By Lynn Seldon
The town of Carolina Beach always seems to have something on the agenda. Whether it’s on the bustling Carolina Beach Boardwalk, on the wide and family-friendly beach or elsewhere in town (from Carolina Beach State Park to Carolina Beach Fishing Center & Marina or the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier), a full lineup of events lures visitors and locals year-round.
Even if there’s not a specific event taking place, the Carolina Beach Boardwalk is a great place to head for seaside activities. Ranked as one of America’s top ten boardwalks by Food & Wine magazine and on Budget Travel magazine’s list of America’s Most Awesome Boardwalks, the boardwalk features classic family fun with unique shops, local eateries (beloved Britt’s Donut Shop has been a Carolina Beach fave for 75 years), arcades, seasonal seaside amusement rides and nightlife. Upcoming renovations will be made to the existing boardwalk, including the addition of amenities such as swings, gazebos, cool-off stations, landscaped coves with a splash-pad park, public art, historical and environmental educational kiosks, picnic facilities and open space for music, art and events. The boardwalk provides easy access to the beach, as well. Plan a getaway to catch these top seasonal Carolina Beach events.
Spring & Summer
• The Pleasure Island Chowder Cook-off (April) is a tasty long-time event that features an all-day lineup of area chefs competing for the area’s top chowders (attendees get to vote for the People’s Choice winners). Live music and children’s activities add to the fun day in the sun.
||• The Carolina Beach Street Arts Festival (May) celebrates the visual, culinary and performing arts in the region and features artisans selling their wares. Visitors also take part in demonstrations and educational programs provided by artists and chefs.
• The Carolina Beach Music Festival (June) is billed as “the biggest and only beach music festival actually held on the beach on the North Carolina coast” and is one of the oldest beach music festivals in the country. On the first Saturday every June, visitors shag barefoot on the sand or sway to the beats while standing in the surf. This popular festival features the hottest beach bands in the South.
• Thanks to Fireworks By the Sea & Boardwalk Blast (late May through August), fireworks aren’t just for July Fourth! Every Thursday night during the summer, visitors enjoy dazzling fireworks right over the ocean on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. The free music starts around 6:30 p.m. and the fireworks start firing around 9 p.m.
• Many popular Carolina Beach venues host live music during the summer months and beyond. Check out the schedules at Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, SeaWitch Café and Tiki Bar and The Lazy Pirate Sports Bar & Grill, among many live music options.
Fall & Winter
• After the inaugural event in 2013, the Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival (September) is set to become an area favorite. Originating in China, traditional dragon boating is 2,500-plus years old, with each team featuring 20 paddlers and a drummer. There’s a Friday night Kickoff Party, with live music and refreshments, while Saturday’s Race Day brings competition in categories such as fastest time, most spirited team and best costumes. Visitors can also attend the awards ceremony and party that ensue.
• The long-time Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival (October) features two days of non-stop musical talent, with live jazz and blues performances. It’s accompanied by fresh, locally prepared seafood. This huge event draws world-class entertainers every year and always receives rave reviews from visiting musicians and their fans.
• Island of Lights Festival (late November through December) is a fittingly named festival that includes the Lighting of the Lake Ceremony (day after Thanksgiving), a Christmas Parade, a Christmas Flotilla, a Tour of Homes and a family-friendly New Year’s Eve Countdown Celebration with a lighted beach ball drop and fireworks. It’s a festive way to end one great year of parties and kick off another.
Thanks to accommodations options and lots of special deals and travel packages, it’s easy to turn a Carolina Beach event into a vacation. Search all events in the area to make sure you don’t miss a thing.