After the crowds go home, life on the Outer Banks is pretty much a village atmosphere–maybe a small town but nothing bigger than that.

Except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. And Thanksgiving is the big one when, for one glorious week in late autumn, this place explodes.

If there is such a thing as a homeowner’s week, this is it. That’s not to say that other people do not come down for the week, but homeowners really seem to take advantage of the extra long weekend, pack up the bags and bring the family plus cousins, aunts and uncles to the beach for a holiday feast.

It is remarkable how many people make coming to the Outer Banks during the Thanksgiving holiday part of a family tradition.

Needless to say, with everyone coming to visit, there is something to do almost every night of the week–something to do, of course, beyond family, friends and eating. Which, let’s face it, is why everyone likes Thanksgiving so much–the requirements are eat a lot and spend time with the people you care about most in the world.

However, this being the Outer Banks, there are a lot of things to do over and above the family things.

For runners and masochists, there are two Turkey Trots on Thanksgiving morning. One through the Village of Nags Head and the Duck Advice Turkey Trot that starts at Scarborough Lane. Both start at 8:00 a.m. If you’re looking for a competitive race, this is probably not the right place to be.

Santa is everywhere–and I’ve never understood how the fat jolly old elf could stay so hefty and make so many appearances over the holidays. There’s a breakfast with Santa on Wednesday at the Manteo Rec Center on Wednesday. He’ll be at the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station down in Rodanthe on Friday and hanging out at Kitty Hawk Kites in Nags Head on both Friday and Saturday.

Speaking of Kitty Hawk Kites, they do a “Kites with Lights” every year at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. There is no good way to describe what it looks like to see lights floating in the sky held aloft by giant kites. It starts about 3:00 in the afternoon. Dress for the weather–it’s windy on Jockey’s Ridge–which is why it’s so good for flying kites.

Of course night life comes alive as well. There’s live music in more intimate settings like Aqua Restaurant in Duck or Ocean Boulevard in Kitty Hawk. And larger venues like the Outer Banks Brewing Station and Port o’ Call. Kelly’s Outer Banks Tavern in Nags Head might be worth a look, with Tim Reynolds and TR3 playing on Saturday night. Reynolds regularly tours and performs with Dave Matthews Band. A once in a lifetime musician. Expect a fusion combination of hard rock and jazz.

  1. And then, the weekend is over, things slow down a bit, and the lucky ones that live here are reminded of what small town America is really like.