Winterfest Activities

Flotillas, Parades and Crafts!
Story by Lisa Stites
Tis the season indeed in the City of Southport, with festive holiday performances and activities planned for all ages. There are plenty of reasons to shop local, and this quiet seaside city decks its halls with twinkling white lights, a huge tree by the water, and plenty of Christmas décor. Even the boats are in on the Christmas fun, so plan on taking a stroll along the marina. The holiday season is the perfect time to make memories with your friends and family, and there are plenty of chances for you to capture the Christmas spirit.
One of the much beloved traditions of Christmas in Southport is the annual Flotilla. This year’s event is sponsored by the Cape Fear Yacht Club, Downtown Southport, Inc., the City of Southport and Southport Magazine. The Flotilla gets underway at 7 p.m. on December 9 (weather permitting) along the waterfront from the Marina to Kingsley Park. Bring your blankets and chairs and cheer on your favorites. Boats will be judged by a panel of students from Southport Elementary art class.
Southport Magazine owners Kris and Alan Beasley said they are very excited to one of the Flotilla sponsors this year. Alan Beasley will also serve as MC for the evening.
“There is something magical about seeing the boats float by adorned in lights that reflect on the water,” Kris Beasley said. “We felt that if we added some holiday music and an announcer to let the spectators know the name and crew of each boat as it passed by, it would be the cherry on top of this special event. So grab some hot chocolate and a blanket and make plans for the whole family to attend!”
There are plenty of other opportunities to spread the holiday cheer and get into the Christmas spirit.
Ring in the Yuletide cheer with “Christmas at the Amuzu.” Shows are nightly at 7:30 p.m. December 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9. Matinee performances are scheduled December 3 and 10 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at Ricky Evans Gallery in Southport or Color Me Carolina on Oak Island (cash or check only). The show features a variety of sacred and secular music and will get you in the holiday mood.
A new addition to the holiday calendar is the Nutcracker Tea Party, sponsored by the Robert Ruark Society and the City of Southport. Afternoon tea will be December 2 at 1 p.m. at the Southport Community Building (223 E. Bay Street). Proceeds from this event will benefit the continued restoration of the Garrison House at Fort Johnston. Tickets are $35 and are available at the Visitors Center.
Indulge your sweet tooth and discover some new holiday decorating tips at the State Port Pilot’s Annual Cookie Contest. Area bakers will vie for prizes with their confectionaries and displays. The contest is December 6, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Southport Community Building (223 E. Bay Street). Everyone is welcome to view the displays and vote for their favorites.
Children ages four to 10 will enjoy eating dinner with Santa’s Elves on December 6. The dinner, sponsored by Southport’s Parks and Recreation Department, will be at 209 Atlantic Avenue (next to Southport City Gym) from 5-7 p.m. Parents can do some holiday shopping or dining while their children have the chance to talk over their wish lists with the experts. The cost is $5 and space is limited.
Children are also invited to come to the Parks and Recreation Department’s traditional Santa’s Workshop, when Santa’s Southport Elves will help them create crafts and gifts. This year, the Elves will set up shop on December 9, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at 209 Atlantic Avenue beside the Southport City Gym. This is a free event.
Grab your blankets and chairs and be carried away to the North Pole with Southport’s Parks and Recreation Department’s annual showing of “Polar Express.” The movie will air on the Fort Johnston Garrison lawn on December 7 at 5 p.m.
Soak in Southport’s rich history with the Holiday History Tour of the NC Maritime Museum on Friday, December 8, at 3 pm. Learn about the maritime heritage of the Lower Cape Fear with tours by a Victorian Lady. Colonial and Victorian holiday traditions will also be highlighted. The Museum is on the grounds of historic Fort Johnston (204 E. Moore Street). For more information, call (910) 457-0003 or visit The Old Brunswick County Jail will be open for tours on December 9, from 1 to 6 p.m. The Southport Historical Society is sponsoring this event. The Old Jail, built in 1904 when Southport was the county seat, is on the corner of Nash and Rhett Streets. Some of Southport’s precious historical homes, adorned with holiday finery, will be part of the Historical Society’s annual Christmas Tour of Homes, scheduled for 1 to 6 p.m. on December 9. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the tour. Advance tickets and maps are available at the Fort Johnston-Southport Museum and the Visitors’ Center or by calling (910) 457-7927.

With all of this Christmas happening in Southport, where can you find Santa? Southport Fire Station, of course! Even he won’t miss the Light Up the Night Parade on December 8. With more than 100 years of providing service, the Southport Fire Department takes this opportunity to give children the ride of their lives on a fire engine. Children will climb aboard fire engines for the parade at the Southport Fire Station starting at 5:30 p.m., on a first come, first served basis. The parade route begins at Waterfront Park and travels Howe Street to the fire station. There will be floats, classic cars, bands and more, all carrying the holiday spirit along the streets of Southport. Following the parade, the children are invited to visit with Santa and enjoy holiday refreshments at the station.
If you’re looking for homemade or homegrown gifts this year, there are a couple of chances to find something for that special someone on your list. The annual Winter Craft Festival, sponsored by Downtown Southport, Inc. and the City of Southport, features vendors offering handmade or homegrown art, jewelry, crafts, winter vegetables, cut flowers, baked goods, jellies, pickles, and more. The Craft Festival will be in a new location this year — Franklin Square Park. Check or call 910-279-4616 for more information. If you want to learn how to make the perfect wreath, either to give as a gift or to festoon your own front door, the Southport Beautification Committee and Southport Garden Club are here to help. On December 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., they will lead “A Handmade Christmas,” a new event in the Winterfest lineup this year. The $30 fee includes supplies to make a 24” wreath, and the event is limited to 50 participants.
If you need a break from the business of the season, and curling up with a great mystery or romance is just what you’re looking for, be sure to stop by the Friends of the Library Book Sale to find a great book for yourself, or for the bookworm on your list. Southport Realty will host this annual event at 727 North Howe Street on December 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.
For more information about any of the wonderful Winterfest activities, check online at or, or call the Southport Visitors’ Center at (910) 457-7927.




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