SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — 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, Nov. 30
All is Bright
Weekends through Dec. 23 • Poplar Grove Plantation, 10200 Hwy. 17
Historic Poplar Grove Plantation is hosting its annual holiday festivities through Dec. 23. The grounds will be decorated with a Christmas light display and a number of events and activities will also be taking place.
Admission includes photo opportunities for the family, a USO letter writing station, Santa’s mailbox, Grinch’s junk shop, campfires to roast marshmallows, Christmas movies, food trucks and concessions.
The event runs Thursday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., every week through Saturday, Dec. 23.
Family package tickets are available for $35, which includes two adults and two kids. Single night all-age tickets are available for $10.
Tickets can be purchased online here or at the gate.
OTHER THURSDAY EVENTS
Nashville Country Christmas — Thalian Hall is celebrating Christmas Southern-style with country Christmas classics performed by a number of Nashville musicians. The group will take on classics from artists like Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Trisha Yearwood. The show is written and directed by Nashville’s Natasha Neely and Kyle Henry. There will be performances at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $55.
Mayfaire Holiday Events — Santa’s workshop is coming to Mayfaire Town Center beginning Nov. 30 and staying until Dec. 24. Professional photos with Santa are available with reservations encouraged but not required. Stroll the streets lined with festively dressed stores. The Cape Fear Chordsmen will perform Dec. 9 from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. The School of Rock House Band will perform Dec. 16 from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. Both bands will perform in the plaza in front of Regal Cinema. Pet photos with Santa are available Mondays through Dec. 18.
Dead Crow Comedy Benefit Show — A comedy fundraiser for Mustaches for Kids charity organization will take place at 8:30 p.m. at Dead Crow Comedy Room, 511 N. Third St. Four comedians, including Lew Morgante, Tyler Dees, Raleigh comedian Matt White and headliner Raleigh comedian Andy Forreste, will take the stage to entertain the audience and support local children’s charities. Tickets are $15.
Friday, Dec. 1
Cameron Art Museum, 7201 S. 17th St. • Tickets: $5-$15
The annual holiday exhibition at Cameron Art Museum has artists from across the world creating one-of-a-kind lanterns that go on display for a month. The 2023 exhibition centers on the question: How does light shine in your mind, heart and soul?
Various lanterns illuminate color and create shadows on the art museum walls, and judges determine the winning pieces. Artists are awarded $1,500 in prizes and a People’s Choice is given.
The opening party for “Illumination” will include the winning judge’s selections as well as live music deejayed by James Tritten and Tracy Shedd from Fort Lowell Records. Tickets are $5-$15.
OTHER FRIDAY EVENTS
Jazz Night with Jim Ferris Trio — Bourgie Nights is hosting the Jim Ferris Trio Friday night for an evening of standard and contemporary jazz. Playing all throughout the region since 2008, the Trio relocated to Wilmington in 2018. The group consists of Jim Ferris on the saxophone and flute, Duke Ladd on piano, and Mike Tavares on drums. The group has held the number 1 spot on Raleigh ReverbNation Jazz charts since 2015. They currently have a monthly residency at Bourgie Nights, playing the first Friday of every month. Tickets are $10, available here. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.
Carolina Beach Christmas Parade — The island’s Christmas parade will take place Friday evening at 7 p.m. Floats decked out with Christmas lights, marching bands, choirs, and more will take to the streets to celebrate the start of the holiday season. Santa will also be making an appearance at the end of the parade for the finale. New this year will be awards given out for six different categories. The parade will start at Carolina Beach Lake near Atlanta Avenue and will head north on Lake Park Boulevard before ending at the Publix intersection.
Holiday Movie in the Park — Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation will be showing “The Grinch” for its annual holiday movie in the park. The community is invited to attend and encouraged tobring lawn chairs, blankets and snacks. The event is free to attend with concessions available for purchase.
Matt O’ Brian — Dead Crow Comedy room will have four shows this weekend featuring Matt O’ Brian. The Canadian comedian has been featured on Just for Laughs, Comedy Central, Conan, and Fox Sports. O’ Brian wrote and performed his own hour-long special on The Comedy Network in Canada. His standup mostly focuses on his average day-to-day life, like how much he loves Costco. “I love Costco so much, that big ole airplane hanger with no windows,” O’ Brian joked. “If a big earthquake came and trapped us all in here, I would become the mayor of the rotisserie chickens.” O’ Brian will perform four shows, Dec. 1-2, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. nightly. Tickets are $20, available here.
“Mean Girls” — Based on the 2004 film, “Mean Girls” is a musical by book writer Tina Fey (“30 Rock”), composer Jeff Richmond (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), lyricist Nell Benjamin (“Legally Blonde”) and original director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw (“The Book of Mormon”). The show follows a new student who is welcomed into the popular girls’ circle, only to learn how shallow the clique is. There are three shows at the Wilson Center, Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 2, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $32.
The Holiday Flea — This weekend the Brooklyn Arts Center will host three days of a one-of-a-kind shopping experience with the Holiday Flea. Featured are more than 50 vendors peddling vintage, retro, upcycled and antique items. Food trucks will be parked each day, a coffee shop will be open inside, and the BAC bar will serve cocktails, wine and beer. It’s $10 for all three days and kids 12 and under are admitted for free. Hours are 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Ballet for Young Audiences: “The Nutcracker” — The New York Ballet for Young Audiences takes on the famed Tchaikovsky ballet, “The Nutcracker.” It brings 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. Performances take place at Thalian Hall Dec. 1 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. The dance is choreographed by Harriett and Edwin Kinter and tickets are $34.
The Second City’s “What the Elf” — A new original sketch show focused on the comedy of the season will be scaled at Kenan Auditorium, 515 Wagoner Drive, at the beginning of December. The Second City — a well-known comedy troupe out of Chicago — is touring with its irreverent take on the traditional Christmas story. The show will take place Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m., and tickets are $25 and up.
Saturday, Dec. 2
Leland in Lights
Founders Park, 113 Town Hall Drive • Free
The town’s tree lighting, and the official opening of Leland in Lights, takes place Dec. 2, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at town hall. From 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Leland Express will take passengers around Founders Park and Santa will greet visitors. There also will be T’Geaux Boys and Tasty Tees food trucks selling food.
The park features large motion displays, including singing Christmas trees, snowmen playing baseball, two children having a snowball fight, even Old Man Winter blowing cold weather to the South. Santa shows up a few times and his reindeer also make an appearance among thousands of “dripping” lights and ornaments. The Candy Cane Forest is a hot spot, as are all the cutout light displays for photo-ops.
Opening night, Town Hall Drive will be closed to vehicle traffic between Village Road and Old Fayetteville Road to allow event-goers to walk through the event. Free parking will be available at First Baptist Church of Leland, 517 Village Road NE, with a free shuttle to and from the event beginning at 5:30 p.m. No pets or alcohol allowed.
OTHER SATURDAY EVENTS
Carolina Beach Holiday Market — The fifth annual holiday market at Carolina Beach Lake (400 Lake Park Blvd. South) is scheduled for this Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. More than 100 vendors of handmade arts and crafts will be in attendance this year offering something for everyone, from jewelry to soaps and fine art. The event is free.
Historic Wilmington Half Marathon, 10K, 5K — Around 1,150 people will run a 2.5-mile course through historic downtown Wilmington on Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7 a.m. The 5K will finish on the Riverwalk, while the half marathon will cross the Isabel Holmes Bridge, S. Thomas Rhodes Bridge, and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and go around Greenfield Lake before finishing on the Riverwalk. New this year is a 10K to split after the third bridge and finish on the Riverwalk. Runners can also run the 5K and Half Marathon back-to-back. It’s $60 to $90 to register for the half marathon, 5K or 10K and $145 to do a two-race challenge. Prices increase Dec. 1. Race schedules, course maps, volunteer opportunities and other event information can be found here.
Carolina Beach Christmas Flotilla — The official Island of Lights flotilla takes place at 6 p.m., with vessels traveling from Snow’s Cut Bridge to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back again. A panel of judges will choose the winners, but a People’s Choice award is given as well by participants texting in their favorite.
Old Wilmington By Candlelight Tour — On Dec. 2-3, the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society will be celebrating the annual Candlelight Walking Tour. The holiday event takes place in downtown Wilmington and features historic sites and houses of worship. The tours are self-guided, though each site has a docent who will share history of the structure. All stops are adorned for the holiday season. Tickets are $50.
Belville Riverwalk Christmas Festival — Taking place from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Riverwalk at Belville will prepare for a day of holiday celebration, lighting the Christmas tree, hosting multiple vendors for one-of-a-kind holiday shopping, plus Santa will be on hand. At 4 p.m., the Brunswick Brass Band will perform followed by Santa’s arrival and tree lighting at 5 p.m. The Coastal Dance Academy will perform at 5:30 p.m. and at 6:30 p.m. a movie, “Super Mario Bros.,” will screen. There will be food trucks parked at the event. It’s free to attend.
Dancing Queens Holiday Ball — The Beehive Blondes will host their holiday dance party at The Eagles Dare from 9 p.m. to midnight. The theme is all about the queens, with the party inspired by Taylor Swift’s Eras and Beyoncé’s Renaissance tours. Dancers are welcome to dress as their fave queens. Tickets are $25-$55.
Sunday Dec. 3
Wilmington Holiday Parade
Downtown Wilmington, Front Street • Free
The annual City of Wilmington holiday parade will feature local leaders, businesses and organizations, floats, marching bands and clubs celebrating the merriment of the season. The parade takes place along Front Street in downtown Wilmington on Dec. 3 and begins at dusk.
Parking downtown is free on Sundays; however, prepare for heavy traffic.
OTHER SUNDAY EVENTS
Holiday Pops — The North Carolina classical orchestra will be performing on Dec. 3 for two shows, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Traditional carols and holiday classics will be performed in this two-hour concert. It will be conducted by Michelle Di Russo. Tickets start at $23 and the concert takes place at Wilson Center, 703 N. Third St.
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