Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Scene: Have a ‘Holly Jolly’ walk through downtown Wilmington this weekend

Thalian Association Children's Theater performs selections from its production of 'Babes in Toyland' as part of the inaugural Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll. Courtesy photos.
Thalian Association Children’s Theater performs selections from its production of ‘Babes in Toyland’ as part of the inaugural Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll. Courtesy photos.

“And when you walk down the street, say hello to friends you know and everyone you meet…”

If you want to experience the season, a la the traditional Christmas tune, the inaugural Holly Jolly Holiday Stroll hits the Port City this weekend.

The two-day event– a collaboration between the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, Wilmington Downtown Incorporated, Downtown Business Alliance and the Residents of Old Wilmington–offers up a variety of family-friendly sight-seeing, shopping and spirited entertainment.

Take a leisurely walk downtown Friday and Saturday to peer at and peruse beautifully decorated shops in an open-house setting. Merchants will provide refreshments and offer up holiday gift ideas. Participating stores, even those that typically close at 5 p.m., will be open for Holly Jolly between 4 and 8 p.m. Friday and from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Holly Jolly kicks off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. in First Bank’s Water Garden, 201 Market St. City officials and business leaders will be present to help announce the winner of the store window decorating contest, and the Thalian Association Children’s Theater will perform a scene from “Babes in Toyland.”

Throughout the event, street musicians and local choral groups will perform at various times and locations including Front Street, Market Street and along the riverfront.

And downtown homes have gotten in the spirit of the season, with their own decorations on display from S. Front to Third streets and from Orange to Castle streets. Bed and breakfasts, the CW Worth House and Front Street Inn will be open for tours from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Santa Claus himself will make an appearance, arriving in style aboard the Henrietta III at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. He’ll stick around the Cotton Exchange from noon to 4 to hear children’s wishes and pose for photographs.

Other highlights include boat decorations at Port City Marina and Bennett Brothers Marina, a performance of selected excerpts from Thalian Hall’s “Mame” and a drum circle at the Orange Street Landing.

Click here for a full list of events and a festival schedule.

If you crave more red and white–or are searching for some less-traditional Christmas celebrations–we’ve got you covered in our weekly arts and entertainment roundup.

You’ll find more information on the items listed below–plus lots more to do around town–on The Scene, our free community events calendar.


Morning Glory Coffee House holds an open mic night from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight (Thursday). Local musicians are invited to play on a fully equipped sound stage in Wilmington’s largest cafe setting. Admission is free.

Flytrap Brewing presents a free live show from Paul Obernesser at 8 p.m. tonight. 2 Bros. Catch the Food Truck will be onsite from 7 to 9, with special guest Mushpa y Mensa Art Truck showcasing its handcrafted wares. Independent pop artist Sean Thomas Gerard performs at 8 p.m. Friday, with Pepe’s Taco Truck serving up Mexican street food from 7 to 11. On Saturday, singer/songwriter Mike Blair goes on at 8, and Catch the Food Truck will be on hand with local street food from 7 to 9.

Hard rock band Pop Evil takes the Ziggy’s By The Sea stage Saturday, with opening act Red Sun Rising. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

Local indie musician Sean Thomas Gerard plays a free show at Flytrap Brewing Friday.
Local indie musician Sean Thomas Gerard plays a free show at Flytrap Brewing Friday.

The North Carolina Symphony brings “Holiday Pops” to Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The musical tradition features new selections this year, including songs from “The Polar Express” and “Frozen,” along with holiday favorites and the popular sing-a-long. Tickets are $26-$71.

The Wilmington Choral Society presents “…And a Partridge in a Pear Tree” from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday at Cape Fear Community College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Center. This all-ages musical event promises features a 100-voice chorus singing favorite songs and carols celebrating winter, Christmas and Chanukah. The society also welcomes the 70-member Girls’ Choir of Wilmington, directed by Sandy Errante, to the stage for a portion of the program. Wilmington Choral Society requests donations of non-perishable food items to benefit Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. Tickets are $12 ($5 for children and youth 17 and younger).


Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol,” comes alive–with a twist–at 7 p.m. tonight in Thalian Hall’s intimate Stein Theatre. Performances continue at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Theatre Exchange’s adaptation moves the story from London to Depression-era Hooverville on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. Thalian Hall director Tony Rivenbark will reprise his role as Ebeneezer Scrooge. Tickets are $25.

Thalian Hall’s production of “Mame” hits the big stage at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday. The classic musical features well-known tunes like, “It’s Today,” “Open a New Window,” “We Need a Little Christmas” and “That’s How Young I Feel.” Tickets are $15-$30.

Thalian Hall director Tony Rivenbark reprises his portrayal of Scrooge in the theater's presentation of 'A Christmas Carol.'
Thalian Hall director Tony Rivenbark reprises his portrayal of Scrooge in the theater’s presentation of ‘A Christmas Carol.’

Browncoat Theater and Pub presents “Amazing Wonder Shorts,” a night of one-act plays, from 8 to 10 p.m. tonight through Saturday. The performance includes: “All the World’s a Stage;” “A Good Old Fasioned Seance;” “Zero In;” “Memories;” and “Hide.” Tickets are $15 ($10 with student ID).

Big Dawg Productions’ “Christmas Belles” continues at 8 p.m. tonight through Sunday at Cape Fear Playhouse. The holiday comedy tells the story of the Futrelle sisters in the small town of Faryo, Texas, who aren’t in the most festive of moods and the hijinks that ensue. Tickets to tonight’s performance are $16. General admission Friday-Sunday is $22 ($20 for students, seniors and military).

Comedian Beth Stelling brings her stand-up to Dead Crow Comedy Room this weekend. Stelling has appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” She will perform at 7 and 9:30 p.m. both Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $16-$19.

Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at

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