Li’l Friday: Flotillas, holiday parades and markets, plus music – Port City Daily

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Li’l Friday is a weekly roundup of events in art, music, theater, comedy, pop-up markets and more.
It’s wise to check in ahead of attending any one happening to ensure it’s scheduled as normal. Inclement weather and unforeseen circumstances may shift for organizers at the last minute.
MORE HOLIDAY EVENTS: Li’l Friday holiday edition
Ernest Turner Trio
Cameron Art Museum, 3201 S. 17th St.
At 7 p.m. inside the Cameron Art Museum, award-winning and Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Ernest Turner and his trio will perform as part of the Jazz at CAM series. 
For 20 years, Turner has taken the stage worldwide with jazz and pop music greats — Delfeayo Marsalis, John Legend, Raphael Saadiq, and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra. He released “My Americana” in 2019 as an “ode to Black American music,” with original compositions and reimagining classics by Stevie Wonder, Fats Waller, and others.
His love for music began in his youth, as his mother was a music teacher and minister of music at the church. She introduced Turner to Black gospel music. As an adult he pursued his undergraduate and graduate studies in New Orleans.
“Music is life in New Orleans,” he said in a release. “It’s nothing to see folks second-lining down the street, or a brass band playing a birthday party in your neighborhood. I learned so much about the feeling and spirit that should be present in the music.” 
While in town, Turner performed a free concert Wednesday night at St. Stephen AME Church. Tickets are $35 to $55 for the almost-two-hour Cameron Art Museum performance, which begins at 7 p.m.
Panacea Run Club — Wilmington’s premiere ‘boocha brewery has a running club that meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. They run along the Cross City Trail and enjoy a brew together afterward. Panacea is located at 4107 Oleander Drive.
All is Bright
10200 Hwy. 17, Hampstead • Admission: $5-$25
Poplar Grove Plantation is bringing in the carol of the bells through Dec. 30. All is Bright features the plantation grounds bedazzled in tens of thousands of lights and illuminated scenes with photo opportunities. The Manor House is also decked out and open.
There will be fire-pits and marshmallow-roasting areas, with various food trucks featured every night among other cuisines, hot and cold libations, wine and beer, and arts and craft vendors. Santa will be present Saturdays, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. As well, a letter-writing station will be set up to send well wishes to the military men and women serving far from home this holiday season.
Tickets are available at or at the gate. The event takes place Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 21-23, and 28-30, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Funds raised help Poplar Grove continue its mission of “education, conservation and preservation.”
Acme Art Holiday Open House — The art cooperative on 5th Avenue is celebrating the season with a holiday art show featuring works from all studio artists. Sales go directly to the artists, and the event takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 
The Pinkerton Raid — The band’s album release has been almost three years in the making. “The Highway Moves the World” was recorded by songwriter Jesse James DeConto, with bassist Jonathan DePue, drummer Scott McFarlane and guitarist Garrett Langebartels, at the beginning of 2020. The goal was to release it that March, but the pandemic stalled progress. Since then, they’ve released tracks one at a time but have also transformed into a new lineup, with the addition of a guitarist and trumpet player. At 6 p.m. at Waterline Brewing, Pinkerton Raid will be joined by folk band Tumbleweed of Wilmington.
Hampstead Christmas Tree Lighting — Beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Kiwanis Park (586 Sloop Point Loop Road), the community is welcome to celebrate the illumination of Hampstead’s Christmas tree. There will be food trucks Top Dog Hotdogs and Catering LLC, Catch the Food Truck and A Brewed Awakening serving eats and drinks. The official lighting happens at 6:30 p.m. but the event, with entertainment, games and cookies, lasts until 7:30 p.m.
Riverlights Festival of Trees
Marina Village, 109 Pier Master Point • Free
Riverlights will live up to its name with a centerpiece 20-foot tree lit and surrounded by additional Chritsmas trees decorated to show area nonprofits’ missions. 
At the kickoff, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Marina Village, there will be a holiday-curated pop-up market with 30 local vendors, street performances from Wilmington Ballet Company bringing to life “The Nutcracker,” holiday music performed by the Eugene Ashley High School band, visits with characters from “Frozen” and photos with Santa.
A & M’s Red Food Truck will be serving sliders and tacos, and Coastal Craft Creamery will have holiday-flavored ice cream for purchase.
All trees will remain lit from dusk to 10 p.m. through Dec. 31.
Leland in Lights — Leland’s Founders Park will become Leland in Lights starting Dec. 3 until Jan. 3, showcasing large motion displays, including singing Christmas trees, snowmen playing baseball, two children having a snowball fight, even Old Man Winter blowing cold weather to the South. Opening day features Dixieland Kettle Corn Company, Cheez Boss, and Brown Dog Coffee Company serving food and beverages. Santa will show up — as well as on Dec. 9, 16 and 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. — and the Leland Express will take passengers around Founders Park. Come Dec. 10, the “Polar Express” will be screened for free in the park after dusk.
Wilmington Historic Half Marathon and 5K — Racers will traverse historic downtown, from Water Street to Market and Front, knocking out three bridges in the first 5miles, and heading out toward the Greenfield Lake area during the 5th annual Wilmington Historic Half Marathon. A finish-line party will take place at Riverfront Park, 10 Cowan Dr., with beer and barbecue. Medals will be awarded to top finishers and there is swag for racers. Registration is $55 for the 5K and $90 for the marathon.
Island of Lights Holiday Flotilla — Taking place at Carolina Beach at 6 p.m., a parade of twinkling and shining boats will move from Snow’s Cut Bridge to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin. Participants will be able to text their favorite decorated boats to determine the People’s Choice award. It’s free to attend.
Oyster Roast at the Post — Seven Mile Post (7219 Market St.) is having its 4th annual Oyster Roast at the Post on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2 p.m. Tickets are $40, with limited seating, and include all-you-can-eat oysters; (price increases by $10 the day of, if any spots are left). Live music will be performed by The Motos from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Regulation Larry from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Must be 21 and up; no kids or pets allowed.
Southport-Oak Island Christmas by the Sea — The sleepy coastal towns will have the annual holiday parade on Saturday. Christmas By the Sea is a 35-year tradition that begins at 2 p.m. at East Oak Island Drive in front of Town Hall and moves eastward, ending at McGlamery Street. Santa and Mrs. Claus, naturally, will make an appearance, and floats are represented by area businesses and organizations.
Christmas Artisan Festival — Old Shoppes at Southport will host a Christmas holiday market, featuring talented local makers. There will be food, shopping and festivities, including a visit from the big man himself, Santa. The Olde Southport Village Shoppes are located at 1102 N. Howe St.
Belville Riverwalk Park — An all-day holiday celebration takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be music by the Brunswick Brass Band, performances by the Coastal Dance Academy and Santa visits, with the Christmas tree lit at 5 p.m.
Christmas in the Square — A free event, Christmas in the Square features hundreds of booths set up in Burgaw’s town square on Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Arts and crafts vendors, live entertainment and food vendors will be part of the celebration. It takes place near the Pender County Courthouse Square, 100 S. Wright St.
Topsail Flotilla and Christmas Market — Soundside Park will transform into a holiday vendor market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with food trucks parked from 11 a.m. to  7 p.m. There will be music by Fryd on the Boat at 4 p.m., and new, unused toys will be accepted for Neighbors Helping Neighbors. The flotilla participants will line up at Bush Marina at 5:45 p.m. in Topsail Beach and by 6:45 p.m. will arrive at Soundside Park, with Mr. and Mrs. Claus leading the way and available for pictures. It’s free.
Tree lighting and ice skating at Riverfront Park — Taking place downtown at 10 Cowan St., on Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m., the Christmas tree will be lit at Live Oak Bank Pavilion. There also will be a musical performance from the Cape Fear Chorale from 5:45 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by the tree lighting with Mayor Bill Saffo. Santa will be on hand until 7:15 p.m. for visits and on the lawn at 7:30 p.m., a screening of Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch” (2018) will take place; lawn chairs and blankets welcome. Riverfront Park will also have ice-skating this holiday season. The rink is made of synthetic ice and skaters should bring their own skates. Slots are an hour long, open 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Food and beverages for sale, along with free hot chocolate while supplies last. Toys For Tots will be collecting new unwrapped toys.
Arts and History Converge
DREAMS Center for Arts Education, 901 Fanning St.  • Free
North Carolina performer Mike Wiley is hosting at DREAMS an artist workshop that is bringing to life and exploring events of the 1898 Wilmington coup. 
As part of “America’s Hallowed Ground Project,” there will be North Carolina artists, musicians, dancers and writers leading free sessions. The goal is, through art, to bring awareness and have conversations about a pivotal event, the Wilmington 1898 coup, that changed the makeup of the Port City over a century ago.
Participating artists include NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, muralist Cornelio Campos, sculptor Stephen Hayes (who did “Boundless” at CAM), podcaster John Biewen, choreographer Aya Shabu, singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett, playwright Howard Craft, and sound designer Michael Betts II. 
Events are approachable for ages 12 and up. The workshops begin at 10 a.m. and last until the final showcase at 4 p.m. Lunch is provided for free; registration is required to attend.
Wilmington Handcrafted Holidays — Waterline Brewing Co. will host a downtown market, featuring 26 local vendors’ handmade items. It takes place from noon to 4 p.m. at 721 Surry St. It’s free to attend, though cash is needed for brews and to purchase the arts and crafts being sold.
Christmas Cantata — As part of St. Andrews Sunday worship, the adult choir will be performing a Christmas Cantata, including a string quartet, four-handed piano, and narrators at 11 a.m. A congregational singalong also will take place, featuring holiday and gospel classics, including “Away in a Manager,” “Joy to the World,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem.” St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church is located at 1416 Market St.; the concert is free.
Toys for Tots Ride — Harley Davidson’s 30th annual Toys for Tots takes place starting at 9 a.m. Anyone participating is required to bring one unwrapped toy to donate for the Marines’ Toys for Tots program. The police-escorted ride takes place across Wilmington and returns to Carolina Coast Harley Davidson for lunch. A special guest will also be on hand: Santa.
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