Escape to Kure Beach this holiday season for festive celebrations that promise a coastal twist on holiday traditions, from a dazzling display of decorated trees at one of the top aquariums in the country to holiday seaside shopping.

Joyful Celebrations

Wander through a winter waterland at the Cape Fear Festival of Trees. Each year, the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher is transformed into an enchanted forest with glittering trees decorated by local businesses, individual artists and other organizations. See the magic under the sea Nov.18 through Jan. 2.


Step into the world of Dr. Seuss’s Whoville with a free, Grinch-themed holiday celebration at Ocean Front Park Dec. 16. The Kure Beach Holiday Whoobie Whatty includes a screening of the beloved 2000 version of the movie, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” face painting, Grinch crafts, cookie decorating and photos with the Grinch himself.

A Coastal Holiday Haul

Visit the Kure Beach Holiday Market Nov.19 and Nov. 26 at Ocean Front Park to enjoy the view and cross lucky recipients off your holiday shopping list. Browse a variety of items handcrafted by talented artists and grab a bite to eat from the on-site food trucks.

Enjoy a day under the sea at the Aquarium followed by a visit to the on-site gift shop. From plush toys to educational books, you’ll find plenty of perfect gift options. Or, delight the history lovers in your life with a purchase from the gift shop at Fort Fisher State Historic Site. Call ahead to purchase a half gallon of Happy Hippies Java Hut’s popular cold brew coffee potion, Mermaid Magic, to gift the coffee lover in your life, or grab one of their other unique gift options.


Nearby Cheer

You don’t have to go far for even more ways to celebrate the holidays. Nearby on the island, take the whole family for a stroll along the vintage Carolina Beach Boardwalk and check out the gazebo decked out in sparkling splendor for Christmas by the Sea. Little ones can visit Santa in his workshop and listen to carolers every Saturday from Nov. 26 through Dec. 17, and adults can shop for unique coastal-inspired gifts on the boardwalk.


On the Friday after Thanksgiving, join residents and visitors of all ages to view the annual Island of Lights Christmas Parade with floats, bands, Santa Claus and plenty of entertainment. Enjoy a festive parade of boats decorated with thousands of lights Dec. 3 at the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla. Or, visit any time Nov. 25 to Dec. 31 to take in the Festive Lights Display at Carolina Beach Lake Park.

Check out the Carolina Beach Holiday Market to explore more unique and handmade goods from shark’s teeth to handmade soaps, fine art and more. Shop local this holiday season from more than 100 vendors at this one-day event at Carolina Beach Lake Park Dec. 3.


The fun continues on New Year’s Eve with the Island of Light’s New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Dance to the DJ all night long at this free, family-friendly event and enjoy refreshments and party favors available for purchase. At midnight, a giant beach ball will drop, and there will be a grand display of fireworks to welcome the new year.

With activities for visitors of all ages and twists on traditional celebrations, a holiday getaway to Kure Beach is sure to be full of joy and wonder for all.