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Holidays in the Outer Banks

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

The Outer Banks has become more and more popular over the last few years and enjoying the holidays at the beach is becoming a tradition for many locals and visitors alike. With it being in the heart of winter, the average temperatures range between the mid-50s, while lows dip into the low-40s. You might not be able to go swimming in the ocean, but you still get nice days where the temperature sneaks into the 60s. That being said, there are many ways to enjoy the beach and everything else the local area has to offer. Many restaurants and stores open just for the holiday season. The experience of spending winter days in OBX is a unique experience.

When you're ready to head out to explore the area, the scenery is just as breathtaking in the winter as it is in the summer. Many businesses and activities are available year-round. Even through you may have to bundle up a bit, the beach provides miles of uninterrupted views in this scenic paradise.

As a nature lover, it is a highlight to rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle and spend a day in Corova and Historic Corolla. The sunsets are early in the day, around 5:00, so it times perfectly when the wild horses start roaming the area. Driving up the beaches, searching for the wild horses while experiencing the sunset over the water leaves little more to be desired. If off-roading isn't your cup of tea, you're only a few miles from the Historic Waterfront in Corolla. The lighthouses and many of the exhibits are closed this time of the year but it a great place to take a stroll or watch the sunset. The Lighthouse and local area is decorated with Christmas lights and the area is transformed into a sparkling wonderland that is Corolla Christmas Village. The area hosts these evenings from the end of November till December 30th from when the sun sets around 5:00pm till 8:00. The fishing is great this time of year and the winds pick up, making the Outer Banks popular for windsurfing and kiteboarding. Many of the piers light up for the holidays and bring festive holiday cheer.

Pictures throughout the Outer Banks in December 2022

The area also has many seasonal offerings and activities. If you make your way down to Roanoke Island, you will be able to enjoy the annual Christmas Parade in Downtown Manteo.

During the holiday season, even stores participate in a contest called “Making Storefronts Bright” and decorate their storefronts with the brightest and loveliest ornaments. The Christmas Parade starts from the Manteo High School and runs down to the other part of the town. You will find local school bands performing during the parade, vintage cars, and dancing troupes during the parade.

Manteo Holiday Tour of Homes by the Manteo Preservation Trust has an annual holiday tour of homes that will walk participants through the extensive and rich history of various landmark homes and historical properties.

Houses here have a unique simplicity, with the ocean at the heart of the architecture and décor. Whether in downtown Manteo or the end-of-the-road northern tip, the home has been a place of gathering through sunny summers and the chilly Atlantic winds of winter.

Small town lifestyle is at the core of the Outer Banks, and the Manteo Preservation Trust hopes to foster this camaraderie for centuries to come.

Tour participants will be able to enter the buildings and see an active historical property firsthand. During the Christmas Holiday, it’s safe to say many properties will be decorated accordingly.

If you're in the area, try and support the local businesses as much as possible. It keeps that quaint town feel, even though the Outer Banks has been significantly growing in popularity over the years. One suggestion is a place called Absolutely Outer Banks, which hosts Workshops on making your own glass art. It's great to learn a new skill and bring a piece of OBX back with you.

The local theater does free Christmas movies to help get everyone in the holiday spirit. You can find appearances of Santa and even the Grinch at many venues around the area during this season. There are also a few significant light displays that welcome visitors to take in the local sites.

Looking for a place to eat? Trio, in Kitty Hawk, is always busy and doesn't take reservations. It has a cozy upstairs seating with wine tastings and live music, as well as a full restaurant or bar seating with a premier dining experience. If you're looking for a nice night out, also check out the Colington Café. It's a local favorite and only opens up for a limited time over the holidays. Tucked away behind the Wright Brothers Monument, it will serve you a meal that you will be talking about for the rest of your stay.

Christmas on the Outer Banks & Outer Banks New Year's Eve

A couple of key events you can't miss this festive season include Winter Lights at the historic Elizabethan Gardens and Soaring Kites with Lights at Jockey's Ridge and other beach celebrations. Looking for a sneak peak at the festivities, see our short Instagram video. Click Here

A holiday tradition not to be missed! Stroll along illuminated garden walks and discover the joy of the season with holiday lights that transform the ten-acre gardens into an enchanted wonderland. The radiant glow, holiday décor, and a crackling open-air fire, add to the festive atmosphere. Seasonal plants and holiday gifts are available in the Royal Exchange Gift Shop.

Winter lights at the Elizabethan Gardens

Looking to finish the year off with a bang? The Manteo waterfront holds a New Year's celebration called Midnight Magic every year with bands, food and amusements. There's even a fire pit with yummy smores, a variety of lawn games, and fabulous fun giveaways to help light up the night. Festivities run throughout the event ending in a colorful fireworks display at 7:00 PM that is sure to bring a smile to all on the waterfront in downtown Manteo!

Manteo Midnight Magic New Year Eve celebration

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