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RINGING IN 2016! The Cape Fear offers something for everyone celebrating the arrival of 2016

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Ways to ring in 2016!

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New year, new start. Everyone, no matter their age—and even if their bedtime is before midnight—will have an opportunity to ring in 2016 with an abundance of parties taking place Dec. 31-Jan. 1. Several family-friendly affairs happen around town, and especially celebrations for adults to enjoy whether on land or sea.

COUNTDOWN: Whether with family or friends, there are many ways to celebrate the new year from the river to the sea. The Island of Lights festivities (above) in Carolina Beach made encore’s list.

COUNTDOWN: Whether with family or friends, there are many ways to celebrate the new year from the river to the sea. The Island of Lights festivities (above) in Carolina Beach made encore’s list.


New Year’s Noon Countdown
Thurs., Dec. 31 and Fri., Jan. 1
10 a.m. – noon
Children’s Museum of Wilmington
116 Orange St.
Free with membership or $9.75
There are two chances to celebrate the New Year with the kiddos at the Children’s Museum of Wilmington. Starting at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31 and Friday, Jan. 1, kids will get to craft their own party streamers, crowns and glittery slime to help them ring in the new year. Then there’s music and dancing for families leading up to the New Year countdown at noon, complete with confetti toss and a toast to 2016 with juice. Free with membership or admission charge of $9.75. Children 12 and under get in free. For details call 910-254-3534 or visit

Toast the Coast
Fri., January 1, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher
900 Loggerhead Rd.
Free with membership or $8.95-$9.95
Folks looking for family-friendly fun for kids and adults can “Toast the Coast” on New Year’s Day at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Themed for the coast, the all-day party features noisemaker crafts for kids, making ocean (New Year) resolutions, and enjoying a “What we love most about the coast” program.

Kid parades will precede two beach ball drops at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Call 910-772-0500 for details or visit

New Year’s Eve Countdown
Thurs., Dec. 31, 9 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Carolina Beach Boardwalk
Carolina Beach Ave. S.
Head to the Island of Lights New Year’s celebration for a night of dancing and oceanside fireworks after the giant beach-ball drop at midnight. Festivities are appropriate for all ages and begin at 9 p.m. along the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.

This free family-friendly event will also have a DJ, refreshments and party favors available for purchase. True to Island of Lights tradition, there will be a raffle of original artwork for the 2015 celebration, along with the official Christmas card and ornament. For more details, visit



New Year’s Eve Party Cruise
Dec. 31, 10:30 p.m.
Carolina Beach Marina
100 Carl Winner Dr.
Tickets: $25
Set sail to 2016 on the Royal Winner Princess II and have one of the best views for the Island of Lights New Year’s fireworks at midnight. Festive cruisers will board at 10:30 p.m. at the Carolina Beach Marina (100 Carl Winner Dr.) and return to dock by 12:30 a.m. The triple-deck boat will rock the night away with dancing, party favors, full cash bar, and a champagne toast to the New Year. There are limited tickets left at $25. Call for reservations at 910-458-5356, or visit

New Year’s Eve Bacchanalia
Dec. 31 at 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
TheatreNOW, 19 S. 10th St.,
Tickets $85 – $160
How about dinner and a show? The New Year’s Eve Bacchanalia at TheatreNOW features a variety of contemporary performances, including flame and aerial acts, live music and comedy, all while folks enjoy a four-course meal. New Year’s diners will start with a seafood bisque with pastry croutons and salad of baby greens with a roasted shallot and truffle vinaigrette. The main course is a choice between the “Around the Globe Vegetarian Entrée Sampler” of Greek, French and Chinese-inspired meatless morsels; the “Chicken Athena” with pistachio-crusted chicken breast, risotto-stuffed chicken leg, and sides of creamy cauliflower puree, crispy wild mushrooms and baby vegetables; or, for a $12 upcharge, the “Salmon Oscar” roasted filet, topped with butter-poached lobster and crab, grilled asparagus, Béarnaise sauce and fingerling potatoes. The sweet ending to 2015 and beginning of 2016 will be a 24-karat gold dusted chocolate extravaganza dessert.

Admission is $85 per person or $160 per couple and includes party favors and a champagne toast. Additional beverages and gratuity not included. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each seating scheduled for 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Make reservations by calling 910-399-3669 or visiting

New Year’s Eve Big Top Bizaar
Dec. 31, 10 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Islands Fresh-Mex Grill
260 Racine Dr.
Cover: $7-$10
Celebrate the close of 2015 and welcome 2016 with rhythm and Wilmington Latin dance. It’s a night of big top fun with performances by fire-dancing favorite Sunny Cordilleras—better known as Sunny C—and silk aerial dancer Jess Marrano. Dancing, dancing and more dancing is the theme for the evening, complete with party favors, a champagne toast at midnight and late-night food truck serving grub into the wee hours.

The party gets underway from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., with a cover of $10 or $7 with a military or student ID. Visit the event Facebook page for updates and details,

New Year’s Eve Cruise on Henrietta III
Dec. 31, 8 p.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Reservations: $90
All aboard the New Year’s cruise down the Cape Fear River on Wilmington’s great Henrietta III. Set sail with heavy hors d’oeuvre, live entertainment, party favors, and a champagne toast to 2016’s arrival. This cruise will be a mingling opportunity for passengers, with most tables set in banquet style for six to eight people. There will be assigned seating, but parties who wish to be sat together may indicate so at the time of purchase.

Boarding starts at 8 p.m. at the foot of Dock Street at the corner of South Water Street in downtown Wilmington. The cruise is scheduled from 9:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m., but the party won’t stop ‘til 1:30 a.m. Prepaid reservations can be made by calling 910-343-1611 or at

New Year’s Eve Comedy with Chris Fairbanks
Dec. 31, 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Dead Crow Comedy Room
265 North Front St.
Tickets: $20-$25
Chris Fairbanks has made his rounds on the late-night TV circuit. He’s appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, Comedy Central’s “Premium Blend,” and now he staying up late to ring in the new year with Wilmingtonians.

The Dead Crow Comedy Room in downtown will host two New Year’s Eve shows with Fairbanks: The first round of laughs starts at 8 p.m., and allows folks plenty of time to hit the next party. The 10 p.m. show includes a champagne toast and midnight ball dropping party. Former Wilmingtonian Madison Davis will open the show.

For tickets call or visit

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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