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27 Oct 2023
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Vacation Planning

The holiday season is upon us, and there's no better place to celebrate than in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Whether you’re looking to escape the winter weather chill, or you just want a change of scenery, a holiday getaway to the Carolina shores is the perfect solution. From festive events to cozy vacation rentals, the Outer Banks offers a unique blend of holiday cheer and coastal charm. So, don your beach apparel, pack your bags, and get ready to make this holiday season one to remember!

Holiday Events to Light Up Your Season

As the holiday season rolls in, the Outer Banks transforms into a festive playground full of events that capture the spirit of the season. Whether you're looking to marvel at twinkling lights, enjoy a classic parade, or even meet Santa in a beachside setting, there's something for everyone. Let's take a look at some of the must-do holiday events that are sure to light up your season!

Ocracoke Parade of Boats

  • When: Friday, November 24th
  • Time: 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Silver Lake Harbor, Ocracoke Island

Kick off the holiday season in a uniquely coastal way with the Ocracoke Parade of Boats. This annual event celebrates the maritime culture of Ocracoke Island. During the parade, you'll see a variety of ships, each decorated with coastal or holiday themes, cruising along the banks of Silver Lake Harbor. The event is free, and spectators can easily find a spot along the waterfront to enjoy the procession.

WinterLights at Elizabethan Gardens

  • When: November 17 – December 30
  • Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Where: Elizabethan Gardens, Manteo, NC

WinterLights is a magical experience that transforms the Elizabethan Gardens into a winter wonderland. With over a million twinkling lights, this event is perfect for families with children or couples looking for a romantic evening stroll. Don't forget to grab a cup of hot cocoa as you wander through the gardens!

Duck Yuletide Celebration

  • When: Saturday, December 2, 2023
  • Time: 3:00 p.m.
  • Where: Duck Town Park

The Duck Yuletide Celebration is a festive gathering for all ages you won't want to miss. The event features live holiday music, delicious treats, and an elf scavenger hunt for the little ones. The highlight of the day is Santa Claus himself, who will make a grand entrance not on his usual sleigh but on a Duck Fire Truck! Admission is free, making it a perfect outing for the whole family.

Manteo Christmas Tree Lighting and Parade

  • When: December 1st and 2nd
  • Time: Tree lighting TBA | Parade: 10:30 a.m.
  • Where: Downtown Manteo

The holiday season in Manteo kicks off with two beloved local traditions that bring the community together in celebration. On December 1st, the Town Christmas Tree Lighting event will set the night aglow. Santa will light the tree, and the evening will be filled with Christmas carols, dancing, hot cocoa, cookies, and reindeer games. Mrs. Claus will even treat everyone to a special reading of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas! After the tree is lit, Santa will be available to listen to children's wish lists, offering a perfect photo op for families.

The next morning, don’t miss the Manteo Christmas Parade featuring floats, marching bands, and, of course, Santa Claus. Both events offer a fantastic way to dive into the holiday season and soak up the small-town charm of Manteo. The parade runs from Manteo High School down Wingina Street, then John Borden Street to Croatan Avenue, and finally Queen Elizabeth Street to Fernando Street. Any spot along these roads is guaranteed to offer excellent viewing of the festivities.

For more Christmas parade fun, or if you’re vacationing closer to Hatteras, don’t miss their parade on December 9th at 2:00 p.m.

Festival of Trees Gala and Auction

  • When: Saturday, December 9th
  • Time: 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Where: The Pavilion at Pirate's Cove Marina

The Festival of Trees is back and better than ever, celebrating its 32nd year with a gala and auction to support the mission of promoting a safe and compassionate community. Hosted at The Pavilion at Pirate's Cove Marina, the event promises an evening filled with gourmet hors d'oeuvres, a fine selection of wine and beer, and holiday music. The décor will be breathtaking, and attendees can participate in a silent auction featuring local art, jewelry, and adventures. The highlight of the evening is the traditional live auction of beautifully decorated trees – perfect for if you’re spending Christmas in your vacation rental. Ticket purchase is required, and the event is made possible through the support of local businesses, organizations, and volunteers.

No matter what holiday events you take part in, one thing is certain: the Outer Banks knows how to ring in the season. Check out their calendar of events for more details and additional activities you and your family can enjoy while on your holiday vacation.

Outer Banks Holiday Dining Options

While the Outer Banks is known for its seafood, many local restaurants offer special holiday menus that include traditional favorites like turkey and ham. Whether you're looking for a catered meal or a fine dining experience, there’s no shortage of options to satisfy your holiday cravings.

Shopping for Last-Minute Gifts in the Outer Banks

If you find yourself in need of some last-minute presents, the Outer Banks has you covered. From unique boutiques to popular retail stores and even holiday markets that sell local artisan-made goods, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect thing while on your holiday vacation.

Book Your Outer Banks Vacation Rental With Carolina Shores

When it comes to lodging, look no further than Carolina Shores Vacation Rentals. Offering a wide selection of vacation properties, from cozy cottages to spacious homes perfect for large family stays, you're sure to find the coastal home base of your dreams. Plus, booking directly with Carolina Shores ensures you get the best rates and personalized service. So why wait? Book your dream Outer Banks holiday vacation today!