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Begin your celebration of the holidays this year by partaking in the Island of Lights event on Pleasure Island. The annual festival kicks off the day after Thanksgiving with the Lighting at the Lake at Carolina Beach Lake Park. Now in its 25th year, the Island of Lights is a family-friendly offering, organized by volunteers, that is free to the public.

A Month of Lights

The Lighting at the Lake is the start of the month-long showcase of holiday lighted displays. Musical entertainment is part of the festivities, as is an Honor Guard, provided by the local Cub Scouts, to display the flag during the National Anthem. Santa will also be on hand to visit with children. Families can walk the one-mile display route around the lake and enjoy free refreshments prior to the lighting.

Next up on the second Friday after Thanksgiving, the Christmas parade is held on Pleasure Island. Santa again makes an appearance, along with floats and bands to provide a festive night of entertainment for families.

The next evening, the second Saturday after Thanksgiving, is the Christmas Flotilla. A light-filled display cruising down the Intracoastal Waterway, the flotilla includes fishing boats and pleasure craft decorated with thousands of lights. After cruising from Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back, participants compete for prizes to see who had the most impressive seasonal decor.

Other Holiday Activities

In addition to the lights display, the festival includes other special events such as the Tour of Homes.

The Tour of Homes is a self-guided tour that gives visitors a peek into some of Pleasure Island’s most impressive homes, adorned in all their holiday finery. It takes place every year on the third Saturday after Thanksgiving and serves as one of the Island of Lights’ fundraising events.

The holiday season’s events conclude with the New Year’s Eve Celebration. The site rotates between Carolina and Kure beaches and includes a giant beach ball being dropped at midnight, as well as fireworks. Also a family-friendly event, a DJ provides music for dancing, while refreshments are available for purchase. Another tradition of the free celebration is the annual raffle to take home the original artwork from a local artist that was used for the official Island of Lights Christmas card.

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