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An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday in Wrightsville Beach
Permission granted for redistribution – Photo credits required
Enchanted Airlie, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Fireworks to launch coastal holidays
October 21, 2022
Minnie Evans Bottle Chapel – Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Airlie Gardens
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – Three long-running traditions launch the coastal holiday season on Thanksgiving weekend at Wrightsville Beach – Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, and world-renowned Zambelli Fireworks.

Airlie Gardens’ 17th annual Enchanted Airlie begins Friday and Saturday, November 25-26, bringing 35 acres of night-time forest and walking trails to life with sparkling lights, seasonal music, and magical holiday displays. In addition to Thanksgiving weekend, the historic garden gates will open for Enchanted Airlie December 2-22.

“Enchanted Airlie tickets sell out very quickly,” said Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations. Tickets are available November 2 online.

Saturday, November 26, at 6 PM, the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla celebrates its 39th maritime parade, featuring beautifully decorated and lighted yachts, sailing vessels, boats of all sizes, and man-powered watercraft. Promptly after the Flotilla, courtesy of lodging providers at Wrightsville Beach, Zambelli Fireworks unleashes a stunning barrage of displays, illuminating the night sky and showering the waterway with vivid colors and booming sounds.

“We are excited to present the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla,” said Levi Boyd, Flotilla Chair. “As in years past, we welcome families from all over the state to come and partake in our annual tradition.”

The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie have been recognized multiple times as Top 20 Event winners by the 13-state Southeast Tourism Society. Both are iconic holiday traditions, with each drawing more than 50,000 spectators. 

Accommodating early arrivals and centrally located on the Flotilla route, Blockade Runner Beach Resort will host a Grand Thanksgiving Day Buffet on November 24. Reservations are required.
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Ned Leary
Friday evening, November 25, 5:30-7:30 PM, the Town of Wrightsville Beach officially starts the Christmas season with the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Town Hall. Festivities include a Santa visit, Christmas music, holiday lights, decorations, hot chocolate, and cookies. “We’re so excited to bring back the traditional Town Tree Lighting Ceremony following the drive-thru versions in 2020 and 2021,” said Katie Ryan, Recreation Program Supervisor.

Saturday’s daytime plan, Nov. 26, 10 AM-4 PM, features the popular Day in the Park at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall. Dozens of local vendors showcasing a wide range of merchandise, arts and crafts, food, and drinks will be present. Activities for children, plus a widely attended antique, classic, and special interest car show, are on the schedule.

Spreading the season’s spirit with businesses and residents, the Harbor Island Garden Club (and Town) support a Holiday Decorating Contest with judging in mid-December. The Town’s street pole decorations, featuring classic nautical and sea-life designs, “will definitely be up by Flotilla weekend and won’t come down until after January first,” said Ryan.
Mike Duncan, Best in Show Award 2021, Day in the Park Classic Car Show – Courtesy Robert B Butler
Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.



Click here for accommodations (on the flotilla route)

Wrightsville Beach (and nearby) Holiday Events:

Nov 24 thru Jan 2 – Holiday Decorations at Wrightsville Beach (street poles, homes, businesses)
Nov. 24, 11 AM – 4:45 PM – Grand Thanksgiving Buffet, Blockade Runner Beach Resort
Nov. 25, 5:30-7:30 PM – Tree Lighting/Santa (Wrightsville Beach Park)
Nov. 25–26 & Dec. 2–22 – Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie
Nov. 26, 10 AM – 4 PM – Day in the Park – Food vendors, arts & crafts, Car Show – (Wrightsville Beach Town Hall Park)
Nov. 26, 6 PM – North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, followed by Zambelli Fireworks
Nov. 27, 11 AM – 2 PM – Holiday Fun Sail (Begin Soundside, Banks Channel, at Blockade Runner Beach Resort, to the Masonboro Inlet Sea Buoy and return)
Dec. 3 – Holiday Open House (Wrightsville Beach Museum)
Dec. 1–30 – Christmas Train and Light Spectacular (every Thursday and Friday in December–Wilmington Railroad Museum)
Dec. 2 – Battleship North Carolina Alive–Christmas Edition (Wilmington)
Dec. 2–3 – Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour (Latimer House, Wilmington)
Dec. 2 – Moravian Christmas Candle Tea (Covenant Moravian Church, Wilmington)
Dec. 2, 9, 16, 17, and 23 – Polar Express Program (Wilmington Railroad Museum)
Dec. 3–4 – Jingle Bells Holiday Tea (Bellamy Mansion & Burgwin Wright House – Wilmington)
Dec. 9 – Christmas Stroll through the Past (Bellamy Mansion & Burgwin Wright House – Wilmington)
Dec. 11, 6 PM – Historic Wilmington Holiday Parade (Front Street, Wilmington)
Dec. 13 – Kids’ Christmas Program – (Wrightsville Beach Museum of History)
Dec. thru Jan. 2 – Cape Fear Festival of Trees (NC Aquarium, Ft. Fisher

Contacts:

Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Airlie Gardens / Enchanted Airlie
910-798-7703

Levi Boyd, Event Chair
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

#EnchantedAirlie #AirlieGardens #WrightsvilleBeach #KatieRyan #NCHolidayFlotilla #ZambelliFireworks #NorthCarolina #Wilmington #BlockadeRunnerResort #Flotilla #PublicGardens #Fireworks #HolidayLights #Christmas #ChristmasLights #Santa #LeviBoyd #JaninePowell #HomeDecorating #Contest #TOWB #NewHanoverCountyParks
Winners announced for 2021 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
November 28, 2021
2021 NC Holiday Flotilla “Best of Show” – WB Outrigger Canoe Club – Courtesy NC Press Release
Best in Show award ‘goes green’ to outrigger canoe team

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – “This is a first,” said Linda Brown, Flotilla Chairwoman. “In 38-years, no human-powered watercraft has captured the Best in Show award at the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla. Our congratulations to the 12-team members of the Wrightsville Beach Outrigger Canoe Club.”

Thanksgiving weekend, two long-running traditions, the 38th Holiday Flotilla and Airlie Gardens’ 17th Enchanted Airlie, launched the North Carolina holiday season. Festivities also included Day in the Park with live entertainment, food vendors, craft booths, children’s activities, a Classic Car Show, and fireworks by Zambelli International.

“The flotilla brought perfect weather with thousands of excited visitors and residents who came to see what Flotilla Week is about,” said Brown. Weekend activities attracted an estimated 50,000 people.

Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie resumes December 3-22. Although sold out, a limited number of tickets are available for Blockade Runner Beach Resort guests, home of the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla.

Flotilla Week activities concluded with an awards ceremony recognizing 2021’s North Carolina Holiday Flotilla winners:

2021 Best in Show
Theme: Palm Tree Island
Captain: Team of 12 paddlers
Boat name: Wrightsville Beach Outrigger Canoe Club
(see headline photo)

2021 Peoples’ Choice Award (below)
Theme: Surfs Up
Captain: Brent Jernigan
Boat name: Craig Cat
Courtesy of Mark Steelman
2021 Best Costumes and Crew Spirit (see below)
Theme: Fancy Like
Captain: Lisa and Andy Leath
Boat name: HR Nightmare

Courtesy of Mark Steelman
Best Sailboat (see below)
Theme: Captain Grinch strikes again
Captain: Steve Sutton
Boat name: Manana

Courtesy of Mark Steelman
2021 Best 31 and over (see below)
Theme: Santa is watching you
Captain: Alan Murray
Boat name: J&B

Courtesy of Mark Steelman
2021 Best 23-31 (see below)
Theme: Ocean Rescue (or) 81
Captain: John Buchuele
Boat name: Wrightsville Beach Watch

Courtesy of Mark Steelman
2021 Best 22 and under (see below)
Theme: Red, white, and blue Christmas
Captain: Joshua Reda
Boat name: Chaos

Courtesy Mark Steelman
2021 Classic Car Show 
Best in Show Award
Recipient: Mike Duncan
Auto: 1960 Volkswagen
Zambelli International Fireworks exhibition
NC Holiday Flotilla – Zambelli International Fireworks – Courtesy Mark Steelman
For more information, contact:

Linda Brown, Event Chairwoman
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120
info@NCHolidayFlotilla.org

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations
www.NCPressRelease.org
www.RBButler.com

Permission granted for reprint and redistribution

#NCHolidayFlotilla #EnchantedAirlie #WrightsvilleBeach #Wilmington #AirlieGardens #NorthCarolina #BlockadeRunnerResort #CarolinaRunner #Flotilla #PublicGardens #Fireworks #Zambelli #HolidayLights #LindaBrown #JaninePowell #NewHanoverCountyParks #OutriggerCanoe #WBOCC
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and Enchanted Airlie launch the 2021 Carolina holidays
Important note: The 2021 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie season is sold out. No tickets are available from Airlie Gardens. 

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – 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.
Holiday Flotilla – Door to Dock Contest – Courtesy Mark Steelman
“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 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.




Contacts:
Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
910-798-7703
jpowell@nhcgov.com

Linda Brown, Event Chairwoman
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120
info@NCHolidayFlotilla.org

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations
www.NCPressRelease.org
www.RBButler.com

Permission granted for reprint and redistribution

#NCHolidayFlotilla #EnchantedAirlie #WrightsvilleBeach #Wilmington #AirlieGardens #NorthCarolina #BlockadeRunnerResort #CarolinaRunner #Flotilla #PublicGardens #Fireworks #Zambelli #HolidayLights #LindaBrown #JaninePowell #NewHanoverCountyParks
2020 North Carolina Holiday
Flotilla & Airlie Gardens implement changes for public safety
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
WILMINGTON / WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, will launch the coastal Carolina holiday season with two long-running traditions, the 38th North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and Airlie Gardens’ 16th annual Enchanted Airlie.

Organizers of both events revised their programs to mitigate public safety concerns surrounding COVID-19. “It’s important for us to do whatever we can to keep these North Carolina holiday traditions in place,” said Bill Baggett, co-owner of Blockade Runner Beach Resort and a founding supporter of the Flotilla.

“The Flotilla is happening with a little twist this year,” said Linda Brown, Committee Chair. “Instead of a boat-judging contest with 50,000 people on the shoreline, it’s going to be a dock judging competition from the water. We encourage all residents and businesses on the Flotilla route to decorate their docks with seasonal lighting. However, floodlights and spotlights will impair navigation on the waterways and are not permitted.

“The judges, instead of scoring a parade of boats from home-base Blockade Runner, will be on the Carolina Runner, judging the docks and homes on the parade route. There will be two nights of judging, Friday and Saturday nights, Thanksgiving weekend. Winners will be announced on Sunday with prizes for the top docks.

“We invite our flotilla captains and all owners to decorate their boats and come and see the beautiful docks and homes from the water. See the holiday lights and place your votes for the People’s Choice Award,” said Brown.

“We’ll absolutely light up our two docks and the boats that are on them,” said Baggett. “Our new tour boat, The Carolina Runner, has plenty of space for social distancing. We plan to take people to view the homes and docks on the parade route throughout the holiday season.”
Airlie Garden’s Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of New Hanover County
Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie also begins Thanksgiving weekend, bringing to life 35-acres of night-time forest with more than one million sparkling lights, walking trails, holiday displays, and seasonal music.

“Enchanted Airlie is a beloved tradition and we have worked hard to ensure that we continue that tradition in the safest way possible,” said Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations. “Tickets will sell out in advance.”

Enchanted Airlie tickets are available online only, beginning Oct. 29 for the public. The garden gates open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Nov. 27-29, and reopen each night, Dec. 4-22. This year there are four one-hour event times each evening – 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 PM. Blockade Runner will offer Enchanted Airlie packages for hotel guests.

Adapting to public safety needs, Santa will not be on site this year, and face coverings will be required, according to Powell. No food or drinks will be sold at Airlie Gardens, but guests may bring their own. Airlie’s gift shop will only accept credit cards. Pathways are wheelchair accessible, and guests may bring their own. Wheelchairs will not be available onsite.

Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.



Contacts:

Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
910-798-7703

Linda Brown                                                       
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

Permission granted for reprint and redistribution

#NCHolidayFlotilla #EnchantedAirlie #WrightsvilleBeach #BlockadeRunner #AirlieGardens #Wilmington #NorthCarolina #CarolinaRunner #FlotillaWeek #Flotilla #Gardens #HolidayLights
Click here for photos of 2019 NC Holiday Flotilla winners:  https://www.behance.net/gallery/88862097/2019-NC-Holiday-Flotilla-and-Fireworks 
2019
Flotilla Week and Airlie Gardens kick off Coastal Carolina Holidays
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy Blockade Runner
WILMINGTON / WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, launches the coastal Carolina holiday season with two long-running traditions, the 37th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, and Airlie Gardens’ 15th annual Enchanted Airlie.

A highlight of the weekend, Saturday night’s flotilla unveils a procession of beautifully decorated yachts and watercraft, each glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd of 50,000 revelers. Immediately following the parade, a stunning and captivating 20-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky and showers the waterway with sound and color.

The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla weekend is filled with family options, including Friday’s tree lighting ceremony with a visit from Santa, and the evening’s Flotilla Launch Party featuring the Jack Jack 180 dance band.

Saturday’s schedule includes the well-known Festival in the Park with nearly 100 pop-ups featuring arts, crafts, treats, and local merchants. Activities onsite offer bouncy houses for the children, slides, climbing walls, the Shriner’s Arab Choo Choo, live music, and The Antique, Classic, and Special Interest Car Show.

Early arrivals during Flotilla week begin the celebration Thanksgiving Day with a seafood-centric feast at host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort. Harbor Island tours depart the resort’s docks 3-times per day with Cape Fear Naturalist, Captain Joe Abbate. Prominently located on the flotilla parade route, Blockade Runner is within easy walking distance of all activities on the island.
Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy New Hanover County
Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie is open 19 evenings this year, including Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29 and 30 during flotilla week, and every night Dec. 6 thru 22. There are two event times per night, 5-7 PM, and 7-9 PM.  Enchanted Airlie tickets are available on the Airlie Gardens website, or Blockade Runner guests may contact the hotel to make arrangements.

“We are very excited to be celebrating our 15th year for Enchanted Airlie,” said Janine Powell of Airlie Gardens. “Each year, we sell out faster and faster, and this year we’re approaching the half-million mark for cumulative attendance.”

Created by the Airlie Gardens Foundation, Enchanted Airlie brings to life 35-acres of night-time forest with more than one million sparkling lights, holiday displays, and seasonal music. The walking trails offer an indoor visit with Santa, plus food and beverage vendors with hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn, cookies, unique local brews, and more.

“Enchanted Airlie has gained national and international prominence, attracting visitors from across the country and many nations,” said Powell.
“Visitors should make a plan. We will sell out all dates and times.”

Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.



North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Lydian Altman
Contacts:

Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
Office: 910-798-7703

Linda Brown
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

Permission granted for reprint and redistribution

#NCHolidayFlotilla #EnchantedAirlie #WrightsvilleBeach #BlockadeRunner #AirlieGardens #Wilmington #NorthCarolina #CapeFearNaturalist #FlotillaWeek #Flotilla #Gardens #TreeLighting #Santa #HolidayLights #AntiqueCarShow #JackJack180
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Samantha Black
The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Navigates Stormy Season
2018 Winners and Photos Below
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Zambelli Fireworks – Courtesy of Jeoffrey Nathan
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA – Following a record-breaking downpour on Saturday, plus two hurricanes and almost 33-inches of rain since September 1, the skies cleared and the 35th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla officially launched the Carolina holiday season.

“We are Wrightsville Beach strong,” said Linda Brown, Committee Chair of the Flotilla, after enduring several hours of heavy rain with 30-mph winds earlier in the day.

“We are all survivors and will not give up,” said Mary Baggett, of Blockade Runner Beach Resort. “Hurricane Florence tried her best, but the flotilla goes on.”

Saturday’s rainfall of 1.64-inches surpassed the previous record set in 1983. Combined with wind gusts up to 39-mph, staging conditions were challenging for crew members of world-renowned Zambelli Fireworks. In spite of the day’s obstacles, the fireworks display was “a show of a lifetime,” said. Brown.

Saturday night’s North Carolina Holiday Flotilla featured a procession of twenty creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, each glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd more than 50,000. The flotilla ended with a massive and dazzling Zambelli fireworks display.

“I want people to know that you can have a devastating storm and no matter how tough you think it is to get back to “normal,” it can be done,” said Brown.

(see 2018 winners and photos below)

The 14th annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie, another holiday tradition with international prominence, began Friday, Nov. 23, and is open for 20-nights through Dec. 22. A limited number of tickets are available for the 2018 season.


Contacts:

Linda Brown, Committee Chair
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120

Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
Office: 910-798-7703

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

Permission granted for reprint and redistribution – photo credits required

#NCHolidayFlotilla #EnchantedAirlie #WrightsvilleBeach #BlockadeRunner #AirlieGardens #Wilmington #NorthCarolina #AirlieGardens #FlotillaWeek #WBStrong #WrightsvilleBeachStrong #WilmingtonStrong

*Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2015 and North Carolina Holiday Flotilla was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2016, 2017, and 2018.

2018 Winners and Photos
Best in Show – Captains Christina, Patrick, and Charlie Hudson – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Ken Oots
Best Sailboat – Captain Billy McGrew – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Sailboat – Captain Billy McGrew – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Costume and Crew Spirit – Captain Lisa Leath and Andy Almeter – 
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Costume and Crew Spirit – Captain Lisa Leath and Andy Almeter – 
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Winner 22' and under – Captain Joshua Reda – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Winner 22' and under – Captain Joshua Reda – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Winner 23' to 31' – Captain Katherine Fowle – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Winner 23' to 31' –  Captain Katherine Fowle – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Winner 31' and over – Captains Don and Stephanie Midgett – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Winner 31' and over – Captains Don and Stephanie Midgett – 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Zambelli Fireworks – Courtesy of Lydian Altman
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Anna Hogelin
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Anna Hogelin
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Jeoffrey Nathan
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Jeoffrey Nathan
2018 NC Holiday Flotilla Committee Members Linda Brown, Jud Watkins, Beau Gunn, and Jeoffrey Nathan – Courtesy of Jeoffrey Nathan
2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Jeoffrey Nathan
More photos of the 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla by Ken Oots of Star-News Online at this link:   https://www.starnewsonline.com/photogallery/NC/20181124/NEWS/112409983/PH/1 

More photos of the 2018 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla by Mark Darrough of Port City Daily at this link:
"The show will go on"
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla  and Enchanted Airlie
The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography (photo credit required)
Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of New Hanover County Parks and Gardens
WILMINGTON / WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NORTH CAROLINA – Just two months following a direct hit by Hurricane Florence, two nationally renowned holiday attractions return to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, in November.

“The show will go on,” stated Linda Brown, Committee Chair of the 35th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, presented by Blockade Runner Beach Resort. “We need this for Wrightsville Beach Strong and the communities that surround us. The flotilla will go on.”

Undeterred by the loss of an estimated 275 trees during the hurricane, “Enchanted Airlie will not miss a beat this year,” said Tara Duckworth, Director of Parks and Gardens for New Hanover County, owner of Airlie Gardens.

The 14th annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie begins Friday, Nov. 23, and will open for 20-nights through Dec. 22, 2018. The 35th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, another Thanksgiving week tradition, will be held on Saturday, Nov. 24.

“Following the hurricane, the scene in Airlie Gardens was incredible with debris everywhere. The staff and volunteers were amazing. I commend them for all of their hard work, their dedication, and their passion for Airlie to reopen in November.

“I think the average visitor won’t know the difference. The iconic structures and Airlie Oak survived the storm. We’ve redone all the lighting with LEDs, and the displays will be even brighter; our signature attractions, including the mesmerizing Singing Christmas Trees are returning; and, we have a lot of new things planned. The Gnome Invasion art exhibit was cut short by the hurricane in September. Some of the gnomes will make an appearance Enchanted Airlie,” said Duckworth.
The Singing Christmas Trees – Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy New Hanover County Parks and Gardens
Enchanted Airlie has gained national and international prominence, attracting visitors from 50 states and over 40 nations. 2017’s sold out attendance exceeded 53,000. With one more night on the calendar in 2018, Duckworth anticipates another sold-out year.

“Festival in the Park, a prelude to the flotilla, opens from 10 AM to 4 PM on Saturday,” said Linda Brown. “This year’s festival includes 75 to 90 vendors; a large play area for the children with bouncy houses and slides; the popular and relaxing Arab Choo-Choo train ride; arts and crafts booths; food vendors; and the antique, classic, and special interest car show. The car show has grown tremendously, with over 150 cars expected this year.”

Saturday night’s North Carolina Holiday Flotilla features a procession of creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, each glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd more than 50,000.

Following the colorful and festive water parade, the flotilla ends with a massive and dazzling Zambelli fireworks display.

Although the hotel is closed for renovations due to damages sustained from Hurricane Florence, Blockade Runner Beach Resort will continue to serve as the host and presenting sponsor for the Holiday Flotilla in 2018.

“The Blockade Runner has been a partner since the very beginning in 1983,” said Brown. “We’re so sorry for their damages during the hurricane, but we are excited to have the flotilla headquarters, sponsor’s tent, and judge’s stand on Blockade Runner’s sound-side lawn and docks again this year.”

A North Carolina landmark locally owned by the Baggett family, Blockade Runner Beach Resort is planning to wrap up repairs and improvements with a grand reopening in early spring 2019.

Text voting continues this year with the People’s Choice Awards selected by spectators. “Text voting is growing substantially,” said Brown. “Four years ago, we had about 5,600 votes; last year, we had over 14,000 text votes,” said Brown. Winners receive flotilla trophies and prizes at the captain’s breakfast on Sunday.

“I want people to know that you can have a devastating storm and no matter how tough you think it is to get back to “normal,” it can be done,” said Brown. “We are making sure that Flotilla is strong this year because we are Wrightsville Beach Strong.”



Contacts:

Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
Office: 910-798-7703

Linda Brown, Committee Chair
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

Permission granted for reprint and redistribution – photo credits required

#NCHolidayFlotilla #EnchantedAirlie #WrightsvilleBeach #BlockadeRunner #AirlieGardens #Wilmington #NorthCarolina #AirlieGardens #FlotillaWeek #WBStrong #WrightsvilleBeachStrong #WilmingtonStrong

*Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2015 and North Carolina Holiday Flotilla was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of New Hanover County Parks and Gardens
Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of New Hanover County Parks and Gardens
Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of New Hanover County Parks and Gardens
2017 Winners and Photos
34th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
13th annual Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie

Wrightsville Beach, NC – Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, launched the Carolina holiday season with two long-running traditions, the 34th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, including a massive 20-minute Zambelli Fireworks display, and the 13th annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie.

Mark and Leslie Armstrong of Hampstead won the People's Choice Award, using the holiday flotilla to promote animal adoption to more than 50,000 people on the parade route. The Armstrong's also won the text voting People's Choice Award in 2016, donating the $1,500 prize money to nonprofit Rescue Connect.

The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla and Enchanted Airlie attract over 100,000 spectators during the holidays and have been distinguished as *Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society. The flotilla is based at host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
Category: People's Choice Award
Name of boat: C'Mon Cletus (#2)
Captains: Mark and Leslie Armstrong, Hampstead, NC
Theme: Seahound Sleigh (For non-profit Rescue Connect, encouraging animal adoption and prevention of abuse)
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla People's Choice Award– Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
Category: Best in Show Award 
Name of boat: J&B #10
Captain: Bob Bleecker, Fayetteville, NC
Theme: Lumina, Trolley, Grinch who stole Christmas
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best In Show – Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best In Show – Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best In Show– Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
Category: Best Powerboat 23' to 31'
Name of boat: Charlie #16
Captains: Patrick and Christina Hudson, Wilmington, NC
Theme: Sleigh Boat
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best 23 - 31 ft – Courtesy Robert B Butler
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best 23-31 ft– Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
Category: Best Powerboat  31' and over
Name of boat: Collision Course #3
Captain: Michael Lucas, Wilmington, NC
Theme: All American Christmas
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best 31 ft and Over  – Courtesy Robert B Butler 
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best 31 ft and Over – Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
Category: Best Powerboat 22' and under
Name of boat: Craigcat (#7)
Captains: Brent and Craig Jernigan, Waccamaw, NC
Theme: Star Spangled Christmas
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best 22 ft and Under – Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth 
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best 22 ft and Under – Courtesy of Sally T Butler
Category: Best Costumes & Crew Spirit
Name of boat: Sea Biscuit #11
Captain: Dean Brennan, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Theme: Dinos Rock
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best Costumes Crew – Courtesy Robert B Butler
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best Costumes Crew– Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
Category: Paula Sturdy Award
Name of boat: (No Name) #19
Captain: Jon Shellem
Theme: Palm Tree Island Tribute
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Paula Sturdy Award– Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
Category: Best Sailboat
Name of boat: Piping Plover #21
Captain: Jud Watkins, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Theme: Pint Night, Wrightsville Beach Brewery
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best Sailboat – Courtesy Beth W. Hedgepeth
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Best Sailboat – Courtesy of Sally T. Butler
Love those Zambelli fireworks!
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Courtesy Robert B Butler 
2017 NC Holiday Flotilla Zambelli Fireworks – Courtesy of Sally T Butler
13th annual Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie

Created by Airlie Gardens Foundation, Enchanted Airlie brings to life 35-acres of walking trails in the nighttime forest with an estimated one million colorful lights, holiday displays, and seasonal music. The half-mile stroll also offers an indoor visit with Santa plus food and beverage vendors with hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn, cookies, a unique local brew, and more.

Enchanted Airlie is open to the public through December 22. There are two reservation times each evening, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m. Enchanted Airlie tickets are available on the Airlie Gardens website, or, Blockade Runner guests can contact the hotel for tickets.

Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.


2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
2017 Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Robert B Butler
Flotilla Week Itinerary
An Epic Thanksgiving Holiday
The 34th annual NC Holiday Flotilla
The 13th annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie
NC Holiday Flotilla, Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography (photo credit required)
​​​​​​​
Itinerary:

Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 
All Day and Thanksgiving Eve
Thanksgiving Eve Arrival – Activities on the oceanfront garden lawn, beachcombing, waterway nature tours, and East Oceanfront Dining (910-256-2251). Host Hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday Nov. 23-26, 2017
Departing at 12:30 PM, 2 PM, and 5 PM
Scenic nature tours for the family with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist. Enjoy the Holiday Harbor Island Tour with a history narrative of the Wrightsville Beach Harbor and surrounding barrier islands. Learn, discover, explore, and enjoy the natural wonders on the Carolina Coast. Departing from the Blockade Runner docks.

Thursday, Nov. 23, 2017
Thanksgiving Day Buffet at Blockade Runner Beach Resort – Children's games on the garden lawn, chairs and umbrellas on the beach, and The Loop after the feast. The 2.5-mile John Nesbitt Loop offers fresh air, exercise, and the scenic beauty of Wrightsville Beach. The Loop is used for walking, biking, jogging, and skating. Call 910-256-2251 for Thanksgiving Day Buffet reservations - traditional and coastal fare.

Friday – Saturday, Nov. 24-25, 2017
5-7 PM and 7-9 PM
The 13th annual Airlie Gardens’ ‘Enchanted Airlie’ comes alive with an estimated one million twinkling lights illuminating the half-mile, self-guided walking trail of holiday displays with seasonal music. Warm holiday refreshments add the perfect touch for an evening stroll. http://airliegardens.org/events-news/enchanted-airlie/

Friday, Nov. 24, 2017
5:30 PM
See the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and visit with Santa at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall.  Bring and give an unwrapped toy for the US Marine Corps annual Toys for Tots holiday drive. Hot chocolate will be available for donations.

Friday, Nov. 24, 2017
7:00 PM
The North Carolina Flotilla Launch Party features Craig Woolard and the Embers. Enjoy an evening of live entertainment, great food and drinks, a silent auction, dancing and good times. Heavy hors-d’oeuvres and a cash bar at host hotel Blockade Runner. Cost: $35 per person. (Captains meeting at 6:30 PM) http://ncholidayflotilla.org/

Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017
10 AM – 4 PM
Festival In the Park is a family highlight of Flotilla Week at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall. The festival includes a large play area for children including inflatable slides and bounce houses, a coloring contest, the always popular Arab Choo Choo, an antique car show, local merchants and arts and crafts booths, live entertainment, and a large selection of festival food and drinks. http://www.whatsonwilmington.com/event.php?id=29539

Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017
6 PM
The 34th annual NC Holiday Flotilla attracts an estimated 50,000 visitors each year to cheer the parade of yachts and motorboats, each decorated with a holiday theme and thousands of glittering lights. The flotilla follows a 4-mile route, passing the judges viewing stand at the host hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort. 

Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017
Immediately following the Holiday Flotilla
The 34th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Fireworks will be presented by world famous Zambelli International. The evening sky is illuminated with a stunning 20-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display, showering the waterways with sound and color.

Sunday Nov. 26, 2017
Departing at 12:30 PM, 2 PM, and 5 PM
Scenic nature tours for the family with Captain Joe Abbate, the Cape Fear Naturalist. Enjoy the Holiday Harbor Island Tour with a historical narrative of the Wrightsville Beach Harbor and surrounding barrier islands. Learn, discover, explore, and enjoy the natural wonders of the Carolina Coast. Departing from the Blockade Runner docks.

Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie, Courtesy of Brett Cottrell NHCNC
2017
Airlie Gardens, Fireworks, Flotilla Launch Carolina Holidays
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Wrightsville Beach, NC – Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, will launch the Carolina holiday season with two long-running traditions, both distinguished as *Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Flotilla week, packed with festivities and family activities, highlights the 34th annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, including a massive 20-minute Zambelli Fireworks display, and the 13th annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie. Both events combined attract over 100,000 spectators during the holidays.

Located on the flotilla parade route and providing transportation and tickets to Enchanted Airlie, host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort begins the celebration with a traditional and coastal feast on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 23, 2017. During flotilla week the Holiday Harbor Island Tour departs the docks 3-times per day with Cape Fear Naturalist Captain Joe Abbate, and features a historical narrative of the Wrightsville Beach Harbor and surrounding barrier islands.

Flotilla week’s itinerary is packed with Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and the Holiday Flotilla Launch Party featuring the Embers. Saturday’s schedule includes Festival In the Park, bustling with bouncy houses, slides, climbing walls, the Arab Choo Choo, live music, an antique auto show, and an estimated 100 booths featuring local merchants and arts and crafts vendors. Enchanted Airlie will open both Friday and Saturday.

Created by Airlie Gardens Foundation, Enchanted Airlie brings to life 35-acres of walking trails in the nighttime forest with an estimated one million colorful lights, holiday displays, and seasonal music. The half-mile stroll also offers an indoor visit with Santa plus food and beverage vendors with hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn, cookies, a unique local brew, and more.

Enchanted Airlie has gained national and international prominence, attracting visitors from 50 states and over 40 nations.
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography (photo credit required)
Saturday night’s North Carolina Holiday Flotilla features a procession of creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, each glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd of 50,000 revelers. Text voting continues this year with the People’s Choice Awards determined by spectators and presented to the winners on Sunday.

Immediately following the flotilla, a 20-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky, showering the waterway with sound and color.

Enchanted Airlie is open to the public Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2, 8-10, and 13-22, 2017. There are two reservation times each evening, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m.  Enchanted Airlie tickets are available on the Airlie Gardens website, or Blockade Runner guests can call the hotel to make arrangements.

Airlie visitors should plan ahead. “We will sell out all dates and times,” said Janine Powell, Airlie Gardens Director of Donor Relations.

Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.



Contacts:

Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
Office: 910-798-7700

Shannon Friedrichs
Linda Brown
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120

Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

Permission granted for reprint and redistribution

#NCHolidayFlotilla #EnchantedAirlie #WrightsvilleBeach #BlockadeRunner #AirlieGardens #Wilmington #NorthCarolina #CapeFearNaturalist #FlotillaWeek

*Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2015 and North Carolina Holiday Flotilla was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2016 and 2017.

NC Holiday Flotilla Host Hotel, Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Photo courtesy Lemonstripe
           Courtesy NC Holiday Flotilla
Courtesy NC Holiday Flotilla
Courtesy NC Holiday Flotilla
2016 Winners North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
Brent Jernigan, Lake Waccamaw, Best of Show, NC Holiday Flotilla, Photo by Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla BEST OF SHOW Trophy, passed each year to the new winner – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
Flotilla, Fireworks, and Airlie Gardens Launch Carolina Holidays
WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC - Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, launched the Carolina holiday season with the 33rd annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, including a 4,000-round Zambelli Fireworks display, and the season opening for Airlie Gardens' 12th annual Enchanted Airlie. ​​​​​​​


2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Raising the flags at the NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
"We had perfect weather Saturday evening for the flotilla andEnchanted Airlie," said Karen Pennington of Blockade Runner Beach Resort, host hotel for the flotilla. "The sky was clear, temperatures were seasonally warm at 55 to 60 degrees with a light breeze."
33rd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla Winners:

Category: Best of Show 
Captain: Brent Jernigan, Lake Waccamaw, NC
Vessel: Craig Cat #11
Theme: White Water Christmas

Category: Peoples Choice 
Captain: Mark and Leslie Armstrong, Hampstead, NC
Vessel: Come on Cletus #2
Theme: Hang Claws

Category: Crowd Favorite 
Captain: Jordan Messick, Wrightsville Beach, NC
Vessel: Tall Tail #8
Theme: The Jolly Jellyfish

Category: Best Powerboat 31ft. and over 
Captain: Jewell Jessup and Carlos Ferrario, Wilmington, NC
Vessel: Endless Summer #1 
Theme: Rock the Boat - A Floating Studio 54

Category: Best Powerboat 23ft. - 31ft. 
Captain: Patrick, Christina, and Charlie Hudson, Wilmington, NC
Vessel: Charlie #5
Theme: The Pirates of Wrightsville

Category: Best Powerboat 22ft. and under 
Captain: Tim Morrison, Carolina Beach, NC
Vessel: Wake Zone #16
Theme: Train 

Category: Best Sailboat
Captain: Kevin Snyder, Raleigh, NC
Vessel: Why Knot? #17
Theme: Coastal Christmas

Category: Best Costumes & Crew Spirit 
Captain: Michael and Chris Spivey, Liberty, NC
Vessel: Angler Management #7
Theme: The Christmas Kraken

Best in Show, Brent Jernigan, Craig Cat #11, White Water Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
Best In Show, Brent Jernigan, Craig Cat #11, White Water Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
People's Choice Award, Mark and Leslie Armstrong, Come on Cletus #2, Hang Claws – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
People's Choice Award, Mark and Leslie Armstrong, Come on Cletus #2, Hang Claws – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
Crowd Favorite, Jordan Messick, Tall Tail #8, The Jolly Jellyfish – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Crowd Favorite, Jordan Messick, Tall Tail #8, The Jolly Jellyfish – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Crowd Favorite, Jordan Messick, NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
Best Powerboat 31' and Over, Jewell Jessup and Carlos Ferrario, Endless Summer #1, Rock the Boat, A Floating Studio 54 – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Powerboat 31' and Over, Jewell Jessup and Carlos Ferrario, Endless Summer #1, Rock the Boat, A Floating Studio 54 – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla Captain and Crew Awards Brunch, Blockade Runner, Photo by Karen Pennington
Best Powerboat 23-31', Patrick, Christina, and Charlie Hudson, Charlie #5, Pirates of Wrightsville – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Powerboat 23-31', Patrick, Christina, and Charlie Hudson, Charlie #5, Pirates of Wrightsville – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
Best Powerboat 22' and Under, Tim Morrison, Wake Zone #16, Train – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth 
Best Powerboat 22' and Under, Tim Morrison, Wake Zone #16, Train – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth 
Best Sailboat, Kevin Snyder, Why Knot? #17, Coastal Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Sailboat, Kevin Snyder, Why Knot? #17, Coastal Christmas – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
Best Costumes and Crew Spirit, Michael and Chris Spivey, Angler Management #7, The Christmas Kraken – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla – Photo courtesy of Beth W. Hedgepeth
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
2016 NC Holiday Flotilla Fireworks – Photo courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Photo Courtesy of Karen Pennington
NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography
Wrightsville Beach, NC – Thanksgiving week, known as flotilla week in Wrightsville Beach, will launch the Carolina holiday season with two long-running traditions, both distinguished as Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society.

Flotilla week, packed with festivities and family activities, highlights the 33rd annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, including a massive 23-minute Zambelli Fireworks display, and the 12th annual Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie. Both events combined attract over 100,000 spectators during the holidays.

Located on the flotilla parade route and providing transportation and tickets to Enchanted Airlie, host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort begins the celebration with a traditional and coastal feast on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 2016. Throughout the day and flotilla week, scenic nature tours, eco-shelling, inshore bottom-fishing and sunset cruises guided by The Cape Fear Naturalist, Captain Joe Abbate, depart from the Blockade Runner dock.

Flotilla week’s itinerary is packed with Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and the Atlantic Marine flotilla launch party featuring the Embers. Saturday’s schedule includes Festival In the Park, bustling with bouncy houses, slides, climbing walls, the Arab Choo Choo, live music, an antique auto show, and an estimated 100 booths featuring local merchants and arts and crafts vendors. Enchanted Airlie will open both Friday and Saturday.
Airlie Gardens' Enchanted Airlie – Courtesy of Brett Cottrell NHCNC
Created by Airlie Gardens Foundation, Enchanted Airlie brings to life 35-acres of walking trails in the nighttime forest with an estimated one million colorful lights, holiday displays, and seasonal music. The half-mile stroll also offers an indoor visit with Santa plus food and beverage vendors with hot chocolate, coffee, popcorn, cookies, a unique local brew, and more.

Enchanted Airlie has gained national and international prominence, attracting visitors from 50 states and over 40 nations.

Saturday night’s North Carolina Holiday Flotilla features a procession of creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, each glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd of 50,000 revelers. Text voting continues this year with the Crowd Favorite and People’s Choice Awards determined by spectators and presented to the winners on Sunday.

Immediately following the flotilla, a 23-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky, showering the waterway with sound and color.

Enchanted Airlie is open to the public Nov. 25-26, Dec. 2-4, 9-11, and 15-22, 2016. There are two reservation times each evening, 5-7 and 7-9 p.m.  Enchanted Airlie tickets are available on the Airlie Gardens website, or Blockade Runner guests can call the hotel to make arrangements.

Airlie visitors should plan ahead. “We will sell out all dates and times,” said Janine Powell, Airlie Gardens Director of Donor Relations.

Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.​​​​​​​
NC Holiday Flotilla – Courtesy of Ned Leary Photography
Contacts:
Janine Powell, Director of Donor Relations
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
Office: 910-798-7700
Cell: 910-612-7854
jpowell@nhcgov.com
Linda Brown
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
910-256-2120
Info@NCHolidayFlotilla.org
Robert B Butler
Communications | Public Relations

*Airlie Gardens’ Enchanted Airlie was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2015 and North Carolina Holiday Flotilla was named a Top 20 Event in Fall 2016.

Permission granted for redistribution – photo credits required.
2015
Winners, Photos, and Wedding Proposal from North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
Enchanted Airlie Launches Month-long Holiday Show

2015 Best of Show, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 People's Choice Award, Captains Ava and Scott Werstein, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 People's Choice, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 Crowd Favorite, Lindley College, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
2015 Best Powerboat 22' and Under, Captain Chris Spivey, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
2015 Boat Size 23-31', Captain Mark Dillon, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 ​Best Powerboat 31' and Over, Christopher Bishop, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 Best Powerboat 31' and Over, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler
2015 Best Sailboat, Captain Dean Grey, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
2015 Best Costumes and Crew Spirit, Captains Patric and Christina Hudson, North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Beth Watson Hedgepeth
Marriage proposal by Captain Mike Hamby of Wilmington, North Carolina, 2015 North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Photography by Brad Austin Butler