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 about one million twinkling lights illuminating the half-mile, self-guided, walking trail of holiday displays and seasonal sounds.
Conceived by Airlie Gardens Foundation, Enchanted Airlie has 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 decorated yachts and watercraft, glittering with thousands of lights, slowly motoring past an estimated crowd of 50,000 cheering revelers.
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.”
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