Not only is the OBX a great place to visit during the summer, it's a great place to come for the Holidays. It's true it's too cold to swim, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to do. Here are just a few of the things you can check out when you're here in December.
Santa Paws Pet Supply Drive (Whole month of December)
This is your chance to see the NC Aquarium and help out a great cause at the same time. You can get into the Acquarium for FREE when you bring a 7 lb bag of dog food. The food is given to the local shelter so we can continue to care for dogs and cats until they can find their forever homes.
Winter Lights (Whole Month of December)
Just because it's the winter doesn’t mean there's nothing to see in the Elizabethan Gardens. Each Christmas thousands of lights transform the gardens into a winter wonderland. Traditional holiday décor, gingerbread 'houses' and more all combine to make this a spectacular event. There's even a seasonal gift shop and plants to take home.
Manteo Christmas Parade (Dec 2)
It's been called 'the biggest small town celebration'. That means Manteo knows how to throw one heck of a party. This parade features floats, marching bands, singing and more. The highlight it when Santa arrives on the firetruck. In past years, as many as 50 floats were in the parade, and it just seemed to bet bigger each year. After the parade, kids can get some one on one time with Santa.
Duck Yuletide Celebration and Elf Hunt (Dec 2)
There's actually two parts to this unique celebration. The first is a traditional parade and celebration featuring carolers, live music, hot chocolate and more. It culminates with Santa's arrival on the firetruck. The second part is the Elf Hunt. 'Hunters' pick up a “Great Yuletide Elf Hunt Passport” at select locations, then visit selected shops in search of the 'elf', filling up your passport as you go. At the end of the day, all successful hunters (those with a fully filled in passport) will get to enter a drawing for a chance to win some fun prizes.
Holiday Homes Tour (Dec 2)
Now's your chance to see some historic Outer Banks homes, along with new ones built the 'Manteo Way' (renovated buildings that serve as business and residence.) Check in point is at Outer Banks Craft Distilling where you can partake of some light refreshments. Manteo Cyclery will provide bikes on a first come first serve basis. Commemorative ornaments are available.
TRiO Holiday Market (Dec 9)
Looking for last minute gifts? There's no better kind than the ones handcrafted by local artisans. From candles to jewelry, to soap and everything in between, the Holiday Market is your place to pick up some great stocking stuffers or last minute gifts.
St. Nicholas arrives at Island Farm (Dec 9)
Looking for a place for your kids to meet Santa? St. Nick is coming to the Island Farm. Instead of reindeer, he'll come by ox cart then sets up in one of the quaint farm houses with a roaring fire, waiting for your kids to come and enjoy. They'll be hot apple cider, ginger cookies, ox cart rides, and a lot of fun.
Great White Fishmas (Dec 9)
Join the NC Aquarium's Great White Fishmas. They'll be crafts, cookie decorating, special programs, live music and more. And don't forget the animals. You'll see otters, jelly fish, alligators, turtles and so much more. There are even sharks you pet. Yes, SHARKS.
Poulos Family Christmas (Dec 17 - 31)
The famous Outer Banks 'Christmas House' has been featured on HGTV the Today Show and YouTube. It takes 12 weeks to set up and $3500 in electric bills to run. A delightful mix of old and new Christmas traditions, you've never seen something quite like this before.
New Year in the New World (December 31)
Ok, so this is technically a new year's thing, but it is in December and it is fun, so it's worth mentioning. Best of all, it's family friendly. For this celebration, the streets of Downtown Manteo are closed and there will be a street fair party, complete with an early ball drop for kids. Live music, family friendly activities and food vendors are just the beginning of your great time. The highlight of the evening will be the largest fireworks display in the state, and it will be choreographed to music. It's the perfect way to ring in the New Year.
Olde Christmas (Jan 6)
The fun isn't over yet. Hatteras Island is one of the last places in the country to celebrate "Olde Christmas" on the traditional date. It's not the Christmas you're used to because this one is steeped in Island Tradition. It features caroling, music, dancing, and the traditional Christmas food, oysters. The highlight of the evening is when 'Old Buck' the bull appears. In all of Rodanthe History, Old Buck has always been played by two locals, but the costume is supposedly made with the horns of the real 'Old Buck' who lived in Trent Woods. Old buck plays with the revelers, doing his own dance through the crowd and mock goring people. He brings luck for the New Year.
There's no better place to spend the holidays than on the Outer Banks. Even though you can't go in the water, the beach provides endless opportunities to walk, and commune with nature. And the people of the Outer Banks have enough going on that you can celebrate Christmas in style. If you need to rent a house for your family, you can do that here.