Celebrate the holiday season in Wilmington, North Carolina with festive events and activities including the Island of Lights Festival, Enchanted Airlie and the Wilmington New Year Celebration!
Wilmington holiday events include Thanksgiving day races, Christmas festivities and New Year's Eve Celebrations! Race against family and friends in the Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot, get in the holiday spirit at the Island of Lights festivities and ring in the New Year aboard a cruise or at the beach! We look forward to celebrating the holidays with you in Wilmington, North Carolina!
Visiting from out of town? The Holiday Inn is offering excellent rates this holiday season. Enjoy comfortable guest rooms, free parking, free WiFi and an on site restaurant and lounge at this premier Wilmington hotel. Make your holiday reservations today!
2015 Wilmington NC Holiday Events:
A Trailer Park Christmas
November 20 - December 20, 2015
Durham NC's hit holiday romp returns to TheatreNOW! Welcome to Whispering Pines Trailer Park's annual open latch Christmas Party. Lorraine is serving her special "punch" so let's hope MeeMaw's on her best behavior and that hurricane coming doesn't detroy the trailer. Meet all of the absurd trailer park neighbors--friend and foe--while dining on Chef Denise's comfort food inspired 3-course dinner. The holidays don't get any better than this! Click here for additional information and show times.
Bread & Lights Gingerbread & Lantern Festival at the CAM
November 21 - December 6, 2015
The Bread & Lights Festival presents amazing gingerbread creations and originally designed lanterns! Our gingerbread creations from last year were a big hit. The Art of Gingerbread returns with categories including kids, teens and professionals! Art of Illumination draws inspiration from traditional lantern festivals, marking the transitional moment of season’s change and year’s end, reflecting on the past while garnering energy for the future. With the lanterns illuminating both the darkness of longer nights and beginnings of the future ahead, the event will give rise to a shared experience of reflection and anticipation. Click here for additional information about this Wilmington festival.
Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot
November 26, 2015 at 8:30AM
Burn off those pre-Thanksgiving calories with the Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot presented by The Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity. This race is fun for the whole family with a 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run. You can run or walk either race distance. The course is along The Loop, which is flat and fast taking you through Wrightsville Beach. Please plan to be at the start line 10 minutes prior to the start of the race wearing your race number on the front of your shirt. Click here for additional information.
The Lighting at the Lake Celebration
November 27, 2015
The Lighting at the Lake Ceremony officially begins the month long Island of Lights Festival in Carolina & Kure Beaches. The Lake is located at the intersection of Atlanta Ave and Lake Park Blvd in Carolina Beach, NC. There is parking in the lot at the lake, a lot across the street from the lake and on Lake Park Blvd where indicated. The event is always the night after Thanksgiving and the opening ceremony is at 7 PM. The brief opening ceremony, prior to the actual lighting, will feature the President of the Island of Lights Committee, Pleasure Island elected officials, and musical entertainment. Local Cub Scouts provide the Honor Guard and display the flag for the singing of the National Anthem. Also featuring a new tree for the 2015 Holiday Season. Click here for additional information.
Christmas by the Sea
November 27 - Christmas
The annual "Christmas by the Sea" will take place from November 27th until Christmas. The Boardwalk area will be decorated and lit up each and every night during the holiday season starting with the lighting ceremony on November 27th at approximately 7:30PM, proceeding the Island of Lights 'Lighting at the Lake Ceremony'. On November 27, 28 and December 5, 12, and 19 the following activities will be active from 6:30 until 8:30PM: Santa at the Welcome Center, Fire Pit with story telling, Hot chocolate at the Welcome Center, Live Nativity Scene, Caroling, Holiday themed movies at the Gazebo, Puppet show, Arts & Crafts Area and ornament making activities for kids. Christmas by the Sea is a winter event series at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk sponsored by the Carolina Beach Downtown Initiative and the Town of Carolina Beach. Click here for additional information.
November 27 & 28, 2015
December 4-6, 10-13 & 16-22, 2015
A Wilmington tradition since 2005, guests from around the world have visited 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 coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies and more! Click here for additional information.
Holiday Train Expo 2015
November 27 - December 27, 2015
Friday 6PM - 9PM
Saturday and Sunday 1PM - 6PM
Join us for one of Wilmington's favorite holiday events, our annual Holiday Train Expo. This year's Expo is better than ever, with returning treasures and exciting new exhibits including Wilmington's largest operating HO scale model railroad, an interactive O scale featuring many operating accessories and the spectacular Polar Express layout, and the magnificent G scale Christmas village featuring more trains and more to see than ever! Plus, there will be new photo opportunities with Santa and the Conductor aboard the Polar Express. Click here for additional information.
Swing'n The Holidays Feat. The Jive Aces with Special Guests The Satin Dollz
December 1, 2015 at 4PM & 7:30PM
The United Kingdom’s number one jive and swing band bring a holiday spectacular to the Mainstage. Known for their high energy Jump Jive music, the Jive Aces performed for Her Majesty the Queen as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and for the London Olympics. They combine a mixture of fresh arrangements of swing, Jive, and R&B classics with a selection of superb swinging originals. Click here to purchase tickets.
Big Dawg Productions presents Christmas Belles
December 3-6, 10-13 & 17-20, 2015
It's Christmas time in the small town of Frayo, TX and the Futrelle sisters are not exactly in a festive mood. A cranky Frankie is weeks overdue with the second set of twins. Twink is in jail for inadvertently burning down half the town, and hot flash suffering Honey Raye is desperately trying to keep the Tabernacle of the Lamb's Christmas Program from spiraling into chaos. When Frankie lets slip a family secret that has been carefully guarded for decades, all hope for a successful Christmas Program seems lost, even with an Elvis impersonator. Click here for additional information.
The Holiday Flea at BAC
December 4-6, 2015
The Brooklyn Arts Center is excited to announce “The Holiday Flea at BAC”! Renowned as the “ultimate vintage flea” and attended by more than 1,500 shoppers and dozens of vintage vendors from around the region, The Holiday Flea is a three-day event that will again be the go-to shopping experience of the season—with a wide array of vintage, retro, antique, and upcycled treasures—and tons of fun, with Wilmington’s finest food trucks feeding the crowds, a coffee shop in the courtyard, and the BAC cash bar serving liquid refreshments. Admission to the flea is $5 at the door—good for all three days and includes a raffle ticket (kids 12 and under are free). Parking in the North Fourth neighborhood is free. Click here for additional information.
2015 Christmas Parade
December 4, 2015
Area residents young and old look forward to the annual Christmas Parade. The Christmas Parade is always the second Friday after Thanksgiving and begins at 7:30 PM. The parade proceeds from Atlanta Ave down Lake Park Blvd to the Federal Point Plaza in Carolina Beach. Floats, bands and Santa Clause will be there to add to the festivities of the season and provide a night of entertainment for families. Click here for additional information
Ballet for Young Audiences: The Nutcracker
December 4, 2015 at 4PM & 7PM
December 5, 2015 at 10AM
This sixty-minute narrated version of the classic Christmas tale tells the story of a young girl named Clara. With the help of her godfather, a mysterious clockmaker, she is transported to a magical realm where she journeys through the land of sweets, witnesses a daring battle, and meets the Sugar Plum Fairy. A perfect introduction to ballet for the entire family. Click here for additional information.
2015 Christmas Flotilla
December 5, 2015
Fishing boats and pleasure craft electrically decorated with thousands of lights present a spectacular display on the Intracoastal Waterway. They cruise form Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back. The boats compete for prizes and add to the wonderful holiday spirit. The flotilla always takes place on the second Saturday after Thanksgiving and begins at 6 PM. A panel of judges will be on hand to choose the winners. Bring the family and enjoy the evening at Carolina Beach. Click here for additional information.
A Verry Merry Showboat
December 5, 2015
Times: 10AM – Noon, 1 – 3PM
Free with Battleship admission
Enjoy a new holiday tradition! Kids can fly a flag with Santa (bring your own or buy a US or NC flag from the Battleship’s store). Santa and the Battleship’s Captain will sign your certificate of authenticity. Type your Christmas wish list on a vintage typewriter using authentic WWII USS NORTH CAROLINA radio message paper. Call the North Pole in the Battleship’s main radio room. See Santa’s journey being tracked in the Combat Information Center. Create Christmas cards for veterans in VA hospitals. And MORE! Bring your camera for some unique photo ops! A great way to start your holiday season! Click here for additional information.
A Carolina Nutcracker
December 5 - 6, 2015
A Carolina Nutcracker is the area’s only full-length ballet staging of the holiday favorite. It is set in Wilmington at the Bellamy Mansion exactly 150 years ago, and features historical characters from the period along with all the beloved traditions of the original ballet. Performances of A Carolina Nutcracker will feature a live professional orchestra and children’s chorus, in honor of the grand opening of the Humanities and Fine Arts Center and the Sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War. A must-see for the whole family! Click here for additional information.
Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour
December 5 - 6, 2015
The 2015 Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour is a walking tour through historic Wilmington with visits to beautifully decorated homes, churches and historic sites. An enchanting and festive event to usher in the holiday season! Saturday the tour runs from 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm and Sunday the tour will run 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm. Click here for additional information.
A Christmas Carol
December 10-11, 2015 at 7PM
December 12, 2015 at 2PM & 7PM
December 13, 2015 at 2PM
December 17- 18, 2015 at 7PM
December 19, 2015 at 2PM & 7PM
December 20, 2015 at 2PM
December 21 at 8PM
The Theatre Exchange’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol transports the timeless story of Christmas redemption from London to a depression era “Hooverville” on the outskirts of St. Louis. Actor, historian and THCPA Executive Director, Tony Rivenbark, will once again bring Ebenezer Scrooge to life in the intimate setting of the Stein Theatre at Thalian Hall. Co-presented with Theatre Exchange and THCPA Cube Theatre. Click here for additional information.
Wilmington Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll
December 11 - 12, 2015
This inaugural event will take place December 11 and 12, 2015 and will feature a wide range of holiday sights and activities. The stroll is designed to showcase all that the Cape Fear Region offers. Participants will be able to stroll throughout Downtown and visit shops in an “open house” setting with merchants providing refreshments and holiday gift ideas. Street musicians and local choral groups will be strategically placed along the way to entertain visitors. Over 30 businesses are expected to enter a window decorating contest for all to see and enjoy. Activities will also take place along America’s Best Waterfront (according the USA Today). Visitors can also delight in festive decorations that will adorn historic homes in Downtown. Oh, did we mention Santa? He will be there too! Click here for additional information.
The Tour of Homes
December 12, 2015
Take a self guided tour through some of Pleasure Island's (Carolina & Kure Beaches) most beautiful homes when they are decorated for the holidays. Enjoy southern hospitality at its best as the owners welcome you into the privacy of their homes for this special holiday treat. The Tour of Homes is always the third Saturday after Thanksgiving and occurs from 4 PM - 9 PM. Tickets will be available at businesses on Pleasure Island including touche' @ 201 N. Lake Park Blvd. Click here for additional information.
Jingle Bell Run 5K
December 12, 2015
The Wrightsville Beach Museum of History invites you to participate in the museum’s seventh annual Jingle Bell 5K Run. As this will be a celebratory, holiday event, race participants are encouraged to dress in holiday apparel (i.e. Santa costumes, antlers, snow men etc.). We have a family registration rate and a competition for decorated strollers. Prizes for Best Overall Holiday Costume, Best Group Holiday Costume, Best Family Holiday Costume, and Best Pet Costume. Click here for additional information.
A Christmas Stroll Through The Past
December 12, 2015 from 4-7PM
The Bellamy Mansion Museum and the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens invite you to stroll down Market Street through the past. Celebrate the holidays with a luminary walk, period decorations, music, costumed interpreters, petting zoo, refreshments and more! The St. James Church nave will also be open for visitors during the Stroll, with architectural historian Edward F. Turberg available for questions. Tickets available online and at the Burgwin-Wright House and Bellamy Mansion Museum beginning November 1st. Click here for additional information.
Holiday Pops Concert
December 12, 2015 at 7:30PM
The North Carolina Symphony’s Holiday Pops is a musical tradition that will fill your heart with cheer. This all-new concert features selections from The Polar Express and Frozen, plus all your holiday favorites and our popular sing-a-long. “Yule” definitely be in a holly, jolly mood when you leave this concert! Click here for additional information and tickets
New Year's Eve Cruise
December 31, 2015 from 8PM - 1:30AM
Ring in the New Year with Cape Fear Riverboats aboard Henrietta III for a New Year's Eve Cruise. Boarding begins at 8PM and the boat will cruise from 9:30PM to shortly after midnight. The party will continue until 1:30AM. Tickets include the cruise, a delicious buffet of heavy hors d'oeuvres, entertainment, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Tax and gratuity included. Click here for additional information.
2015 New Year Celebration
December 31, 2015
The New Year's Celebration is always held on New Year's Eve and begins at 9 PM. The location rotates between Carolina & Kure Beaches. Don't miss the giant beach ball being dropped at midnight followed by a spectacular fireworks demonstration. This free family-friendly event will feature a DJ and dancing with refreshments and party favors available for purchase. In an Island of Lights tradition there will be a raffle, with the winner taking home the original artwork for the Island of Lights 2015 official Christmas card and ornament. Click here for additional information.
New Year’s Eve Gala Featuring the Broadway show Billy Elliot
December 31, 2015 at 7PM
The best New Year’s Eve Party in town! The evening includes dinner, drinks, dessert, and a sensational performance of the Broadway Musical, Billy Elliot, produced by City Stage, one of Wilmington’s most respected community theatre ensembles. After the show, ring in 2016 with a live DJ, dancing, and champagne toast. Click here to purchase tickets for this Wilmington New Year's Eve event.
Wilmington NC Events