From a Christmas Flotilla to holiday festivals and a decked-out Boardwalk, it’s impossible to not feel the spirit of the season at Carolina Beach.

A Holiday by the Sea

Looking for an exciting way to celebrate the holidays on the water? The Christmas Flotilla is part of the month-long Island of Lights Festival. A lighting of the one-mile trail around Carolina Beach Lake officially kicks off the festivities on Nov. 24, followed by visits with Santa and hot chocolate at the festively decorated Boardwalk. There will also be holiday-themed movies at the Boardwalk Gazebo during Christmas by the Sea.

The Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla at Carolina Beach, held this year on Dec. 2, is always a favorite for families and friends alike. Fishing boats and pleasure crafts decorated with thousands of lights will treat spectators to a mesmerizing display along the Intracoastal Waterway, as the parade participants cruise from Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back.

To cap off the holiday season, families can count down to the New Year while awaiting the beach ball to drop during the Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Celebration at Carolina Beach’s famous Boardwalk. The free, family-friendly event features a DJ, dancing, refreshments and party favors for all to ring in 2018.

Christmas by the Sea live music IOL Holiday Flotilla - MaryLee IOL New Year's Eve celebration

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

For one of the most heart-warming holiday traditions in the area, venture to the Cape Fear Festival of Trees at the nearby North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Guests can wander through a winter wonderland of holiday elegance, that also happens to be home to some of the most unique underwater animals, from Nov. 20 through Dec. 31. This magical events also includes performances by local music groups and artists.

Santa’s Helper for a Day

Send the kids off to be Santa’s helper for the day at during the Holiday Elf Camp held at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Kiddos can make magical memories under the sea and gifts to put under the tree. It’s also the perfect time for you to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Carolina Beach, sans kids.

Get a Taste of Island History

It’s always the right season for a food tour – especially one that comes with a little history lesson. Explore the flavors of Carolina Beach with Tasting History Tours, a walking tour where you can try the best foods from some of the most popular restaurants in the area. This tour is also a great way to see historical landmarks, hear about the island’s history, enjoy the ocean breeze and more.