COASTAL FLOTILLAS LIGHT UP THE WATERFRONT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
‘Tis the season for holiday flotillas! Coastal flotillas are highly anticipated holiday traditions for residents and visitors of Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. Each year, thousands of spectators line the waterways to marvel over the brightly lit boats as they sail along the waterways vying for the coveted “Best in Show” prize. Captains and their crews go all-out to please the crowds, decorating their boats from stem to stern in themes that range from traditional to contemporary. This originality reflects the independent spirit and creativity that’s ever-present in Wilmington, N.C.’s historic river district and island beaches.
Flotillas are cause for celebration and the lively outdoor parties are not to be missed. Two colorful nighttime flotillas will illuminate Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach waterways during the holiday season: the 31st Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach on Saturday, November 29 and the Island of Lights Holiday Flotilla at Carolina Beach on Saturday, December 6. The boat parades feature brightly lit sailing vessels, ranging from tiny rowboats to luxury yachts.
The time-honored North Carolina Holiday Flotilla kicks off the holiday season the weekend after Thanksgiving (Nov. 28-29) and always delivers an impressive show of glimmering boats. Visitors can celebrate all weekend, beginning Friday night when the island’s official Christmas tree is lit at 5:45 p.m., followed by visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus at Town Hall. At 7:00 p.m., there’s an Atlantic Marine Launch Party at the Blockade-Runner Beach Resort with live beach music by The Embers and heavy hors d’oeuvres (admission charge for gala). On Saturday, a full day of entertainment begins with a free Festival in the Park from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at Wrightsville Beach Park featuring live bluegrass music, arts and crafts vendors, antique / classic car show, kids’ activities and amusements, food and entertainment. Then, at 6:00 p.m. the main attraction—the holiday flotilla—gets underway along Banks Channel, beginning with a fireworks volley, followed by the boat parade and a stunning 21-minute fireworks show. This year’s judges include celebrity radio personality John Boy of the nationally syndicated John Boy & Billy’s Big Show. Text-voting returns, with the Crowd Favorite and People’s Choice Awards determined by spectators. Visitors who wish to make the most of their beach weekend can also enjoy the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, narrated cruises, fresh seafood at island restaurants, and shopping at surf and specialty shops. For details about the N.C. Holiday Flotilla, visit www.ncholidayflotilla.org, email email@example.com or call 910-256-2120.
On the first Saturday in December (December 6th), the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla in Carolina Beach features electrically decorated fishing boats and pleasure crafts in a spectacular display of light and sound. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. the merry boat parade cruises from Snows Cut to Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back. The best viewing station is at Carolina Beach Boat Basin. Visitors who arrive on Friday can usher in the holidays during the annual Island of Lights Nighttime Christmas Parade on Friday evening (December 5th). Santa’s official arrival in Pleasure Island is preceded by an elaborate procession of electrical floats, marching bands, queens, and more. The Friday night parade begins at 7:30 p.m. along Lake Park Blvd. from Atlantic Avenue to Federal Point Shopping Center in Carolina Beach. Plan a weekend getaway that includes the parade and the flotilla, as well as a visit to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk for this year’s Christmas by the Sea festivities. While on the island, you can enjoy Kure Beach’s Ocean Front Park and visit the Fort Fisher State Historic Site & Civil War Museum, Carolina Beach State Park, and the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher. You’ll also find unique gifts in museum shops and beach boutiques at Carolina and Kure beaches. For details about the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla and Nighttime Parade:www.islandoflights.org.
See where the water takes you this holiday season when you visit in Wilmington, North and its island beaches. Events such as the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and the Island of Lights Festival light up our waterfront, along with more than 50 holiday events that celebrate the season. For seasonal specials and a link to the free Holiday Events guide: www.wilmingtonandbeaches.com/seasonal-page. For a free Official Visitors Guide, call 1-866-266-9690, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by the year-round Visitors Information Center located at 505 Nutt Street, Unit A, in Wilmington’s historic river district.