Children’s choir performing at the Manteo Tree Lighting ceremony.

One of the best small town Christmases we have ever been to is coming up this Friday. The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting on the waterfront in Manteo is one of those celebrations that that seems perfect for the season.

Coming up this Friday it is a marvelous combination of small town spirit and tradition that is guaranteed to bring a smile to the meanest Scrooge.

There are children from local school and churches singing on the stage set up in front of the Dare County Arts Council Gallery—the beautiful 1901 brick building that was, at one time, the county courthouse. There’s some dancing and usually a reading of some Christmas themed story. 

A couple of local churches are always on hand, with Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church always on hand with a huge pot of their own Brunswick stew. It’s free…as is the hot chocolate.

Of course the big event is lighting the giant fir tree at the back of the parking lot across from the DCAC Gallery. That switch is thrown by this heavy set guy with a full red beard in a bright red suit standing on the balcony of the Arts Council.

That’s Santa, of course, and he quickly heads inside as the kids lineup to discuss gift lists and Christmas wishes.

It’s happening about a week earlier than usual this year on November 30—which means there’s plenty of time to grab some holiday spirit and hold on to it longer than usual.

And a quick note—the town of Duck Christmas celebration will be the next day, December 1. If Manteo can’t happen this year, check out what’s happening in Duck. It’s a great time with some fantastic music and when Santa comes to town he seems at his best intros particular tree lighting.