Thanksgiving week, known as Flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, launches the Carolina holiday season with two long-running traditions: The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie. Introduced in 2020, the Wrightsville Beach Door to Dock Decorating Contest will return.
Celebrating a 38-year tradition, the Holiday Flotilla attracts an estimated 50,000 visitors to the main event, a maritime parade featuring beautifully decorated power yachts, sailboats, and small watercraft. Immediately following the Flotilla, a stunning 21-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky, showering the waterway with sound and color.
“North Carolina Holiday Flotilla is back and better than ever,” said Linda Brown, Chairwoman. “Scheduled on November 27, we expect the Flotilla to be our finest, followed by one of the best fireworks displays in the nation.”
Centrally located on the parade route, and the official judging site for the Flotilla, host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort begins the weekend with a Thanksgiving Day feast. Harbor cruises depart from Blockade Runner to view the Door to Dock holiday lights.
“I’m delighted the Door to Dock Decorating Contest is returning in 2021,” said Brown. “Last year, we postponed the Flotilla but asked our residents and businesses to share their holiday spirit by participating in a dock decorating contest. The resulting light show was a spectacular success.”
“This year, the docks will shine again beginning Friday, November 26. Judging is going to be completed by December 4, and winners are announced on December 5. Many homes and businesses will leave their docks decorated through the holiday season,” said Brown.
Alongside the Holiday Flotilla activities, Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie will bring to life 35-acres of night-time forest and walking trails to stroll through sparkling lights, holiday displays, and seasonal music.
“We’ll have many new elements at Enchanted Airlie this year and expect another record-breaking holiday season,” said Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations. “Enchanted Airlie has gained national and international prominence, attracting more than 50,000 people each year. Visitors should make a plan; we will sell out all dates and times.”
The historic gates of Airlie Gardens will open on 22 evenings for the 16th annual Enchanted Airlie, including Friday and Saturday (Thanksgiving week), Nov. 29-30, and every night from Dec. 3-22. Public ticket sales open Nov. 3, at 9 AM, on the Airlie Gardens’ website.
“Airlie Gardens saw the highest-ever visitation over the past year with more people and families getting outdoors and connecting with nature,” said Powell.
Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens. Keep up with the NC Holiday Flotilla here.
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