Catch the Holiday Spirit

by | Nov 16, 2020 | Surf City, Topsail Island, Visit, Shop & Play

If allowed in December, holiday gatherings in 2020 are going to be more fun than ever before.

Celebrate the season at these holiday-themed events in the Topsail area. Note that the following events might be modified, rescheduled or cancelled at the last minute due to weather and/or COVID-19 precautions. Be sure to check the events’ websites and/or Facebook pages for up-to-date information before you head out.

Surf City Christmas Tree Lighting

Contributed from Town of Surf City

Surf City Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Sponsored by: Town of Surf City
FB page:
When: November 21, 2020 (always the Saturday before Thanksgiving)
Where: Soundside Park, 517 Roland Avenue, Surf City
Sponsored by: Town of Surf City
Time: 3 to 6 pm (tree lighting at 5:30 pm)

Things to do: Inflatables, kids’ activities, live music, food vendors and photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus

Tips: Bring your lawn chair and blanket so you can sit on the lawn and enjoy the music. Come early!

History: In 2004 Jane Kirk, who was the town’s finance director at the time, suggested a tree-lighting ceremony. According to Stephanie Hobbs, current town clerk, “Jane LOVED Christmas like a child loves Santa.” After Jane passed away in 2018 with complications from breast cancer, the town decided to honor her memory by hanging a Christmas-tree light shaped like a breast cancer ribbon outside of Soundside Park.

Interesting Facts: The 42-foot tall tree is comprised of 42 panels and 3,600 LED twinkling lights. Although most of the tree is assembled by the nine-person public utilities staff using rappel ropes, a crane is required to secure the highest panels and to place the 5-foot tall star on top. The town also hangs roughly 3,200 feet of garland around Soundside Park.

Topsail Beach NC

Photo by Laura Glantz

Town of Topsail Beach Tree Lighting & Christmas Parade
Sponsored by: Town of Topsail Beach
When: End of November (last year, November 30)
Where: Town Center, 630 Davis Avenue, Topsail Beach
Time: 4:30 pm (parade kicks off); 6:30 pm (tree lighting)

Things to Do: Light refreshments, caroling, visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus

Tips: The tree lighting ceremony is held at Town Center (park area). The parade route begins at Emma Anderson Memorial Chapel, down Anderson Boulevard (the main road), and ends at Town Center. According to Town Clerk Christina Burke, spectators can stand along the closed-off section of Anderson Boulevard as well as at Town Center. Plenty of parking is available in right-of-way areas, at beach accesses and at the Town Center.

Interesting Facts: The first tree was a 6-foot artificial tree decorated by the Topsail Beach Beautification Committee; it has now expanded to a 25-foot tree decorated by the Public Works department. The parade consists of people walking, driving golf carts and decorated floats. Santa leads the countdown to light up the tree.

Surf City NC Flotilla

Photo by Laura Glantz

Greater Topsail Flotilla & Christmas Market
Sponsored by: Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce
FB page:
When: December 12, 2020 (always the second Saturday of December)
Where: Soundside Park, 517 Roland Avenue, Surf City
Time: Market is noon to 5:30 pm; flotilla is 6 to 7:30 pm (approximate arrival at Soundside Park)

Registration Info: Applications are available on the website; market is limited to 60 vendors.

Parking: Not a change from previous years. Only vendors, boaters and the handicapped are allowed to park at Soundside Park. Everyone else is to use the newly established street-side parking spaces; you will be directed to appropriate parking areas.

Tips:  According to Jourdan WhiteEagle, communications director for the chamber, it gets cold and dark fast, and being along the water, there’s often a stiff breeze. Be sure to bring appropriate outdoor apparel. The best place to view the flotilla is at Soundside Park or on the docks that outline the perimeter of the park.

Video by Adam Hawley

Surf City Annual Dolphin Dip
Sponsored by: Share the Table, a local nonprofit that offers community meals, a food pantry and a backpack program
FB Page:
When: January 1, 2021
Where: 101 Roland Avenue, Surf City
Time: 11 am costume contest; 12 pm horn sounds to begin the Dolphin Dip

UPDATE 11/17/20: The Dolphin Dip has been cancelled for January 1, 2021 due to Covid-19.
They are encouraging everyone to do a “socially distanced dip” along our 26 miles of beautiful beach in Topsail or wherever they are located. 

Things to Do: Kick off the New Year with a plunge into the ocean, participate in the costume contest for a chance to win a trophy (separate adult and children’s contests), enjoy entertainment (has included music, belly dancers, balloon makers and more in the past), and support Share the Table by purchasing an event t-shirt.

Tips: Dawn Ellis, executive director of Share the Table, recommends that with thousands of attendees, plan to arrive early to guarantee a parking space and to get a t-shirt before they sell out.

Interesting Facts: The event draws people from around the world; past participants have hailed from Australia, Germany and Brazil. Brian and Rebecca Moxey started the event in 2002 for fun with friends as a way to wash out the old year and bring in the new.

Surf City NC Area Christmas Lights

Photo by Laura Glantz

Topsail Island Christmas Lights
It’s hard not to smile and get into the Christmas spirit as you spy the large Christmas lights displayed on electric poles around Topsail Island. All three of the island’s communities — North Topsail, Surf City and Topsail Beach — purchase and hang their own lights.

The Town of Surf City, for example, hangs approximately 90 nautical- and Christmas-themed lights from Lowe’s on Highway 17, all the way down Highway 210 East, down Highway 50 to the island and to the northernmost and southernmost town limits on the island. Manufactured by Mosca Design, a Raleigh-based company, the lights consist of approximately a dozen designs, including mermaids, crabs, dolphins, seahorses and sand dollars.

The Surf City Streets Department and the Public Works Department begin hanging the lights the first week of November, but maintenance on them is a year-round process. Each light has a lifespan of about seven years and throughout that time, on a rotating basis, each light is stripped down to the bare metal, re-powder coated, rewired with zip ties, re-bulbed according to colors, and given new plugs. In addition, every year the workers replace a few more lights to LED bulbs; roughly half of their lights are now LED.

About the author

Dalene Bickel

Dalene Bickel

I am a freelance writer and founder of Lasting Legacies (, where I serve as a biographer, nonfiction book coach and legacy speaker. I am the author of The One-Year Collection of Weekly Writing Prompts, have co-authored multiple autobiographies and have contributed to anthologies, local magazines and online publications. A resident of Hampstead for more than 20 years, I enjoy spending time at the beach, reading and sipping java at area coffee shops. I am a history buff who enjoys discovering the stories of the past (both near and far) while also appreciating the amazing opportunities of the present. Life is truly an adventure, full of people and experiences worth writing about! Follow me on Facebook at LastingLegaciesBios.