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HOLLY JOLLY TIMES! More ways to enjoy the spirit of the season

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encore will continue to highlight events that make the season a little brighter each week as we get closer to Christmas Day.

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Last week kicked off a slew of fun events taking place across our town in celebration of the spirit of the season! We will continue to highlight events that make the season a little brighter each week as we get closer to Christmas Day. From concerts to markets, railroad exhibits to art openings, here are a few more ways to enjoy December and everything the holiday offers.

HANDMADE HOLIDAY DECORATING: Learn to make a holiday wreath at the new Shuckin’ Shack in Leland from Trina Coyle. Tickets at Stock photo

HANDMADE HOLIDAY DECORATING: Learn to make a holiday wreath at the new Shuckin’ Shack in Leland from Trina Coyle. Tickets at Stock photo

A Merry Little Christmas Festival
Poplar Grove Plantation
10200 US Hwy 17 N
$5; manor house tours, $15-$20

The Southern plantation will transform into a European winter bazaar when their   Merry Little Christmas Festival sets up shop over two weekends, December 7-9 and 14-16 (Friday, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday, noon – 8 p.m., and Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.). There will be more than 60 juried arts and crafts vendors selling wares for unique gifts. Lights galore will illuminate the plantation grounds, which will be decorated with seasonal scenes and even a visit to the North Pole where Santa will take all gift ideas from kids. There will be interactive activities and games, as well as starlit wagon rides, a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, and a station set up to write active-duty soldiers holiday greetings. Movies like “Elf,” “A Christmas Story” and “The Polar Express” will screen as well.

Folks can take a candlelit tour through the manor house, which will be strewn with natural flora and greenery inspired by Colonial through Victorian eras, as wassail and cookies are served. Tour admission is $20 (a preview weeked of the tour takes place November 30 and December 1 with admission only $15).

Illumination Opening Exhibit
Cameron Art Museum
3201 South 17th St.

Returning to CAM for its fourth year, “Illumination” makes the holiday season glow with “mystery, empathy and wonder of human existence” from December 8 through January 13. “Illumination” takes a note from traditional lantern festivals to allow visitors a chance to reflect on the year that has passed, all the while encouraging hope for the new year ahead. The juried exhibition features artists from coast to coast who have created colorful lanterns from a variety of media, which hang through the holiday season.

As well, on December 9, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., CAM welcomes the community to attend their annual Floating Lantern Ceremony, which centers on “remembrance, reflection and gratitude. While free to attend, participants can purchase a $12 lantern to decorate and express their wishes as it floats on the museum pond. Live music will be played and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Holiday Train Expos
Wilmington Railroad Museum
3316, 505 Nutt St # 6
Independence Mall
3500 Oleander Dr.

The Wilmington Railroad Museum will host  a Christmas Train and Light Spectacular every Friday and Saturday evening through Christmas—plus the day after Christmas! Featured will be synchronized light and sound displays, as well as holiday trains on twilight layouts, Santa visits, hot cider and cookies. Folks can attend November 30-December 1, 7-8, 14-15, 21-22, 26, and 28-29; admission is $5, with children 2 and under admitted free. As well the museum will host 12 Polar Express Family Shows, December 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23 at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Santa visits will be set up, with cookies and hot chocolate. Prepaid reservation required, $5, with children 2 and under admitted free.

The Cape Fear Model Railroad Society will set up 32 varieties of trains and eight layouts at Independence Mall’s Dillards wing (3500 Oleander Dr.). A Christmas village will illuminate with lights galore, and The Polar Express will be set up, too. Hours are Friday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. through December 30. Adults $6, children 3 to 12 $4, and under 3, free.

Holiday Markets
Carolina Beach Market
South Lake Park Blvd.

Island Montessori School Bazaar
Courtyard Marriott, 100 Charlotte Ave.
Leland Cultural Arts Center
1212 Magnolia Village Way

Going Local NC Market
Mayfaire Town Center, between World Market and David’s Bridal

Artisan Locale
Flytrap Brewing • 319 Walnut St.

While buying another boring scarf-and-mittens set may seem like the easy way to appease that holiday gift for your hard-to-buy-for niece, why not challenge the same ol’, same ol’ this season?  Numerous holiday markets will be set up throughout the season to offer unique gifts, handcrafted from local artisans and makers.

Carolina Beach Lake Park on South Lake Park Boulevard will be set up with more than 50 local vendors on Dec. 1, 9 a.m.

Also on Carolina Beach will be the Island Montessori School Bazaar on December 2, 10 a.m. They will feature more than 20 local artists, crafters and vendors, selling soaps, woodworking, jewelry, décor, art, and more. Among the sellers will be raffles, all to benefit classroom needs.  Head to the Courtyard Marriott, 100 Charlotte Ave.

On December 1, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., The Leland Cultural Arts Center at 1212 Magnolia Village Way will host a market in its main room and gallery. Admission is free to persue more than 30 local artisans, plus gift-wrapping will be offered for free!

While Mayfaire may be stocked with big-box stores, they’re also bringing it back to the local makers this season. Going Local NC is having a vendor fair set up between World Market and David’s Bridal. Their Artisan Holiday Marketplace will be set up through Christmas and offer gourmet foodies items, natural skincare products, art, jewelry, candles, and so much more!

Terra Sol, Castle Street’s yoga studio, will host a holiday market on December 15, noon – 4 p.m., at their sanctuary on 507 Castle St. Wares from Modern Legend, White Rabbit Trips, River Organics, Sadie Stitches, Rachael Kinsey Designs, Spiritual Junkies The Misplaced Cactus Clean Juice, and others will be hosting booths. Terra Sol will be offering 2019 yoga deals, too.

Artisan Locale will be setting up a slew of booths at Flytrap Brewing on 4th Street on Dec. 8, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. Aside from enjoying the buys offered from local makers, live music will be enjoyed by Striking Copper Trio, as well as a food truck from Yeh Mon. Also a s’mores bar and bonfires will be lit!

Holiday Wreath Making
Shuckin’ Shack
1175 Turling Ave., Leland, NC

At 1 p.m. on December 1 Shuckin’ Shack’s newest Leland location offers a creative way to get the home decked out for the holidays: homemade wreath-making party! Folks can decorate their grapevine wreath with fresh and dried floral elements, hosted by Trina Coyle. Cost is $75 and tickets can be purchase at

There will be specials as well, such as $1 off all glasses of wine and $5 mimosas.

Concerts on College
Wesley Memorial
United Methodist Church
1401 S. College Rd.

For many, Amy Grant sings the sounds of the holiday to near perfection, and her Christmas favorites will be brought to light from local vocalist Nicole Thompson and the Wesley Chancel Choir, on November 30 at 6:30 p.m. Thompson will sing songs like “Love Has Come,” “Grown Up Christmas List” and “Little Town.”

Thompson’s career spans vast and wide with experience, from singing aboard cruise ships to being a soloist with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. She most recently performed on WHQR’s “Soup to Nuts” and “A Little Lunch Music.”

Admission to the concert is free, though donations are appreciated to assist the Concerts on College series.

Night Before Christmas
Jazz Concert and Fundraiser
Warriors of Christ
1200 N. 23rd St. Unit 209

Saxophonist Darryl Murrill continues his annual tradition of playing a holiday jazz concert or a cause. This year it will benefit DREAMS Center for Arts Education, which sustained damage to their campus and building after Hurricane Florence, so students have been displaced through the fall and taking classes at satellite locations.

Murrill will play holiday favorites and original music with guests like vocalist Nicole Thompson, bassist Carlo Rouse, violinist Christa Faison (Christa Gabrielle), and Murrill’s full band, Darryl Murrill & Jazzpel.

Doors open with a pre-concert reception of light hors d’oeuvres at 5:30 p.m.

L Shape Lot Toys for Tots Drive
Brooklyn Arts Center
516 N. 4th St.

Every year ILM’s most beloved Americana band, L Shape Lot, gets together for a holiday toy drive and concert to help spread cheer and help kids have a whole lot of smiles come Christmas morning. On December 15 at 6 p.m. they will host their seventh annual event with special guests Massive Grass. .

Tickets are $10 at the door, plus on new and unwrapped toy. They’re hoping 2018 supersedes 2017’s drive of collecting 1,400 toys and a $2,000 donation to Toys for Tots.

OLD ST. NICK: Take the kids for a visit to Santa at Independence Mall, Mayfaire Town Center or Cotton Exchange throughout the holiday season. Stock photo

OLD ST. NICK: Take the kids for a visit to Santa at Independence Mall, Mayfaire Town Center or Cotton Exchange throughout the holiday season. Stock photo

Santa Visits
Independence Mall
3500 Oleander Dr.
Mayfaire Town Center
6835 Conservation Way
Cotton Exchange
Front and Grace streets, downtown

The jolly old man will be popping up all over town through Christmas, taking all of the children’s lists with his elves and wife, Mrs. Claus. Mayfaire Town Center will host Santa’s Workshop at 980 Inspiration Drive near Belk through Monday, December 24, with hours every Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. for pictures with Old St. Nick (pets welcome, too). Mayfaire will host a PJ party with Santa on December 1 at Chick-fil-A, Storytime with Santa on December 8, and a sensory-friendly event with Santa Care on December 9. New this year is a holiday skating rink, which will be set up through January 1, 2019 (skate rentals available), plus they will have a Christmas tree farm set up from the Optimist Club, a light show nightly, window displays, and holiday music from The Cape Fear Chordsmen, December 15 and 22, noon to 2 p.m., and December 23, 2 p.m. to 4pm. The Roland Grise Middle School Band will play holiday tunes in front of Regal Cinema on December 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Independence Mall will host photos with Santa Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 6 p.m., as well as on Christmas Eve, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Santa breaks to feed the reindeer daily from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. as well as on Sundays from 3 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.). Plus, the kiddos can enjoy Breakfast with Santa from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the food court with breakfast from Chick-Fil-A, followed by a train ride. Tickets are $6 and available at the management office.

With over 30 stores to stroll through at the Cotton Exchange in downtown Wilmington, buying local has never been easier. Just as well, they’re bringing in the big guy in the red and white suit every Saturday through Christmas from noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. December 20-22 he will be taking Christmas wishes from noon to 4 p.m. daily, and on Christmas Eve, 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pictures are free and kids can drop off their letters in his mailbox.

Read about Enchanted Airlie, Old Wilmington by Candlelight Tour, Beach Boys’ Reason for the Season Christmas Tour, Reindeer-Drawn Carriage Rides, Wilmington Holiday Parade, 12 Tastes (or more!) of Christmas, Island of Lights, and more in ‘Reindeer Games’ online at

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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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