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Christmas in New Hampshire is absolutely magical. Not only is New Hampshire filled with small towns straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie, it’s home to some of the most special Christmas traditions in New England.
Like Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth, one of the country’s best Christmas towns, complete with the Candlelight Stroll and ice skating at Strawbery Banke.
Or the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour in Jackson, where you get to enjoy everything from chocolates to sleigh rides to special holiday dinners. And the Currier Ives Cookie Tour, taking in delicious Christmas cookie stops all over the Monadnock region.
Not to mention the special parades, tree lightings, and town-wide Christmas events, from Manchester to Littleton to Concord to Exeter to Enfield.
We at New Hampshire Way have put together a calendar of all of the holiday events all over New Hampshire, so you can take a quick look and know what’s going on. You can download it below.
Let’s take a look at the best ways to have a festive Christmas in New Hampshire!
Join Portsmouth’s Vintage Christmas and Candlelight Stroll
Whether you’re interested in learning about the past while you get in the Holiday spirit or just want to experience a truly unique Christmas celebration, Vintage Christmas and Candlelight Stroll will dazzle and delight.
Vintage Christmas is a series of events that are presented by the Music Hall and Strawbery Banke Museum. They incorporate many activities that include musical productions, gingerbread house contests, ice skating, and lots of other wholesome and family-friendly seasonal celebrations.
However, the most special event is the Candlelight Stroll. Step back in time and witness holiday celebrations throughout the ages in historic Portsmouth homes. You’ll guide yourself along candlelit streets and explore beautiful residences as reenactors put on performances that bring history to life.
The various Vintage Christmas celebration dates depend on the event in question. Candlelight Stroll will take place on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, and 18, 2022.
Celebrate the Gift of Lights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Enjoying holiday lighting is a staple Christmastime activity for many families, but neighborhood decorations can be limited. That’s why the New Hampshire Motor Speedway Gift of Lights event is so exciting. They go all out to fill the racetrack with lights and welcome visitors to take a leisurely drive and enjoy the shining sights.
Driving through the Gift of Lights takes approximately 45 minutes, which means there’s plenty to see. Plus, the $35 admission isn’t charged by person, but rather by car. This means the more people you bring, the cheaper it will be. It’s a very popular experience, so you should be prepared for a bit of a wait, especially on weekends.
The Gift of Lights is open every day of the week starting November 24th, 2022, and runs until January 1st, 2023. They’re even open on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s!
Visit a Christmas Tree Farm
It’s not Christmas without a tree, and what could be better than picking out your own and chopping it down yourself? New Hampshire Christmas Tree Farms offer this amazing opportunity to visitors. Plus, if you’d rather not do the work yourself, many have options that are precut.
There are tons of farms to choose from, such as the Muehlke Family Tree Farm out by Lake Winnipesaukee and the Archambault Tree Farm in Southern New Hampshire. You can even visit White Mountain National Forest and cut down a tree there with just a $5 permit!
If you want something really unforgettable, then you’ll want to check out The Rocks in the White Mountains. They offer the quintessential holiday experience with their Christmas Memory option. Your family can stay in a scenic inn, enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride, and get the tree of your choice with this package.
Dates will vary by the farm of choice, but pay close attention, as many are only open on select weekends in the holiday season.
Read More: Best Christmas Tree Farms in New Hampshire
Attend Manchester Christmas Parade
Start the Holiday season off on an exciting foot by attending the Manchester Christmas Parade, the largest Christmas parade in New Hampshire! This is a perfect activity for families with kids, as there are tons of amazing floats to watch, marching bands to listen to, and there may be a Santa Claus sighting or two as well.
This parade is sure to thrill and get even the grumpiest Grinch or surliest Scrooge into the Christmas spirit. It’s worth getting there a bit early as well since this parade starts immediately after the Santa Clause Shuffle, which has thousands of participants running or walking while in Santa outfits!
Join the Currier and Ives Cookie Tour
If the food is your favorite part of the holidays, then you’ll be sure to enjoy a fabulous Currier and Ives Cookie Tour! It’s a really unique way to explore the Monadnock region of southwest New Hampshire. You’ll be taken to various inns, local restaurants, Bed & Breakfasts, gift shops, boutiques, and more. Plus, all of the proceeds go to a non-profit, so it’s a fun way to give back a little bit.
At every stop along the way, you’ll partake in some delicious refreshments, and of course, holiday cookies. Plus, you’ll even be provided with the recipes so you can make the cookies at home yourself and share the holiday spirit with your loved ones.
This tour also presents a phenomenal opportunity to get some holiday shopping done in a unique way! All of the stores feature lovely, curated collections of goods, so you’re sure to find something for anyone in your life. Plus, if you participate in all eight stops of the tour, you’ll even be entered to win a gift card that can be used at any of the shops.
The tour will be Saturday, December 10th, 2022, from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM.
Bring the Kids to Santa’s Village
If you’re looking for a fun Christmastime activity for children, then look no further than Santa’s Village. Located in Jefferson, New Hampshire, this is a small Christmas-themed amusement park is open from early summer through December. There are tons of rides, attractions, and opportunities to meet Santa Claus, so this is sure to be a hit!
There are 20 rides altogether, ranging from the thrilling, like Poogee Penguin’s Spin Out Coaster, to the more relaxing, such as Santa’s Express Train. You can find other exciting forms of entertainment as well, like a 3D movie, a Christmas lights show, a chance to feed some real reindeer, and of course, a meeting with Santa himself! It’s also a great place to get pictures of your kids on Santa’s lap taken and is sure to be a more unique experience than a trip to the mall.
Santa’s Village is open on weekends, as well as Black Friday from November 12th through December 18th.
Celebrate Midnight Merriment in Concord
Shopping online may be practical, but it’s hard to get in the holiday spirit when you aren’t leaving your house. If you’re looking for a way to buy your loved one’s gifts in a really fun environment, then Concord’s Midnight Merriment event is just what you need.
This event will keep the downtown Concord shops open until midnight, which gives you the chance to find some unique presents while enjoying some hot chocolate, s’mores, and live entertainment. With beautiful lights everywhere and the hustle and bustle of excited holiday shoppers, this is sure to get you ready for Christmas. Plus, the event presents an opportunity to really support small businesses.
Midnight Merriment in Concord will take place on Friday, December 2nd. It starts at 5 pm and will last until midnight.
Enjoy Tax-Free Christmas Shopping
New Hampshire is generally one of the best places to buy holiday gifts for everyone on your list. That’s because there is no sales tax in New Hampshire, so you can shop till you drop and never pay more than the price tag.
While there is tax-free shopping across the state, the outlets in North Conway, Merrimack, and Tilton are particularly good for deals. The Merrimack Premium Outlets are especially great, since this outlet mall offers the largest selection of stores, with 105 retailers. So you are sure to find anything you need, for a great price.
The Merrimack Premium Outlets, Settlers Green Outlets in North Conway, and Tangier Outlets in Tilton are all open every day of the week, though hours will vary on weekends and between establishments.
Read More: The Best Outlets in New Hampshire
Celebrate the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour in Jackson
Perhaps one of the most incredible ways that you can celebrate the holidays is by taking a sleigh ride through the snow and sampling delicious chocolates along the way. The Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour is an amazing way to explore Jackson, a small town in New Hampshire’s Mount Washington Valley, so it’s a particularly wonderful option if you’re from out of town. However, even locals will love this special experience.
Riding in a horse-drawn sleigh for an hour through a scenic New England village is a beautiful seasonal pastime. Even better is the fact that you’ll receive a series of scrumptious handmade chocolates brought to you at every one of the 12 stops along the way. Your ticket also includes a jingle bell and a bag that can be used to save any extra chocolate.
This holiday tour is available for five weekends from late November through mid-December in 2022. The first weekend is November 19th and 20th, and the last one is December 17th and 18th. Tickets are $40 and include both the ride and chocolates. We attended the Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour in 2022 and you can read about our experience here.
Enjoy LaBelle Lights at the LaBelle Winery in Derry
Holiday light shows are a Christmas season staple, but many of them only offer you the opportunity to drive through the displays. If you’d rather take a spirited stroll and enjoy the lovely lit-up arrangements, then the LaBelle Lights are just for you. This walking experience is located at a golf course in Derry and will even allow you to journey through the entire show multiple times per visit.
Another fun aspect of the LaBelle Lights show is that they host special events. Every Friday night in December leading up to Christmas will feature a different theme. In order, these themes are Crazy Christmas Hats, Ugly Holiday Sweaters, Christmas Pajamas, and Best Santa Costume. Plus, in January, they host Winterfest for two days, as well.
The LaBelle Lights are open nearly every Wednesday-Sunday from November 16th, 2022, through January 15th, 2023. Tickets are $16 for those 13 and over, $8 for those from 4 to 12 years of age, and free for anyone younger than that.
Celebrate the Festival of Trees in Exeter
Nothing gets people in the holiday spirit like a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. That’s why Exeter Town Hall’s fantastic Festival of Trees event is such a fun way to celebrate the season. You’ll enjoy strolling through a series of fifty stunningly trimmed trees, but the best part is you may even be able to take your favorite one home.
The Festival of Trees is not only an opportunity to witness holiday decor, but it’s also a charitable event and silent auction. Visitors can bid on the trees themselves, and there’s even a raffle for a particularly unique tree that is filled with gift cards to local businesses valued at approximately $2000. All of the money raised during the festival will go to benefit the Community Children’s Fund, which aims to keep underprivileged children warm with clothing and bedding.
This event takes place over two days, November 30th and December 1st, 2022.
Visit the Christmas Loft in North Conway
If you need to trim your own tree but are lacking in the decoration department or just want to pick up a special ornament, then the Christmas Loft should be your first stop. This shop in North Conway is home to over 10,000 Christmas ornaments, the largest collection in not just the state of New Hampshire, but all of New England.
The Christmas Loft also offers more than just a sterile shopping experience, it’s a fun excursion for the whole family. The establishment is designed to promote nostalgia for holidays past and has amazing displays that will delight and entertain. There’s even a life-size Christmas village.
However, if you’re looking to just check things off your list, it’s a perfect place to visit, since their selection can’t be beaten. Furthermore, since you’ll be in the North Conway area, you can zip over to the outlets for some great tax-free gift shopping.
The Christmas Loft is open every day of the week, year-round.
Join a Holiday Dinner at William Pitt Tavern in Portsmouth
If you’re in downtown Portsmouth or are planning to be in December, why not make merry and break bread at a Holiday Dinner hosted by the William Pitt Tavern? You’ll enjoy a delicious meal and delightful music, and just have some wholesome fun with your family while getting in the holiday spirit. Plus, the history and colonial theme of this event will help ensure that you make memories to last a lifetime.
The fantastic four-course meal that will be served is prepared by Fezziwig’s Food and Fountain, and there are special options available for vegetarians or children. While you eat, you’ll be treated to the melodies of guitars and violins, and serenaded by carolers in colonial garb.
Tickets for those older than 12 start at $95, and are $125 for anyone 21+ that wants wine and beer with their meal. Children under 12 can dine for $65. There are various seating times available on the following Saturdays and Sundays in December 2022: the 3rd, 4th, 11th, 17th, and 18th. Be sure to book in advance as they do sell out.
Celebrate Christmas at the Omni Mount Washington Resort
Looking to provide your children with a truly magical Christmas? The Christmas in the Mountains Celebration hosted by the Omni Mount Washington Resort is just the ticket. This amazingly inclusive experience is set in Bretton Woods, the heart of New Hampshire’s scenic White Mountains, and features a series of activities that will make this holiday unforgettable.
The celebration takes place over three days, from the day before Christmas Eve and running through Christmas day. Each day featured a full roster of amazing holiday activities. The first day alone held a breakfast with the Clauses, wildlife encounters, a puppet show, a gingerbread house demonstration, caroling, a magic show, a cozy movie night, and more!
This event takes place from December 23-25th, 2022.
Celebrate the Festival of Light in Enfield
If you’re in the Upper Connecticut Valley or just can’t get enough of Christmas light shows, you’ll want to visit the local Festival of Light. There are tens of thousands of beautiful holiday lights on display at La Salette of Enfield. Furthermore, since La Salette is a Catholic Church, they keep an emphasis on the religious nature of the holiday and host dozens of stunning nativity scenes.
The Festival of Light is a tradition in Enfield and even offers more than just lovely lighting. There are often children’s workshops and some special visits from Old Saint Nick. Be sure to check their calendar as the festival draws closer for more information on events.
The light show opens on Thanksgiving 2022 and continues to run through January 1st, 2023. However, it will only be displayed Wednesdays through Sundays.
Join Santa’s Christmas at Charmingfare Farm
Charmingfare Farm, just outside Manchester, offers an amazing holiday package that is so full of Christmas activities, you’ll feel like you’re in a movie. Their Santa’s Christmas event is sure to provide your family with the best holiday ever and will make memories that last a lifetime.
Start with a ride in a horse-drawn vehicle and enjoy the beautiful snowy scenery as sleigh bells jingle along the way. Once you arrive at the North Pole, you can check out such sites as Mrs. Claus’s Bakery. You can also visit with Santa himself or feed his reindeer! If the chill starts to get to you, you can warm up at a campfire with some hot cocoa and s’mores. There’s even an option to pick up some gifts off your list or a Christmas tree to place them under.
Santa’s Christmas at Charmingfare Farm takes place on select dates throughout December 2022. Tickets start a $279 for the family.
Enjoy the Downtown Festival of Lights in Hanover
In central New Hampshire, you’ll find Hanover, a little town best known for being the home of Dartmouth College. During December, the charming stretch of shops that makes up Downtown Hanover becomes lit up with holiday cheer for the Downtown Festival of Lights. There are banners, wreaths, and trees lining the street, which are all decked out with Christmas lighting.
Each year there are events throughout the month. The festival kicks off with a tree lighting ceremony that will awe and enchant people of all ages. Plus, even the downtown shops and retailers get in on the fun as they decorate their windows and storefronts with seasonal displays.
There will also be a market set up throughout weekends in December and in the days leading up to Christmas, so you can shop and chow down on some delicious holiday favorites.
Enjoy a Pre-Christmas Ski Getaway
Another great way to enjoy the season is to hit the slopes! New Hampshire gets splendid snow in the winter, and the White Mountains are full of stellar skiing. Visiting a resort can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors or just have a nice pampering vacation.
There are tons of great ski resorts, but there are a few that stand out the most. Loon Mountain is ideal for families and groups that have a mix of ages and abilities, as it’s got a bit for everyone. As for the thrill seekers and skilled skiers out there, Cannon Mountain and Wildcat Mountain both offer amazing adventuring opportunities.
A ski trip can also be a great way to get in the holiday spirit because, in December, the resorts are decked out in gorgeous Holiday decor. Sitting by the fire with a cup of cocoa and smelling the pine needles of the Christmas trees and wreaths will allow you to find your joy.
Read More: Ultimate Guide to NH Ski Resorts
Attend the Christmas Parade in Littleton
Littleton, one of our favorite small towns in New Hampshire, hosts a phenomenal weekend of Christmas activities directly following Thanksgiving. The main event is the annual Christmas Parade where attendees can watch floats pass by and hear the music of the marching band. Participants in the parade will present displays with the theme of “What Christmas Means to Me.”
After the Christmas Parade, there is a fireworks show which will give a spectacular end to the day’s festivities. However, if you’d still like to celebrate, you can go to the Gala Christmas Ball at the local Elks Lodge that evening or the holiday craft fair the following day.
The Christmas Parade is scheduled for Black Friday, November 25th, as are the fireworks show and the Gala. The craft fair is on Saturday the 26th. There’s a lot going on that weekend, which makes Littleton a great destination for a weekend holiday getaway!
Have a Getaway to the Christmas Farm Inn in Jackson
If you want a truly magical experience, you should visit the Christmas Farm Inn in Jackson, New Hampshire. Jackson is our favorite winter destination in the White Mountains, and the Christmas Farm Inn is a truly special place to be celebrating the holidays.
The Christmas Farm Inn is a beautiful place to get in the holiday spirit. The halls will be decked, and the trees will be trimmed everywhere you turn. Plus, they have a full spa, so you can truly relax and enjoy your vacation.
There’s no shortage of holiday activities to do in the Jackson area, either. You can take the Jingle Bell Chocolate tour or bring your children to Santa’s Village. There are numerous mountains with convenient skiing, as well. It’s the ideal setting for a perfect winter retreat.
Enjoy a Christmas Train Ride in New Hampshire
You may not be able to hitch a ride on the Polar Express, but Christmas Train Rides are still a possibility. There’s something very special about watching a winter wonderland speed by as you relax in a train car, plus you can enjoy the beautiful scenery without suffering through the cold.
The Conway Scenic Railroad in North Conway offers rides aboard Santa’s Holiday Express during the weekends after Thanksgiving and the days leading up to Christmas. This ride covers 11 miles and offers 90-minutes of holiday fun for the whole family. There will be milk & cookies, a treasure hunt, and of course a sighting of Old Saint Nick, himself.
If you’re in Lincoln for a weekend after Thanksgiving, you can also travel on a Santa Train with Hobo Railroad! This Christmas celebration is also great for children, as there will be opportunities to write a letter to Santa Claus, as well as meet him, Mrs. Claus, and the elves. Plus, young children will receive a small gift from Santa too!
Take a Sleigh Ride
Have you ever wanted to feel like you were living in a Christmas carol? If so, a sleigh ride is just the ticket. Provided that the weather is lovely, there is nothing more magical than a sleigh ride together with your friends or family.
A sleigh ride for two can be the cherry on top of a weekend away as you nestle under a blanket and feel the romance of this special time of year. It can also be an amazing group activity and fun for the whole family. The best part is that when it snows, there are sleigh ride opportunities all over New Hampshire, so you won’t need to travel far for this special seasonal experience.
It is important to note that sleigh ride availability is going to be dependent on there being snow. There isn’t always snow across the whole state at this time of year, so your best bet will be in the White Mountains. However, even this is not a guarantee, so you’ll want to carefully check the weather and the sleigh ride provider’s contingency plans before making any travel arrangements.
Read More: The Best Sleigh Rides in New Hampshire
See Christmas Lights that Go All Out
There are plenty of phenomenal holiday light displays in the Granite State. However, the ones put on by businesses typically charge admission. If you’re looking for a free activity or just want to see some truly creative examples of the Christmas spirit, why not visit some neighborhoods that go above and beyond with their lights?
There are a lot of residential light displays that are gorgeous and on par with anything that you might pay to see. Manchester has the most with three notable displays, which are Belgrade Street Christmas, Holt Family Christmas, and Lights on Legacy Drive. In Londonderry, you should check out Christmas in the Kings and An Otterson Christmas.
There’s also Callaway Christmas Light Show in Goffstown, Bedford’s Jobin Christmas Lights, The Daly Family’s Festival of Lights in Fremont, Lamprey Village Lights in Epping, Hudson Christmas in Hudson, and Nashua is home to Whitney & Nic’s Winter WonderLand. Each location will have different dates and hours, but many displays have Facebook pages with this information.
More Winter in NH:
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- Our Picks for the Best NH Ski Resorts
- Where to Go Dog Sledding in New Hampshire
- Best Sleigh Rides in New Hampshire
- Where to Go Snow and Ice Climbing in New Hampshire
- Best Christmas Tree Farms in New Hampshire
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- 30 Unforgettable Things To Do In The White Mountains, NH
What’s your favorite way to celebrate Christmas in New Hampshire?