The holiday season is a magical time at North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, delivering the type of charm that looks and feels like a scene from a Hallmark Christmas movie. Minus all that snow of course. The moderate climate lets you enjoy the most wonderful time of year without all that winter gear.

Flotilla by BeaufortThere is something special about small towns and the way they celebrate the holidays. The Crystal Coast really shines between boats covered in twinkling lights parading down waterfronts, a huge bonfire at the beach, and a crawl through decorated shops, bars, and restaurants competing for best chowder and cheer around.    

Festive BikesThanksgiving on the Crystal Coast is not only beautiful, but can also be easy and stress free. Several local restaurants provide full traditional Thanksgiving meals to go so you can enjoy turkey, fixings and southern sides at your vacation rental without having to plan, shop or cook. Private chefs can also create a menu that will make your guests do a turkey trot. Your only job is to focus on friends, family and making memories.

FriendsgivingHoliday shopping events, parades, and tree lightings kick off as early as November. We have 11 distinct communities with many of them hosting their own Christmas Parades, each with their own special holiday flare. Watching children's eyes light up as Old Saint Nick rolls by is truly magical.  

Atlantic Beach Christmas ParadeChowder and Cheer is the perfect way to discover downtown Morehead City. This event is beloved by locals, where more than 30 locations serve up a chowder or a cheer (a holiday themed drink) and participants get to vote for their favorite.

Chowder and CheerThat same evening a parade of boats line up along the waterfront and sail from Morehead City to Beaufort for the annual Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla. The lit up and decorated boats bring as many ohhhs and ahhhs as 4th of July fireworks from adults and children alike. 

Flotilla Boat Close UpIf you watch the Flotilla from Beaufort, you’ll be in one of “America’s 25 Most Festive Towns to Visit for the Holidays” according to Travel + Leisure. From the beautifully decorated downtown you’ll get to experience Christmas candlelight tours through historic homes, holiday art walks, a train show, Christmas parades and double decker bus tours. If you’re lucky, you’ll also get to meet Santa Claus. Down the road in Harkers Island you’ll find the Core Sound Decoy Festival, a  unique event that celebrates the heritage of waterfowl carving in the area.  

Core Sound ChristmasWhen you choose to spend the holidays on the Crystal Coast, we have your Christmas shopping list covered too! Our holiday arts and craft fairs, farmers markets and local shops are great places to wrap up your holiday shopping. A souvenir from the Crystal Coast is the perfect present and so is gifting an experience your loved one will never forget. ​​Think about booking a boat cruise or a trip to see the wild horses while you’re here.  

Christmas ShoppingEveryone loves s’mores, right? Well, Atlantic Beach takes the sweet treat to a whole new level with the annual Smoke on the Water Bonfire. This isn’t your backyard fire pit we’re talking about here. It is an ENORMOUS bonfire lit right on the beach with live music, dancing, and of course, s’more supplies for sale. That view and experience is something you and the kids will not forget.

Smoke on the WaterAfter Christmas there is a full schedule of New Year’s festivities as part of the Crystal Coast Countdown. If you haven’t seen a pig drop or crab pot drop as the clock strikes midnight, or if you haven’t hopped in the ocean for penguin or pirate plunge, this is your year to try something new and adventurous and get a fresh salty start to the new year. For more information on any of these activities visit our events calendar. The Crystal Coast is the perfect spot to make memories and start new traditions this holiday season. Find some great deals on accommodations here.

Christmas Selfie

From all of us at the Crystal Coast, happy holidays.