Holiday festivities culminate this weekend with the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach

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The annual Wrightsville Beach flotilla and fireworks display is set for this Saturday. Photo courtesy ncflotilla.org.
The annual Wrightsville Beach flotilla and fireworks display is set for this Saturday. (Photo courtesy ncflotilla.org)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Celebrate the holidays, coastal style. The 33rd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and Festival in Wrightsville Beach is happening after Thanksgiving this weekend.

The festival and flotilla will take place Friday, Nov. 25, and Saturday, Nov. 26, and includes a tree lighting ceremony and a family festival. The event was named this year as a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event, according to event organizers. 

The festivities begins with the island’s Christmas tree lighting at 5:45 p.m. Friday, followed by visits with Santa at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall, 321 Causeway Drive. The celebration continues with the Atlantic Marine Launch Party at 7 p.m., featuring music by The Embers (featuring Craig Woolard), heavy hors d’eovres and a live auction. Tickets for the party at Blockade Runner Beach Resort are $35 per person. The Captains meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Then on Saturday, a full day of entertainment begins with the island’s “Festival in the Park.” The free festival takes place at Wrightsville Beach Park on Bob Sawyer Drive, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Features of the festival include an antique car show, festival food, as well as arts and crafts by local artisans and merchants. The festival also features several childrens’ activities such as inflatable slides, bounce houses, a coloring contest and a “Choo-Choo.”

The holiday event culminates with the annual Flotilla and fireworks show at 6 p.m. Fireworks signal an evening showcasing boats decked in glimmering lights and festive décor. Event organizers say more than a dozen boats have signed up for the procession with more expected to come.

The flotilla will sail past restaurants along the Intracoastal Waterway and wind into Banks Channel toward Waynick Boulevard in Wrightsville Beach.

One of the boat entries in the 2015 NC Holiday Flotilla in Wrightsville Beach. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
One of the boat entries in the 2015 NC Holiday Flotilla in Wrightsville Beach. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

There is no set location to watch the procession. Festival goers are within a short walk to several vantage points along the Intracoastal Waterway and Banks Channel from Wrightsville Beach Park, including the Banks Channel Bridge, the two South Harbor Island mini-parks, or the west side of Waynick Boulevard. For the full flotilla procession map click here.

The public will also have the chance to weigh in on the top flotilla picks this year. To choose the best flotillas in the festival, spectators can simply text  “24587” to vote, add “boat” before the number of the boat that is your pick. All boats in the flotilla will be numbered.

Prizes will go to boaters in eight different categories, including People’s Choice award, crowd favorite, best 31-foot and over power boat, best 23-to 31-foot powerboat, best 22-foot and under powerboat, best sail boat, and best costumes and crew spirit. The top $5,000 cash prize goes to the boat named “Best in Show.”

For more information about the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla in Wrightsville Beach visit the organization’s website

Out of town and can’t catch the flotilla at Wrightsville Beach? There’s another flotilla in Carolina Beach the following weekend. The Island of lights Christmas Flotilla in Carolina Beach will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.