Wilmington, N.C. - December delights with holiday events for all ages that reflect the traditions, culture and spirit of Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Wrightsville Beach. From the river to the sea, there are light displays, enchanted forests, candlelight home tours, parades, model train expos, concerts, theatrical productions, holiday tours, cruises and New Year’s celebrations. More than 50 locally-owned downtown businesses have decorated their storefronts as part of the Historic Wilmington Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll contest featuring seasonal sights, sounds, flavors and activities, as well as guided nighttime history tours of illuminated neighborhoods (Dec. 9 & 10). Visitors can shop for one-of-a-kind and crafted-in-Wilmington gifts at beach boutiques, shopping villages, art galleries and museum shops.

Go with the flow and see where the water takes you when you visit Wilmington and its island beaches during the month of December. Following is a sampling of holiday events. To download a free 2016 Holiday Events Brochure, please visit www.tinyurl.com/WilmingtonAndBeachesHoliday.  

Light-Up the Season – Holiday Lights & Parades

Dec. 1-4: Cape Fear Festival of Trees, N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach

Dec. 1-31: Island of Lights Walking Tours of Lake, Carolina Beach Lake, Carolina Beach

Dec. 1: Christmas Tree Lighting & “Home Alone” movie screening, Greenfield Lake, Wilmington

Dec. 2-4; 9-11; 15-22: Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens, Wilmington

Dec. 2: Island of Lights Christmas Parade, Carolina Beach

Dec. 2; 9-10; 16-17; 23; 30: Holiday Lights Cruise, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 3: Island of Lights Holiday Flotilla, Carolina Beach

Dec. 3, 10, 17: Christmas By The Sea, Carolina Beach Boardwalk

Dec. 3-Jan. 8: Art of Illumination exhibition, Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 4: Wilmington Holiday Parade, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 9-10: Historic Wilmington Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll, Downtown merchants, Wilmington

Dec. 10: Island of Lights Tour of Homes, Carolina/Kure Beaches

Dec. 11: Floating Lantern Ceremony, Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 15-23: Holiday Lights Trolley Tour, Boards in Downtown Wilmington

Christmas Days of Yore

Dec. 3: Moravian Christmas Candle Tea, Covenant Moravian Church, Wilmington

Dec. 3: Battleship Alive-Christmas Edition, Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington

Dec. 3-4: Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour, Latimer House, Wilmington

Dec. 1-3; 8-10; 15-17: A Merry Little Christmas Festival: Star of Wonder, Star of Night Candlelight Tours, Poplar Grove Plantation, Scotts Hill (10 miles N. of Wilmington)

Dec. 4: Wrightsville Beach Museum Holiday Open House, Wrightsville Beach

Dec. 5: Holiday Tea, Bellamy Mansion, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 9: 12 Tastes of Christmas, Brooklyn Arts Center, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 10: Christmas Stroll Through the Past, Bellamy Mansion & Burgwin-Wright House, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 13: Fort Fisher Holiday Open House, Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Kure Beach

Dec. 19-20: Nights of Lights, Bellamy Mansion Museum, Downtown Wilmington

Deck the Stages – Theatre, Dance & Film

Dec. 1-4: “Elf, Jr. The Musical,” Hannah Block Historic USO/2nd Street Stage, Wilmington

Dec. 1-4; 8-11; 15-18: Jacob Marley’s “A Christmas Carol,” Cape Fear Playhouse, Wilmington

Dec. 1-4; 8-11; 15-18: “Santaland Diaries” (parental discretion advised), Red Barn Studio Theatre, Wilmington

Dec. 2-3: “The Nutcracker,” Thalian Hall, Wilmington

Dec. 2-3; 9-10; 16-18: “A Tuna Christmas,” TheatreNOW, Wilmington

Dec. 3-4: City Ballet-A Carolina Nutcracker, CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 8-18: "Annie Warbucks," Thalian Hall, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 9-11: Kure Beach Christmas Fantasy Show, K Ave., Kure Beach

Dec. 10: “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 14-15: “ELF: The Musical,” CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 17-18: Wilmington Ballet Co. Presents: “Nutcracker,” CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 21: “It’s A Wonderful Life” film screening, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

A Joyful Noise – Musical Celebrations

Dec. 2: Sharing Holiday Traditions: 82nd Airborne Division’s All-American Band & Chorus, Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 4: Tuba Christmas Carols by UNCW Wind Ensemble, Wilmington International Airport, Wilmington

Dec. 11: Wilmington Choral Society presents Handel’s “Messiah,” CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Dec. 20: Christmas with the Celts, Thalian Hall, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 22: NC Symphony Holiday Pops, CFCC Wilson Center, Wilmington

Oh What Fun! – Families with Young  Children

Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18; 23-24; 28-30: Holiday Train Expo, Independence Mall (Dillards wing), Wilmington

Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17; 23-24; 26: Christmas Train & Light Spectacular, Wilmington Railroad Museum

Dec. 1-24: Santa’s Village, Mayfaire Town Centre, Wilmington

Dec. 3: Battleship Alive-Christmas Edition, Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, Wilmington

Dec. 3: Dashing Through the Glow 5k & Holiday Festival, River Lights Community, Wilmington

Dec.4, 10-11 & 17-18: Polar Express Program, Wilmington Railroad Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 10, 17, 22: Holiday Elf Camp, NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach

Dec. 10: Clydes’ Holiday Art by the Sea, Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 10: 5k Jingle Bell Run, Wrightsville Beach Park, Wrightsville Beach

Dec. 14: Kids’ Christmas Program, Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, Wrightsville Beach

Dec. 16-24: Caroling by “Reindeer” Drawn Trolley/Carriage, Market Street carriage stand, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 17: Polar Express Day, Wilmington Children’s Museum, Wilmington

Dec. 17: Santa By the Sea, NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach

Dec 31: New Year’s Noon, Children’s Museum, Wilmington

*See also other event categories: Light-Up the Season, Deck the Stages, Christmas Days of Yore & Shop ‘til You Drop

Shop ‘til You Drop

Dec. 1-3: Cape Fear Academy Market, Cape Fear Academy, Wilmington

Dec. 2-4: Holiday Flea at BAC, Brooklyn Arts Center, Wilmington

Dec. 3-4: Riverfront Family Holiday Market, Battleship Park, Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington

Dec. 9-10: Historic Wilmington Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll, Downtown merchants, Wilmington

Dec. 10-11: A Merry Little Christmas Arts, Crafts & Gift Show, Poplar Grove, Scotts Hill (10 mi. north of Wilmington)

Dec. 23: Fourth Friday Gallery Night, Downtown Wilmington

Dec. 1-24: Shopping Center “Santa” visits: Cotton ExchangeMayfaire Town CentreIndependence Mall

Happy New Year!  December 31

New Year’s Noon Countdown, Children’s Museum, Wilmington

Midnight in Paris, Le Catalan, Wilmington

Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Countdown, Kure Beach Pier, Kure Beach

New Year’s Eve: Bacchanalia, TheatreNOW, Wilmington

New Year’s Eve Gala-dinner, show “Sister Act” & dancing, Thalian Hall, Wilmington

New Year’s Eve Winner Party Boat Cruise, Carolina Beach Marina, Carolina Beach

Insider Tips: Event details often change without notice and/or sell out in advance, so please confirm event date, time, place before traveling any distance. For a FREE Official Visitors Guide, email visit@wilmingtonandbeaches.com. For seasonal specials, visit www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/seasonal-page. To download a free 2016 Holiday Event Brochure, visit www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/media/images/2016_Holiday_Brochure_v3.pdf.