Thursday, Dec. 9
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 16 N. 16th St. • Tickets: $15
The Choir of St. Paul’s will perform Handel’s “Messiah” Thursday and Friday nights. Backed by the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, Ronnie Wise will conduct and the show will feature soloists.
Written by George Frideric Handel — with scriptural text by Charles Jennens — the oratorio follows Jesus Christ’s birth, his life spreading the gospel, as well as death and resurrection in three parts.
The performance gets underway at 7:30 p.m.; tickets are available here.
ALSO TAKING PLACE THURSDAY
Holiday Pops – The N.C. Symphony will host its annual Holiday Pops concert at Wilson Center. The show will feature well-known traditional and pop songs of the season. It also highlights the symphony’s annual audience sing-a-long. Tickets start at $20 and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. Ticket holders must show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test completed within 72 hours.
Friday, Dec. 10
“Elf the Musical”
Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St. • Tickets: $16-$32
Thalian Association will take audience members along the adventurous journey of Buddy the Elf as he leaves the North Pole to find his biological father in New York City. Along the way, he convinces his curmudgeon dad — who’s on Santa’s naughty list — and other family and friends to believe in the magic of Christmas.
Based on the 2003 holiday film — with book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, music by Matthew Sklar, and lyrics by Chad Beguelin — “Elf the Musical” spreads holiday cheer by “singing loud for all to hear.” Performances continue through Dec. 19, with show times at 7:30 p.m. except on Sundays, with 2 p.m. matinees. There are also additional shows on the 16th at 7:30 p.m. and the 18th at 2 p.m.
ALSO TAKING PLACE FRIDAY
Holiday Movie at CB Lake Park — Tim Allen will appear on the big screen in “The Santa Clause,” playing at Carolina Beach Lake Park at 7 p.m. Friday evening. The screening is free; families are welcome to bring blankets, chairs and picnics. Refreshments will be sold on site and jolly Old St. Nick will make an appearance for the kids, too.
Rusty Nail Christmas Party — Wilmington’s favorite blues bar will get in on the spirit of the season by hosting its annual Christmas party. The band Austin will perform and there will be a dirty Santa gift exchange. Party starts at 8 p.m.
Riverlights Artisan Market — More than 40 local vendors will set up at Live Oak Commons in Marina Village at Riverlights to sell one-of-a-kind holiday gifts during an artisan market. There will be custom cutting boards, holiday decorations, jewelry, art, sweets, home decor, and more. The event takes place at 4 p.m. – 8 p.m., and the grounds will feature various trees decorated by local nonprofits. Free to attend.
Moonlighters in Concert — The Moonlighters Orchestra will perform a swingin’ big band concert at Leland Cultural Arts Center Friday night. They will be bringing holiday cheer to the show, too, covering traditional classics as well as Motown dance-a-longs. Tickets are $15 and alcohol will be for sale from Makai Brewing. The show takes place from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at 1212 Magnolia Village Way.
Saturday, Dec. 11
L Shape Lot Toys for Tots Fundraiser
Brooklyn Arts Center, 516 N. 4th St. • Tickets: $10 at the door
One of the most fun holiday shows of the season comes when Wilmington’s Americana darlings L Shape Lot take the Brooklyn Arts stage for their Toys for Tots fundraiser. Eric Miller (lead vocals and guitar), Alex Lanier (vocals and guitar), Rick Williams (bass), Mykel Barbee (drums), and Joel Lamb (keys) will perform Saturday night. They will bring their brand of bluegrass and country-bent tunes — holiday selections included — while also welcoming friends Morning News Music to join them.
Since starting the fundraiser in 2011, Miller said the band has raised tens of thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of toys. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring one new and unwrapped toy to the show.
For those who can’t attend, donations can be made via Venmo (@LSLT4T). The band then gets together after the fundraiser to scoop up playthings that will turn a child’s holiday into magic.
“We’re like a bunch of 12-year-olds shopping the aisles,” Miller told Port City Daily in 2020. “I’m just a kid at heart.”
(Full disclosure: Miller is a DJ on Penguin 98.3, the sister company of Port City Daily.)
ALSO TAKING PLACE SATURDAY
Wilmington Candlelight Walking Tour and Soiree — Annually, the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society hosts a candlelight walking tour, featuring historic homes decking the halls for the holidays. The 2021 event will feature five homes, including the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society’s Latimer House (126 S. 3rd St.), on Saturday, 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. The annual walking tour allows locals a chance to learn the history of many dwellings in Wilmington. The tour also includes music, carols, refreshments, and more. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here.
Southport Winterfest Flotilla — Southport is celebrating Christmas with its annual Winterfest Flotilla, at 7 p.m. Saturday. The public is welcome to bring their boats, chairs and blankets to enjoy the floating vessels donning Christmas lights. The flotilla will parade from American Fish to Buoy 19 (up river) then back to American Fish in the City of Southport, and proceed down the Intracoastal Waterway to the Midway Bridge. Boaters will depart at the Old Yacht Basin. The Southport Elementary School Art Classes will judge the decorated boats at American Fish.
Better Basket Christmas Party — The newest grocery store downtown, Better Basket at 143 N. Front St., will have a free holiday market Saturday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. There will be a cookie decorating station and hot chocolate available, as well as samples of new products. Kids will be able to build a snowman ornament, created by downtown nonprofit Kids Making It, with Elsa from “Frozen.” Santa’s mailbox will be open for kids to drop in their wishlists and jolly Ol’ St. Nick may even make an appearance.
Cookie Walk — Carolina Beach’s St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (300 Harper Ave.) will host a cookie walk in its Community Life Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be home-baked cookies for the public to mix and match and purchase for $8 a pound (cash or check only). Boxes and gloves will be provided to buyers, plus there will be an appearance by Santa.
Wilmington Farmers Holiday Market — Tidal Creek’s weekly farmers market will get a holiday twist on Dec. 11 and Dec. 18, 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. More than 40 vendors will be set up on Tidal Creek’s grounds (5329 Oleander Dr.) to sell local groceries, holiday meals and locally made gifts. The Smokey Dunes will provide live music on the 11th and Emily Burdette plays the 18th, from 9 a.m. to noon.
Holiday Craft Market — At the Burgwin-Wright House and Gardens (224 Market St.), a Holiday Craft Market takes place 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. There will be around 30 artisans selling handmade crafts and art. It’s free to attend and masks are required inside the visitor center, though vendors will be set up outside in the gardens. As well, the historic house — decorated for the holidays, nonetheless — jail, visitor center, and art gallery will be open for walk throughs. Toys for Tots will have a tent and drop-off box for those who wish to donate one new, unwrapped toy.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas” — Charles Shultz’s annual holiday classic featuring the Peanuts Gang discovering the true meaning of Christmas will be brought to life at Wilson Center by Cape Fear Community College’s theater department. Taking place at 1 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. on Saturday, the show is 30 minutes and seats are limited. Tickets are $10 for adults and free for kids 12 and under.
Greater Topsail Flotilla — In Surf City, the greater Topsail flotilla will take place Saturday evening from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Boats will set sail from Bush Marina at 5:30 p.m. down the Intracoastal Waterway toward Soundside Park (517 Roland Ave.). A market will take place earlier at the park, at 3 p.m., featuring local makers vending handmade products.
Sunday, Dec. 12
Wilmington Holiday Parade
Downtown Wilmington, along Front Street • Free
After having to cancel the event in 2020, the City of Wilmington will once again have decorated floats, marching bands and community organizations parading along Front Street on Sunday evening, all in celebration of the 2021 holiday season. The Wilmington Holiday Parade kicks off at 5:55 p.m., and metered parking is free along downtown streets.
Be sure to arrive early to secure a prime spot for catching candy and embracing the spirit. As is tradition, Santa and Mrs. Claus will close out the event.
ALSO TAKING PLACE SUNDAY
Flytrap Brewing Holiday Market — The Brooklyn Arts District’s neighborhood brewery is hosting a holiday market from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Fifteen makers, vendors and craftsmen will set up displays at Flytrap for shoppers to browse with a pint in hand. Wheelz Pizza will be on site, serving pies from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and local musician Jeremy Mathews will perform live in the beer garden between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
12th Annual Ryan Lee Burris Memorial Toy Drive —If you’re still looking for a way to give back this holiday season, an annual toy drive and drag show will take place Sunday to benefit Partners in Caring, a case management and support agency for HIV affected people and their families. Founded in 2010 by the late LGBTQ advocate Ryan Burris, the annual event will take place this year at Felix Café (5226 South College Rd.). Doors open at 11 a.m. with food and drinks served by Felix. Queens Tara Nichole Brooks, Ebony Addams, Tatianna Matthews, and Ebony Valentino star in the show, starting at 12:30 p.m. A raffle will be hosted for $5 a ticket or $20 for five; tickets for the show are $10 and one unwrapped toy, all to benefit Partners in Crime.
Minnie Evans 129th Birthday Celebration — From 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., the Cameron Art Museum will host a birthday celebration for local artist Minnie Evans, who began painting in the 1930s, primarily her visions from God and inspired from her surroundings at Airlie Gardens. CAM has acquired many of Evans’ works, five of which will be on display Sunday and were the inspiration for commissioned local composer, and former Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra student, Algernon (AJ) Robinson, to write a composition, honoring her many works of art. The WSYO ensemble will perform Robinson’s piece Sunday, 2 p.m. (tickets $10; register ahead of time) and the work will be on display from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Visitors are also welcomed from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. to create a Minnie Evans-inspired holiday ornament.
“Songs of the Season” — The Wilmington Choral Society will perform a 90-minute concert at Wilson Center at 4 p.m. Conducted by Byron Marshall and accompanied by Luis Barragan, “Songs of the Season” features eclectic, seasonal arrangements representing film, stage, and holiday traditions. Tickets are $17.
Eighteen Forward Documentary Screening — In 2020 when the “Black Lives Do Matter — End Racism Now” art installation was approved by city council and erected in Jervay Park in downtown Wilmington, the cinematographers at Lighthouse Films picked up their cameras to capture the process. The film captures the controversy surrounding council’s vote to see the project through, as well as the 18 artists — to become a collective known as Eighteen Forward — creating a letter and putting it on display in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The documentary, “Eighteen Forward,” will screen for free Sunday at Palate as part of an artist pop-up shop, taking place at 5 p.m. The screening gets underway at 6 p.m. with a Q&A from some of the artists to follow.
Have tips or comments? Email email@example.com