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The Best Annual Events in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, NC

Located on Pleasure Island, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach are known as two of the nicest beach communities in North Carolina. The island name says it all: with its pristine sandy beaches, rich wildlife-watching opportunities, and endless Atlantic Ocean views, a visit to both is the ultimate pleasurable experience.

When planning a visit, it’s a good idea to pair your trip with one of the annual events happening in the area. There’s no better way to experience the local culture and meet the locals than by taking part in the amazing festivals and events that turn Carolina Beach and Kure Beach into extra vibrant places.

To help you with that, in this blog, we have curated a list of the best annual events in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

Ready to dive into the festivities?



Pleasure Island Jeep Jam, Revving Up for Jeep Enthusiasts in May

Pleasure Island Jeep Jam is a 3-day event usually happening in May where Jeep lovers come together to show off their vehicles and enjoy good music and food over the weekend across multiple locations within Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher.

The Jeep-centric fun is focused on the Show and Shine Jeep Exhibition where several 4WD vehicles will be on display. Of course, having a Jeep is certainly not required to join in the fun. Everyone can enjoy the amazing live performances featuring local bands, food trucks, vendors, and activities such as the poker run, cornhole tournament, kids’ activities, and much more.


Carolina Beach Music Festival, Grooving into Summer in June

Dancing barefoot on warm sands, feeling the sea breeze? Who wouldn’t love that?

Organized by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce, the Carolina Beach Music Festival is hailed as “the biggest and only beach music festival actually held on the beach on the North Carolina coast.”

Taking place on the first Saturday in June, this festival stands as one of the longest-running beach music festivals in the US, boasting an incredible lineup featuring the hottest beach music bands in the South. It’s a beach day like no other!

Set against the backdrop of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, you can bring your own coolers, beverages, and beach chairs, ensuring a comfortable and laid-back experience without the noisy crowds. Plus, if you’re attending with a group, you can even reserve a personal tent space for added comfort.



Fireworks by the Sea & Boardwalk Blast for Independence Day in July

Independence Day is celebrated across the entire country, but there’s something extra special about watching a spectacular fireworks show over the Atlantic that makes the celebration in Carolina Beach unbeatable.

The festivity kicks off earlier on July 3rd on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk with a breathtaking display of fireworks. Locals and visitors usually pack a picnic basket and head to the boardwalk to grab a spot and wait for the spectacle.

Another option is to sit at one of the restaurants around and watch the show while dining in style. To make things more lively, live bands will play tunes, turning the Carolina Beach Boardwalk into a fun party!


Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival, Paddle into an Ancient Legacy in September

Experience the vibrant colors and friendly competitive atmosphere of one of the most beautiful festivals in North Carolina. The Carolina Beach Dragon Boat Regatta and Festival is a unique event that fills the Carolina Beach waterfront and Marina with fun, teamwork, colors, costumes, and music.

The event kicks off with a lively Kickoff Party where the competing teams for the next day’s race are announced, and live music sets the stage for a night of grooving and fun. If you’re eager to participate, you can join a team (you’ll be assigned one) or register with your own crew of 11 members.

Even if you’re not competing, watching the race is a sight to behold. Each boat is beautifully adorned, and witnessing the teamwork during the competition is truly exhilarating. Along the Marina, vendors will be showcasing and selling artworks, jewelry, crafts, and delectable food. Live performances will also inject an extra dose of vibrancy and fun into the festivities.



Farewell Summer Jazz, Saying Goodbye to the Season in Style in October

In North Carolina, locals take summer seriously, loving the season so much that when it’s gone, the town of Kure Beach organizes a funeral to bid farewell to the hot months.

Every October, Kure Beach hosts a jazz funeral to mourn the end of summer. Everything starts with a procession led by a jazz band departing from L Avenue, heading to Kure Beach Ocean Front Park & Pavilion. The “mourners” are fancily dressed, holding lacy parasols, and some will carry a casket with summer itself inside. Everyone is invited to take part as it’s a celebration of the city’s favorite season coming to a close.

When the procession arrives at the Ocean Front Park Pavilion, there will be concerts, food trucks serving delicious bites, and a lively atmosphere where you can mingle with locals, dance, and sing all night long.


Cape Fear Kite Festival, a kaleidoscope in the sky in November

Every first weekend in November, Kure Beach skies are filled with gorgeous kites during the Cape Fear Kite Festival.

The annual event takes place at the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area coastline, where visitors are treated to a mesmerizing display of kites in various shapes, colors, styles, and sizes — from giant octopuses and whales to unicorns and dragons. It’s truly a spectacular sight! And it gets even better. The festival kicks off on a Friday night at the beachfront of the Courtyard by Marriott Carolina Beach, where hundreds of glowing kites adorned with LED lights illuminate the skies, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

On Saturday, in addition to the colorful kites painting the blue skies at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, visitors can enjoy live music, food trucks, breweries offering craft beer, tents for kite decoration, and other vendors selling arts and crafts.



Island of Lights: Lighting at the Lake, Welcoming the Holiday Season in November

The holiday season celebrations kick off with the Island of Lights Festival, the official light-up ceremony that inaugurates the gorgeous Christmas illuminations in Carolina Beach.

Held at Carolina Beach Lake Park, locals and visitors gather to witness the switch-on of the annual light display and enjoy tons of entertainment, including live music performances and Santa’s appearance, where he listens to the Christmas wish lists of the little ones. Following the official light-up, take a stroll along the one-mile lake trail, where stunning lighted displays will instantly put you in the holiday mood.


Kure Beach Holiday Whoobie Whatty, A Gathering for Grinch Fans in December

Kure Beach Holiday Whoobie Whatty is a unique and fun Christmas celebration held at Kure Beach Ocean Front Park & Pavilion. Fans of the grumpy Grinch will certainly love taking part in this event.

This annual Grinch-themed outdoor holiday celebration starts with a screening of the 2000 version of the film “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Alongside, several activities will be happening, including face painting, Grinch crafts, cookie decorating, and photo opportunities with the Grinch himself.


The Best Annual Events in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, NC

As you can see, there are plenty of gatherings and events all year round in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. There’s no doubt you will have a lot of fun if you decide to attend any of the events above, but whenever crowds are involved, it’s important to keep some things in mind.

Here are some extra tips to enjoy events in North Carolina:

  • Stay Hydrated: North Carolina summers can be hot and humid, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, especially if you’re spending time outdoors at events.

  • Wear Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat. Consider wearing light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to stay cool.

  • Seek Shade: If possible, take breaks in shaded areas to cool down and rest, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

  • Plan Ahead: Check the event’s website or social media pages for any updates, changes, or safety guidelines before attending. Familiarize yourself with the venue’s layout and emergency procedures.

  • Be Mindful of Crowds: Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas. Respect others’ personal space and be patient in lines or crowded areas.

  • Have Fun Responsibly: Enjoy the event safely by respecting event staff, following any posted rules or guidelines, and looking out for yourself and others.

  • Listen To Your Body: Pace yourself and listen to your body. If you start to feel unwell, that means it’s time to head somewhere quiet.


Want more tips? In our destination blog, we’ve written extensively about both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, including the best time of the year to go fishing, what it’s like to visit the area with your pets, and even what it’s like to live in Carolina and Kure Beach year-round. Many more articles and local tips are awaiting you!

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