cabaret-style dinner theatre productions, and an array of restaurant and nightlife options.
Spend the weekend exploring our island beaches, a 230+ block National Register Historic District, and attractions like the Battleship North Carolina, the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Carolina Beach State Park, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, and Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, as well as history and specialty museums, historic homes and tours. Shop the after-Christmas sales at beach boutiques and downtown specialty shops, and dine at outstanding restaurants from the river to the sea. For seasonal specials and packages, visit www.GoWilmingtonAndBeaches.com or find last-minute hotel discounts at www.sunnysavers.com.
Here’s a preview of New Year’s events in Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach:Dec. 31 & Jan. 1- New Year's Noon Countdown at the Children's Museum. 11am-1pm. The celebration begins at 11am with crafts (streamers, noisemakers), singing and dancing. Countdown begins at 12noon. Kids and their families count down the New Year at Noon with streamers, noisemakers, a confetti toss and juice toast! Museum admission required. Children's Museum of Wilmington, 116 Orange Street, Wilmington. 910-254-3534; www.playwilmington.org.
Dec. 31 - Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Countdown Party, Street Dance & Fireworks Extravaganza. 9pm-12:30am. This unique New Year’s celebration features a deejay and dancing, followed by the lowering of a giant lighted beach ball at midnight and spectacular fireworks over the Atlantic Ocean. Festivities for all ages begin at 9:00pm. Free. Kure Beach Pier, K. Avenue, Kure Beach. www.islandoflights.org/newyears.html.
Dec. 31 - New Year’s Eve Celebration Cruise aboard the Henrietta III. New Year's Eve cruise down the Cape Fear River boards at 8:30pm; cruises 9:00pm-12:30am. Heavy hors d’oeuvre buffet, entertainment, party favors, champagne toast, tax and gratuity are included in the ticket price. Admission charge. Prepaid reservations required. Board at the foot of Dock and Water streets in Downtown Wilmington. 910-343-1611 or 800-676-0162; www.cfrboats.com
Dec. 31-New Year’s Eve Party Cruise aboard the Royal Winner Princess II. Boards at 10pm; returns 12:30am. Cruise to watch the midnight fireworks with desserts, party favors, dancing, fireworks, and champagne toast. Cash bar. Departs from Carolina Beach Marina, Carolina Beach. Admission charge. Reservations required. 910-458-5356; www.winnerboats.com/Happy_New_Year.html.
Dec. 31—New Year’s Eve Gala. 7pm-1am. City Stage Productions presents “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” a musical comedy and New Year’s gala at Thalian Hall. Enjoy the performance, a buffet, open bar, party favors, and midnight toast. Admission charge. Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., Wilmington. 910-632-2285 or 800-523-2820; www.thalianhall.org.
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