This Where To See Santa In Wilmington, NC list is updated for 2022.
For more holiday help, check out our 25 Christmas Things To Do In Wilmington, NC (Updated 2022!) post too.
This year, we’re doing all the Christmas things in Wilmington. We haven’t been able to in the past, just because of how Thanksgiving fell, so this year, we’re doing it all.
Which means a lot of bumping into Santa. He’s around Wilmington a lot.
You’ll be able to see him at parades, tree lightings, 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.
Planning a trip to the Port City? Get help with our 24 Hours In Wilmington, NC post.
Where To Print Photos With Santa
Affiliate links are included in this post and Drugstore Divas may make a small commission if you use them.
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.
Prints start at 17 cents.
89% off (no coupon needed) when you shop here.
Get 20% off everything, and 30% off photo cards, when you join Minted More.
Up to 50% off almost everything during the Black Friday sale (no code needed).
70% off everything photo with the code CYBER70 through November 28.
50% off everything photo with the code EVERY50 through November 26.
Prints as low as 12 cents every day.
Where To See Santa In Wilmington, NC
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.
Address: 321 N. Front Street
Details: Santa is back at The Cotton Exchange this year.
Santa will arrive on Friday, November 25 at 11 am and you can hang out and watch him arrive.
His hours at The Cotton Exchange will be as follows:
Friday November 25: 11 am to 4 pm
Saturday, November 26: Noon to 4 pm
Sunday, November 27: 1 pm to 4 pm
Saturdays and Sundays (December 3 to 18): Noon to 4pm on Saturday; 1 pm to 4 pm on Sunday
Christmas Week (Monday, December 29 to Friday, December 23): Noon to 4 pm
Downtown Wilmington Tree Lighting
Address: Riverfront Park (Water Street and Market Street)
Date: Friday, November 26
There will be live entertainment by the Wilmington Sax Quartet that starts at 5:30 pm, plus vendor tents. 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 11
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 is usually 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.
More details here.
Address: Market Street, between Water and Front Streets
Hours: December 16 and 17, 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.
Address: 3500 Oleander Drive
Dates: November 26 until December 24
Specific times are available to book online and vary by day and availability.
Additional hours are set aside for (as Santa’s website says) “children within all spectrums of special needs.” That’s Sunday, December 4 from 9 am to 10 am. Reservations are required as well.
Details: Santa is located in the center of the mall, near Belk. Reservations are encouraged, and you can make them here.
Independence Mall (photos with Santa – for pets)
Address: 3500 Oleander Drive
Dates: Monday, November 28 and Monday, December 5 from 4 pm to 7 pm.
Details: In the past, any pet on a leash was able to attend. A couple years ago, it was only cats and dogs. This year, the website says “your pets” although it also says everyone is welcome, even without pets.
Reservations are encouraged, and you can make them here.
Live Oak Bank Pavilion
Santa will be at the tree lighting at Live Oak Bank Pavilion on December 3. The tree lighting is exactly at 6 pm and Santa will be visiting from 6:05 pm to 7:15 pm. It’s free to meet and take photos with Santa at this event.
This replaces the previous Wilmington tree lighting that was held at Greenfield Lake annually.
Address: L135 – 865 Inspiration Dr.
Hours: December 1 until December 24
Santa will be available Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm and Sunday from noon to 6 pm. On Christmas Eve, Santa will be around from 10 am to 1 pm then 2 pm to 4 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.
Santa will also be at his workshop with “one of his very special friends” on Wednesday nights (December 7, 14, and 21 from 5 to 7 pm). This is a sponsored event by two local businesses, so I think it’s completely free for the public.
Poplar Grove Plantation
Address: 10200 US Highway 17
Dates: November 25 and 26, then December 1 to 3, 8 to 10, 15 to 17, 21 to 23, and 28 to 30 from 5 pm to 9 pm
Details: Santa is part of the All Is Bright event, which includes food trucks, drinks for sale, a letter writing station for the USO, and, of course, Santa.
Tickets are $10 for adults (16+) and $5 for kids. You can purchase a family package (2 adults and 2 kids) for $25.
Address: 3316, 505 Nutt St # 6
Dates: November 26 and 27, December 10 and 11 and 17 and 18 at 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm.
Details: $5 a person and reservations are required. As far as we know, Santa is at these events.
For more, read our full Wilmington Railroad Museum review.
Address: 3316, 505 Nutt St # 6
Dates: November 25 and 26, December 9 and 10, 16 and 17 and 23 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm
Details: $5 a person and reservations are not required. Santa will be at each event.
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.
Cookies with Santa
Cookies with Santa is being held on Tuesday, December 6 at the Leland Cultural Arts Center (1212 Magnolia Village Way) from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. It is for children less than 12.
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, the Grand Illumination, 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.
It’s happening on Saturday, December 3 at 6 pm to 8 pm. Santa will be at the Grand Illumination but only an animatronic Santa will be at the event after.
Find out more in our Leland In Lights review.
More Christmas events in the South:
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 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.
Christmas things to do in Myrtle Beach, SC
Tree lightings, a double decker bus playing The Polar Express, and tons of opportunities to see Santa are just some of the fun things to do to get ready for Christmas in Myrtle Beach.
Find all the Christmas things to do in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Christmas Things To Do In Charleston, SC
Holiday shopping at local holiday markets and checking out the Christmas village at the botanical garden are just a few of the holiday events in Charleston, SC this time of year.
Find the rest in our Christmas things to do in Charleston, SC post.
Know of any other places to see Santa in Wilmington, NC? Let us know in the comments to be added to the list!