The holiday season is right around the corner and there’s nothing like visiting the NC coast in the winter months! Oak Island Christmas festivities bring excitement and fun for the entire family and are perfect for getting into the holiday spirit — from extravagant parades and holiday festivals to brilliant light displays and many other cherished traditions. Plus, the mild temperatures make this an ideal time to soak up the sun from the shore during the afternoon and then gather around a beach bonfire with your loved ones in the evening.

Let’s take a look at some of our favorite holiday traditions on and around Oak Island…


Christmas by the Sea Parade on Oak Island

Christmas by the Sea on Oak Island

The annual Christmas by the Sea Parade will be held on Saturday, December 4th! If you haven’t visited the North Carolina coast for Christmas before, this is one event not to miss. Decorated floats and golf carts showcasing our favorite local businesses will go from Town Hall on East Oak Island Drive to McGlamery Street. And, make sure you stick around for the final float to see Santa and Mrs. Claus!

For those who aren’t familiar, the Christmas by the Sea Parade event has been organized for over 35 years by the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Oak Island. There’s something new every year to experience, and it’s one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit!


Southport Winterfest

Southport Flortilla Winterfest

If you’re visiting Oak Island in December from the 5th to 11th, the Southport WinterFest 2021 is a must! This week-long event will kick off on December 5th with the first annual Bicycle & Golf Cart Christmas Parade — where you can deck your bike (and yourself) for a fun ride around Southport. Even if you don’t participate in the actual parade, we know it will be just as magical to watch. This event will start at Franklin Square at 6pm.

Events throughout the week include A Candy Cane Garden Party on December 7th, The State Port Pilot Annual Cookie Contest on December 8th, and an outdoor showing of Polar Express on December 9th at the Garrison Lawn. However, the weekend truly ramps up the holiday fun at Southport!

On Friday, December 10th, you’ll find Caroling with the Sea Notes from 5:30pm to 6:30pm in Franklin Square before the main event of the evening — the “Light Up The Night” Christmas Parade. This extravagant parade will begin at 6:30pm, and the parade route will be as follows: Waterfront Park, down Howe Street, and then back to the Southport Fire Station. After the parade, children are invited to visit with Santa, and concessions will be available from local vendors!

Saturday, December 11th will be another day of the record books! The festivities will begin at 9am with Southport’s Annual Winter Craft Festival at Franklin Square Park. You’ll find seasonal vegetables, homemade baked goods, jellies, and unique local art at this farmer’s market-style event that’s open until 4pm.

The next stop is Southport’s Santa’s Workshop from 10am to 11am! The young ones in your group will have the opportunity to make ornaments, decorate cookies, and create other holiday-themed crafts. We’ll be headed to the beach and pier afterward for a relaxing afternoon — but if you want to explore the area more, there are so many other things to do on and around the island.

In the evening, the spot-to-be is at the Southport Christmas Flotilla watching the beautifully decorated boats and the lights glow from the water! Grab your chairs and blankets to watch the Christmas lights from the waterfront’s edge. This boat parade will start promptly at 7pm, and we recommend getting there a little bit early to snag the best view.


Festival of Trees at the Museum of Coastal Carolina

Festival of Trees near Wilmington

If you don’t mind a short 30-minute drive from Oak Island, The Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach is hosting their annual Festival of Trees again this year! You’ll find a selection of beautifully decorated trees by local businesses and organizations displayed through the museum’s galleries from November 11th, 2021, to January 1st, 2022.

Touring the Festival of Trees is included with general admission to the museum, and it is open to the public every week: Thursday through Sunday from 10am to 3pm. Additional hours will be offered on the following Sundays from 1pm to 4pm: November 14, 21, 28 and December 5, 12, 19.

If you’re visiting for Thanksgiving, the Holiday Night at the Museum is a fun family-friendly event that will take place on November 26th! This is the Grand Opening for the Festival of Trees and is a celebration you won’t want to miss. There will be all-day activities for the kids, including photo opportunities with Santa Jaws and a gift bag. Terri Frazee will also be sharing Holiday Stories and Carols in the Barrier Island Gallery at 11am, 1pm, and 3pm. You’ll even find wall decor and wreaths available for sale.


Holiday Shopping on the Coast

Holiday Shopping in Southport and on Oak Island

The first place that instantly comes to mind for holiday shopping on the coast is… The Christmas House! While it’s open year-round, there’s a little bit of extra magic in the air for the holidays. If you’ve been here before, you already know they have everything Christmas-related you can think of and is a perfect place to find unique coastal-themed gifts. We’re certain you’ll find something here for everyone, from a large assortment of puzzles and home decor to sea turtle ornaments and lavish ribbons for all of your decorating needs.

There are so many other options to choose from in Southport and on Oak Island to find gifts for all of your loved ones! If you’re a foodie, check out Nancy Jo’s Homemade Bakery or the artisan cheeses from around the world at Southport Cheese Shoppe. Wine enthusiast? Uncorked by the Sea is right down the road and offers a great variety of hard-to-find wine and beer. Know someone who is in need of a vacation? We can even help you with planning something and a gift card!


Beach Bonfires

Bonfire on the Oak Island Beach in the Winter

What’s better than a beach bonfire after an afternoon of retail therapy or discovering all the holiday events near Oak Island? Yes, that was a trick question — because we don’t think much is better than doing just that! Bonfires are allowed on Oak Island between November 16th to April 30th, and the permits are free. All you need to do is grab one from the local fire department.

Just keep in mind that you must apply for a permit within 72 hours of your planned beach fire on Oak Island. You can learn more about the permits and take a look at frequently asked questions on the Town of Oak Island’s website.

These are only some of the top Oak Island Christmas events this year to enjoy with your family and friends! Head over to our events page for more details, or sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive events and exclusive specials straight to your inbox.


Cooking a Meal Together at Your OKI Vacation Home

Holiday Vacation to the Beach - Oceanfront Vacation Rentals

Whether it’s your annual tradition or you’re looking to create new ones, there are so many reasons why renting a vacation home on the coast is a great way to spend the holidays! Just imagine overlooking a breathtaking ocean or marsh view while creating memories that will last a lifetime with family and friends.

All of our exclusive Oak Island rentals have everything you need to prepare your meal together with fully equipped kitchens that have full-size appliances, cookware, dishes, glassware, utensils, and more. You’ll even find extra amenities that you might not have at home, like a hot tub for lounging and an elevator for those in your family who have a difficult time walking up stairs. Depending on the property, you may even find board games, books, and movies available.


Visit Oak Island this Winter & Save

Coastal Vacation to Oak Island for the Holidays

When you’re ready to start planning your holiday vacation to OKI… our team would love to help you find the perfect vacation rental to meet all of your needs. Plus, you can save 15% on your 2021 Oak Island Christmas vacation by using promo code WINTER21! Learn more about our current specials and browse our rentals now.