An Old-Style Holiday Celebration

Ring in the holidays in Wilmington and our Island Beaches and enjoy lights, festivals, a flotilla and more. Find holiday cheer with a unique array of historic, traditional and coastal activities complemented by special events. Put a coastal twist on Christmas shopping at waterside holiday markets and stroll through enchanted gardens, candlelit historic homes or down the festively decorated brick-lined streets of historic downtown Wilmington. Take your holiday spirit to the sea with our classic flotilla and special celebrations. Check out our round-up of over 50-plus events in this special holiday brochure. Give your family and friends the best holiday gift with a Christmas or New Year's getaway spent at our coast. 




Sights & Sounds of the Season

Decked in over a million twinkling lights and complemented by festive flowers, music and more, it's no surprise Enchanted Airlie was named a Top 20 Event by Southeast Tourism Society. Experience its wonder this holiday season now through Dec. 22. Stroll the decorated streets of historic downtown, browse shops and dine at waterside restaurants then see The Nutcracker for Young Audiences, Dec. 6-7 with the family in one of the most historic theatres in the country, Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts or The Great Wilmington Nutcracker Ballet, showcasing professional world dancers at The Wilson Center, Dec. 14-15. Take in the sounds of the season at the Statewide Holiday Pops Concert: NC Symphony, Dec. 17 and catch the beloved story of Ebenezer Scrooge during A Christmas Carol, Dec. 13-22. From a beach ball drop to dinner and the theater, waterside live music and all-inclusive hotel packages, end the holiday season and start 2020 coastal-style with a New Year's Eve getaway to Wilmington and beaches. 

From Christmas Past

Experience Wilmington's rich history with holiday events showcasing a Christmas from the past. Old Wilmington by Candlelight, Dec. 7-8, ushers in the holiday season with a festive tour of notable historical sites in historic downtown Wilmington as well as private homes decorated in their holiday best. Have a festive holiday evening filled with music, dancing, period-piece costumes and more during A Christmas Stroll Through the Past at Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens, Bellamy Mansion Museum of History & Design and St. James Episcopal Church, Dec. 14. See the grounds of Poplar Grove Plantation aglow with lights twinkling during the Merry Little Christmas Festival, Dec. 6-15, with a candlelight tour of the Manor House, campfire, wagon rides and outdoor movies.


Skip the madness of holiday shopping and find gift-worthy treasures in an array of historic shopping centers and markets. Find unique treasures at "the ultimate vintage flea" during The Holiday Flea at BAC with vintage vendors, a coffee shop, bar and food trucks, Dec. 6-8 at The Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews. Stroll the Wilmington Riverwalk boutiques then pop in The Cotton Exchange with its various stores located in eight historical buildings or Chandler's Wharf Warehouse Shops & Galleries filled with locally owned businesses. 

Eat, Drink and be Merry

After holiday shopping, toast to Christmas cheer with food and drinks that reflect flavors of the season. Hop on the Wilmington Ale Trail to sip winter ales as Wrightsville Beach Brewery turns apple pie into liquid form while Waterline Brewing adds spice to the season with their Holiday Spiced Guit. Venture to Broomtail Craft Brewery for the Jolly Elf Winter Warmer or try Tiny Tim's Christmas Ale at Front Street Brewery. Taste the flavors of the season with fresh cranberries, coriander and cardamon in the Cranberry Headed Ninny Muggins at Wrightsville Beach Brewery and end the night with a Belgian Chocolate Stout at Flytrap Brewing or a Christmas Pants Winter Warmer Ale at Bill's Front Porch Pub & Brewery. In the morning, grab a holiday box of donuts from Wake N Bake Donuts that include eggnog, peppermint mocha, and more festive donut flavors. 

Deck the Hulls

Embark aboard Wilmington Water Tours and cruise the Cape Fear River enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas with carols, holiday cocktails and snacks during the Spirit of the Holidays Cruise now through Dec. 29 or enjoy a scenic sunset cruise along the downtown Wilmington riverfront with Cape Fear Riverboats. Our three island beaches light up in the spirit of the season. The Island of Lights Festival brings a month-long celebration to Carolina Beach and Kure Beach including the Christmas Parade, Dec. 6, Flotilla, Dec. 7, Holiday Tour of Homes, Dec. 14 and New Year's Eve Celebration party with a beach ball drop. Visit the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher for the Cape Fear Festival of Trees now through Jan. 2 as hundreds of decorated Christmas trees adorn the aquarium. Shop for coastal treasures in Wrightsville Beach at the Museum Gift Shop Open House, Dec. 5 at the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History and stay active on your holidaycation at the Jingle Bell Run 5k, Dec. 14. 

Find the perfect place to stay

Book your holly jolly getaway in Wilmington and beaches. Reserve a suite at full-service hotels and resorts and take advantage of amenities like a rooftop bar, farm-and sea-to-table restaurants, and oceanfront gardens. Boutique area hotels offer a cozy experience in the Historic District where it's easy to tackle holiday shopping then enjoy attractions and nightlife just steps from the door. Renovated and modernized hotels and vacation rentals at our island beaches are perfect for a Christmas getaway for the whole family. From historic bed and breakfasts and modern full-service hotels to oceanfront vacation rentals, you'll find accommodations for every type of stay and budget.