WinterFest 2023

 Southport WinterFest 2023, the umbrella under which most of the city’s holiday events fall, will include everything from the “Annual Cookie Contest” to the “Southport Christmas Flotilla”, and much more. The week of WinterFest 2023 includes many events that will amaze adults and children of all ages. It will run from Friday, December 1 through Saturday, December 9 with daily festivities centered in historic downtown Southport.


‘Tis the season for fun, family and community. ‘Get into a Southport State of Mind’ and join us for the 2023 Christmas Season celebration. More information about Southport’s WinterFest 2023 activities will be available later in the year.  In the interim, please call the Southport Visitors’ Center at 910-457-7927 with questions.

Start your holiday season in Historic Downtown Southport. 

This year, we welcome back many of our traditional WINTERFEST favorite events. Southport WINTERFEST 2023, the umbrella under which most of the city’s holiday events fall, will include everything from a “Winterfest Tea,” to the “Southport Christmas Flotilla.” Seventeen action-packed events of WINTERFEST 2023 include many events that will entertain adults and children of all ages.  

In the Spirit of the Holiday Season, Mayor Hatem will light the City of Southport’s Downtown Christmas Tree at Whittler’s Bench for the Mayor’s Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas will be read and the Trinity United Methodist Church Children’s Choir will serenade us with time-honored Christmas Carols. Hot chocolate and cookies will be provided by the Southport Beautification Committee. Come join us on Friday, December 1, 6 pm to share in the Joy of the Season.

Southport businesses are decking the town with the Third Annual Storefront Showcase holiday decorating contest. From Saturday, December 2 to Saturday, December 9, visitors, guests, or residents of Southport can follow the Storefront Showcase map that will be available online to visit each store and cast votes on each participating business. There will be five categories: Most Original, Most Kid-friendly, Most Traditional, Biggest Surprise, or Best Overall. Voting participants may vote more than once per category. On Monday, December 11, 2023, winners will be announced, and a trophy given for Best Overall. Don’t hesitate; sign up today! 

Join us for Southport’s Winterfest Tea, an enchanting tea with special holiday entertainment sponsored by the Sisters of Southport and the City of Southport. Saturday, December 2, at 1:00 p.m. at the Southport Community Building, located at 223 East Bay Street. Tickets will be $45 and are available at Ricky Evans Gallery or the Ft. Johnston Visitors Center and Museum. 

 Pet Pictures with Santa, sponsored by the City of Southport Animal Protective Services, will take place on Sunday, December 3, 2-4 p.m. at the Indian Trail Meeting Hall/Keziah Park, 113 W. Moore Street. Bring your pets for a jolly picture with Santa. Enjoy some pet-friendly activities and treats while you wait. Donations will be accepted to receive your photo with a frame.  

Shop-with-a-Cop Concert featuring the BACK PORCH ROCKERS is sponsored by the Southport Police Department. It will take place on Monday, December 4, 6-8 p.m., in Franklin Square Park. The Shop-with-a-Cop program is a long-standing tradition in Southport. Applications and more information about the program can be found here! 

Walk through a winter wonderland at the Candy Cane Garden Party, sponsored by Southport Garden Club on Tuesday, December 5, 6–8 p.m. at Keziah Park, 113 West Moore Street. The four-foot candy canes have been decorated by local community members for your holiday enjoyment. For information and to purchase a candy cane to decorate, visit, available for pickup at the Visitors Center. Purchase stands for candy canes (extra cost). Local artists painted five candy canes for auction at the event.

WINTERFEST continues with this year’s The State Port Pilot Annual Cookie Contest (Sponsored by The State Port Pilot) on Wednesday, December 6, 3:30-5:00 p.m. at the Southport Community Building. Free… Come vote for your favorite! For information on entering email Watch for more details in your copy of the State Port Pilot, the Holiday edition of Coast magazine, on our Facebook page, and at 

Bring your children to enjoy Supper with Santa’s Elves on Wednesday, December 6, from 5-6:30 p.m. Parents will be able to drop their children off, shop at local stores, or have a romantic dinner. The children will enjoy a pizza dinner and watch a movie. This fun event is sponsored by the Southport Parks & Recreation. You must pre-register by calling 910-457-7945. The cost is $5 per child and is located at 209 Atlantic Ave., beside Southport Gym. 

The Christmas Movie “Polar Express,” an annual favorite WINTERFEST event, will be shown on the Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn at dusk on Thursday, December 7. This event is sponsored by Southport Parks and Recreation. Chairs/blankets are encouraged, and hot chocolate will be provided. 

Enjoy a tour, Historic Holidays, at the NC Maritime Museum at Southport, 204 E. Moore Street. This annual tradition, presented by the museum crew, will be from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. on Friday, December 8. Staff and volunteers will be dressed out in period attire and historic activities and take-home crafts will be available for visitors to participate in.

Children, grownups, residents, and visitors, look forward to the annual Light Up the Night Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Southport Fire Department. On Friday, December 8, at 5:30 p.m. the children will begin to board the fire engines at the Southport Fire Station. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. Parade route: Waterfront Park, down Howe St., back to the Southport Fire Station. Following the parade, children are invited to visit with Santa. 

Homemade Arts & Crafts, homegrown winter vegetables, cut flowers, homemade baked goods, honey, jellies, and pickles are only a few items that you will find at the Winter Craft Festival on Saturday, December 9, 9-4 p.m. in Franklin Square Park. Visit for vendor information. 

Get your children into the holiday spirit at Southport’s Santa’s Workshop on Saturday, December 9. Children will be making ornaments, decorating cookies, and creating other fun crafts. The workshop is from 10-11 a.m. at 209 Atlantic Ave., beside the Southport Gym. 

 Not to be missed is the popular Winterfest Performing Arts program, sponsored by the Brunswick Arts Council. Enjoy the performing arts, including instrumentals, singing, and dancing on Saturday, December 9, 11-3 p.m. in Franklin Square Park. 

The Old Brunswick County Jail Tours sponsored by Southport Historical Society will take place on Saturday, December 9, from 12-5 p.m. at the Old Jail, decorated for the season. The jail was built in 1904 when Southport was the county seat, located on the corner of Nash & Rhett Streets. This is a perfect time to come learn a piece of Southport’s history. 

Southport Historical Society’s Annual Holiday Tour of Homes is scheduled for 12-5 p.m. on Saturday, December 9. Tickets are needed to join this tour and can be purchased for $25 through the Southport Historical Society’s website starting on November 28th as well as in person at Ft. Johnston Visitors Center and Museum beginning at 10 am. Limit of 4 tickets per person.

We are delighted to announce that the Southport Train and Toy Show which will take place at the Indian Trail Meeting Hall on December 9th, running from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. We extend our sincere gratitude to the Wilmington Railroad Museum for their participation, as they will be showcasing a modular train setup and Wooden Tracks for kids. Additionally, they will be conducting presentations at 1 and 3 on the same day. Our appreciation also goes out to the Grand Strand Model Railroaders, who will be sharing their Small-n-scale traveling layout with us.

 For the 29th year, the Southport Winterfest Flotilla, sponsored by Cape Fear Yacht Club, Downtown Southport, Inc., and the City of Southport will illuminate the waterfront. Bring chairs and blankets to enjoy the beauty of Christmas lights bouncing off the water on Saturday, December 9, 6 p.m. at the Southport Waterfront. The flotilla route will showcase vessels from Old American Fish to Marker 19 near the Southport River Hotel, then return to Old American Fish and the Yacht Basin. Students from the Southport Elementary School Art Program will be judging the sail, power, and paddle boats of the flotilla. Come on down to the waterfront and support all the flotilla participants and enjoy the celebration.  

‘Tis the season for fun, family, and community. So, join Southport for the week-long 2023 Christmas Season celebration. More information about Southport’s WINTERFEST 2023 activities is available online at or by calling the Southport Visitors’ Center at 910-457-7927.