I love the holiday season. People seem a little jollier. You can listen to all the carols you want. Handcrafted wreaths of seashells, magnolia leaves and greenery adorn the doors of homes and shops. On the Outer Banks, I love most the events that welcome the holidays. Usually held in late November and early December, parades, festivals and other activities kick off the season in a way that combines festive classics with signature Outer Banks culture. Don’t miss these Outer Banks events happening over the next couple of weeks – they'll help you get into the holiday spirit.
One of my favorite holiday memories is of participating in the annual Manteo Christmas Parade. The floats and live music, the green and red attire, the occasional candy cane flying through the air – it’s an event that attracts the community, and whether you’re in the crowd of spectators or marching through the streets, the camaraderie from the friendly faces surrounding you enhances the cheerful atmosphere. Come to Manteo to watch the Christmas Parade this Saturday, December 2. The procession leaves Manteo High School at 10:30 a.m., travels along Wingina Street and turns onto John Borden Street before heading downtown to Queen Elizabeth Avenue and Fernando Street. Immediately after the parade, head to Manteo Elementary School for the Winter Wonderland event with food and craft vendors, photos with Santa, raffles and more. The fun goes on until 2 p.m.
In Manteo the historic homes, charming streets and small-town atmosphere wear the season well. Stick around after the Manteo Christmas Parade for another annual Outer Banks event, the Manteo Preservation Trust Holiday Tour of Homes. Between 12 and 6 p.m. you can explore some of Manteo’s new and restored homes with their halls decked for the season. The tour begins at Outer Banks Distilling, where you’ll check in to receive your guide and enjoy light refreshments. From there you’re at your leisure to explore the locations and draw inspiration from the decorated homes. Tickets for the tour are $20, and you can purchase yours at the check-in on the day of the event.
The magic continues on the northern beaches with the Town of Duck's annual Duck Yuletide Celebration. During the day you can participate in the Great Yuletide Elf Hunt that has goodies in store for both kids and their parents from select Town of Duck businesses. Make sure you’re in Duck Town Park from 3 to 5 pm., though, for the celebration itself. See the illumination of the beloved Crab Pot Christmas Tree and welcome Santa Claus, who rolls into town on a fire engine. With live music and yummy goodies from local businesses, this festive event delights people of all ages.
Did you like Roanoke Island’s approach to the holiday season? If so, you’re in luck, because on Saturday, December 9 Saint Nicholas Arrives at Island Farm. In this case he trades out his reindeer and sleigh for an ox-drawn wagon. After his trip from the North Pole to the Outer Banks, he’ll be ready to relax by the fireside in the cozy farmhouse. You’re invited to join the jolly old elf for pictures and snacks of hot apple cider and ginger cookies. The farm will offer ox-drawn wagon rides between 12 and 2 p.m. Admission to this event is $8, and children ages 5 and younger get in free.
What is it about small towns and Christmas parades? Somehow they just complete the season; maybe that’s why every Hallmark Channel Christmas movie features one. We’ve seen that Manteo knows this, and on the following Saturday, December 9, Hatteras Island shows that they know it too with the Hatteras Village Christmas Parade. The parade begins at 2 p.m. and sends the heartwarming holiday spirit coursing through this island community. This creates the perfect environment to welcome Santa, who arrives after the procession in one of the local fire trucks.
The Outer Banks offers plenty more events that will get you ready for the holiday season, like Outer Banks Hotline Festival of Trees on Saturday, December 2; Whalehead's Candlelight Christmas through December 16; and The Elizabethan Gardens' WinterLights, which runs all the way through January. Check out our Nightlife and Daytime Events listings to learn about everything going on between Corolla and Ocracoke.