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Where To See Santa In Wilmington, NC (Updated 2021!)

This Where To See Santa In Wilmington, NC is updated for 2021.

Santa's workshop in Mayfaire in Wilmington, NC with the words "Where To See Santa In Wilmington, NC" digitally written below it.

My favorite Christmas parade is canceled again this year. We went almost every year since we moved here, and it’s just a lot of fun for the community. Plus, it’s the only parade where I’ve seen tractors and Santa, and that’s sort of amazing.

Last year, the town axed the parade and it’s not coming back. But, Wilmington’s parade (which was canceled in 2020) is back and Santa will be there.

You’ll be able to see him there — and at a ton of other local events in the area, plus the traditional visits with Santa in the mall. Dates and times for those events are listed below.

Photo envelope.

Where To Print Photos With Santa

After you’ve seen Santa and gotten photos of your kids with Santa, you’ll want to print those photos.

Of course, we want to help you save money this Christmas season, so we’re listing all the current coupon codes we can find to help you save on printing Santa photos.

There are also free photo deals often. We’ll be sure to add those here too.

Amazon: Prints start at 15 cents when you shop here.

Canvas Discount: 89% off (no coupon needed) when you shop here.

Minted: Get 20% off everything, including photo cards, when you join Minted More here.

Shutterfly: Up to 50% off everything with the code CALENDARS through November 21 when you shop here.

Target: 50% off everything photo with the code SITEWIDE50 through November 22 when you shop here.

Walgreens: 50% off photo orders of $50+ with the code CHEERSFIFTY through December 27 when you shop here.

Santa on the porch of someone's home.

Where To See Santa In Wilmington, NC

I left the locations where Santa had been in previous years, just to keep this list as complete as possible when I updated it. Hopefully things will be back to normal next year and there will be more chances to see Santa.

Santa on a float during Enchanted Airlie at Airlie Gardens.

Airlie Gardens

Address: 300 Airlie Rd

Details: Santa Claus usually visits Enchanted Airlie, but he will not be there in person this year. There will, however, be a blow up Santa Claus as part of the Enchanted Airlie display.

Enchanted Airlie is still happening as usual, though. For more, check out our Enchanted Airlie review.

The Cotton Exchange

Address: 321 N. Front Street

Details: Santa is back at The Cotton Exchange this year. He will be there for no contact visits, but you will be able to snap a photo with the big man.

This year, he will be near the stairs next to the German Café (on the parking lot level).

Santa will arrive on Friday, November 26 at 11 am and you can hang out and watch him arrive.

His hours at The Cotton Exchange will be as follows:

Friday November 26: 11 am to 4 pm
Saturday, November 27: noon to 4 pm
Sunday, November 28: 1 pm to 4 pm
Saturdays and Sundays (December 4 to 19): noon to 4pm on Saturday; 1 pm to 4 pm on Sunday
Christmas Week (Monday, December 20 to Thursday, December 23): noon to 4 pm

As far as we can tell, reservations are not required.

Downtown Wilmington Tree Lighting

Address: Riverfront Park

Date: November 26, 2021

Details: After a year off, the Downtown Wilmington tree lighting is back.

There will be live entertainment by the Wilmington Sax Quartet that starts at 5:30 pm. That’s followed by the tree lighting at exactly 6:28 pm. Then, Santa will arrive. You are permitted to take free photos with Santa.

Free hot chocolate will be available, while supplies last and the full event will take place from 5:30 pm to 8 pm.

More details here.

Downtown Wilmington Holiday Parade

Address: Downtown Wilmington

Date: Sunday, December 12

Details: After a year off, the Downtown Wilmington Holiday Parade is back.

The parade kicks off a 5:55 pm from N. Front St. and Walnut St. It will travel south down Front St. and ends at Church St.

The parade will be held rain or shine.

If you can’t make the parade in person, the parade will be televised live on Bounce (channel 6.2 on antenna) beginning at 6 pm.

Santa will appear at the end of the parade, so you can see him there but photos with the big guy may not be available.

Downtown Wilmington – Santa Sleigh Rides

Address: Market Street, between Water and Front Streets

Hours: December  17 and 18, then 23 and 24 from 6 pm to 10 pm

Details: Santa and his reindeer will be taking you around downtown Wilmington to sing carols and check out Christmas lights on his “sleigh” (aka a horse-drawn carriage).

The cost of Christmas Caroling with Santa & “Reindeer” is $14 per adult, $6 per child under 12. Free candy canes will be given out to children.

Also, the horses used are rescued horses that are well taken care of during the year.

Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

Address: 301 Willard Street

Details: Not this year.

Generally, there’s a full Christmas event with movies and Santa, but it was canceled in 2020 and appears to be canceled in 2021 as well.

Independence Mall

Address: 3500 Oleander Drive

Dates: November 26 until December 24.

Hours are as follows:

November 26: noon to 7 pm
November 27: 11 am to 7 pm
November 28: noon to 6 pm
November 29 to December 1: 2 pm to 7 pm
December 2 to 4: 10 am to 8 pm
December 5: 11 am to 7 pm
December 6 to 8: 2 pm to 7 pm
December 9 to 11: 10 am to 8 pm
December 12: 11 am to 7 pm
December 13 to 18: 10 am to 8 pm
December 19: 11 am to 7 pm
December 20 to 23: 10 am to 8 pm
December 24: 10 am to 5 pm

That’s for all children.

Additional hours are set aside for (as Santa’s website says) “children within all spectrums of special needs.” That’s Sunday, December 5 and 12 from 9:30 am to 10:30 am.

Details: Santa is located in the center of the mall, near Belk. Reservations are encouraged, and you can make your reservation.

Independence Mall (breakfast with Santa)

Address: 3500 Oleander Drive (in the Food Court)

Details: Usually, there’s breakfast provided by Chick-Fil-A and a ride on the train. But not this year.

Independence Mall (photos with Santa – for pets)

Address: 3500 Oleander Drive

Dates: November 29 and December 6 from 4 pm to 7 pm and December 13 and 20 from 4 pm to 8 pm

Details: In the past, any pet on a leash was able to attend. Last year it was only cats and dogs. This year, the website says “fur friends.”

Letters to Santa mail box.

Mayfaire Town Center

Address: L135 – 865 Inspiration Dr.

Hours: December 2 until December 24

Santa will be available Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 7 pm; Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm; Sunday from noon to 5 pm. On Christmas Eve, Santa will be around from 10 am to 1 pm then 2 pm to 5 pm. He does take breaks daily to “feed the reindeer.”

Details: Personal photos are prohibited, but there are lots of photo packages to choose from. They’re also really good about letting you retake a shot if need be.

You can to reserve your time.

Poplar Grove Plantation

Address: 10200 US Highway 17

Details: Santa is usually a part of the Merry Little Christmas Festival, which includes a blazing bonfire for roasting marshmallows, a letter writing station, visits with Santa, lawn games, a USO vignette to write letters to our US soldiers serving abroad, and outdoor movie screenings.

But, the festival was canceled for 2020 and there’s no mention of it for 2021.

Wilmington Railroad Museum – Polar Express Family Shows

Address: 3316, 505 Nutt St # 6

Details: The holiday event, where Santa usually attends, was canceled for 2020. We cannot find any 2021 information.

Wilmington Railroad Museum – Christmas Train and Lights Spectacular

Address: 3316, 505 Nutt St # 6

Details: The holiday event, where Santa usually attends, was canceled for 2020. We cannot find any 2021 information.

Where To See Santa In Leland, NC

Leland is the town next to Wilmington and it has three opportunities to see Santa this Christmas season.

Breakfast with Santa

Breakfast with Santa is being held on Tuesday, December 14 at 9 am at the Leland Cultural Arts Center (1212 Magnolia Village Way). It is for children ages 3 to 5.

The event is currently full, but you can put yourself on a waiting list here.

Cookies with Santa

Breakfast with Santa is being held on Wednesday, December 15 at 6:30 pm at the Leland Cultural Arts Center (1212 Magnolia Village Way). It is for children ages 3 to 5.

The event is currently full, but you can put yourself on a waiting list here.

Leland In Lights

Leland In Lights is the town’s annual tree lighting ceremony held at Founders Park (113 Town Hall Dr). There will be a train that will take you through the park to see the lights, a tree lighting, warm beverages, and Santa will be there.

Butterfly tree in Airlie Gardens, decorated for Christmas, with the words "25 Christmas Things To Do In Wilmington, NC" written on top.

Christmas events in Wilmington, NC

There is a lot of Santa to be had in Wilmington, NC this year. And there are a lot of other Christmas events in the area as well. Check out our full list of Christmas things to do in Wilmington, NC to plan your December.

Christmas decorations on a lightpost in front of the Market House in Fayetteville, NC with the words "25 Things To Do In Fayetteville, NC at Christmastime" digitally written on top.

Christmas events in Fayetteville, NC

If you’re local to Wilmington and want to see more Christmas in North Carolina, check out our list of 25 Things To Do At Christmastime in Fayetteville, NC.

Know of any other places to see Santa in Wilmington, NC? Let us know in the comments to be added to the list!

GIanna

Wednesday 25th of December 2019

Hi Santa