Planning a holiday road trip? I-95 travelers can immerse themselves in parades, fireworks, holiday spirit and small-town moments that will create memories worth reliving this holiday season in North Carolina.
In the season of making lists, the holiday highlights we’ve listed below create a starting point for a holiday road trip… all within a short drive from I-95.
Nov. 25-26, Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
Wrightsville Beach launches the holiday season with the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, an extravagant boat parade on the Intracoastal Waterway. About two dozen boats, from personal watercrafts to yachts, channel their owners’ creativity into delightful light displays against the night sky. The weekend includes a Friday night party, an all-day festival Saturday and then the main event followed by fireworks. Other holiday boat parades include the Swansboro Christmas Flotilla on Nov. 25; the Ocean Isle Beach Flotilla on Nov. 26; Edenton’s Dickens of a Christmas Tree Lighting & Flotilla on Dec. 2; the Crystal Coast Holiday Flotilla, running from Morehead City to Beaufort on Dec. 3; the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla at Carolina Beach on Dec. 3; the Cliffs of the Neuse Christmas Tree Lighting & Flotilla in Seven Springs on Dec. 9; the Southport Christmas Flotilla on Dec. 10; and Cornelius’ Lighted Boat Parade at Lake Norman on Dec. 10.
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Battleship Ho Ho Ho
Nov. 25, Wilmington, North Carolina
The USS North Carolina, the most decorated battleship of World War II, combines its history and the holiday spirit with an event full of hands-on activities. Visitors can fly an American flag with Santa (he’ll give a certificate of authenticity to those who bring their own), create a retro Happy Huladays e-card, type a wish list on USS North Carolina radio message paper and call the North Pole from the radio room. In keeping with the Battleship’s role as a World War II memorial, Ho Ho Ho’ers can create Christmas cards for veterans in VA hospitals. www.battleshipnc.com
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Dec. 9-10, Edenton, Bath and New Bern, North Carolina
Three North Carolina State Historic Sites have devised a way to travel through time and space to explore holiday sights, sounds, smells and tastes from the 1700s. The route starts Dec. 9 in Edenton with the Wassail Bowl at the Cupola House as well as the Christmas Candlelight Tour. After an overnight stay, history revelers can head to Blackbeard’s stomping grounds for the Historic Bath Christmas Open House. A quick hour away, New Bern welcomes guests to the Tryon Palace Candlelight Celebration with holiday vignettes throughout the site’s historic homes and buildings. Note that additional dates are available in Edenton and New Bern. https://www.ncdcr.gov/things-to-do/trips-travel-ideas/colonial-christmas
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12 Birds of Christmas
Dec. 1-31, Scotland Neck, North Carolina
Get ready for a fresh take on the holidays’ most parodied song with a trip to Sylvan Heights Bird Park. Instead of parroting lyrics, you can scan the 18-acre park for swans a-swimming, geese a-laying and other birds chosen for a holiday scavenger hunt. Sylvan Heights is home to 170 species of waterfowl, many of them rare and endangered, from six continents, and the sight of a Scarlet Ibis alone turns a visit into a festive occasion. shwpark.com
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