The Can’t Miss Seacoast Holiday Events of 2017


Seacoast Holiday Events

November 18 – December 3

The Sea Festival of Trees (Salisbury, MA | times vary) :: The Fourth Annual Sea Festival of Trees is a 15-day holiday wonderland by the sea, located at the Blue Ocean Event Center on Salisbury Beach. Presented by The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank. Get ready for a giant maze of sparkling holiday trees, designer wreaths, holiday stage performances, Seaside Ice rink and skate rentals, visits with Santa and other fun characters, our Giant Gingerbread Beach Castle display, North Pole Gift and Sweet shop, and Festival Café. All the trees are generously donated by local individuals, businesses, and organizations and are beautifully decorated for your enjoyment. All the trees will be raffled off to lucky winners, and the festival proceeds support Anna Jaques Hospital and the Salisbury Beach Partnership.

November 23, Thanksgiving

Seacoast Rotary 5K Turkey Trot (Portsmouth | 8:30 a.m.) :: Before you gobble your turkey dinner – get some exercise! Join the family friendly 5K race on Thanksgiving morning. The Seacoast Rotary Annual 5K Turkey Trot is held each year on Thanksgiving morning at 8:30 a.m. Families, friends, runners, walkers and costumes welcome! Dogs not allowed. Strollers must begin race at the back of the line. The race starts at Peirce Island at 8:30 a.m. sharp and finishes at Strawbery Banke.

November 24, 25, 26

Christmas Tree Spree (Candia | 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) :: Choose the perfect tree, explore the farm, enjoy roasting smores and a hot chocolate bar, take a tractor ride to see a real reindeer, and take a pony ride all at Charmingfare Farm.

November 24 – December 31

ZooLights (Stoneham, MA | times vary) :: There’s so much festive fun to be had at the Stone Zoo! Meet reindeer, Santa himself and stroll the beautifully lit zoo. Check the website for special events including concerts and storytimes. Cost is $10 per adult, $9 seniors and $8 children (under 2 free). 

November 25

Lighting of the Nubble Lighthouse (York, ME | 4:30 – 7 p.m.) ::  Festivities begin at 4:30 p.m. with seasonal carols played by Fox and Fern and Santa on a YBFD ladder truck at 6:00pm followed immediately with the island lights turning on. Complimentary cookies and hot chocolate for all. Shuttles running from Ellis Park at Short Sands Beach from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Please plan to come up early.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Manchester | 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.) :: It’s not the holidays without the yuletide prog rock of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Manchester’s arena offers you two chances to see the group’s unforgettable spectacle, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve”: a show at 3:00 p.m. and a show at 8 p.m.

Holiday Artisan Market at Rolling Green Nursery (Greenland | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.) :: Curated by Robinswood Designs, this holiday faire features local artisans and craftpersons. Not to be missed, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your Nice List!

November 25, 26

Cider Hill Holiday Open House (Amesbury, MA | 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) :: Join Cider Hill Farm for their first ever Holiday Open House. There will be storytime with Mrs. Claus at 10 a.m. (free), gingerbread decorating from 11-3 p.m. and plenty of treats and goods for sale! 

Holiday Pops (Derry | times vary) :: Mark your calendars and join the Stockbridge Theatre for this crowd-pleasing event. Start a family tradition with the NH Philharmonics Holiday Pops and members of the Pinkerton Chorale singing their favorite holiday selections. Get into the holiday spirit by joining conductor Mark Latham and the orchestra as they sing all-time favorites! The two performances will be on Saturday evening (7:30 p.m.) and Sunday afternoon (2:30 p.m.).

November 30 – December 3rd

Exeter’s Ring in the Season (Exeter | times vary) :: Exeter’s 4-day holiday celebration has something for everyone. Highlights include a visit with Santa, the lighting of the town, Festival of Trees, Exeter Holiday Parade, bonfire, Holiday Trolley, Holiday Concert, Holiday house tour, caroling, pooch parade and more. Check the website for the full schedule of events, there are so many!

December 1

Dover’s Festival of Trees (Dover | 4 – 8 p.m.) :: Come to Dover’s Festival of Trees featuring more than 30 trees elaborately decorated by local businesses and organizations, to be auctioned and raffled off to benefit the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce City Lights Committee. The event also includes live choir performances, children’s activities, holiday carols, refreshments and more!

The Polar Express Viewing (Portsmouth | 5:30 – 9 p.m.) :: Great Bay Community Colleges shows The Polar Express!  Coloring and hot cocoa start at 5:30 p.m. and the movie begins at 6:15 p.m.  The  event is being held in the gymnasium at the Portsmouth location, 320 Corporate Dr.

Holiday Disco Ball (Portsmouth | 7 – 11:55 p.m.) :: Grab your platform shoes, your best polyester or velour, your afro wig and jam to the funk-a-licious sounds of Motor Booty Affair, the area’s most righteous Disco Tribute Band!! Holiday season you say? Radical! Wear your best red or green – and plan to do a little shopping at our silent auction tables! Proceeds from all this fun support Community Toolbox’s Fix It Program, helping our neighbors in need throughout the Seacoast.

December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23 & 24

Lighted Winter Wonderland (Candia | times vary) :: Experience the magic when you visit Charmingfare Farm this season. This experience includes horse-drawn rides, lights, holiday displays, nativity with animals, costumed characters, petting zoos, and Santa and reindeer! You can even purchase your Christmas tree!

December 1 – 23

A Christmas Carol (Manchester | times vary) :: Dickens’ classic tale takes center stage in this Palace Theatre tradition. Enjoy professional acting (starring Charles Shaughnessy from The Nanny), live orchestra accompaniment and a lively performance that even the Scrooge in your family is bound to love.

December 1 – 25

Norton Christmas Lights Display (Wells, ME | 5 – 9 p.m.) :: Drive to Wells for this fantastic lights display! Watch the show from the coziness of your car while tuning your radio to 88.9 FM. Bring a monetary donation for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine!

Luke’s Lights Christmas Display (Dover | 4:30 – 8 p.m.) :: Started in 2010 by the Dobson family, the tradition of offering a free light show while raising food donations for St. Joseph’s Pantry continues. Last year, this amazing endeavor collected 2500 lbs. of non-perishable food items! 

December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 & 17

Candlelight Stroll ‘Vintage Christmas’ (Portsmouth | Saturdays, 5 – 9 p.m.; Sundays, 4 – 8 p.m.) :: Candlelight Stroll, an annual holiday tradition at Strawbery Banke since 1979 showcases 350 years of seasonal and holiday traditions against the backdrop of the Museum’s furnished historic houses. On these weekend evenings, the Museum grounds glow with hundreds of lighted candle lanterns, the houses are adorned with thousands of hand-made decorations crafted from live greens and dried flowers and herbs collected from the Museum gardens, and the air is filled with the sound of holiday music and scent of woodsmoke from the bonfire. Its authenticity is the foundation for the claim that the Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth holiday celebration, echoed by Travel + Leisure magazine, makes Portsmouth ‘the Christmas capital of North America.’

December 2

Portsmouth Illuminated Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting & Food Drive (Portsmouth | 5 p.m.) :: Enjoy the spirit of Christmas in downtown Portsmouth beginning with holiday music at 5 p.m. Catch the lighting of the Christmas Tree at 5:30 p.m., followed by the parade at 6 p.m. In this season of giving, student volunteers pushing grocery carts will march along with the parade collecting food donations for local food pantries. The parade heads out from the 800 Plaza on Islington Street at 6 p.m. It marches straight down Islington onto Congress and into Market Square. The parade proceeds onto Pleasant Street and continues down Junkins Avenue to South Mill Pond.

Exeter Holiday Parade (Exeter | 5:30 p.m.) :: This year’s theme is Six Decades of Hometown Holidays!

December 2, 3 & 10

The Nutcracker (Durham & Wolfeboro | times vary) :: Experience the magic that is New Hampshire’s premier professional ballet company’s The Nutcracker! Join Clara and her Nutcracker on their journey through the land of the sweets! Why travel all the way to Boston and pay high prices when you can see a more exciting version of The Nutcracker in either the Seacoast or Lakes Region of New Hampshire? Shows at Oyster River high School in Durham, and December 10 at 2pm at the Kingswood Arts Center in Wolfeboro.

December 2 & 9

Jingle Bell Express (Dover | times vary) :: Join us for a magical wintry journey on C&J’s double decker bus to the Cocheco Country Club to hear a reading of the classic children’s holiday story, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.Enjoy refreshments, receive a keepsake gift and a visit from a very special guest. Pajamas are welcome! Ticket price includes a keepsake family photo, time to explore the Children’s Museum and a make-and-take holiday craft. Reserve your seat early. Space is limited! Cost is $25 per person and children ages two and under are free (must sit on parents’ lap during the journey.)

December 3

2017 Exeter Area House Tour (Exeter | 1 – 5 p.m.) :: Come join for a festive afternoon featuring five beautifully decorated homes. You will be wowed and inspired. Top off your afternoon by soaking in all that Exeter has to offer. Shopping, dining and merriment awaits you!

December 4

Festival of Trees (Exeter | 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.) :: What began in 1998 as a modest display of 15 trees has grown to become a yuletide extravaganza that has raised over $250,000 for the Chamber Children’s Fund. It is a celebration of what can happen when people work together for a greater good. Local businesses, organizations and individuals beautifully decorate 52 live trees for thousands to view during the “Holiday Open House.” On the night of the event, all the trees are auctioned off with the goal of raising over $25,000 to pass along to the Chamber Children’s Fund. 

December 8, 10

Portsmouth Pro Musica Holiday Concert (Portsmouth | times vary) :: Portsmouth Pro Musica will present two holiday concerts on the Seacoast during the second weekend of December. Poulenc’s ‘Gloria’ will feature soprano Maria Ferrante, the Portsmouth Pro Musica chorus, and accompaniment with organ and tympani. The first concert will be held on Friday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church, 25 Third Street in Dover, and the second performance will take place on Sunday, December 10 at 3 p.m. at North Church 2 Congress Street in Portsmouth. Advance tickets for both concerts are priced at $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors/students. Tickets will also be available at the door for $15 general admission and $12 seniors/students. 

December 9

Bluegrass Christmas Concert (Brentwood | 7:30 – 10 p.m.) :: The 2017  “Christmas in NH” concert tour continues at the Pilgrim United Church of Christ. This one-of-a-kind Christmas show features traditional, contemporary, and original Christmas music performed with acoustic instruments and vocals.

Lights on the Hill (Candia | 1 – 8 p.m.) :: Celebrate Christmas at the annual Lights on the Hill festival. Activities happen in historic 19th-century buildings beginning at the corner of Route 27 (High Street) and South Road in Candia. Walk the beautiful village campus lined with hundreds of luminaries or ride the shuttle bus around to each site. Admission is free, but guests are encouraged to help support those in need by donating a hat, warm gloves, or socks.

Holiday Open House (Kensington | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.) :: Santa Claus is coming to the Farm at Eastman’s Corner to tell a story to the children and greet them. Take a picture with Santa and make sure to tell him what you would like for Christmas. 5% of sales from the farm store go to Kensington Sawyer Park. 

Seacoast Santa of NH’s ‘Jingle Bell Jam’ (Portsmouth | 7 – 10 p.m.) :: Red Hook Brewery presents amazing night of great music, light appetizers, cash bar and silent auctions. $10 ticket fee goes to Seacoast Santa, a local organization devoted to making Christmas dreams come true for local families in need. Enter the “Ugly Holiday Sweater” contest. First place gets a very nice prize.

December 10 & 17th

Visit with Santa at Churchill’s Garden Center (Exeter | 11am – 2 p.m.) :: Bring your family to Churchill’s Garden Center for a festive afternoon. Meet Santa, take pics and be sure to bring your wish list!

December 10

Get Cozy with the PSO: Baroque Christmas (Kittery, ME | 3 p.m.) :: A Celebration of Holiday Music with the Seacoast Flute Ensemble, performing traditional and contemporary pieces including Handel’s Overture from “Messiah” and selections from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

December 1-3, 8-10

A Christmas Carol (Dover | 6 p.m.) :: Come see some of your favorite Garrison Players actors in a dinner theater version of A Christmas Carol, performed at the Silver Fountain Inn.


December 16

NH Farm Museum ‘A Victorian Christmas on the Farm’ (Milton | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.) :: Tour the beautifully decorated historic Jones Farmhouse with costumed role players and experience the wonder of a Victorian Christmas. Enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh or wagon ride through the fields, depending on the weather. Make a hand-dipped Christmas candle to take home, roast chestnuts and popcorn over an open fire, and partake of gingerbread and hot cider in the farmhouse kitchen. Explore the barns, visit the blacksmith and meet the farm animals.

December 26 – 31

Guided Holiday House Tours at Strawbery Banke (Portsmouth | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. offered every hour on the hour) :: Keep the spirit of Christmas alive by touring beautifully decorated houses at Strawbery Banke Museum. Tours run the day after Christmas through New Year’s Eve. Guided tours of five decorated historic houses at Strawbery Banke Museum offered on the hour: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.