Christmas might come earlier and earlier to the retailers, but the holiday flotillas are island time countdown to Santa in this neck of the woods. Despite sounding like something on the menu at a Mexican restaurant or a monster from Florida, “flotilla” is Spanish for a small fleet of ships. People residing in eastern North Carolina hear it and instantly think of carols and cocoa. It might technically be a fleet of ships, but for this tradition they adorned in the lights and pomp of Christmastime. The flotilla is a parade across the water with crafts sailing up waterways and down rivers.
Here is some information about different flotillas in the area and what you can expect to find.
November 29, 2019
The historic town of Swansboro feels like home and loves to show off its holiday spirit. The day after Thanksgiving at dusk (around 5 pm now, thanks Daylight Savings) everyone is invited downtown to watch the parade of lights put on by Swansboro Festivals. The parade sails along the Intracoastal Waterway and down the White Oak River. There will be holiday music, cocoa, and Santa will arrive in the flotilla to visit with families and take pictures. Awards will be given to three contestants in the large boat category and three in the small boat category. In case of raindrops the flotilla will be moved to Saturday.
November 30, 2019
Wrightsville’s 36th annual Holiday Flotilla commences with a tree lighting ceremony at 5:30 on November 29, 2019. This year’s festival is presented by the Blockade Runner.
On Saturday, November 30, 2019 at Wrightsville Beach Park there will be the annual Festival in the Park from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. There are events to allure families and shoppers alike. The play area for children will feature bounce houses and inflatable slides as well as the beloved Arab Choo-Choo. In addition to all the children’s activities, there will be booths from local merchants and regional artisans. As if that wasn’t enough, there is even an Antique, Classic, & Special Interest Car Show.
At 6:00 pm on Saturday the water top parade begins with fireworks. Among the best places to watch are the Banks Channel Bridge, at the two South Harbor Island mini-parks, and the west side of Waynick Boulevard. Attendees can vote for their favorite bedecked boat with their cell phone by texting the word “boat” followed by their favorite ship’s number to 24587. Cash prizes are awarded to Best in Show, People’s Choice, Best Costumes and Crew Spirit, and many more. After the flotilla there is a massive firework show, truly ending the festivities with a bang.
December 7, 2019
Jacksonville’s Winterfest is in its 32nd year and packs as much holiday fun into the weekend as possible. Not only is this the place to be to find Christmas presents for that special someone, with all the kid’s events going on the whole family will be excited to go.
The Christmas Flotilla will set out on the New River towards Wilson Bay beginning at 5:00 pm. The best viewing locations for the flotilla are at LP Willingham Park and River Front Park. For more information about what you can expect at this year’s Winterfest please follow this link.
December 14, 2019
The Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce has made an honest flotilla of what was previously an unofficial event. This year marks the first ever Greater Topsail Flotilla. The event takes place on Saturday, December 14, 2019 at Soundside Park in Surf City.