WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC – The 32nd Annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla, Zambelli Fireworks, and The 11th Annual Enchanted Airlie officially launch the holiday season Thanksgiving weekend in Wrightsville Beach. As if by design, a full moon rising will prelude festivities Thanksgiving Eve, Wed., Nov. 25, 2015, at 5:45 p.m.
Voted a Top 20 Event in 2015 by the Southeast Tourism Society, Airlie Gardens’ 67-acre nighttime forest awakens as Enchanted Airlie, with an estimated one million twinkling lights illuminating the half-mile, self-guided, walking trail of holiday displays and seasonal sounds.
Conceived and created by Airlie Gardens Foundation eleven years ago, Enchanted Airlie has rapidly gained national and international prominence as a must-see attraction. “We had visitors from all 50 states and 47 different countries,” said Janine Powell, Airlie Gardens’ Development Director. “In 2015, attendance was a record-breaking 40,000 people.”
As well as a maritime parade of festive boats and stunning fireworks, the flotilla itinerary is packed with Friday’s tree lighting ceremony, a visit from Santa, and the Atlantic Marine Flotilla Launch Party featuring the Embers. On Saturday, Festival in the Park will bustle 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.
Located directly on the flotilla parade route, host hotel Blockade Runner Beach Resort kicks off the holiday celebration with a traditional and coastal Thanksgiving Day feast for early arrivals. Cape Fear Naturalist Captain Joe Abbate will navigate local waters with scenic nature tours and Sunset Cruises at the Blockade Runner dock.
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla features a procession of creatively decorated yachts and watercraft, glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd of 50,000 cheering revelers. Text voting continues this year, with the Crowd Favorite and People’s Choice Awards determined by spectators.
Immediately following the flotilla, a 21-minute, 4,000-round fireworks display illuminates the night sky, showering the waterway with sound and color. “We have a long show by Zambelli Fireworks, one of the most reputable fireworks companies in the world,” said Pres Davenport, Flotilla Chairman. “We’re able to put on a really impressive display that rivals or surpasses most July 4th shows.”
Enchanted Airlie will open to the public Nov. 27-28, Dec. 4-6, 10-13, and 16-22. 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 call the hotel to make arrangements. Tickets sell out frequently and are not available at the gate.
Proceeds from Enchanted Airlie benefit the preservation and improvement of New Hanover County’s historic Airlie Gardens.
Janine Powell, Development Director
Enchanted Airlie, Airlie Gardens
Pres Davenport, Board Chairman
North Carolina Holiday Flotilla