The summer is in full swing come the Fourth of July, which means it is a great time of year to experience the best of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. From our famous festival to good old summertime fun, there’s plenty to do to celebrate Independence Day. Check out our recommendations below and check back here for updates on additional holiday celebrations.

parade float driving down the street in Southport

NC 4th of July Festival and Beach Day

Each year, thousands of people travel from far and wide to the charming coastal town of Southport for the North Carolina 4th of July Festival. Officially incorporated as a state festival in 1972, the celebrations actually date back over 220 years, to 1795, when ships in the harbor discharged cannons to recognize our nation’s independence. Throughout the years the festival has evolved into a now seven-day celebration with events that locals and visitors alike look forward to.

Some of the festival’s signature events include a naturalization ceremony, a veteran recognition ceremony, and a flag raising ceremony to recognize and honor the spirit of American independence. There is no shortage of fun to have. This year’s festival promises an arts and crafts market filled with American craftmanship, live music, lots of food, and much more. The beloved Fourth of July parade featuring floats, marching bands, military units, entertainers, and fire departments from across the Brunswick Islands will also take to the streets of Southport for a display full of red, white, and blue. Finally, an evening firework display over the Cape Fear River brings the festival to a close.

Group of guys playing beach volleyball

In conjunction with the NC 4th of July Festival, festivities also take place on nearby Oak Island. The top among them is Beach Day, celebrated across the island on July 1. Family-friendly activities fill the agenda here, including inflatables, a volleyball tournament, sandcastle building competition, and much more. Food, live music, and a Shag dancing contest are other highlights as well. Beach Day also boasts the first firework display of the season launched from the Oak Island Pier and visible for miles along the beach.

golf cart decorated in American flags

Fireworks and Other Celebrations

Visitors and locals on Ocean Isle Beach and Bald Head Island can expect even more Independence Day merriment. On July 3, Ocean Isle Beach will hold its Beach Bash, a family-friendly event featuring activities in partnership with the Museum of Coastal Carolina including crafts, music, and more. The town’s annual golf cart parade will take place the following day on July 4, at 10 a.m. and travel down E. Second Street. Bald Head Island’s own golf cart parade will also take place on July 4, at 10 a.m. More details on the parade’s route to follow. For more information on the parades and Beach Bash visit our events page here.

The town of Ocean Isle Beach is also another spot for fireworks fans to get their fill of this holiday staple. Fireworks from the Ocean Isle Beach Pier begin at 9:15 p.m. on July 4. This Independence Day remember to leave the firework displays to the town approved professionals; fireworks capable of leaving the ground are illegal in North Carolina. 

IMG_0538_Sunset Beach waterfront market wm

More Summertime Fun

Before and beyond the Fourth of July holiday there is lots to do in the Brunswick Islands. For those looking to enjoy local music and dance their hearts out, free outdoor summer concerts are taking place on Oak Island, Holden Beach, and Sunset Beach. Fresh fruits, locally grown vegetables, and unique crafts also await visitors to the ongoing summer markets taking place in Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, and Sunset Beach. Looking for activities for the kids? Ocean Isle Beach hosts their weekly Movies in the Park series and scavenger hunts for kids this time of year. For timing and more information on any of these events head over to our events page.

Of course, a trip isn’t complete without a day spent on the beach and an evening spent dining on fresh seafood. So, soak up that sun and enjoy the perfect summer beach vacation down here in the Brunswick Islands.

From our festivities to classic summertime experiences, come the Fourth of July, fun is found in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands! Ready to join us? Visit here to start planning your trip.