What if you could participate in a 230-year tradition in one of the most captivating places on earth? It doesn’t get any better than the annual NC Fourth of July Festival on Oak Island! This week full of incredible family events concludes with a fantastic, patriotic fireworks celebration that you and your family will never forget.
We want you to have the best vacation of your life, so we’ve collected all of the information that you need to make the most out of your summer trip to Oak Island. Keep reading to learn all about what will be happening during one of North Carolina’s most lively weeks of the year:
A History Of The NC Fourth Of July Festival
Locals have celebrated the Fourth of July on Oak island for around 230 years! The first records describing the Fourth of July Festival in NC go back to 1792, but the festivities may have been taking place for even longer. After all, our country gained independence in 1776, and Oak Islanders have always been at the forefront of celebration!
We know for a fact that explosions have been a staple of the celebration since the beginning, but the earliest fireworks were actually ship cannons! At the first celebration, there were fleets of gorgeous ships floating in Southport (then Smithville) Harbor. The festivities were small back then, involving a simple toast as the cannons roared across the water.
Over those two phenomenal centuries, the festivities have only improved! Today, the celebrations strike a balance between reverence for our nation’s history and good, old-fashioned family fun. The highlight is the fifteen-minute fireworks show, beginning with a red, white, and blue American tribute.
Fireworks on Oak Island: When and Where
There are two sets of fireworks that take place each year: the Oak Island anniversary fireworks on July 1st and the Fourth of July display on Independence Day at Southport.
The Oak Island beach fireworks will be set off on the Oak Island Pier at 705 Ocean Drive on July 1st at 9pm. It’s never a bad idea to rent an oceanfront beach house so you can watch the show in comfort. Otherwise, grab a beach chair and find a spot on the beach to enjoy the spectacular display!
A few days later, the Fourth of July Festival fireworks will be set off on the Southport Waterfront at 9pm, where residents fired their cannons many years ago. This year, in 2023, they’re sponsored by Duke Energy with special funding by American Fish Co and Frying Pan in memory of Ed and Woody Harper.
You will be able to see both sets of fireworks from just about anywhere in Southport or Oak Island. For safety reasons, professionals launch the fireworks right on the water. There is no sight more stunning than the “double fireworks” reflected on the surface of the dark ocean on a gorgeous summer evening! Please keep in mind that roads are typically closed before the show, so plan accordingly.
You can learn more about the festivities on the Town of Oak Island’s website.
Celebrate Independence With More Summer Activities And Events
The NC Fourth of July Festival is more than just fireworks. It’s a full week of fun-filled, family-friendly activities that will keep you busy from morning until night! You will want to schedule some time to enjoy the following events in-between visits to the beach, piers, parks, and golf courses!
The festival organizers have found ways to celebrate history and freedom throughout the week. A few of the traditional patriotic events that you can expect include:
- Readings of the Declaration of Independence
- A flag-raising ceremony
- A flag retirement ceremony
- Naturalization ceremony
- Veteran’s recognition ceremony
These are genuinely spirited opportunities to engage with the nation’s history. You can even sign an oversized copy of the Declaration of Independence during the festival!
4th of July Parade
If you can’t get enough history, why not check out history on wheels? You can see many of the coolest cars in action when you attend the Fourth of July parade in Southport on July 4th! It’s been said that 120 vehicles and floats travel the route annually. This year this event will start at 11am on July 4th at Moore and Howe Street. You may even catch a glimpse of Miss North Carolina, who typically makes her first appearance at the parade each year!
Arts And Crafts Market
Arts and crafts markets will be held in Southport and on Oak Island. The Southport Market takes place in Franklin Square Park, while you can find artisans at Oak Island’s Middleton Park Pavillion. Both markets are open multiple days during 4th of July week, along with opportunities for children’s crafts and games.
Why should cars have all the fun? The Freedom Flotilla is essentially a boat parade! Boats of all sizes travel a long route with plenty of viewing opportunities for the public. Many members of the local maritime community decorate their boats — and they go all out! The 2023 event will take place on Sunday, July 2nd and begins at 4pm.
Live Music And Performances
You will hear nearly every musical genre you can think of during the Fourth of July festivities on Oak Island! There will be stages all over Southport and Oak Island during festival week, and there will even be an afternoon of children’s entertainment on Sunday, July 2nd at the Fort Johnston Lawn. And, if you’re looking for something a little more dynamic, you can even catch Live Pro Wrestling at Middleton Park on July 4th between 3pm and 5pm!
Full Schedule for the North Carolina 4th of July Festival
You can view the full official schedule of events on the NC 4th of July Festival website that includes over 50 individual events to enjoy! This list includes both Oak Island and Southport activities.
Have A Happy Fourth Of July With Salt & Sand Realty
Thinking about a summer vacation to Oak Island for the Fourth of July? One thing is sure, when you rent a vacation home from Salt & Sand Realty, you might have an additional problem on your hands: guests love our rentals so much they don’t want to leave!
Plus, there is no more beautiful place to celebrate our nation’s independence than the breathtaking beaches of Oak Island, North Carolina. With a full week worth of activities and events for the whole family, you won’t regret attending the NC Fourth of July Festival! Not to mention, the sight of the explosive and colorful fireworks reflected against our twelve miles of pristine beaches will stick in your mind for life.
When you’re ready to start planning, our centrally located oceanfront homes are right in view of the big display! Just keep in mind that this is one of the busiest weeks of the year on this island — so make sure to grab your Oak Island accommodations today before they’re all booked. If you have questions or would like personalized recommendations, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.