NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Li’l Friday is a weekly roundup of events in art, music, theater, comedy, pop-up markets and more.
All events featured were scheduled as of Thursday; however, it’s wise to check in ahead of attending any one. Inclement weather, changes in schedules and unforeseen circumstances may shift for organizers at the last minute.
Thursday, Dec. 15
‘Bending Toward the Light: A Jazz Nativity’
UNCW Kenan Auditorium, 515 Wagoner Drive • Tickets: $14
Local musicians including Benny Hill, Brian Mason, and Annie Jewell are coming together for a holiday performance on UNCW’s campus.
The program, titled “Bending Toward the Light: A Jazz Nativity,” includes music written and arranged by Anne Phillips, Bob Kindred and Dave Brubeck. It essentially tells the Christmas story through the jazz medium.
Musicians and the Chancel Choir of Wrightsville United Methodist Church dress as kings, shepherds, and angels as they perform. Opening will be the Wrightsville Ringers handbell group.
Tickets are $14 and can be purchased here.
OTHER THURSDAY HAPPENINGS
All Is Bright — Poplar Grove Plantation (10200 Hwy. 17) is bringing in the carol of the bells through Dec. 30. All is Bright features the plantation grounds decked out in tens of thousands of lights and illuminated scenes with photo opportunities. The Manor House is also open. There will be fire-pits and marshmallow-roasting areas, with various food trucks featured every night, libations, wine and beer, and arts and craft vendors. Santa will be present Saturdays, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. As well, a letter-writing station will be set up to send well wishes to the military men and women serving far from home this holiday season. Tickets are available at www.poplargrove.org or at the gate. The event takes place Dec. 15-17, 21-23, and 28-30, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Funds raised help Poplar Grove continue its mission of “education, conservation and preservation.”
“A Christmas Carol” — Williston Middle School is putting on the winter musical “A Christmas Carol.” The Charles Dickens’ classic tells the story of the miserly Scrooge who is visited by three ghosts — Christmas past, present and future — to find his way toward redemption. Admission is $2, and hot chocolate and concessions will be sold. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the show starts at 6 p.m. at 401 S. 10th St.
A Magical Cirque Christmas — Acrobats and circus acts will be dressed in the holly-jolly best as Magical Cirque Christmas opens at Wilson Center on Dec. 15. There are two shows, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., hosted by Lucy Darling, who introduces dazzling performers that dance, sing, indulge in balancing acts, contortion and magic. The spirit of the season is embraced with holiday music as well. The performance takes place at Wilson Center, 711 N. Third St. Tickets are $32 and up.
Wilmington Chamber Orchestra — Featuring some of the area’s finest orchestral and jazz musicians, the Wilmington Chamber Orchestra will be performing at 7 p.m. to recreate the album “Charlie Parker with Strings.” The show will be conducted by Dominic Talanca and feature alto saxophonist Maxwell Snyder, highlighted by a classical string and jazz rhythm section. The group will utilize original arrangements from 1949 and 1950 studio recordings, including standards by American greats — George Gershwin and Cole Porter included. The concert takes place at Cameron Art Museum, 7 p.m., and tickets are $25 to $30.
Friday, Dec. 16
Kure Beach Holiday Whoobie Whatty
Town of Kure Beach, 105 Atlantic Ave. • Free
Kure Beach will transform into Whoville on Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., as it prepares for a Grinch-themed celebration. The evening kicks off with the announcement of the 2022 Kure Beach Cheermeister — awarded to the most festively decorated home in town, as voted on by the public.
Afterward, Dr. Seuss’ holiday classic — the Jim Carrey version — “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” will be screened. Various activity stations will be set up in the park for families to enjoy, including face-painting, craft-making and cookie-decorating. Photos also will be available with the Grinch. Popcorn and hot chocolate will be provided by Kure Beach First Baptist Church.
OTHER FRIDAY HAPPENINGS
Casey Balsham — The San Francisco comic will be performing at Dead Crow Comedy Room at 511 N. Third St. this weekend — two shows on Friday and two shows on Saturday. Balsham’s bawdy standup tackles a variety of topics, from her attempt to conceive to her divorced parents taking on the dating world again. She has appeared on “Gotham Comedy Live,” as well as “The Problem with Jon Stewart.” Balsham will release her first special “Inconceivable” in coming months. Tickets to her show are $18 to $28.
The Midatlantic Holiday Revue — A concert to benefit both the Plastic Ocean Project and Toys For Tots, The Midatlantic Holiday Revue welcomes local Americana rockers The Midatlantic and Mike Blair and the Stonewalls, as well as Celtic punk-grass from The Tan and Sober Gentlemen. The show takes place at Brooklyn Arts Center, 516 N. 4th St. Tickets are $20 to $50 and proceeds benefit Plastic Ocean Project, which has a mission to remove plastics from the ocean. An unwrapped toy is also suggested to benefit Toys for Tots.
Ugly Sweater Potluck — DrumTrout Brewing Co., located at 3710 S College Road, Suite 143, is hosting a holiday potluck and fundraiser. All who attend are encouraged to bring a covered dish to share as well as non-perishables and canned goods to be donated to Good Shepherd Center of Wilmington, a local nonprofit that provides hot meals, shelter, and transition to housing for the community’s unhoused families and individuals. It also happens to be National Ugly Sweater Day, so festive attire welcome; DJ Rob Starr will spin the tunes. The event is free to attend and takes place from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Bibis Ellison Band — The vocal prowess and energetic pop and rock stylings of Bibis Ellison and her backup band will take over the Palm Room stage from 9 p.m. to midnight. Ellison performs a range of danceable and singalong classics, including Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and others.
Christmas Queens — Wilmington Distillery at 12 Dock St. downtown will entertain audiences with a holiday drag performance at 9 p.m. by Lapis, Envyy Valentino, and Vermillion Heaux, hosted by Karma. There also will be an ugly sweater contest and music by DJ Slim Deluxe; entry is $15 and only ages 21 and up are allowed.
Wilmington Winter Warmer Cabaret — Christmas has gone to the circus — at least at The Barzarre (1612 Castle St.) Friday night. The La Big Bouche Cabaret will perform, as will Barzarre circus acts, the Three Wisemen Dance Crew, OMNI Percussion Ensemble, FlyILM Acrobats, Austin Tucker, Seb Kenton and Mirla Criste and others. The show is a fundraiser for Domestic Violence Shelter and Services Inc. Entry is one new, unwrapped toy (see Amazon wish list) or cash or gift card (big box store or gas card) donation, all of which goes back to the shelter.
An Evening With Onyx Club Boys — The acoustic strings of the Onyx Club Boys will bombard the stage of The Sorrow Drowner, an adventure club and immersive tiki experience located at 19 S. 10th St. Consisting of violinist and guitarist Gabriel Pelli, guitarist Dave Smith, drummer Daniel Hall, and bassist Jonathan Henderson, the four-piece acoustic string band performs Gypsy music rooted in Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy Jazz sounds of 1930’s Paris, and Stuff Smith’s New York City Swing. The show takes off at 8 p.m. and tickets are $21 to $25.
Saturday, Dec. 17
Dashing Through the Glow
Riverlights, 109 Pier Master Road • Registration: $25-$45
Santa hats, illuminating lights and hundreds upon hundreds of walkers and runners are expected to descend upon Riverlights Saturday evening as its Dashing Through the Glow event gets underway. It’s the fifth run, though the first return since Covid-19 shuttered it the last two years.
Participants move through festively lit neighborhoods, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., during its 5K and 1-mile run. Runners will receive a Santa hat to wear, and there will be elves at the finish line to hand out Commemorative Finisher Medals.
The race will begin and end on a stroller-friendly course (no dogs allowed) in Riverlights’ Marina Village (109 Pier Master Road), with registration opening at 4 p.m. The 5K starts at 5:30 p.m., the 1-mile begins at 5:35 p.m., photo-ops with Santa are at 5:45 p.m. and the awards ceremony takes place at 6:40 p.m.
Registration is $25 for the 1-mile and $45 for the 5K, with all proceeds going to Coastal Horizons Open House Youth Shelter.
“We are delighted to support Open House and the youth that rely on their services, particularly at this time of year,” Riverlights marketing director Michela Hochschild said.
Open House Youth Shelter works with displaced, abused, neglected, and vulnerable youth, including children and adolescents, ages 6 to 18, in need of a safe place to stay. The shelter operates 24 hours a day and contains nine beds.
Shelter staff also work with youth on personal growth through counseling services, vocational/educational opportunities, life skill building, and recreational activities. All confidential services are provided at no cost to youth and their families, and continue for a period of three months after discharge, to maximize the success of the family reunification plan.
OTHER SATURDAY HAPPENINGS
Holiday Market at Watermans — Live music, more than 30 vendors, original holiday gifts, all handcrafted, and good food and beer are slated for Saturday. Watermans features an outdoor pop-up market and brunch with artists selling handmade candles, jewelry, beauty products & more. Watermans is located at 1610 Pavilion Place.
Broomtail’s Tacky Christmas Sweater Party, Charlie Brown — Go ahead and fish out that silver-tinseled, green-and-red checkered sweater with metallic baubles and head over to Broomtail from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for its “Tacky Christmas Sweater Party, Charlie Brown.” Bring a favorite Christmas sweet treat to share with others. Banh Sai will serve from its food truck, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The person wearing the best tacky sweater will receive a gift card from Banh Sai and Broomtail. The winner is going to be solely decided by Broomtail manager Jarrod Howe.
‘The Great Wilmington Nutcracker’ — The Wilson Center welcomes dancers from the Wilmington Conservancy to present “The Great Wilmington Nutcracker” at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. and again on Dec. 18 with the same showtimes. The Tchaikovsky classic ballet gets a localized spin, as dancers bring to life the story of Clara, who travels into the Land of Snow as she battles the Mouse Queen to reign over The Land of Sweets and its ruler, the Sugar Plum Fairy. Tickets are $30 and up.
‘A Christmas Story’ — Based on the 1983 movie, “A Christmas Story: The Musical” is being staged at Thalian Hall. The show centers around Ralphie’s desire to receive a Red Ryder, carbine action, 200-shot BB gun for Christmas, to his parents’ dismay. Thalian Association for Community Theater last presented the show in 2017, bringing to life Jean Shepherd’s short story “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash” — the basis for the movie script as well. The cast is full of adults and children bringing to life the zany antics the story has become revered for — Flick sticking his tongue to a flagpole, the Old Man winning a “special award,” and Ralphie donning a bunny costume on Christmas morning, to name a few. Tickets are $22 to $34; the show runs at Thalian Hall, 310 Chestnut St., through Dec. 18, days and times can be found here.
Sunday, Dec. 18
Soul Santa Sunday
Selfie Lounge, 1913 Carolina Beach Road • Free
Presented by Port City United, Soul Santa Sunday welcomes the community to a family-friendly event, open to the public. Soul Santa — also known as Brandon “Bigg B” Hickman from Coast 97.3 — will available to take photos with kids. Corey Young of Young Soul Media will be snapping the pics; there also will be free refreshments.
“The holidays are a time for fun gatherings and chances to make memories,” PCU Cedric Harrison said in a release. “We’re hoping this event helps families in our community do just that.”
OTHER SUNDAY HAPPENINGS
Menorah Lighting – Downtown at the foot of Market and Water streets, the menorah will be lit in celebration of the first night of Chanukah. There also will be traditional foods and a Gelt Drop with chocolate coins dropped for the crowd. The event is hosted by the City of Wilmington and Chabad of Wilmington.
Christmas Carols at Good Hops — What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than caroling and swigging a cold brew? Good Hops Brewing (811 Dow Road) on Carolina Beach is offering both to those who wish to sing and imbibe — or if you want to do one more than the other, that’s fine too. It’s promoted as a fun, non-judgmental zone welcoming all to belt the best of the holiday classics. The event takes place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Wilmington Holiday Voices — The Cameron Art Museum (3201 S. 17th St.) is hosting Wilmington Voices Holiday Choral Performance at 3 p.m. A $10 donation is suggested. The 24-member professional choir will sing classical, Renaissance, sacred, secular, Broadway and popular music.
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