Young girl outdoors during holiday season.


Residents who live in and around Wilmington, NC enjoy a wide variety of treasured holiday festivities throughout November, December, and January of each year. 


New to the area? Here are some events that you’ll want to mark on your calendar.

Holiday 5K Runs & Walks

Dec. 3 — 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 annual Wrightsville Beach Museum of History holiday 5K. You could even win a prize for best holiday costume! Visit the website.


Dec. 31 — Carolina Beach State Park Half Marathon & 5K NYE Run. Kick off 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

Dec. 2-4 — 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. 3 — 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. 25-27 — NC Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach. Floods of people come to Wrightsville Beach the Saturday following Thanksgiving for an annual festival in the park, a stunning lighted boat parade, and an exquisite fireworks show. If you hope to attend the boat parade, make sure you arrive early. Parking goes fast! Check it out.


Nov. 30 - Jan. 2 — Cape Fear Festival of Trees. The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a family favorite year-round. But when the holiday season starts, it gets even better! Local artists, businesses, and organizations transform the venue into an enchanting winter wonderland. Buy tickets online.


Nov. 25 & 26; Dec. 2-22 — 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. However, tickets always sell fast! If you miss this year, go ahead and bookmark this tab for next year – Buy tickets online. 


Dec. 3 — Live Oak Bank Pavilion Tree Lighting, Movie, & Ice Skating. This year, the City of Wilmington is putting on a tree lighting ceremony at the Live Oak Bank Pavilion – kicking the night off with a Cape Fear Chorale performance at 5:45 p.m. and featuring a movie (The Grinch) on the lawn, face paintings, a food truck, FREE hot chocolate, a visit from Santa, and ice skating. Learn more.


Dec. 3 — 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. View the website.

Holiday Entertainment & Shows

Dec. 10-11, 17-18 — Polar Express Holiday Show. Looking for a fun (educational) family-friendly event? Your kids will LOVE this immersive Polar Express experience – with punched golden train tickets and even a visit with Santa. View the website.


Dec. 16 — Kure Beach Holiday Whoobie Whatty. A big fan of The Grinch? Join other Grinch-loving locals for an immersive Whoville-themed event – featuring the 2000 Grinch movie, face painting, crafts, cookie decorating, and more! Learn more.


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


Thalian Hall. From the Celtic Angels Christmas to a showing of the Christmas Carol to a screening of It’s a Wonderful Life, you can catch a variety of festive shows at Thalian Hall throughout the holiday season. Check 2022 showings.

Other Holiday Fun

Nov. 26 - Dec. 17 — Christmas By The Sea. Throughout the holiday season, the Town of Carolina Beach hosts a variety of activities – ranging from a festive holiday parade and a film showing along Carolina Beach Lake to a Holiday Market and visits with Santa. Learn more.


Dec. 1-24 — Mayfaire Town Center Holiday Events. A popular shopping center in northeast Wilmington, Mayfaire Town Center hosts a wide variety of holiday events every year – from visits and photo opportunities with Santa Claus to Holiday Story Time at Barnes and Noble and more! Visit the website. 


Dec. 2 — 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. Learn more.


Dec. 16-17, 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

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


Dec. 31 — New Year’s Eve Roaring ‘20s Ball. Swing into the new year with style at this ticketed Great Gatsby-themed ball. Get tickets online.


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.

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC 

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.