• Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

11 things to do in Wilmington NC for Thanksgiving weekend 2022

ByDenise T. Tatum

Nov 24, 2022

This weekend, all of Southeast North Carolina’s holiday events kick off in a big way. (See here or the link below for a big old list going through to Christmas.)

However, if you’re not quite into the holidays yet, there are still plenty of non-holiday events this weekend before the holiday season slowly but surely becomes all-encompassing.

More: Holiday EventsIf you missed Enchanted Airlie tickets, try these Wilmington-area Christmas lights


Jim Quick & Coast

At SeaWitch Cafe & Tiki Bar: Jim Quick & Coastline play a brand of music they call “Swamp Soul” which is something like Carolina Beach Music with a bit of Southern Rock and have a huge following and are very good at what they do . Bring your shagging shoes to this Carolina Beach hotspot and dance your turkey weight off.

25 Nov 7pm-11pm.

Fourth Friday Gallery Night

November 25 in downtown Wilmington: The Friday after Thanksgiving is always a good time to take this monthly tour of downtown art galleries. The Fourth Friday is a great place to start looking for gifts for the art lovers on your list, and many galleries are showing holiday-themed art, including the New Elements Gallery on North Front Street, whose ‘A Walk in the Park’ exhibition is some of which features the finest work by the artists they represent. Visit ArtsWilmington.org for details of participating galleries.

Tree lighting in downtown

People walk past the tree at Wilmington's tree lighting event at the base of Princess St. in downtown Wilmington.  Matt Born/Star News

5:30 p.m. November 25, foot of Market Street: Downtown Wilmington doesn’t take long to get into the Christmas spirit, at least not when this giant tree is lit on Market Street and Water Street. Always a crowd puller with live music, a ‘shopping village’, a Santa performance and free hot chocolate (while supplies last, of course).

lighting of the lake

November 25 at Carolina Beach Lake: Kick-off of Pleasure Island’s annual month-long Island of Lights event series. Participation is free, beginning at 7 p.m


The 30th Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Boat Parade.  This year's 38th Annual Flotilla will take place on November 26th.

NC Holiday Flotilla

November 26 in Wrightsville Beach: This annual parade of lighted watercraft, now in its 38th year, has become the de facto prelude to holiday events in the Wilmington area. The festival at Wrightsville Beach Park runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The 6pm boat parade travels through Motts Channel and Banks Channel followed by fireworks. Details at NCholidayflotilla.org.


Play It Forward fundraiser

At Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern: It’s never a NOT a good weekend for going to Reggie’s, but this weekend will be a particularly good one for checking out Wilmington’s finest rock club. Nine Wilmington-area bands will play over two nights to raise money for Play It Forward Wilmington, a non-profit organization that helps children buy musical instruments. Friday’s line-up includes local rockers Vestige of Mora and Exploding Math Lab, while Saturday’s acts include Photoclub and Cool Jerk.

7 p.m., doors 25.-26. November, tickets are $10 per night or $15 for both nights.

Joe Zimmerman

At Dead Crow Comedy Room: Zimmerman is a really smart and funny comic with roots in North Carolina that manages to find humor in seemingly mundane subjects like taxes and bird watching. He has done stand-up on all the late-night shows and has also written humorous columns for The New Yorker. His latest album is Comedy to Fall Asleep To.

7.00 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. 25.-26. November, tickets cost $18 and $28.

Ogden Tap Room Holiday Sip & Shop

Inside the Odgen Tap Room: It’s 10th year for this annual Christmas market with more than 50 vendors for all your holiday shopping needs. Tons of local produce, from crafts and food to furniture and more. Before or after shopping, stop by the Tap Room for a drink and a bite to eat.

11 a.m. – 4 p.m. 26.-27. November.

All is Light: A Holiday of Lights

25 Nov-Dec 30 in Poplar Grove: This former plantation on the New Hanover County/Pender County border will be lit up and decorated for the holidays. Guests can step outside and enjoy the lights, and there’s also a judged gift show for shopping, visits to Santa (Saturdays only), food and drink, and even a s’mores station. Tickets start at $5 for children. 5-9 p.m. 25-26 Nov 1-3 Dec, 8th-10th, 15th-17th, 21st-23rd and 28.-30. See PoplarGrove.org for details.

Holiday train and light show

Christmas train and light show at the Wilmington Railroad Museum in downtown Wilmington

25 Nov-Dec 30 at the Wilmington Railroad Museum: Annual display of lights and holiday-related train sets at the only museum dedicated to Wilmington’s rich railroad history. $5 per ticket, 6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 25-26 November and December 9-10, 16-17, 23 and 30. Call 910-763-2634 for details.

Holiday Train Expo

25 Nov-Dec 30 in Independence Mall: The Cape Fear Model Railroad Society of Eastern North Carolina presents this annual show featuring nearly three dozen train bodies. Open most days from 12pm to 5pm, closed on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Tickets are $7, children are $5, and the Expo is located in the mall’s Dillard Wing. Call 910-470-2899 for details.