32nd Annual North Carolina Flotilla and 11th Annual Enchanted Airlie Gardens Starts the Thanksgiving Weekend and the Holiday Season in Wrightsville Beach, NC
The 32nd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Zambelli Fireworks, and The 11th Annual Enchanted Airlie officially launch the holiday season Thanksgiving weekend in Wrightsville Beach. As if by design, a full moon rising will prelude festivities Thanksgiving Eve, Wed., Nov. 25, 2015, at 5:45 p.m.
Voted a Top 20 Event in 2015 by the Southeast Tourism Society, Airlie Gardens’ 67-acre nighttime forest awakens as Enchanted Airlie, with an estimated one million twinkling lights illuminating the half-mile, self-guided, walking trail of holiday displays and seasonal sounds.
Conceived and created by Airlie Gardens Foundation eleven years ago, Enchanted Airlie has rapidly gained national and international prominence as a must-see attraction. “We had visitors from all 50 states and 47 different countries,” said Janine Powell, Airlie Gardens’ Development Director. “In 2015, attendance was a record-breaking 40,000 people.”
As well as a maritime parade of festive boats and stunning fireworks, the flotilla itinerary is packed with Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and the Atlantic Marine Flotilla Launch Party featuring The Embers. On Saturday, Festival in the Park will bustle with bouncy houses, slides, climbing walls, the Arab Choo Choo, live music, an antique auto show, and an estimated 100 booths featuring local merchants and arts and crafts vendors.
Located directly on the flotilla parade route, host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort kicks off the holiday celebration with a traditional and coastal Thanksgiving Day feast for early arrivals. Cape Fear Naturalist Captain Joe Abbate will navigate local waters with scenic nature tours and Sunset Cruises at the Blockade Runner dock.
The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla features a procession of creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd of 50,000 cheering revelers. Text voting continues this year, with the Crowd Favorite and People’s Choice Awards determined by spectators.
Immediately following the flotilla, a 21-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky, showering the waterway with sound and color. “We have a long show by Zambelli Fireworks, one of the most reputable fireworks companies in the world,” said Pres Davenport, Flotilla Chairman. “We’re able to put on a really impressive display that rivals or surpasses most July 4th shows.”
Enchanted Airlie will open to the public Nov. 27-28, Dec. 4-6, 10-13, and 16-22. There are two reservation times each evening, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m. Enchanted Airlie tickets are available on the Airlie Gardens website, or Blockade Runner guests can call the hotel to make arrangements. Tickets sell out frequently and are not available at the gate.
An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday – Schedule of events – Wrightsville Beach:
Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015
Full moon rising at 5:44 p.m. – Sunset at 5:03 p.m.
Full moon rising celebration at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, on the oceanfront garden lawn at East Oceanfront Dining.
Thursday, Nov. 26
Thanksgiving Day Buffet at Blockade Runner Beach Resort – Children’s games on the garden lawn, chairs and umbrellas on the beach, and The Loop. The 2.5-mile John Nesbitt Loop offers fresh air, exercise, and the scenic beauty of Wrightsville Beach. The Loop is used for walking, biking, jogging, and skating.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Nov. 26-30, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Scenic waterway nature tours with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist. Island shelling, Masonboro Island Cruises, Harbor Island Cruises, and Sunset Cruises. Learn, discover, explore, and enjoy the natural wonders of the Carolina Coast.
Friday – Saturday, Nov. 27-28, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m.
11th Annual ‘Enchanted Airlie’ – 67-acre Airlie Gardens comes alive with an estimated one million twinkling lights illuminating the half-mile, self-guided walking trail of holiday displays with seasonal sounds. Warm holiday refreshments add the perfect touch for an evening stroll.
Friday, Nov. 27, 5:45 p.m.
Tree Lighting Ceremony and visit with Santa at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall. Bring your unwrapped gift to donate to Toys for Tots. Hot chocolate will be available for donations.
Friday, Nov. 27, 7:00 p.m.
Flotilla Launch Party featuring Craig Woolard and the Embers – Enjoy an evening of live entertainment, great food, a live auction, and good times. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Host hotel, Blockade Runner.
Saturday, Nov. 28, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Festival In the Park – Wrightsville Beach Town Hall Park – Including a large play area, antique car show, arts and crafts, a large selection of festival food, and the popular the Arab Choo-Choo.
10:00 a.m. – Noon, Jerry Powell Music;
Noon – 12:30 p.m., Chaz the Magician performance;
12:30 – 4:00 p.m., End of the Line Band.
Saturday, Nov. 28, 6 p.m.
32nd Annual NC Holiday Flotilla Parade – An estimated 50,000 visitors gather each year to cheer the parade of yachts and motorboats, each decorated with a holiday theme and thousands of glittering lights. The flotilla follows a 4-mile route, passing the judges viewing stand at the host hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Saturday, Nov. 28, (immediately following the boat parade)
32nd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Presented by world famous Zambelli International, the evening ends with a stunning 20 minute, 4,000-round fireworks display, illuminating the night sky and showering the waterways with sound and color.
Sunday, Nov. 29, 6 p.m.
Holiday Flotilla Awards Ceremony, host hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort
Dolphin Sunset Cruise with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist.
Monday, Nov. 30, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Scenic waterway nature tours with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist. Island shelling, Masonboro Island Cruise, Harbor Island Cruise, and Sunset Cruise.
Proceeds from the Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.