Looking for holiday activities, events and celebrations for Christmas and New Year’s 2014? Here’s a listing of what’s happening in Wilmington, NC for the holidays.

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Wilmington, NC 28401



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Lighting at the Lake Celebration

November 27th, 7:00 pm, Carolina Beach Lake Park, Atlanta Avenue in Carolina Beach FREE

The month-long Island of Lights Festival in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach kicks off with the “Lighting at the Lake Celebration” at Carolina Beach Lake Park. The event features an opening ceremony with the President of the Island of Lights Committee, Pleasure Island elected officials, and musical entertainment. Santa makes an appearance and free refreshments are available. Local Cub Scouts provide the Honor Guard and display the flag for the singing of the National Anthem.

Website: pleasureislandoflights.com

Holiday Flotilla Festival in the Park

10:00 am – 4:00 pm Wrightsville Beach Park, 321 Causeway Drive, Wrightsville Beach FREE

The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Festival in the Park at Wrightsville Beach Park features inflatable slides and bounce houses, a coloring contest, the Arab Choo Choo, festival food, and more. The event also includes arts and crafts booths, and an antique car show, and is a prelude to the popular NC Holiday Flotilla.

32nd Annual Holiday Flotilla

November 28, 6:00 pm , Wrightsville Beach (Banks Channel), Banks Channel, Wrightsville Beach FREE

The 32nd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla in Wrightsville Beach is an annual holiday tradition in the Cape Fear Area. It begins with fireworks, followed by a procession of lighted holiday boats filling Banks Channel. A traditional fireworks display follows at 7:30 pm.

Jingle Bell Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus

November 28, 8:30 am – 10:30 pm Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Midtown

The Jingle Bell Breakfast at Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC, is part of the bread & lights gingerbread & lantern festival and is presented for kids aged 3 to 8. The event features a buffet breakfast, storytime in the trees, holiday activities, and a visit with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus.

Christmas by the Sea Lighting Ceremony

November 27th and November 28th, 6:30 pm, Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Cape Fear Blvd, Carolina Beach FREE

Christmas by the Sea at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk features the whole area decorated and lit up each night during the holiday season starting with the lighting ceremony (Friday). Other activities include Santa and hot chocolate at the Welcome Center, a fire pit with story telling, caroling, holiday themed movies at the Gazebo, puppet shows, and arts & crafts.

Holiday Train Expo

November 27th-29th Salt Shaker Bookstore & Cafe, 705 South Kerr Avenue, Midtown

The Cape Fear Model Railroad Society presents its annual Holiday Train Expo, which sets up at the former Salt Shaker Bookstore in Wilmington, NC. The expo features exhibits including a layout 60-feet long with trains hauling up to 100 cars choo-chooing through a variety of villages, parks, and landscapes, plus photo ops with Santa and the conductor of the Polar Express. Kids under age 3 get in free.

HOURS: Friday, 6-9pm; Saturday and Sunday, 1-6pm.

November 23, 2015 to December 6, 2015

Cape Fear Festival Of Trees

November 23rd to December 6th, NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, 900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach

The Lower Cape Fear Hospice Foundation presents the 2015 Cape Fear Festival of Trees at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. All visitors who purchase a general admission ticket to the Aquarium between Nov. 23rd and Dec. 6th will also experience this annual holiday presentation.

Website: www.ncaquariums.com

Bread and Lights Gingerbread and Lantern Festival

November 21st to December 6th at the Cameron Art Museum, 3201 South 17th Street, Midtown

Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC, presents bread & lights gingerbread & lantern festival featuring a display of gingerbread creations by all ages and artist-made lanterns. The event showcases the creativity of artists, designers, bakers, and performers. Kids under 5 admitted free.

HOURS: Monday through Sunday, 10am to 6pm; Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 9pm. Closed Thanksgiving Day

Babes In Toyland

December 3rd to December 6th 7:00 pm 3:00 pm matinee on Sundays, Hannah Block 2nd Street Stage, 120 South Second Street, Downtown

Thalian Association’s Youth Theatre presents Babes in Toyland  at the Hannah Block 2nd Street Stage in downtown Wilmington, NC. Directed by Michelle Reiff, the classic musical follows the adventures of Contrary Mary, Tom-Tom and their friends. These fantasy characters (made up of nearly 70 of the Port City’s most talented youth) traverse the Haunted Forest, brave giant spiders and escape the evil Uncle Barnaby’s bumbling henchmen. Will they save Christmas or will Uncle Barnaby win?

Ballet for Young Audiences: The Nutcracker

December 4th to December 5th, Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut Street, Downtown

New York’s Ballet for Young Audiences presents The Nutcracker  at Thalian Hall in downtown Wilmington, NC.  The production is a special one-hour, narrated version of the classic Christmas story about a young girl named Clara. With the help of her godfather, she is transported to a magical world where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy. 

SHOWS: Friday,4:00 pm and 7:00 pm; Saturday: 10:00 am

Website: www.thalianhall.org

 Christmas Belles

December 3rd to December 6th  8:00 pm, 3:00 pm Sunday matinee, Cape Fear Playhouse, 613 Castle Street, near Downtown

Christmas Belles at the Cape Fear Playhouse in Wilmington, NC. Written by  Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope, and Jamie Wooten, the comic drama follows the Futrelle sisters of Frayo, TX — Frankie is expecting a second set of twins, Twink is incarcerated for torching half the town, and Honey Raye is trying to keep a Christmas show from complete anarchy. When Frankie reveals a family secret that’s been carefully hidden for decades, all hope for the program seems lost, even with an Elvis impersonator.

A Carolina Nutcracker

December 5th and 6th, CFCC Humanities & Fine Arts Center, 200 Hanover Street, Downtown

City Ballet of Wilmington presents A Carolina Nutcracker at the Cape Fear Community College Humanities & Fine Arts Center. Set in the Port City at the Bellamy Mansion exactly 150 years ago, the production features historical characters from the period along with beloved traditions of the original ballet, plus performances by the City Ballet Orchestra and the Wilmington Boys Choir. 

Shows: Saturday, 7pm; Sunday, 3pm.

Caroling in Downtown Wilmington

Dates TBD 7:00 PM Front Street, Downtown

Caroling in Downtown Wilmington, an annual event where locals and visitors gather to sing festive carols in  downtown Wilmington restaurants and businesses. All are welcome. Carolers meet at 6:30 pm on steps of Main Post Office on Front Street.

A Trailer Park Christmas

December 4th to December 6th  7:00 pm TheatreNOW 19 South 10th Street

TheatreNOW in Wilmington, NC, presents A Trailer Park Christmas, a holiday send-up featuring Meemaw Hussey and her family, some spiked Sunny D, and a coupla young’uns (Dale Jr. and Jolene) who can’t be kept in line. Add a few rowdy neighbors straight out of Central Casting, and we’ve got a festive farce fraught with fun. Doors open at 6:00 pm Cost: $22.00 to $40.00

Website: www.theatrewilmington.com

Train & Light Spectacular

Fridays & Saturdays 6:30 to 8 pm Only $5, under age 2 free

The Light & Train Spectacular at the Railroad Museum in downtown Wilmington features 20,000 twinkling lights, model train exhibits, musical animations, plus cookies and cider and a visit from Santa Claus. Kids under 3 get in free.

Hours: 6:30-8pm.

Website: www.wrrm.org

Holiday Lights Trolley Tours

December 12th to December 23rd Wilmington Trolley Company, 15 South Water Street

The Wilmington Trolley Company offers Holiday Lights Trolley Tours in historic downtown Wilmington, NC, at 6 and 7:30pm featuring music and narration in an enclosed and heated environment, and a great view of illuminated neighborhoods. Boarding at 101 Water Street.

Holiday Lighting of the Battleship NC

December 18th o January 1st Battleship North Carolina across from downtown

The Holiday Lighting of the Ship features the Battleship North Carolina aglow with lights strung from the bow to stern, and visible from Battleship Park, the Leland/Belville areas, and downtown Wilmington from dusk to 11:00 pm.

Santa Village

Daily from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, Saturday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm until December 24th Santa Village at Mayfaire Town Center

The event offers kids a chance to create crafts in Santa’s Workshop with the help of Mr. Claus’s elves, a photo op with the man in red, and Yuletide Storytime.

Website: www.mayfairetown.com

Cape Fear Festival of Trees

Hours: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm  Cameron Art Museum  The Cape Fear Festival of Trees at Cameron Art Museum offers visitors a chance to experience a winter wonderland of holiday trees sponsored and decorated by local businesses and organizations, plus enjoy musical and theatrical performances. Kids under 5 admitted free. Website: www.cameronartmusum.org

Christmas by The Sea

Saturdays in December the Lake Park area will host many activities including Santa at the Welcome Center, fire pit with storytelling, hot chocolate at the welcome center, live nativity scene, caroling, holiday themed movies at the gazebo, puppet shows and an arts and crafts area with ornament making activities for kids. – See more at: www.visitcarolinabeachnc.com HOURS: 6:30-8:30pm. FREE December 20 

Enchanted Airlie

Airlie Gardens in Wilmington presents Enchanted Airlie, an opportunity for families to share in the joy of the season with a self-guided stroll through the gardens featuring festive lights, holiday displays, Santa Claus, and Winter Princesses, plus local food and beverage vendors with coffee, hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies and more. Tickets must be pre-purchased and include Carload (3+ persons and 1 vehicle, $27), Couples’ Pass (2 people, 1 vehicle, $17), and Single Admission ($12). Children under 4 admitted free.

Friday, December 5th and Saturday, December 6th,  5-7pm and 7-9pm Airlie Gardens

Note: We make every attempt to provide current and accurate event information. However, dates, hours and event content is provided by the venue and may be subject to change. Please contact venue to confirm information posted here.