20 Festive events happening this weekend

Market Street in Wilmington North Carolina


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Friday, December 10th

Light Up the Night Christmas Fire Engine Parade

100 E Bay St, Southport, NC 28461 | Friday 6:30 p.m.| Details

The annual parade route begins at the Waterfront Park on Howe Street, and travels north where it eventually winds up at the historic Southport Fire Station. The public is invited to line Howe Street, which is Southport’s famous “main drag,” to cheer on the participants and watch as the colorful floats and trucks cruise by. Local businesses participate with coastal or holiday themed displays of all varieties, and music and marching bands will also be on site to set a merry tone. After the parade, the fun continues at the Southport Fire Department Station, with holiday refreshments and a special appearance by Santa Claus himself. A joyful celebration throughout, the annual Light Up the Night Christmas Fire Engine Parade is a great way to ring in the holiday with tons of community spirit to go around.

Enchanted Airlie

300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403 | Friday 5:30 p.m. – Saturday 9:30 p.m. | Details

Since 2005, guests from around the world have visited Airlie Gardens to take in the sparkling sights and festive sounds of the holiday season. Enjoy a self-guided walk through of Airlie Gardens and wander through 37 acres of holiday lights & music. Unfortunately, Santa will not be present this year at Enchanted Airlie.

Tickets must be purchased ahead of time, and may be sold out.

Cape Fear Festival of Trees

900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, NC 28449 | Daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Details

The annual Cape Fear Festival of Trees is back at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser put on by Lower Cape Fear Hospice. They have been doing this fundraiser since the early 1980′s. Take joy in strolling around the aquarium with over 50 different decorated trees displayed. Each tree is sponsored by a local business or individual, and all have different themes. This event is a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

Admission to see the festival of trees is just your admission to the aquarium. However, advanced tickets must be purchased.

Holiday Train Expo

3500 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403 | 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. | Details

The annual Holiday Train Expo at Independence Mall in Wilmington, NC, features more than 12 unique layouts and over 30 trains. Watch as trains travel through a wonderland of landscapes, and holiday scenes. Delight in the magic of the Polar Express with a family photo-op.

Tickets for adults are just $6, ages 3-12 are $4 , and children under 3 are free.


Community Arts Center, 120 S 2nd St, Wilmington, NC 28401 |Friday 6:30-9:30 p.m. | Details

Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Hannah Block Historic USO Building in style! Dance the night away with the Duke Ladd Orchestra with a special tribute to The Andrews Sisters. All proceeds will benefit the building preservation fund. Tickets are $20

7th Annual Illumination Exhibition

Cameron Art Museum, 3201 S 17th St, Wilmington, NC | Friday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.| Details

At the 7th Annual Illumination Exhibition at Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, artists were encouraged to explore the theme of rebirth and renewal.

Saturday, December 11th

Southport Winterfest Flotilla

233 E Bay St, Southport, NC 28461 | Saturday, 7:00 p.m. | Details

Bring chairs and blankets and enjoy the beauty of the Christmas lights bouncing off the water. Judges -Southport Elementary School Art Classes This is a FREE event.

FREE! Movie in the Park: Elf

Founders Park, 113 Town Hall Dr, Leland, NC 28451 | Saturday, 6:30 p.m. | Details

Leland Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources presents a Movie in the Park featuring Elf (2003). Starring Will Farrell, the film follows an over-sized elf who travels from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father, who doesn’t know he exists and is in desperate need of some Christmas spirit. Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes. Please note: This event is alcohol and smoke/tobacco-free, including e-cigarettes and vaping. Concessions may not be available so please bring your own snacks or beverages. This is a FREE event.

Winter Wonderland Holiday Bazaar

Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, 303 West Salisbury Street, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480 | Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. | Details

The Winter Wonderland Holiday Bazaar at the Wrightsville Beach Museum features local vendors, a chance to view the Myers and Bordeaux cottages decorated for the season, photo ops with Santa, hot chocolate, crafts for kids, and a display of decorated Christmas trees, each designed by a local business. This is a FREE event.

Charlie Brown Christmas

Mayfaire Town Center, 6835 Conservation Way, Wilmington, NC 28405, USA | SHOWTIMES: Saturday, 9:30am and 1pm; Sunday, 11:30am and 5pm | Details

Opera House Theatre Company presents A Charlie Brown Christmas at Santa’s workshop at Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington. Enjoy the true magic of Christmas with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang. This classic holiday tale is one the whole family can appreciate.

Admission is $12, and under the age of 6 is free.

Santa by the Sea

Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Pavilion Ave S, Carolina Beach, NC 28428| Saturday, 5:00-7:00 p.m. | Details

Santa by the Sea at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk Gazebo features marshmallow roasting, pony rides, a visit by Santa, and other holiday surprises. Please note: This event is weather permitting. This is a FREE event.

A Light in the Darkest of Night

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site, 8884 St. Philips Rd. SE| Saturday, 4:00 p.m. – Sunday 7:00 p.m. | Details

Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson will be offering visitors the chance to experience a peaceful evening amongst the ruins of St. Philips Church as it is decorated in its holiday finest, with candlelight and greenery. This FREE program will be held Saturday, December 11th from 4pm-7pm, and allows for self-guided exploration and meditation. Our visitor center and gift shop will remain open during the course of the evening to also allow a chance for a little Holiday shopping. All events at Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site are subject to change and cancellation. COVID safety guidelines will be followed as advised at the time of the event.

Holiday Craft Market

Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens, 224 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28401| Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. | Details

The Holiday Craft Market at the Burgwin-Wright House in downtown Wilmington, NC, features vendors scattered throughout the acre of gardens. This is a FREE event.

Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)

Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St, Wilmington, NC 28401 | Saturday, 7:30 p.m. | Details

Big Dawg Productions presents Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) in the Stein Studio Theatre at Thalian Hall in downtown Wilmington, NC. Three actors perform a madcap romp in a fast, furious, and slightly irreverent look at holiday classics and traditions. Admission is $32.10

Pet Photos with The Grinch

Lumina Commons Shopping Center, 1978 Eastwood Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403 | Saturday, 11:00 -4:00 p.m. | Details

Pet Photos with The Grinch at Lumina Commons Shopping Center in Wilmington benefits Heidi’s Hope for Homeless Animals’ Pet Food Bank. Pet photos with the Grinch are $10

Elf The Musical

Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St, Wilmington, NC 28401 | Friday 7:30 p.m. Saturday 7:30 p.m. | Details

Thalian Association Community Theater presents Elf: The Musical at Thalian Hall in downtown Wilmington, NC. Buddy, a young orphan, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his identity. Faced with the harsh realities that his father is on the naughty list and his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

This modern-day holiday classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf. After all, the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Sunday, December 12th

Rosie the Riveter Show

Community Arts Center, 120 S 2nd St, Wilmington, NC 28401 | Sunday, 3:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. | Details

Explore the Rosie phenomenon with a presentation by Wilbur Jones that covers women in all aspects of service to the nation. Rosie’s famous motto, “We Can Do It,” meant two things: united, our nation will win the war; and we women will make a difference in the workplace. The Rosie impact started the postwar women’s liberation movement. Tickets are $15

Holiday Parade in Downtown Wilmington

| Sunday, 5:55 p.m. | Details

The Downtown Wilmington Holiday Parade begins at North Front and Walnut streets and ends at North Front and Church streets. Hosted by WECT’s Gabe Ross and Kassie Simmons.

Horses for the Holidays

Russell’s Reach Farm, 8120 Sidbury Road, Wilmington, NC 28411 | Sunday, 12:00-4:00 p.m. | Details

Horses for the Holidays at Russell’s Reach Farm in Wilmington features a petting zoo, bonfire, music, crafts, and food vendors. Santa pictures available at extra cost. Admission fees support the Coastal Therapeutic Riding program. Tickets are $2

Jingle Jog

Founders Park, 113 Town Hall Drive, Leland, NC 28451| Sunday, 5:30-6:30 p.m. | Details

The Jingle Jog at Founders Park in Leland, NC, encourages holiday apparel. All participants must sign a waiver before arrival.

Ainsley’s Angels 4th Annual Frosty 5K

The Pointe at Barclay, 2223 Blockbuster Road, Wilmington, NC 28412 | Sunday, 9:00-10:30 a.m. | Details

The Ainsley’s Angels Frosty 5K at The Pointe at Barclay in Wilmington is the annual fundraiser for Ainsley’s Angels in SENC. Participants may run, walk or roll the race. The course travels through Halyburton Park and the Cross City Trail before returning to the finish at the theater for Christmas cookies and other goodies. Proceeds benefit non-profit Ainsley’s Angels in Southeast NC, whose mission is to ensure that everyone can experience endurance events, and to build awareness about America’s special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life. Please note: Registration begins at 7:30am.

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