Like much of the southeast, Jacksonville doesn’t depend on snowfall to get into the holiday spirit. White Christmases are few and far between. Holiday joy and cheer, though, rely on spirit of the community. For Winterfest, it shines through in the faces of the people who are what keep this merry tradition alive.
Presented by the Jacksonville Breakfast Rotary and in partnership with the City of Jacksonville and Jacksonville Winterfest, the 32nd annual Winterfest would make the Grinch want to sing about red-nosed reindeer. The festival takes place at two locations in Jacksonville, the Riverwalk (421 Court St) and Jacksonville Commons (100 Recreation Lane). Make sure to make use of the (free) shuttle between the location. In 2018 over 5,000 people were in attendance.
Winterfest is the highlight of the season for everyone who loves Christmastime. Kids especially should get excited. Santa makes his entrance at 1:00 pm on December 7th, 2019 but he hasn’t let Jacksonville know yet if he plans on arriving by sky or sea. There will be the rare treat for southerners of sledding, skating, and a snowball fight. Train rides, pony rides, hay rides; Winterfest has them all. There will also be old fashioned confections for sale at the River Walk’s Olde Towne Candy Shoppe.
And don’t forget about the shopping!
The artisans’ market at Jacksonville Commons will take place Friday, December 6th 2019 from 5:00-8:00 pm, Saturday, December 7th, 2019 10:00 am -6:00 pm, and Sunday, December 8th, 2019 12:00-5:00 pm. This three-day shopping extravaganza will have booths featuring work from artisans and crafters who come from all over North Carolina. Whether you’re looking for new Christmas decorations, a little something for that special someone, or just a little something for yourself, there will be a wide array of treasures to peruse over.
And there’s no reason furrier family members can’t take pare. Pets are also welcomed down to take pictures with Santa on December 7th, 2019 (the time has yet to be announced). The Christmas Flotilla will set out on the New River towards Wilson Bay beginning at 5:00pm (time has not been confirmed, but there is a Captain’s meeting at 4pm) on December 7th, 2019. The best viewing locations for the flotilla are at LP Willingham Park and River Front Park.
Sunday, December 8, 2019 from 2-4pm there will also be a Gingerbread Workshop put on with the help of American Dream Cakes. This is the only Winterfest event that requires registration and the kits are $5 so if gumdrops are dancing in your eyes this year sign up quick!
Of course, there is more to this time of year than Santa and treats. The Onslow Christmas Cheer’s Drop-Off will be accepting charitable donations at Winterfest this year. The Onslow Christmas Cheer organization has been bringing assistance and goodwill to families in need since the 1970’s. On December 7th, 2019 from 1:00-6:00 pm volunteers will be taking donations of new, unwrapped toys for children ages 0-18. These donations all go to the children of local families. Remember the reason for the season this Winterfest and make someone else’s holiday full of precious memories and gratitude.