November 27, 2020
The holidays will definitely feel different this year.
Many traditional customs, gestures and events may be affected by concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. There will be little or no hugging, handshaking, talking face-to-face with Santa, caroling in neighborhoods and gatherings of family and friends.
So, now more than ever, we need a little Christmas cheer. And towns and organizations in northeastern North Carolina have come up with creative ways to help with that.
Though many major seasonal events like parades and festivals have been cancelled, there will be plenty of things to do and see for children and adults.
Here are a few offerings that we hope will bring smiles to faces, even ones covered by masks.
– John Harper
SATURDAY, NOV. 28
KITES WITH LIGHTS
This annual event begins at 4 p.m. Saturday and features a dozen or so 19- to 30-foot brightly decorated kites, which will light up the sky over Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head.
The park’s rolling sand hills will come alive with the sound of Christmas music, and you’ll have plenty of room to social distance in accordance with the state’s regulations regarding COVID-19.
Another highlight of the event is the 5 p.m. lighting of the park’s solar Christmas tree.
Warm beverages will be served at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing shopping center, directly across from the park.
TIME: 4-7 p.m.
COST: Free, but donations will go to Friends of Jockey’s Ridge
WHERE: Jockey’s Ridge State Park, 300 W. Carolista Drive, milepost 12.5
on the U.S. 158 Bypass, Nags Head
FRIDAY, DEC. 4
FIRST FRIDAY ARTWALK AND LIGHTED BOAT PARADE
It’s Christmastime in Elizabeth City. On Dec. 4 starting at 4 p.m., check out artwork and artists’ demonstrations at various locations (mostly on Main Street) downtown. There will be food and music, too.
The Lighted Boat Parade, which was named one of the Southeast Tourism Society’s top-20 events of the month, will circle the harbor at Mariners’ Wharf at 7 p.m. You can watch from Mariners’ Wharf Park, Veterans Park, Moth Park and Waterfront Park. Kids can grab red and green glow sticks at Wharf Park to light up the night sky.
TIME: 4-7 p.m. Artwalk; 7 p.m. Lighted Boat Parade
WHERE: Downtown Elizabeth City
SATURDAY, DEC. 5
CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY
Ride a pony. Have a socially distanced visit with Santa Claus. Take a wagon ride. Sip on hot chocolate.
They’re all part of the 7th annual Christmas in the Country at Southern Hope Animal Rescue and Education in Shawboro.
“We’re all decked out for the holidays,” says Janessa Lockwood, the executive director of the 10-acre farm off U.S. 158 east of Elizabeth City.
Hope’s mission is adopting or fostering animals, mostly horses. There are 28 horses on the farm, along with chickens, pigs, donkeys, goats and ducks.
Tours will be offered and there is a petting pen. Lunch will be available.
TIME: Noon-4 p.m.
COST: Admission is free, but there are some fees.
WHERE: Southern Hope Animal Rescue and Education, 146 White Horse
INFO: Facebook page
TOWN OF MANTEO CHRISTMAS
Like many events, the town of Manteo’s traditional holiday celebrations have been affected by concerns about COVID-19. The parade and festival are off, and there will be no tree lighting ceremony, but you can get your glee on with several seasonal offerings.
“We still want to enjoy the spirit of Christmas,” says Michele Bunce, the town’s program manager.
Streets downtown will be brightly decorated, as usual. Santa Claus will ride a firetruck through downtown and various neighborhoods on Friday, Dec. 4 (late afternoon) and Saturday, Dec. 5 (morning).
There will be home and wreath decorating contests with prizes ($100 gift certificates). Photos should be submitted on the town’s Facebook page, and Bunce also encourages residents to post videos of holiday singing and
dancing on the page.
The giant Christmas tree on the waterfront will be all aglow, and a mailbox for letters to Santa will be next to the tree.
WHERE: All over town
INFO: ManteoNC.gov or the town of
Manteo’s Facebook page
NOV. 27-30; DEC. 1-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-23, 26, 28-30 AND JAN. 2, 8-9, 15
Enjoy scents, sounds and lights at the 10th edition of Winter Lights at the Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo.
“It thrills us that families and friends look forward to Winter Lights as a part of their holiday traditions,” says Carl Curnette, executive director of the gardens.
More than a million lights will adorn the 10-acre botanical gardens known for its lush landscape and wide assortment of shrubs, trees and flowers. Pine needles carpet the winding paths through the illuminated winter wonderland, and an open-air fire will crackle on the Great Lawn.
Musical groups will perform on select Friday and Saturday evenings of the glow show in “bubble-like” tents along the walkways in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines.
TIME: 6-9 p.m.
COST: $11 for adults; $6 to $9 for children
WHERE: Elizabethan Gardens, 1411 National Park Drive, Manteo
INFO AND TICKETS: 252-473-3234, ElizabethanGardens.org