The calm before the storm, here’s what’s happening before the holidays approach

WILMINGTON, N.C. (CAPE FEAR WEEKEND) - The calm before the storm... businesses, restaurants and venue spaces are all preparing for an eventful weekend after Thanksgiving Day. In the meantime, there’s still exciting events happening around the Cape Fear this weekend such as holiday markets, the Cucalorus Film Festival and the Cape Fear Festival of Trees turning their lights on at the aquarium.

To see what else is happening this month, here’s a full list of our November events.

Friday, November 17th

Cucalorus Film Festival

Jengo’s Playhouse | 815 Princess Street, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Happening all weekend long, it’s one of the largest American film festivals in the South, Cucalorus. It’s recognized by Moviemaker as one of the “Coolest Film Festivals in the World” and one of “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” and more. This non-competitive festival showcases more than 120 worldwide films, a diverse selection of Stage performances, and over 50 Connect Conference events. Cucalorus attracts an audience of over 22,000 cultural travelers who come to celebrate art and connect with peers. Stay tuned for more details about Cucalorus Film, Stage and Connect events by checking their website.

Cape Fear Festival of Trees

NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher | 900 Loggerhead Road, Kure Beach, NC 28449 | 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Through January 1st, wander through a winter wonderland of holiday elegance surrounded by the beauty of the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Glistening trees, decorated by local businesses, various organizations and individual artists, they transform the aquarium space into an enchanted forest for all to enjoy. All visitors who purchase a general admission ticket to the Aquarium during these times will experience the Cape Fear Festival of Trees. This is the perfect way to kick off your holiday celebrations. Note: Aquarium is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Pretty Woman: The Musical

Wilson Center | 703 N Third St, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 7:30 p.m.

Get ready for a feel good romantic musical comedy based on one of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic stories. Based on the fan favorite movie and book, the story of a penniless girl who captures the attention and the heart of a millionaire is now performed to music. Are you ready to fall in love all over again?

Saturday, November 18th

Porters Neck Artisan Holiday Market

Porters Neck Country Club | 8403 Vintage Club Dr. Wilmington, NC 28411 | 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.

Get your holiday shopping done early and shop local at the Porters Neck holiday market. Join 30 local vendors as they sell their handmade or unique products at this highly anticipated art show. There will also be a Food Bank and Toys for Tots donation area where canned foods, art supplies and toys that any kid would love are encouraged. This event is free and open to the public.

Kure Beach Holiday Market

Kure Beach Ocean Front Park & Pavilion | 105 Atlantic Avenue, Kure Beach, NC 28449 | 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Come enjoy the closest holiday market to the Atlantic Ocean. Get a jump-start on your holiday shopping while supporting local businesses at the Kure Beach Holiday Market. You can enjoy the beautiful ocean view as you browse through items handcrafted by talented artists, artisans and crafters as well as a DJ and plenty of food trucks to choose from. Who wouldn’t want to shop on the oceanfront?

Loop Through History

The John Nesbitt Loop | 303 West Salisbury Street, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480 | 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Explore local Wrightsville Beach and Harbor Island history through 25 unique signs with fascinating stories that are posted sunrise to sunset along the 2.45 miles of The Loop, Wrightsville Beach’s sidewalk fitness trail. Each sign includes vintage photographs, informative history tidbits and trivia describing the importance of the area. This is a great way to get exercise and learn something new.

Tidewater Camellia Club Fall Show & Sale

New Hanover County Arboretum | 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403 | 11:00 a.m.

View exquisite, award-winning camellia blooms and learn about the care and protection of these beautiful plants at the Tidewater Camellia Club Fall Show & Sale. The event features a display of camellia blooms, the popular camellia sale, fun family activities and many educational exhibits. Talk with experts and attend educational seminars about the planting and care of camellias or join a guided tour of the Arboretum Camellia Garden.

25 Year Anniversary Pottery Festival

Fat Cat Pottery | 2500 Blue Clay Road, Wilmington, NC 28405 | 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Join Fat Cat Pottery in the celebration of their 25th anniversary. The festival will host artists and vendors along with a collaborative piece of art being created during the event. Learn how to master the art of pottery by watching demonstrations by the instructors, along with food, music, studio tours and more. Make sure to get a raffle ticket during the event for a chance to win beautiful pottery pieces made by local artists. All of the proceeds will be donated to DREAMS of Wilmington. Best of all, if you purchase something at the event... a discount will be included!

Southern Lights First Annual Premiere Party

The Gardens of Southeastern North Carolina | 985 Johnson Nursery Road, Pender County, NC 28478 | 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Experience the mesmerizing illumination of The Southern Lights at their first annual premiere party. Indulge in wine tasting, enjoy live classical melodies and savor delectable hors d’oeuvres, ensuring an unforgettable evening. Please note that they have limited tickets available, click here to purchase tickets. The official dates of the light show are November 24th through December 23rd and you can expect walk-through lights that are picture perfect, a cash bar, wood-fired pizza, smores and fire pits, a children’s Christmas maze, food trucks and more.

Sunday, November 19th

Christmas in Pender - Festival of Trees

Hampstead United Methodist Church | 96 Old White Marsh Rd, Hampstead, NC 28443 | 1:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Are you looking for a festive experience to kick off the holiday season? Pender County’s signature Festival of Trees includes decorated themed trees, wreaths, a gingerbread house competition, children’s holiday craft station, s’mores over an outside fire pit, and a visit with Santa with holiday music led by local choirs, quartets, artists, and musicians. Guests will be able to purchase wreaths, bid on beautifully decorated trees, make a fun-filled holiday craft. Put your decorating skills to work and carry home the 2023 Pender County Gingerbread House Trophy.

Lauren Schuster

Lauren Schuster

Lauren joined WECT in September of 2022 as a multimedia journalist/reporter. Lauren grew up in a suburb of Chicago and graduated from Western Michigan in 2022 with a degree in broadcast journalism. While attending school, she interned at WOOD-TV 8 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also worked as a lifestyle reporter for Rose Tv in Rosemont, Illinois.