Header photo by Emerald Owl Productions
The 2021 ILDA Conference will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oceanfront Hotel in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, October 3-6. The host is Michael Meyer of Emerald Owl Productions, Inc.
The exciting highlight of this Conference is a public outdoor laser show on the beach in Emerald Isle, NC. This features ILDA Award winners and entrants. ILDA Conference attendees will have our Welcome Dinner on the beach, prior to the laser show. It takes place Sunday evening, Oct. 3.
We are pleased to have sponsorship from the Crystal Coast Tourism Development Authority. The CCTDA website gives an excellent overview of the area, including things to do and see.
We will meet in Atlantic Beach, in the middle of an 85-mile stretch of beaches known as the Southern Outer Banks. The DoubleTree by Hilton oceanfront hotel has a pool, private pier, and of course meeting rooms.
The average temperature for Oct. 3-6 is a high around 76°F (24.4°C) and a low around 65°F (18.3°C). We expect — but cannot guarantee — clear, rainless, warm days that should be perfect for outdoor activities.
As of mid-April 2021, we have not set pricing for ILDA Conference registration. Nor do we have hotel reservation codes and details. We will update this page and will notify Members via email when this information is ready.
• Sat, Oct 2: ILDA Laser Operator Class, ILDA Advanced Audience Scanning Class (both optional extras).
• Sun, Oct 3: Golf outing organized by Tim Walsh. ILDA LSO course (optional) and user group meetings. Luncheon meeting for ILDA Board. In the evening we will meet or be bussed to Emerald Isle, NC for dinner on the beach, followed by a large-scale, public laser spectacular featuring ILDA Award winners and entries.
• Mon, Oct 4: ILDA General Business Meeting and Advanced Technology Workshop. In the evening, the Lase-Off & Laser Jockey competition.
• Tue, Oct 5: Seminars on the ILDA Digital Network, Awards and Art. In the afternoon is a private screening of the 2019 documentary on Laserium®. This is one of the only chances to see it, since the documentary is not publicly available at this time. The ILDA Awards Presentation and Dinner takes place in the evening.
• Wed, Oct 6: Cultural Day. Activities can include a bus trip to see wild horses and the Cape Lookout lighthouse, fishing or other watersports, and golf.
The videos below give you a quick overview of what an in-person ILDA Conference is like. The first one, from Christopher Short, shows lasers during the 2018 Lase-Off in Montréal, hosted by LaserTech Canada.
The second video shows meetings and seminars in the day, and the Lase-Off and the ILDA Awards in the evenings. Thanks to KVANT, host of the 2017 ILDA Conference, for producing the video.
Below are the three closest airports to our hotel in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina, and to the Sunday evening beach laser show. For most attendees, it will be easiest to fly into a major hub such as Charlotte, NC or Atlanta, GA, and then take a smaller plane to either EWN or OAJ.
You could also fly into Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) or Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI), but the drive will be long — 3 hours and 4 hours, respectively.
FLIGHT SCHEDULES VARY
For all three airports, flight schedules vary depending on the season. There are more flights in summer, fewer in winter. When looking at flights be sure you have availability both arriving and departing.
For example, at Wilmington International Airport, the last day of American Airlines' nonstop service to Chicago O'Hare is October 6. This is also the last day (Cultural Tour day) of the ILDA Conference events. Anyone who came via O'Hare, and wanted to leave Oct. 7 or later would have to find a different route when returning.
Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN), New Bern, NC
37 miles / 60 km to our hotel in Atlantic Beach, NC
40 miles / 64 km to the Sunday evening October 3 laser show at Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier in Emerald Isle, NC
As of April 2021, this airport is served by American Airlines from its Charlotte-Douglas (CLT) hub, with five flights a day. Flight availability may vary seasonally.
Albert J. Ellis Airport (OAJ), Richland/Jacksonville, NC
55 miles / 89 km to our hotel in Atlantic Beach, NC
41 miles / 66 km to the Sunday evening October 3 laser show at Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier in Emerald Isle, NC
As of April 2021, this airport is served by American from Charlotte (CLT) and by Delta from its Atlanta hub, with five flights a day. Flight availability may vary seasonally.
Note that this is NOT Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) located in Florida which is 500 miles away! So be sure you are booked into OAJ, not JAX.
Wilmington International Airport (ILM), Wilmington, NC
93 miles / 150 km to our hotel in Atlantic Beach, NC
78 miles / 113 km to the Sunday evening October 3 laser show at Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier in Emerald Isle, NC
As of April 2021, this airport is served by American, Delta and United from various cities including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Ft. Worth, New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington Reagan National and Washington Dulles. Although there are many more direct flights, the airport is also roughly twice as far from our hotel and beach laser show, compared to EWN or OAJ. We recommend EWN or OAJ if at all possible.
Note that this is NOT Wilmington Airport (ILG) located in Delaware which is 470 miles away! So be sure you are booked into ILM, not ILG.
ILDA hopes to arrange airport transportation from EWN and OAJ during arrival times before, and departure times after the Conference. This will run to the hotel, and also to and from the beach laser show on Sunday evening, October 3 in Emerald Isle, NC. We will not have ILDA-arranged transportation from ILM.
Instead of using ILDA's transportation, you may want to consider renting a car. This will give you more flexibility, especially if you want to do some local activities on your own like fishing or golf. Overseas visitors should be aware that U.S. cities do not usually have adequate public transportation.
NOTE: As of mid-April 2021 the hotel reservation rates and codes are not set. We will update this page and will notify Members via email when this information is ready.
The official ILDA Conference hotel is the DoubleTree by Hilton Atlantic Beach (NC) Oceanfront. It offers direct beach access, a pier, and a beachfront bar/restaurant. There is an indoor pool as well as an outdoor pool with whirlpool, and a fitness room
The 300-foot (91m) private pier is for hotel guests only. You may be able to watch dolphins swim by. Also from the pier, you can see the sun rise in the morning AND the sun set in the evening — one of the few spots on the U.S. East Coast where this is possible.
Every guest room has a balcony and ocean views. Standard rooms have a work area, mini-fridge, HDTV and free WiFi. You can upgrade to a suite and get a spacious separate lounge area. Parking is complementary if you're coming via rental car.
The hotel's main restaurant, Prime 1079 has indoor and outdoor dining. (For ILDA Conference attendees, meals are included. Some will take place in the meeting rooms or ballrooms.)
Molly's is the outdoor bar and restaurant where you can get drinks, snacks and meals by the pool, beach and pier.
At most ILDA Conferences, we spend the last day on a Cultural Tour. This gives a flavor of the local area, and lets Conference attendees do a fun "together" activity. We have not yet planned our specific tour for Wednesday, October 6. But we expect to include a bus and boat tour to see the famed Cape Lookout lighthouse, and the wild horses on Shackleford Banks.
Attendees can also take advantage of attractions and activities in the area. The ILDA hotel low rates will be available for a few days beyond the last Conference day on October 6.
You can also come in early for the North Carolina Seafood Festival in Morehead, the largest festival in the state. It takes place Fri-Sun October 1-3 in Morehead City, which is 6 miles / 10 km from our ILDA hotel. Note that due to the festival's popularity, ILDA's hotel will be charging higher rates prior to our discounted rates starting the afternoon of October 3.
The Crystal Coast is located along North Carolina’s central shore. It is a 90-minute drive from Interstate 95, approximately two hours from Raleigh, NC and approximately five hours from Richmond, VA.
Crystal Coast beaches offer 85 miles of sandy shores, perfect for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and wreck diving (U-boat submarine shown above), kayaking and paddleboarding, jetskiing … and some of the best inshore and offshore fishing offered anywhere.
Atlantic Beach, where ILDA's hotel is located, has been named “Best Spring Break” by Outside Magazine and one of "21 Best Beaches" by Coastal Living Magazine.
Ten miles (16 km) away from ILDA's hotel, Beaufort is North Carolina's third oldest town, dating to the 1700s. It has been named “America’s Favorite Town” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel Magazine and the “Best Yachting Town” by Yachting Magazine.
Six miles (10 km) from our hotel, Morehead City was named in the top ten “Best Fishing Towns in America” by www.worldfishingnetwork.com. It is also the site of the October 1-3 North Carolina Seafood Festival — the largest North Carolina festival.
Cape Lookout National Seashore is home to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse where visitors can climb to the top for the most breathtaking view east of the Mississippi.
Wild horses, descendants of Spanish mustangs, swam ashore when their ships wrecked on the shoals of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.”
These waters are home to the “Best Wreck Diving” along the East Coast, according to Scuba Diving Magazine. There are near perfect conditions and crystal-clear water with the average temperature hovering around 80° F and more than 100 feet of visibility. Guided dives, equipment rentals, nitrox fills and training are available through several local, professional dive shops.
Beaufort Historic Site
The salty-sweet smells of an ancient maritime heritage wafting in from the Atlantic permeate the painstakingly preserved Federal Period buildings at the Beaufort Historic Site. Personal guided tours showcase the collection of 10 historic buildings, including a jail, courthouse, apothecary and doctor’s office as well as three homes, all dating back to the 1700s and 1800s. In addition to the guided walking tours, explorations of the Historic District are available aboard a vintage 1948 English double-decker bus. Stroll the docks and watch glorious sunsets.
Cape Lookout National Seashore
A 56-mile strand of silken beaches makes up the coastal islands of eastern North Carolina, one of the few remaining natural barrier island chains in the world, accessible only by boat. History comes alive at the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters built in the mid-1800s to warn passing ships of the dangerous coastal waters. Standing at 163 feet tall, the lighthouse was painted with a distinctive black and white diamond pattern in order to distinguish it from other North Carolina lighthouses and is open to visitors to climb during the summer.
North Carolina Maritime Museum
A haven for the unconventional history of the Crystal Coast, the museum is the official repository for all of the artifacts discovered on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship captained by the infamous pirate, Blackbeard. Learn more about this historic underwater excavation just off the Beaufort coastline and view cannons, grenades, belt buckles and more from the storied ship. The museum is also home to an interesting contraption known as the “Life Car,” a mini submarine used to rescue mariners stranded at sea.
Morehead City, and the North Carolina Seafood Festival (just before ILDA)
The largest town on the Crystal Coast, Morehead City has a vibrant waterfront with fishing charter boats that unload their catches every afternoon. Charming shops and restaurants feature views overlooking the water and Sugarloaf Island. On October 1, 2 and 3 -- just before the ILDA Conference -- Morehead City presents the most popular festival in North Carolina. During the North Carolina Seafood Festival, vendors line the waterfront with all types of seafood and arts and crafts. Morehead City is just 6 miles / 10 km by car from our ILDA hotel.
Shackleford Banks wild horses
For more than 400 years the wild horses of Shackleford Banks have taken care of their young, frolicked on pristine deserted beaches and foraged for food with not a saddle or fence in sight. Scientists, historians and nature lovers alike have speculated on the origins of the Shackleford horses, or “Banker ponies” – the most popular theory being that the horses swam ashore after a Spanish ship exploring the New World met with a tragic fate off of North Carolina’s shores. Visitors make their way to the island on one of the ferries running from Harkers Island and Beaufort.
You may ship material to the hotel directly. They accept shipments up to 5 days prior to the event (e.g., starting Nov. 4) but they strongly recommend shipping 2 days prior to the event (e.g., starting Nov. 7) due to limited storage space.
Shipping label (Word .doc format)
Delivery instructions (Word .docx format)
Delivery diagram/map (PDF)
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"Washington Crossing the Delaware" painting by Emanuel Leutze, 1851, collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Water Symphony" photograph background by Visual Sensation, 2019.