Young girl outdoors during holiday season.

After tons of cancellations in 2020, the Wilmington area is coming back to life this winter with its most treasured holiday festivities. New to the area? Here are some events that you’ll want to mark on your calendar.

Holiday 5K Runs & Walks

Nov. 25 — Wrightsville Beach Turkey Trot. Want to give back this Thanksgiving? Join Habitat for Humanity early Thanksgiving morning for their annual 5K run or 1-mile walk around Wrightsville Beach Loop to raise funds to build a home for a neighbor in need. Register here. 

Dec. 11 — Jingle Bell Run 5K Fun Run. Calling all Christmas-lovers who love a good run! Come decked out in your most festive holiday apparel for the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History holiday 5K. You could even win a prize for best holiday costume! Visit the website.

Jan 2 — Carolina Beach State Park Half Marathon & 5K. Start the New Year with a 13.1 or 3.1-mile trail race through the unique terrain of Carolina Beach State Park. While you’re running, you can enjoy the sights of the rolling pines and the Cape Fear River. Register here.

Holiday Markets

Nov. 20 & 27 — Kure Beach Holiday Market. With free entry, the annual market is perfect for residents who want to stroll along the beachfront, shop local, and get an early start on their holiday gift list. Visit the website.

Dec. 3-5 — The Holiday Flea at the BAC. Called the “ultimate vintage flea,” you’re sure to find something unique and retro at the Brooklyn Arts Center’s annual holiday market. It’s the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind gift for your one-of-a-kind loved ones. Visit the website.

Dec. 4 — Carolina Beach Holiday Market. Another local favorite, locals and visitors are welcome any time of day to do some holiday shopping and support local vendors at Carolina Beach Lake Park. Check out the event Facebook page.

Christmas Light Events

Nov. 26 — Downtown Wilmington Holiday Tree Lighting. To kick off the holiday season, residents across the Wilmington area gather to enjoy live music, sip on hot chocolate, light the giant tree on Market and Water Streets, and visit with Santa & Mrs. Claus. Check it out.

Nov. 26-27 — NC Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach. After a Christmas Tree lighting Friday night, floods of people come to Wrightsville Beach Saturday for an annual festival in the park, a stunning lighted boat parade, and an exquisite fireworks show. Check it out.

Nov. 26 - Jan. 3 — Cape Fear Festival of Trees. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a family favorite year-round. But when the holiday season starts, local artists, businesses, and organizations transform the venue into an enchanting winter wonderland. Buy tickets online.

Nov. 26 & 27; Dec. 3-22 — Enchanted Airlie. One of the most popular holiday light displays in Wilmington, the already beautiful Airlie Gardens are decked out in millions of twinkling lights at the onset of the holiday season, just for locals to stroll through and admire. Buy tickets online.

Dec. 4 — Island Lights Christmas Flotilla. Fishing boats and pleasure crafts arrayed with beautiful (and creative) light displays? Count me in! Like the Wrightsville Beach flotilla, the Carolina Beach rendition is one of the best ways to start the holiday season right in Wilmington.

A couple and their child at a Christmas fair.

Holiday Entertainment & Shows

Nov. 29 — Mannheim Steamroller Christmas. Ever heard Mannheim Steamroller Christmas tunes in person? In Wilmington, you can ever year! After pausing their annual tour in 2020, Mannheim Steamroller will be back at The Wilson Center in 2021! Buy tickets online.

Dec. 18-19 — The Great Wilmington Nutcracker. The Wilmington Ballet Company partners with the U.S. International Ballet to put on this stunning holiday classic every year. Secure your seats early to watch the exquisite performance with stilt walkers, high-tech digital imagery, and 30+ professional dancers. Buy tickets online.

Thalian Hall. From the Celtic Angels Christmas to a showing of Elf the Musical, you can catch a variety of festive shows at Thalian Hall throughout the holiday season. Check 2021 showings.

Opera House Theatre Company at Mayfaire. This holiday season, the Opera House Theatre Company is putting on a Charlie Brown Christmas show for the kids and a romantic Merry Mayfaire Christmas performance starring Broadway Veteran, Brian Whitted. Check the website.

Other Holiday Fun

Dec. 3 — Island of Lights Christmas Parade. Traditionally held on the Friday following Thanksgiving weekend, the annual holiday parade at Carolina Beach on Lake Park Boulevard is free for all. So, come enjoy the festive floats, music, and a visit from Santa Claus.

Dec. 17-18, 23-24 — Caroling by “Reindeer” Drawn Carriage or Trolley. Santa will join Wilmington’s Christmas music-loving families for a magical carriage or trolley ride through the stunning Historic Downtown Wilmington for some caroling. Visit the website.

New Year Events

Jan. 1 — Plunging into the New Year. There’s no more exhilarating way to kick off the New Year! Join the other brave souls of the Wilmington area to plunge into the chilling Wrightsville waves and raise money for Communities In Schools of Cape Fear. Register online.

Dec. 31 — Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Celebration. The free, iconic ball-drop event of the Wilmington area is being hosted at Kure Beach Ocean Front Park & Pavilion this year. So, come join the rest of the town for dancing, refreshments, and fireworks. Visit the website.

Looking to move to the Wilmington area? Whether you want to settle in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Kure Beach, we can help you find your perfect home in this vibrant area! Check out the homes for sale, or give our agents a call at 910-395-4100.