Having lived on the Outer Banks, we know when the summer season ends, a special shoulder season begins – fewer people, more sand to yourselves, crisp days and mesmerizing blue skies. And when the calendar flips to the holiday season, well it’s downright special. The fourth season of OBXmas Weekends has inspired new events and presents honored favorites for enjoying the holidays on the North Carolina coast, according to our friends at VisitOuterBanks.org.
Community Christmas tree lightings and holiday parades are planned from Duck, NC, to Hatteras and Roanoke Islands, spanning 100 coastal miles on the Outer Banks. Races, food events, amazing light displays and outside-the-box celebrations span the calendar.
“It supports the trend of people recognizing that the OBX is so much more than just a popular beach vacation,” according to Lee Nettles, executive director of the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. “The magic keeps going all year; it just transforms with the seasons… There’s something great to enjoy every weekend for the rest of the year.”
Our most recent visit to Manteo, we heard first-hand about one such event that opens this weekend: WinterLights at The Elizabethan Gardens. Executive Director Carl Curnutte talks about the million-light holiday spectacle in the accompanying video. Please take a peak.
WinterLights is about 10 acres of displays set amid statues 500 years old and keeps getting more amazing every year, said Nettles.
In an interview for Outer Banks This Week, Curnutte noted, “It’s truly a special time at the Gardens. When we first started WinterLights, our goal was simply to encourage people to visit the Gardens. As it’s evolved over the years, however, we’ve watched it become an annual tradition for many families, and that’s an exciting thing to be a part of. We’ve come to realize that WinterLights not only gives everyone involved a real sense of community, but it also gives visitors from all over a very different perspective on the Gardens and the Outer Banks as a whole.”
WinterLights kicks off Nov. 30 with a one-night Grand Illuminations extravaganza, then runs Dec. 2-Jan. 3 (except closed Dec. 24, 25, 31 and Jan. 1). Hours are 6-9 p.m. Tickets are limited, so be sure and visit ElizabethanGardens.org or call 252.473.3234 to reserve yours. In addition, there are holiday buffets you can sample pre- or post-show, as well as visits with Santa. The display is sponsored by the Visitors Bureau and SouthernBank.
There’s also Kites with Lights high atop sand dune mountains to a chef’s tournament using charitable food pantry items, to Santa swimming in a shark tank. Bluegrass band sensation Nu Blu is hosting a new show called HollyJollyOBX the same weekend as the Roanoke Island Christmas Weekend Parade of Homes and Christmas Past at Island Farm 1847.
Four Thanksgiving Day races and fun runs officially started the clock on the OBXmas Weekends calendar.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other Stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Raleigh Luxury Travel Examiner
• Stories by J.S. Fletcher, Raleigh International Travel Examiner
Luxury Travel Examiners Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business. Their novel “Love’s Bounty: An Outer Banks Romance” was written while they lived on the OBX, and is available now for any couple to star in together.