The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Santa takes a break during last year’s Midnight Merriment in downtown Concord. Courtesy photo.

Tree lightings and downtown holiday events

Amherst: Tree Lighting Festival begins Friday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m. with a tree lighting ceremony, seasonal songs and readings on the WWI Common. Activities are scheduled throughout town on Saturday, Dec. 13, and Sunday, Dec. 14. Visit
Bedford: Lighting of the Memorial Tree will take place on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. at the corner of Church and Amherst roads.
Bow: Annual tree lighting will take place at the Bow Community Building (GPS location at 2 Know Road) on Friday, Dec. 7. Santa arrives at 5 p.m. and will lead the countdown for the tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. Join the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Bow Selectmen and Baker Free Library for cocoa, cookies, s’mores, crafts and caroling. Bring an unwrapped gift for a Toys for Tots collection and non-perishable food donations for the Bow Food Pantry.
Candia: Lights on the Hill will take place on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 1 to 8 p.m., at the corner of High Street and South Road. Roast a marshmallow at the campfire, visit live nativity animals, view crèches from around the world, and check out the caroling, crafts, entertainment and food. Bring donations of hats, gloves and socks. Admission is free.
Concord: Midnight Merriment takes place on Friday, Dec. 5, from 5:30 to midnight. Retailers stay open late and shoppers can enjoy holiday window displays and carolers. 
Concord: Christmas tree lighting will take place on Friday, Nov. 28, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Statehouse Plaza on North Main Street. Check out the petting zoo, wagon and pony rides, live music, food and fireworks. The blessing and lighting of the crèche will begin at 4:45 p.m., and the Concord Fire Department will bring Santa in to help lead the countdown to the tree lighting at 5:59 p.m. 
Derry: The 28th annual holiday parade will take place on Saturday, Nov. 29, beginning at 1 p.m. This year’s theme, Once Upon a Time: A Fairytale Holiday, promises marching bands, floats and fire trucks with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The parade begins on West Broadway, continues down East Broadway, turns onto Crystal Avenue and ends at Hood Commons. Immediately following the parade, join A Very Derry Holiday at Veterans Hall Gym (31 W. Broadway) for gingerbread cookies, face painting, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Hampstead: Christmas parade will take place on Sunday, Dec. 14, at 2 p.m. along Main Street.
Laconia: The holiday parade will take place on Saturday, Nov. 29, at 1 p.m., beginning at Wyatt Park and ending at the Veteran’s Square for the annual tree lighting ceremony.
Lowell, Mass.: City of Lights Parade and Holiday Celebration will take place on Saturday, Nov. 29, with activities for the whole family all afternoon, including shopping, photos with Santa, strolling carolers, a hot cocoa competition, entertainment and concerts. The parade begins at 4:30 p.m. on Jackson Street, and ends at City Hall for the official lighting of City Hall and Christmas tree.
Manchester: The Christmas parade will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 4 p.m. on Elm Street, after the Santa Shuffle Road Race. The parade features over 80 floats a visit from Santa. 
Merrimack: Holiday parade will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 3 p.m., followed by the lighting of the Christmas tree. The parade route begins at The Commons Shopping Plaza, continues down Daniel Webster Highway to Baboosic Lake Road to McElwain Street and ends at the Our Lady of Mercy parking lot. The Tree Lighting Ceremony is held at Abbie Griffin Park. 
Milford: Annual holiday craft fairs and tree lighting will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6, in downtown Milford. The craft fairs run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by the tree lighting at 6 p.m.
New Boston: Christmas tree lighting will take place on Sunday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m. on the town common.
Nashua: Holiday Stroll will take place on Saturday, Nov. 29, from 5 to 10 p.m., with a candlelight procession from City Hall to Railroad Square for the lighting of the Christmas tree. Downtown will be closed to traffic for live entertainment, shopping, a craft fair and gingerbread house contest, ice carvings and more.
Penacook: Annual tree lighting will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. at Boudreau Square in downtown Penacook with Santa, music and refreshments. 
Portsmouth: Holiday parade will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 6 p.m., beginning with the Tree Lighting at 5 p.m. The parade route travels along Islington, Congress and Pleasant streets. 
Salem: Holiday parade will take place on Sunday, Nov. 30, at 1 p.m. on Main Street (begins at the Fisk School, ends at Salem High School) and include floats, antique cars, Salem High School Blue Devils Marching Band and Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums. The Christmas tree lighting will be held on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 6:30 p.m. at Veteran’s Common at the corner of Bridge and Main streets.
Windham: Annual tree lighting will take place on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Town Hall Common. Santa arrives by fire truck with the Salem High Marching Band at 3 p.m., with music, cocoa and cookies, crafts, a bonfire and carols from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m., and the event concludes with the lighting of the tree.

Festive Downtowns
Shop, stroll and celebrate


From holiday shopping and visits with Santa to tree lightings, parades and strolls, downtowns large and small are celebrating the season.

Strollin’ around downtown
You can rock around and stroll around the Christmas tree during the Holiday Stroll in downtown Nashua, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 29, from 5 to 10 p.m. The evening kicks off with a candlelight procession from City Hall to Railroad Square, where Santa Claus will lead the Christmas tree lighting countdown. The Spartans Drum and Bugle Corps leads the procession with Christmas tunes.
“A lot of folks like to sit and watch the strolling procession go by. It’s certainly a highlight of the evening,” Rebecca Dixon, executive director for Great American Downtown Nashua, said. “We’re really thrilled to have over 72 performances in 32 locations this year, which is certainly a record for us. It’s always amazing how many talented performers come out for this event, from magicians to musicians, to dancers to stargazing and science demos. There’s something for everyone, and of course the ice carvings are one of the most popular stops.”
Much of downtown Nashua is closed to traffic, creating a massive pedestrian space on Main Street for performers, magicians and dancers, plus, this year, Anna, Elsa and Olaf — Frozen is this year’s theme for Ice Breakers’ Holiday Stroll ice sculptures.
Dixon said that among the stargazing and MakeIt Labs science demos, teens and tweens will definitely enjoy the ice sculptures. 
“Mine certainly get a huge kick out of the ice carvings because they’re using torches and chisels,” she said. “It’s a very active display.”
After the tree lighting, kids can stick around the Hunt building to visit Santa and the Festival of Trees. After, Dixon recommends younger kids check out the “sweet” creations at the Home for the Holidays gingerbread house display at Martha’s Exchange and stop by the library for holiday songs and stories with children’s performer Steve Blunt.
New to this year’s stroll is a craft fair in the gymnasium at St. Patrick’s Church. The fair will include about 40 crafters, Dixon said.
“It’s going to be a wonderful addition to the stroll,” she said. “We've had many requests for a Christmas fair event.”
Very merry shopping
With carolers singing, window displays lit up and stores open late, shopping on Main Street in downtown Concord on Friday, Dec. 5, might feel a little like the holidays in New York City. That’s what Intown Concord Operations Manager Liza Poinier has in mind when she thinks of Midnight Merriment.
“If you’ve been to New York City during the holidays, it's just very festive, mostly because there’s so many people together carrying boxes and bags,” she said. “Midnight Merriment very successfully creates that feel of hustle and bustle.”
Retailers are open from 5:30 p.m. to midnight in downtown Concord during Midnight Merriment, but this year, the holiday shopping doesn’t have to end there. Starting on Black Friday, Nov. 28, and ending Wednesday, Dec. 17, shoppers in downtown Concord have a chance to “Win the Window.” One of the windows on Main Street will be filled with packages, gift cards and merchandise from downtown shops, and all holiday shoppers have to do for a chance to win its entire contents is shop locally.
“The idea is that you will win the entire contents of the window,” Poinier said. “There will be a tree decorated with certificates representing gift cards from downtown businesses [and packages]. … We expect this prize package will represent hundreds, maybe even a thousand dollars’ worth of downtown goodies.”
Shoppers can pick up a passport at any participating downtown store and receive a stamp from each of the stores participating in Win the Window. 
During Midnight Merriment, stores open until midnight so that shoppers who might not get the chance to visit during regular hours, can do their holiday shopping in local Concord stores.
“That’s the heart of the event is late-night shopping, and perhaps a meal in between rounds of shopping so you can keep your strength up,” Poinier said. “Each of the stores will of course be doing each of their own holiday displays.”
Local artists will be selling handmade goods at Giftopolis, the indoor arts market, in the Eagle Square atrium. Santa will also be visiting Eagle Square atrium during the early part of the evening.
This year, after Midnight Merriment has ended, shoppers will have even more opportunities to find something for everyone on their list on Fridays, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19, when stores will extend their hours until at least 8 p.m. Many retailers will also offer something special, like live music, 
discounts and giveaways or festive refreshments during the extended hours.
“The feedback we get from customers is that they'd really like to be able to shop on a Friday night after work, and in the run up to the holidays, it's just that much more important.”
Christmas on parade
The annual Christmas Parade in downtown Manchester features all the favorites: fire trucks, musicians, superheros and a whole lot of floats.
“That’s really what people want to see,” Intown Manchester Executive Director Sara Beaudry said. “I think people really just have a lot of fun with it.”
Eighty-two community groups will be going down the parade route with all manner of floats on Saturday, Dec. 6, starting at 4 p.m. This year’s parade theme is Christmas in Cinema, so floats will feature holiday film favorites. Groups in the parade include local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, Double Midnight Comics (which usually shows up with 50 or so superheros, Beaudry said), music from West High School and the Muchachos Drum and Bugle Corps, as well as the New Hampshire Ghostbusters and the New England Brethren of Pirates.
Don’t forget to bring your letter to Santa. Ol’ Saint Nick will be riding in a Manchester Fire Department fire truck at the end of the parade, preceded by postal workers to collect letters for Santa Claus. 
The parade begins at 1750 Elm St. (at the Brady Sullivan building on the north end of Elm Street), continues southbound on Elm Street and ends at Veterans Park.
“There’s a lot of great spots along the way,” Beaudry said. “We do have a lot of downtown businesses and restaurants that are doing open houses, so you can get hot chocolate. … They’ve been really awesome about letting people come into their shops who are standing out in the cold.”
Patricia Howard, president of Friends of Stark Park, is the grand marshal this year and will be riding in a convertible down Elm Street.
The downtown festivities don’t end there, though. The downtown Manchester Holiday Market (at Brady Sullivan Plaza on Elm Street) runs on Thursdays, Dec. 4, Dec. 11, and Dec. 18, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Saturday, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is the downtown market’s fourth year, and it includes over 50 booths with a variety of items from leather goods to jewelry, to local art works. 
“It’s pretty much where I do all of my Christmas shopping,” Beaudry said. “There’s really something for everyone.” 
As seen in the November 27, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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