During the holiday season, Carolina Beach lights up with festive decorations and cheerful happenings around every corner. Get away to our coastal destination for a celebration of the holidays, featuring a Christmas Flotilla, a holiday market by the sea and more.

Dazzling Lights

Meander down the Carolina Beach Boardwalk with the whole family to check out the gazebo adorned in lights every Saturday from Nov. 26 through Dec. 17. Little ones can visit Santa in his workshop and listen to carolers at Christmas by the Sea while the adults can discover unique coastal-inspired gifts at shops along the boardwalk. Or, walk the park’s 1-mile loop any time from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31 to enjoy the Festive Lights Display at Carolina Beach Lake Park.


Take in the Island of Lights Christmas Parade Dec. 2 as residents and visitors of all ages cheer on holiday-inspired floats, bands and more. Santa Claus will be in attendance to join in on the fun and help provide an evening of family entertainment.

The festivities continue Dec. 3, taking to the water for Carolina Beach’s Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla. Bask in the yuletide spirit as a spectacular parade of boats decorated with thousands of lights cruises from Snow’s Cut to the Carolina Beach Basin and back, competing for prizes and spreading holiday cheer. For a front row seat to all the action, hop on the Flotilla Cruise with Island Cruises. After departing from the marina, you’ll be able to take in twinkling boats of all sizes as well as decorated houses and docks with the added bonus of an on-deck bar.


Locals recommend dining dockside at Stoked Restaurant for a front-row seat to the dazzling boat parade. Be sure to make a patio reservation – they fill up quickly!

Head to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk for the Island of Lights New Year’s Eve Celebration Dec. 31. This free, kid-friendly celebration features refreshments, party favors and a DJ. Count down to midnight surrounded by friends and family as you watch a giant beach ball drop and fireworks display.

Shop Coastal & Local

Hunt for some truly unique gifts during this season of giving. Check out the Carolina Beach Holiday Market Dec. 3 at Carolina Beach Lake Park for one-of-a-kind finds from megalodon shark’s teeth to soaps, yard art, fine art and everything in between. With more than 100 vendors selling hand-made arts and crafts, there’s never been a better time to shop local! 


Bring a piece of the beach home with a gift from Seaside Shenanigans Boutique. Featuring everything you might need for the beach, the shop also offers indulgent soaps, lotions and scrubs, as well as a selection of eclectic home décor pieces. Then, treat yourself to a delicious scoop (or two) of Irish-style ice cream from Celtic Creamery, located in the same building.

Even More Festive Finds

Nearby on the island, you’ll find even more delightful ways to spend your days. Take some time to browse the handcrafted items from talented local artists and crafters at the Kure Beach Holiday Market at Ocean Front Park. Enjoy tunes from the DJ and a bite to eat from one of the many food truck options while you shop Nov.19 and Nov. 26.


Glistening trees transform the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher into a winter waterland Nov. 18 through Jan. 2 during the Cape Fear Festival of Trees. Enjoy an enchanted forest full of trees decorated by local businesses, organizations and individual artists while you wander the halls of the aquarium surrounded by marine life.


No matter how you choose to celebrate the season, Carolina Beach promises magical fun for all. Plan a holiday getaway and put a seaside spin on your favorite seasonal traditions.