9 Holiday Movies Filmed in North Carolina You Don’t Want to Miss

9 Holiday Movies Filmed in North Carolina You Don’t Want to Miss

By Emily Krauser

December 9, 2022

Bring on the fake snow and Santa suits—these Hallmark Channel and company classics were all filmed in the Tar Heel State.

Canada may be where most holiday flicks film (hello, Vancouver!), but North Carolina has also been home to a few TV movie winter wonderlands.

It should come as little surprise that despite its beach location, the majority of the holiday movies filmed in North Carolina were shot in Wilmington. While the white Christmases had to be manufactured, that doesn’t mean towns like “Wilmywood,” Charlotte, and Gastonia weren’t full of cheer while these festive flicks transformed local downtowns into snowy landscapes. Many were shot in the middle of summer, making for true Christmases in July (and August) when Hallmark came to town.

Which of your favorite holly jolly movies were filmed in the Tar Heel State? Read through the list below to find out. 

Christmas in Harmony (2021)

This film isn’t set in a town called Harmony but features a lead by that name—a twist!—played by Riverdale’s Ashleigh Murray.

In this Hallmark Channel movie, Harmony returns to her hometown for Christmas and is tricked into joining a holiday chorus directed by her ex-boyfriend, Kyle (Luke James). The official description teases that “by Christmas Eve, they could be harmonizing in the key of love.” Former Destiny’s Child singer Michelle Williams, Loretta Devine, and Basil Williams also star in the film.

Filming locations around Wilmington included Front Street, St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church, and a Forest Hills home. The movie was filmed over the summer, so fake snow had to be carted into town on a hot August day (not that Wilmington gets much real snow in the winter!), but locals didn’t seem to mind seeing downtown decked out in merry cheer months before Christmas rolled around.

Christmas at the Grey Horse Inn (2021)

Country inns are popular holiday movie tropes, and this film leans into that legacy. In Christmas at the Grey Horse Inn, Atlanta-based romance novelist Charlotte Quinn (Kate Dailey) escapes to North Carolina to take care of the estate she inherited from her aunt, which includes an inn and two horses that she, naturally, needs to save, lest they be sold to pay taxes.

The movie was filmed in part in Tryon, including on Trade Street and at the Nest Artisan Market, and allowed for the town to have two Christmas parades in 2020. The movie also has a connection to England, as the featured horses, Cappa Cinder and Cappa Ash, are blood relatives of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s mares.

USS Christmas (2020)


USS Christmas revolves around Maddie (Jen Lilley), a Norfolk, Virginia-based newspaper reporter who falls for a naval officer (Trevor Donovan) while aboard a Tiger Cruise, where she discovers a mystery in the archive room.

Filming took place at quite a few downtown Wilmington spots, including the Battleship North Carolina, StarNews newsroom, Riverwalk, Wilmington Railroad Museum, Caprice Bistro, and the Hannah Block Historic USO/Community Arts Center.

Despite the many locations used in Port City, the cast and crew didn’t stay in town too long. Shot in September 2020, this Hallmark movie premiered a mere two months later. 

A Nashville Christmas Carol (2020)

While parts were filmed in the titular Tennessee country music capital, much of A Nashville Christmas Carol was filmed at properties across the Charlotte area.

A spin on the classic Charles Dickens tale, the Hallmark Channel movie features Jessy Schram as Vivienne, an overworked TV producer visited by her late mentor, Gavin Chase (Wes Brown), who comes down from the spirit realm to warn her that she’s on a path of darkness. The Spirit of Christmas Past comes to life with the help of legendary country singer Kix Brooks, and the Spirit of Christmas Present is played by Kimberly Williams-Paisley.

As is only appropriate for a movie set in Nashville, other country crooners making appearances include Wynonna Judd, Sara Evans, and RaeLynn.

Why did some scenes get filmed in North Carolina? Tax rebates, of course! Along with USS Christmas, A Nashville Christmas Carol was one of the first movies to shoot in North Carolina after the state reopened following the initial industry-wide COVID-19 shutdown, according to Variety

A Christmas Love Story (2019)


Set in New York but filmed in North Carolina, A Christmas Love Story is centered on Katherine (Kristin Chenoweth), a former Broadway star-turned-youth choir director tasked with writing a big song for her students’ annual Christmas Eve show after the composer writing the big finale exits and a main vocalist gets sick. Enter Danny, a volunteer stagehand with a fantastic voice whom Katherine implores to join the choir, but his father, Greg (Scott Wolf), only wants his son to focus on college applications.

But will Katherine and Greg fall in love? We won’t give anything away, but this is a Hallmark Hall of Fame holiday movie

While the majority of the films on this list were filmed in Wilmington, A Christmas Love Story wwassa shot in Charlotte, Gastonia, and Monroe. In Gastonia around Valentine’s Day 2019, the film used the Standard Hardware building and the front of City Hall as sets.

Christmas in Conway (2013)

In this ABC’s Hallmark Hall of Fame film, Andy Garcia plays Duncan Mayor, a husband determined to give his dying wife, Suzy (Mary-Louise Parker) an ambitious Christmas gift before she passes away: a ferris wheel in their backyard.

Also starring Mandy Moore, Christmas in Conway was filmed in Wilmington despite being set just one state over in South Carolina. The ferris wheel in question was built in the backyard of a home in the stately Forest Hills neighborhood, and Greenfield Park also makes an appearance.

Iron Man 3 (2013)

We’re aware that the inclusion of this Marvel superhero flick falls into the “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie” debate realm, but this movie was set during the holiday season. Can Tony Stark save the world on any day? Well, sure, but with Christmas to contend with, we’re blessed with a ghost from holiday past, snow falling, and “Jingle Balls.”

Marvel films usually have a monopoly on Georgia filming locations, but Iron Man 3 was filmed all-over the United States and China. Wilmington locations were used for a number of scenes, with filming taking place at EUE/Screen Gems Studios, the Port of Wilmington, the Wilmington International Airport, the Cape Fear Club, and the Cape Fear River. Other North Carolina towns used were Raleigh, Oak Island, Rose Hill, and Kenansville. 

A Different Kind of Christmas (1996)

This Lifetime movie features Shelley Long as Elizabeth Gates, a woman running for the mayor of Greendale, but she’s got one big problem to contend with: her father, Frank, not only believes he’s Santa Claus, he’s set up a year-round Christmas wonderland at his home.

One of the filming locations was the Wilmington Courthouse, and on a 2008 episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories, Long claimed she experienced a haunting in the building. 

One Christmas (1994)

This NBC TV movie, based on an autobiographical short story written by Truman Capote, is notable for being the final film of Katharine Hepburn’s career.
Hepburn plays Cornelia Beaumont, a 1930s New Orleans socialite, in this movie about an 8-year-old boy from Alabama who’s stuck visiting his estranged, swindler father at Christmastime. The film stars Henry Winkler as Dad, as well as Swoosie Kurtz and Pat Hingle (a Wilmington resident at the time of filming).

Much of the filming occurred in historical private residences in Wilmington, but one location Christmas movie lovers can visit is the Bellamy Mansion. Built in 1861 for a prominent local family, the former residence is now a museum of history and design.


Though both movies are set in North Carolina, 2019’s Christmas Unleashed, starring Vanessa Lachey, was filmed in British Columbia, while 2021’s Christmas in My Heart was shot in Quebec. Go figure!

And though they weren’t Christmas movies, two of the most famous teen dramas to film in Wilmington both had holiday specials. A 2006 episode of One Tree Hill gave Lucas (Chad Michael Murray), who was recovering from a heart attack in season four, a chance to see what the world would be like without him in an It’s a Wonderful Life sendup. Four years earlier, Dawson (James Van Der Beek) and Joey (Katie Holmes) returned to their Massachusetts hometown for a Dawson’s Creek season six holiday gathering.


READ MORE: Quiz: What Does Your Favorite Holiday Dish Say About You?




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