One (maybe unexpected) area that NC’s Brunswick Islands specializes in is the holiday season. The most wonderful time of the year marks nonstop fun with several festive events going on in the area. From parades to tree lightings, there is plenty of holiday cheer to ring in for both locals and visitors. Discover some of the long-standing, beloved traditions that the whole family can enjoy this year during a holiday getaway to the Brunswick Islands.

Holiday Events for the Whole Family

The Holiday season begins Friday, November 25, with the Mayor's Tree Lighting Ceremony at Waterfront Park in Southport (event canceled due to weather). On Saturday November 26 at 4 pm at Town Center Park in Ocean Isle Beach join the celebration at the Letters to Santa event featuring a letter writing station, visit from Santa himself, and tree lighting. That evening enjoy the annual Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla as it travels down the Intracoastal Waterway from Inlet View at Shallotte Point to Sharky's at Ocean Isle Beach. The flotilla, a family favorite, begins at dusk.

IMG_8077 Ocean Isle Beach Holiday Flotilla

December kicks off with the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Holden beach on December 1 and more Christmas tree lighting events in Calabash and Oak Island on December 2. The holiday fun continues with the Christmas by the Sea Parade in Oak Island and the Shallotte Christmas Parade, both taking place on Saturday, December 3. Shallotte's Christmas Parade kicks off at 10 a.m., and the Christmas by the Sea Parade, an annual tradition for over 35 years starts at 2 p.m.

In Southport, WinterFest is a full week of winter festivities taking place December 3-10. Stroll through the charming coastal town’s downtown area to view and vote on which stores have the best holiday decorations in the week-long storefront showcase. The celebrating doesn’t stop there, though! Guests can enjoy a heap of other scheduled events throughout the week, including the Winter Craft Festival, Winterfest performing arts, supper with Santa's elves, The Polar Express movie viewing on Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn, Christmas caroling, the ‘Light up The Night’ Christmas parade, a candy cane garden party and so much more. The week wraps up with the highly anticipated Southport Winterfest Flotilla on the Cape Fear River. View the entire 2022 Winterfest schedule of events and plan the week to your liking.

And don't miss the Leland in Lights celebration running from December 3 to January 10 where you can witness Leland transform into a winter wonderland. The Grand Illumination is scheduled for December 3 at Founders Park.

Get in the Spirit with Seasonal Shopping

Offering more than just events, the Brunswick Islands has a pair of long-standing and cherished holiday stores that keep families coming back year after year. The first is St. Nick Nacks, where you'll find a fun collection of festive goodies for all ages, a forest of 150+ decorated trees and more than 4 million Christmas tree ornaments. This holiday haven is part of the larger Callahan's of Calabash gift shop, which has been a destination for shoppers since 1978. Another must-visit shop is The Christmas House in Southport. Since 1997, this family-owned and -operated business has strived to bring Christmas Day to their customers year-round.

Christmas House in Southport, NC.

Looking for one-of-a-kind presents this year, or just need some extra holiday inspiration? Don't miss the Holiday Markets at Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach on December 3 or the Oak Island Holiday Craft Market at Middleton Park on December 4.  These markets feature unique handmade gifts that are sure to please everyone on your list. 

If you’re looking for a beachy escape that encompasses holiday cheer, then look no further than NC’s Brunswick Islands! From holiday events that appeal to the whole family to unique shopping experiences that can get anyone in the spirit, there's no better place to celebrate the season. To learn more about North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, and to plan your trip, visit