The 2023 ILDA Beach Conference will be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Oceanfront in North Carolina, September 17-20. The host is Michael Meyer of Emerald Owl Productions, Inc.
Atlantic Beach NC, 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.
The highlight of this Conference is expected to be a public outdoor laser show from the pier just outside our hotel. This beach show will feature ILDA Award winners and entrants. ILDA Conference attendees have a Welcome Dinner on the beach, prior to the laser show scheduled for Sunday, September 17.
We have applied for, and hope 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 Hotel Oceanfront has a pool, private pier, and of course meeting rooms.
We expect — but cannot guarantee — clear, rainless, warm days that should be perfect for outdoor activities.
The average air temperature for Sept. 17-20 is high around 83°F (28.3°C) and low around 67°F (19.4°C). The average sea water temperature is around 80°F (26.7°C), which is perfect for swimming.
We do not yet have pricing for the ILDA Beach Conference registration. Of course, we are trying to keep it as low as possible. Registration includes the main ILDA events, as well as two lunches and three dinners. Optional extras are the laser safety courses, and some deluxe cultural tour events such as a fishing charter.
Pricing for the hotel is expected to be around $170 per night. While this is somewhat higher than previous ILDA Conferences, note that hotel rates — like so many other things — have risen since the COVID pandemic.
This page will be updated when we have the final ILDA registration and hotel reservation information.
• Sun, Sept. 17: ILDA Laser Safety Officer Course (optional extra), Conference registration, Welcome Reception and Dinner, outdoor public laser show on the beach (from the hotel's pier) featuring ILDA Award winners and entries.
• Mon, Sept. 18: ILDA General Business Meeting and Advanced Technology Workshop. NEW: Business and Marketing Seminar. In the evening, either the rain date of the beach laser show or an informal Lase-Off.
• Tue, Sept. 19: Seminars on the ILDA Digital Network, Awards and Art. The ILDA Awards Banquet and Presentation takes place in the evening.
• Wed, Sept 20: Cultural Day. Activities can include a bus trip to see wild horses and the Cape Lookout lighthouse, fishing or other watersports, and golf. At the hotel, courses on Audience Scanning and for Laser Operators (optional extra).
Click for full-size preliminary schedule. Events subject to change.
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. 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) and then drive, but the drive will be long — 3 hours and 4 hours, respectively.
We are working to arrange a special ILDA shuttle service from and to the EWN and OAJ airports. This is partially dependent on grant funding, which we will find out about sometime in April. We will let you know if there is low-cost or no-cost shuttle service, and at what dates and times.
In the meantime, it is a bit difficult to get from EWN and OAJ to the hotel. There are no shuttles or transportation. You could rent a car, take an Uber or Lyft, or take a taxi. Hopefully we will get our grant and be able to offer an ILDA-specific shuttle service.
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.
Coastal Carolina Regional Airport (EWN), New Bern, NC
37 miles / 60 km to our hotel in Atlantic Beach, NC
As of March 2023, this airport has three flights per day by American Airlines from its Charlotte-Douglas (CLT) hub. Flight availability may vary seasonally.
Note that this is NOT EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) located in New Jersey which is 550 miles away! So be sure you are booked into EWN, not EWR.
Albert J. Ellis Airport (OAJ), Richland/Jacksonville, NC
55 miles / 89 km to our hotel in Atlantic Beach, NC
As of March 2023, this airport has three flights per day by American Airlines from its Charlotte-Douglas (CLT) hub, and one Delta flight daily from Atlanta. Flight availability may vary seasonally. The airport's website has a potentially useful calculator comparing costs with OAJ, Raleigh (RDU) and Wilmington (ILM).
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
As of March 2023, this airport is served by American, Delta, United and Avelo from various cities including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago O'Hare, Dallas Ft. Worth, New York LaGuardia, Newark, Philadelphia, and Washington Reagan National. 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. Flight availability will vary seasonally.
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. 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 March 10 2023 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.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, laser equipment will be set up on the pier and we will do an outdoor laser show, viewable by the public (and of course Conference attendees) from the beach.
Every hotel 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, Sept. 20. 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 Sept. 20.
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.
Crystal Coast brochure
You can download a 36-page Visitor's Guide brochure from the Crystal Coast Tourism and Development Authority.
It has an overview of the cities and attractions in the area.
You can also visit the Crystal Coast website for up-to-date lists of dining, attractions and events.
For more information, visit our other ILDA websites:
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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.