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Festive fun for the family
Holiday happenings below the North Pole

11/23/17
By Ethan Hogan



 Get into the holiday spirit with a Christmas Village stroll, a visit to a Winter Wonderland, a party with Santa or any one of these family-friendly events.

 
Fun in the Neighborhood
• The Exeter Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual Holiday Open House on Thursday, Nov. 30, from 4 to 8 p.m. Historic downtown Exeter will be filled with carolers waiting for Santa to arrive on the Exeter Express. With a wave of his hand, Santa will turn on the decorative lights downtown on Water Street and Front Street at 5 p.m. Guests can take a ride on the Exeter Express roaming train when it stops in front of the Exeter Town Office building. Gingerbread houses will be on display at the Congregational Church on Front Street and the Exeter Town Hall will host over 50 decorative trees. All events are free. Visit exeterarea.org.
• Laconia’s downtown community center (306 Union Ave.) will become a Christmas Village on Thursday, Nov. 30, and Friday, Dec. 1, from 6 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, from 2 to 5 p.m. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be visiting from the North Pole, bringing along all their helpers. Guests can get a professional picture with Santa for $3. Free to attend with donations accepted. Visit facebook.com/laconiachristmasvillage.nh or call 524-5046.
• Wilton’s Holiday Shopping Fair returns to Pine Hill Waldorf School (77 Pine Hill Drive, Wilton) on Friday, Dec. 1, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. with live music, artisan crafts, refreshments and children’s activities. Visit pinehill.org or call 654-6003.
• Join the village of Contoocook in Hopkinton for a Starry, Starry Weekend on Friday, Dec. 1, and Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The weekend includes special holiday shopping opportunities from local vendors and artisans, and Christmas merriment including a special reading of The Polar Express on the Pullman Train Car at the Contoocook Railroad Depot (896 Main St., Contoocook) on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m. Visit explorecontoocook.com or call 660-9290.
• Join Santa’s Big Party at Charmingfare Farm (774 High St., Candia) on Saturday, Dec. 2, Sunday, Dec. 3, Saturday, Dec. 9, Sunday, Dec. 10, Saturday, Dec. 16, Sunday, Dec. 17, and Saturday, Dec. 23. To get to the party, guests take a 30-minute horse-drawn ride through the Christmas trail to the secret party location. Santa will play holiday music and meet with every kid. Sugar cookies and hot cocoa are available for everyone to enjoy around a bonfire alongside holiday performances and activities. Tickets are $19 per person. Call 483-5623 or go to visitthefarm.com.
• The Lighted Winter Wonderland at Charmingfare Farm (774 High St., Candia) will be held Fridays and Saturdays from Dec. 1 through Dec. 23, plus Sundays, Dec. 17 and Dec. 24, and Thursday, Dec. 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The event includes a horse-drawn ride through thousands of lights on your way to the little North Pole. There, guests will find Christmas light displays, a Nativity scene with live animals, costumed characters like the Grinch, a petting zoo, Santa and reindeer, and Christmas trees available for purchase. Bring your letters for Santa. Tickets are $25. Call 483-5623 or go to visitthefarm.com.
• The Candlelight Stroll is back at the Strawbery Banke Museum (14 Hancock St., Portsmouth) for its 38th year. The festivities will be held during the weekends of Saturday,  Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17. Hours are Saturdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 4 to 8 p.m. Walk through the Museum grounds as they glow with hundreds of lighted candle lanterns and holiday music fills the bonfire air. See the historic homes adorned with handmade decorations. Visitors tour the houses and are greeted by costumed role players and performers who recreate the traditions of times past. There will be interactive cooking and craft demonstrations and activities for all ages. Tickets are $25 for adults, $12.50 for children age 5 to 17, and $60 for families, which covers two adults and two children age 5 to 17. Children under 5 attend free. Active-duty military, veterans and their families attend free. Call 433-1100 or visit strawberybanke.org.
• The town of Hillsborough will host its Olde-Fashioned Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 2, starting at 8 a.m. in downtown Hillsborough. Downtown shops and merchants will be open for shopping and there will be entertainment, crafts and food available at multiple locations. The day ends in the evening with Santa and the Christmas tree lighting in Butler Park. Call 464-2953 or visit hillsboroughpride.org. 
• The Millyard Museum (200 Bedford St., Manchester) is hosting an American Girl Doll Tea Party on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Take a tour of the museum through the eyes of an American Girl and afterward enjoy a tea party with refreshments and crafts. $10 per person. Register by calling 622-7531 or visiting manchesterhistoric.org.
• The Millyard Museum (200 Bedford St., Manchester) is having its open house on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There will be children’s crafts, holiday storytimes, old-fashioned board games, cookies and from 10:30 a.m. to noon there will be photo opportunities with Santa Claus. Free admission. Visit manchesterhistoric.org or call 622-7531.
• Community Congregational Church of Greenland will hold its 52nd annual Christmas Fair on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Greenland Parish House (Greenland Community Church Parish Hall, 44 Post Road, Greenland). The event will feature two floors of merchandise and activities including a cookie walk with hundreds of homemade cookies, tables of jewelry, gourmet goodies and locally made products. Santa will visit at 11 a.m. Call 436-8336 or visit communitychurchofgreenland.org.
• The Winter Snow Flake Family Dance is being held at the Milford Town Hall  (1 Union Square, Milford) third-floor auditorium on Saturday, Dec. 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be food, music, games, door prizes and an opportunity to go home with a keepsake photo. Formal attire is recommended. Advance tickets are required, $8 per person by calling 249-0625 or visiting milfordrec.com.
• Join Mill Falls Marketplace (312 Daniel Webster Highway, Meredith) for its Holiday Open House on Sunday, Dec. 3, from 1 to 4 p.m. for the chance to enjoy holiday shopping, horse-drawn wagon rides, strolling carolers and a visit from Santa. Visit millfalls.com or call 279-7006.
• Lights on the Hill is an annual Christmas celebration for the community of Candia on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 8 p.m. where guests can walk the village campus visiting historic buildings and enjoying hundreds of holiday lights, or ride the shuttle bus to each site. The Candia Congregational Church (182 High St., Candia). Visit candiacongregational.org/loth/loth.html or call 483-0506.
• Christmas at Canterbury will be held Saturday, Dec. 9, and Saturday, Dec. 16, from 3 to 8 p.m. at the historic Shaker buildings (288 Shaker Road, Canterbury). Guests can see a 19th-century magic show, meet Santa, make Christmas crackers, decorate cookies, admire a toy train display or listen to fiddlers, all while drinking hot cider and singing carols as the Village Christmas tree is lit. Tickets are $18 for adults, $8 for children age 6 to 17, and free for kids under 5. Members’ tickets are half price. Visit shakers.org or call 783-9511.
• Hampton Beach will be hosting a special New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show at the Sea Shell Stage (169 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach) on Sunday, Dec. 31, starting at 8 p.m. The show is free and open to the public. Visit hamptonbeach.org.
• Join Pats Peak for their New Year’s Family Celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, starting at 6 p.m. The night kicks off with skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Guests can enjoy a comedy show, raffle prizes and a performance by The McMurphys. Themed tasting stations include “American Bistro,” “Mama Mia, That’s Italian” and “Chinese New Year.” At midnight there will be a fireworks display and Champagne toast. Tickets are $95 for adults, $55 for kids age 6 to 17 and $55 seniors 65 and older. If you don’t want to ski, tickets for the party are $75 for adults, $40 for kids age 6 to 17 and $40 seniors 65 and older. If you just want to ski tickets are $44 for everyone. Just tubbing is $22 for everyone. Call 428-3245 or visit patspeak.com.
 
Holiday Day Trip
• The Gift of Lights returns this year to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1122 Route 106 North, Loudon) starting Friday, Nov. 24, from 4:30 to 9 p.m. and running every night through Sunday, Dec. 31, except Monday, Dec. 4 and Monday, Dec. 25. Guests get to drive through more than two miles of light displays and on a portion of the speedway’s NHMS Road Course. The route includes a trip through the infield tunnel known as the “Tunnel of Lights” before heading to VIP Street. Admission is $20 per car at the gate. Anyone who brings three non-perishable food items to be donated to the Loudon Food Pantry will get $2 off per car load. Visit giftoflightsnhms.com. 
• Jump aboard Santa’s Holiday Express this season at the Conway Scenic Railroad (38 Norcross Circle, North Conway) on Friday, Nov. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 26, Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, and every day from Saturday, Dec. 16, through Saturday, Dec. 23. The train fills with holiday cheer as Santa and his helpers share their hot chocolate and cookies with everyone on board. Bring your camera and take a picture with the visitors from the North Pole. There are two take-off times at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day. The cost for tickets ranges from $17.50 to $26.50 for adults, $12.50 to $22 for children ages 4 to 12, and up to $14 for children under 4 years old, depending on the types of seats. Visit conwayscenic.com or call 356-5251.
• The Castle in the Clouds (455 Old Mountain Road, Moultonborough) is hosting its Christmas at the Castle event on Friday, Nov. 24, Saturday, Nov. 25, and Sunday, Nov. 26,  from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the rustic Luckow estate. The historic 1920s estate will be decorated in the theme of “A Rustic Woodland Christmas.” There will be holiday music, family craft activities, games and more. Tickets are $20 for adults and seniors, $10 for children ages 5 to 17 and free for children 4 and under. Friends of the Castle members are $15 for adults and seniors and $8 for children age 5-17. Visit castleintheclouds.org or call 476-5900.
• The Ho-Ho-Hobo Santa Express on the Hobo Railroad (64 Railroad St., Lincoln) returns this year with a special holiday train ride that comes with cookies, hot chocolate and a gift from Santa Claus for every child. The special ride will run from Friday, Nov. 24, through Sunday, Nov. 26, Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, Saturday, Dec. 16, and Sunday, Dec. 17, with the final ride on Saturday, Dec. 23. Guests can also make a handwritten letter to Santa while they enjoy the hour-and-20-minute train ride. The train departs each day at 1 p.m. Coach tickets are $22, first class is $28 and kids under 2 are free. Visit hoborr.com or call 745-2135.
• Take the Cold Turkey Plunge on Saturday, Nov. 25, with registration starting at 11:30 a.m. and the Plunge at 1 p.m. at the Waterville Valley resort (33 Village Road, Waterville Valley). Over 100 brave souls will be jumping into ice-cold Corcoran Pond at Waterville Valley. Each Plunger is asked to raise a minimum of $50 in donations. Plungers will get a grab bag of gifts and a cold turkey sandwich from Chef Sean Stout of  Coyote Grille. The Waterville Valley Town Square will be decorated for the holidays and Santa will visit on his dog sled. There will be fireworks at dusk. Money raised helps buy  Adaptive Sports equipment for the disabled. Call 236-8311 or sign up at staging.watervilleadaptive.com/fifth-annual-cold-turkey-plunge.
• The New Hampshire Farm Museum (1305 White Mountain Highway, Milton) is hosting a Victorian Christmas on Saturday, Dec. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tour the historic Jones Farmhouse, which has been decorated and filled with costumed role players who complete the Yuletide experience of the late 1800s. Guests can make hand-dipped candles and enjoy storytelling and Victorian parlor games. Gingerbread, hot cider and other seasonal treats will be served in the farmhouse kitchen. $7 for adults, $4 for children. Museum members admitted free. Call 652-7840 or visit farmmuseum.org. 





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