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2023 Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla: A Coastal Carolina Tradition

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Stay in the know: 2023 Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla: A Coastal Carolina Tradition

When: December 2, 2023

Event Times: 6:00 PM

Price: FREE for Spectators

Welcome to The Island of Lights in Carolina Beach NC

The Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla is a holiday celebration and one of the most anticipated annual events that takes place in the charming coastal town of Carolina Beach. It marks the beginning of the holiday season and is a time when locals and visitors come together to celebrate the festive spirit in a uniquely coastal way. The main attraction of the flotilla is a parade of decorated boats that gracefully sail along the Intracoastal Waterway, illuminated with dazzling holiday lights, decorations, and festive cheer.

Pleasure Island, Carolina Beach - Island of Lights Flotilla - Vacation Rental Homes

A Glimpse into the History

The Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla has a rich history dating back to the early 2000s. It was initiated by the Island of Lights Committee, a group of dedicated volunteers who are passionate about bringing holiday magic to Carolina Beach.

This event was created with the vision of blending the coastal lifestyle and the festive holiday season. It’s a true testament to the close-knit community that calls Carolina Beach home and their commitment to spreading holiday cheer in a unique way.

Island of Lights Flotilla in Carolina Beach North Carolina Vacation Rentals Near Event

What to Expect

The Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla is a magical event that offers something for everyone, from the young to the young at heart. Here’s what you can expect when you attend:

Decorated Boats

The heart of the flotilla is the parade of boats, each adorned with festive decorations and holiday lights. Boat owners go all out to create stunning displays that light up the Intracoastal Waterway. The boats range from sailboats and yachts to fishing vessels, and they all participate in friendly competition for the best decorations.

Spectacular Lights

The flotilla happens after dark, and that’s when the magic truly comes alive. The reflections of the lights on the water, the holiday-themed displays, and the glowing boats create a truly breathtaking spectacle. It’s an ideal backdrop for taking photos and creating lasting memories.

Island of Lights Festival Flotilla in Carolina Beach NC - Vacation Places to Stay

Parade Route

The flotilla follows a designated route along the Intracoastal Waterway, offering excellent viewing spots for spectators. Some of the best places to catch the action include Carolina Beach Boat Basin, Snow’s Cut Park, and the Carolina Beach State Park.

Fireworks Display

To add an extra layer of excitement and holiday sparkle, the flotilla typically concludes with a stunning fireworks display. It’s a grand finale to the evening, lighting up the night sky and reflecting off the water.

Festive Music

To keep everyone in a cheerful holiday mood, music is an integral part of the event. You’ll often hear holiday tunes and festive melodies playing in the background as the boats sail by. Some boat owners even add live music to their displays.

Awards and Recognition

As the boats pass by the viewing areas, they are judged on their decorations and creativity. Various awards are given, including Best in Show, Best Theme, and more. These awards add an element of friendly competition and inspire boat owners to go all out with their decorations.

Practical Tips for Attending

To ensure you make the most of your visit to the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla, consider these practical tips:

Arrive Early

This is a popular event, and prime viewing spots fill up quickly. Arrive early to secure a good vantage point along the parade route.

Dress Warm

While it’s a coastal event, the evenings in December can be a bit chilly. Dress warmly and bring blankets to stay cozy while enjoying the show.

Bring Snacks and Drinks

You can make it a festive picnic by bringing your favorite holiday snacks and beverages. Hot cocoa, coffee, and holiday cookies are always a hit.

Get into the Spirit

Feel free to don your most festive holiday attire, complete with Santa hats and jingle bells. The flotilla is all about spreading holiday cheer, so the more festive, the better!

Respect the Environment

Enjoy the event while also being mindful of the environment. Dispose of trash properly and help keep the viewing areas clean.

Need A Place to Stay?

The Sunrise Shack is only a few blocks away from the main festival area. We have two boutique units available and would love to host you during the Carolina Beach Music Festival. Send us a message here or book direct today and save!

Lights Over the Water

The Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla in Carolina Beach, NC, is a heartwarming holiday tradition that combines the beauty of the coastal lifestyle with the magic of the season. It’s a true testament to the strong sense of community in Carolina Beach and the dedication of volunteers who make it all possible.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this event provides a unique and picturesque way to kick off the holiday season. The combination of sparkling lights, decorated boats, and the camaraderie of fellow spectators makes the Island of Lights Christmas Flotilla a must-see event in Carolina Beach. So, make a plan to attend this enchanting celebration and experience the magic of winter wonderland along the Intracoastal Waterway in Carolina Beach, NC.

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