5 Unique Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in NH

There’s a wide variety of ways to ring in the holiday season in New Hampshire – here are just five novel options to get you started. 

From snowy sights to shoppers strolling historic downtowns, come the holidays in New Hampshire, there’s no shortage of scenery or celebration. And while there are plenty of ways to rejoice the season, here we highlight five unique to the state.

 A Taste of Colonial Christmases [Portsmouth]

If you’ve ever been to one of Pickwick’s Mercantile’s four shoppes in Portsmouth, you know they are masters at conjuring up scenes out of a Dickinson poem. And that’s no different when it comes to their Holiday Tavern Dinners, hosted at Strawbery Banke’s Revolutionary War-era William Pitt Tavern during the evenings of the open-air museum’s Candlelight Stroll. In addition to a four-course Colonial-themed dinner – featuring dishes like beef stew, root and pumpkin pot pie, and tarts made from Strawbery Banke heirloom apples – the tavern is adorned head-to-toe in Pickwick-curated holiday décor, down to the servers and bartenders that wear traditional eighteenth-century garb. It’s a scene warm enough to melt any Scrooge’s heart.

 A Totally Tuba-lar Christmas [Colebrook]

You’ve heard Christmas carols, but you’ve never heard them quite like this: played only on tubas, baritones, and euphonium horns. The 13th annual TubaChristmas takes over Colebrook’s Trinity United Methodist Church for one select night on December 22, drawing some 20 to 30 musicians who come from as far away as Plattsburg, New York, to partake in the tradition. While an extremely important part of an orchestra as the backbone of the rhythm section, tubas are rarely featured at the forefront as a solo. But at Christmas in Colebrook, caroling gets a whole new sound: Deep, mellow brassy melodies that take center stage and are a thrill to listen to – which is why the event, thought to be the largest music event in Colebrook, is always standing-room only.

The Official Stamp of the Season [Bethlehem]

Each year, almost 60,000-holiday letters and cards are mailed out of the White Mountain town of Bethlehem, a little village of only 2,500. People from all over New England make the pilgrimage to the Bethlehem Post Office during the holiday season to get their Christmas cards sent the old-fashioned way –hand-canceled with the special mark of the North Star. The unique mark is created in two steps: first, there’s the hand stamp; and secondly, the envelope is fed through a decades-old stamp cancellation machine dusted off just for the month of December. Sound like a lot of work for a few Christmas cards? That doesn’t stop the hordes of families who make the trek annually – especially those with young children looking to get a special seal of approval on their letter to Santa.

© KEITH BEDFORD

 Ride with Santa & Elves [Lincoln]

Starting the Friday after Thanksgiving and running until the last weekend before Christmas, the Hobo Railroad transforms into the Santa Express. Each train ride travels through the picturesque White Mountains, offering scenic views of the White Mountain National Forest and snow-capped mountains. From the outside, the cars are decked out in tinsel, garland, and lights; while inside, families enjoy hot cocoa and cookies on their way to the “North Pole,” where riders get to meet Santa and his elves, who hand out a special present to each guest.

A Million Lights a Mile [Loudon]

During the annual Gift of Lights (held evenings from 11/23–12/31), the three-mile track of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway looks like a Griswold’s family Christmas dream come true. Here, the track is decorated in over two million lights, in which cars – yes, you get to drive the same track used by NASCAR legends – are directed through to adore the 60 different scenes and 400 light displays. Want to take it all in at an even slower pace?  For one day, on December 9th, participants can sign up for a 2.5-mile walk or run before the dazzling display opens to vehicles. Prepare for an onslaught of “oohs” and “ahhs.”