Christmas–and Santa–Come to the Outer Banks

Santa arrives at Duck to the delight of children of every age.
Santa arrives at Duck to the delight of children of every age.

Christmas has come to the Outer Banks. We know that because the tree lighting was held in Manteo last night and today Santa Claus hopped off a fire truck in Duck to the delight of a lot of kids…and adults too.

In a lot of ways, the Manteo tree lighting and the Duck Christmas celebration are two different ways of ringing in the holiday season. But at their heart, they are very much the same.

Both go to great lengths to celebrate children, family and the true spirit of the season.

And both have lots of hot chocolate and cookies. Manteo does get a nod for the wonderful Brunswick stew the Manteo United Methodist Church hands out every year, but for the kids there’s not a lot of difference.

The Manteo celebration is really all about all things wonderful about small town life. Local dance schools take to the stage. A five member women choir sings a capella Christmas music. The Manteo elementary, middle school and high school choruses take to the state. And of course there is Santa who counts down the lighting of the tree and then hangs around to talk to the kids.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two celebrations is the Christmas tree, or in Duck’s case, the crab pot pyramid in the shape of a Christmas tree.

It is a recognition of the town’s heritage. Long before the first visitor came to the Duck, there was a cluster of homes arranged along Currituck Sound and everyone lived by fishing, hunting and substance farming.

Certainly a far cry from today.

Even though Duck does do many things differently, what happens on the first Saturday of December every year is actually very traditional. There’s live music from Just Playing Dixieland. The First Flight High School Advanced Choir strolled around the town caroling. 

And, of course, Santa showed up, in this case in a fire truck.

Santa always seems to be a wonderful, jolly elf, but honestly the Duck Santa may be the best ever. He seems to listen carefully to every child and the children respond remarkably well to him.

There is so much to do on the Outer Banks. Stay with us at Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates for a week or two and discover why life on this sandbar is so wonderful.

Santa Claus, Tree Lighting and the Spirit of Chrismas

Friday, November 30, is when the Manteo Christmas Tree will be lit.
Friday, November 30, is when the Manteo Christmas Tree will be lit.

Annual Event Welcomes Santa and the Holiday Season

Tomorrow night, Friday, is the night…the night that jolly old elf, Santa Claus comes to town in Manteo.

In what may be one of the most amazing small town Christmas celebrations anywhere, the town of Manteo lights the giant fir tree on the waterfront and welcomes Santa Claus to the Outer Banks.

The Annual Manteo Tree Lighting has been a part of the town’s holiday traditions for over 45 years, and it includes—but is not limited to—free Brunswick stew from a local church, hot chocolate, choirs from local schools and churches singing and of course the big guy in the bright red suit, who always throws the switch on the lights.

It all centered around the old Dare County Courthouse that’s now the Dare County Arts Council Gallery, which is a great place to gather.

After lighting the tree, Santa heads into the upstairs gallery to wait the throngs of children waiting to whisper their Christmas dreams to him.

It’s great fun and for anyone on the Outer Banks, it should not be missed. It will be a little bit chilly, but not too bad tomorrow night. There will be a lot of people on hand, so parking can be a bit difficult. It’s worth it though.

If getting to the Manteo celebration can’t be worked out, don’t despair, there’s still the the Crab Pot Tree Lighting in the Town of Duck on Saturday.

This is a daytime event and it is a blast.

When Santa shows up in Duck, he always seems well-rested and at his best, so we’re very confident in giving the Duck Santa a five out of five star rating.

The Duck celebrations include live Dixieland music from the stage on the Village Green and hot chocolate.

Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates is definitely in the spirit of the season. Check us out and see what’s available to celebrate the holidays on the Outer Banks.

Tree Lightings Mark Beginning of OBX Christmas Season

Santa arriving at Duck to the excited cheers of the children.
Santa arriving at Duck to the excited cheers of the children.

The first weekend in December on the Outer Banks is a pretty special time. That is the official opening of the Christmas Season.

Sure Thanksgiving gets all the press, but as far as the Outer Banks is concerned until the Christmas Trees are lit in Manteo and Duck, it’s just not official yet.

Duck-Holiday Spirit with a Twist

Of course, the Duck tree lighting is done with a distinctive twist. The shape is right and the lights are there, but there’s not actual tree. The tree shape is created by crab pots and it does give a nice, distinctive touch to the celebration.

There is a lot about the Duck celebration and a much of it is that the way the town goes about it is just a little but different than anyone else. There is music, but it’s Dixieland from Just Playing Dixieland—a local group and they are very good.

Pets are encouraged—well, dogs. We’re not sure how cats would do in that environment. But it is nice to see.

There is, of course, hot chocolate and cookies, but best of all, when Santa comes to Duck, he is absolutely at his best. Santa, when he comes to the town, may be the best reason to put the Duck tree lighting on the annual to do list.

Manteo-The Spirit of Small Town Christmas

That is not to denigrate Manteo at all.

In fact, the Manteo tree lighting is so perfectly small town America and community that it feels as though there should be a painting of it somewhere.

This year may have been the best attended in some time. We can’t be sure, but Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church ran out of their Brunswick Stew this year—and on a chilly night, it was missed.

Still the evening is fantastic.

Centered around the old Dare County Courthouse that is now home to the Dare County Arts Council, the evening features dancing from local churches and a dance school. Youth choirs fill the air with music, there’s a Yuletide log burning and yes, Santa does make an appearance.

It is a wonderful, wonderful experience and one certain to put the holiday spirit into anyone’s step.

Elizabethan Gardens Winter Lights-Outer Banks Beauty

Rhododendron Garden during Elizabethan Gardens Winter Lights.
Rhododendron Garden during Elizabethan Gardens Winter Lights.

Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of lights, nights at the Elizabethan Gardens are turned into a holiday wonderland. Throughout December and for the first three weekends of January, Winter Lights fill the paths, trees and plants of the Gardens with the magic of imagination and color.

Of all the Outer Banks traditions during the holidays, this may be one of our favorites.

The beauty of the lights begins as soon as the doors of the gatehouse open into the gardens. The Rhododendron walk is filled with twinkling lights like miniature flower buds.

There are subtle changes every year, so there is always something new to see. Last year the design team started putting miniature laser lights in the trees and they add a three dimensional feel to the night sky.

Other changes can be seen as well. New this year is the heron pond. Blue lights flood the ground giving the sense of water. Green lights surround the pond and perched in the middle are white lights in the shape of herons.

As wonderful as the light show is and the new designs on display, some of the most traditional features of the evening are the favorites of young and old.

In the middle of the Great Lawn there is a fire pit with a roaring fire. Benches ring the pit and on a table beside the benches the Elizabethan Gardens crew have thoughtfully left marshmallows and tongs.

It is a perfect gathering place for families with children or an innocent moment of fun on a date.

Elizabethan Gardens has a number of events scheduled during its Winter Lights Festival. Perhaps most importantly, every Friday and Saturday, Santa makes a visit. The weekends feature music from local schools and bands.

Winter Lights is Tuesday through Saturday for the month of December and Friday and Saturday in January 21. Winter Lights will not be held, however, on Christmas Eve, which is a Saturday.