The 10 Best Free Events Happening in May

Where you can have fun on (less than) a dime this month

photo via istock
The Indonesian Community of New England brings a zero-admission Indonesian food festival to Dover on May 13.

1. Safe Kids 500, Loudon, May 3

Gear up for this month's Indycar classic with a family-friendly day at our local NASCAR outpost. Events center on child safety, with bicycle and helmet inspections and IdentAKid sign-ups both on the docket, but the main draw takes place on the track. Parents and kids alike can hop on their bikes — with helmets, of course — and go for a ride on the very same track where Jimmie Johnson & co. compete. (877) 783-0432;

2. Stay Work Play Give, statewide, May 3

If you're looking for a board membership or volunteer opportunity to round out your resume, this series of nonprofit socials is the event for you. Put on by Stay Work Play and young professionals organizations around the state, these free fairs (held in Concord, Nashua, Keene, Manchester, Claremont and Lebanon) bring local nonprofit organizations together so you can find the civic opportunity that's right for you. (603) 860-2245;

3. 15th Annual Pittsfield Fiddle Contest, Pittsfield, May 5

Who says you have to fork over pricey ticket fares to enjoy some fiery fiddle tunes? This evening-long fest features a beginner showcase and youth competition followed by an open competition welcoming fiddlers of all ages. A $5 donation is suggested, and your Lincoln will go to a good cause: monies from admission and the night's silent auction benefit the empowerment programming of the Pittsfield Youth Workshop. (603) 435-8272;

4. Allison May Kiphuth: Bioconstellation, Portsmouth, May 5-28

Bring the outside in with this ecosystem of an art show. Seacoast creative Kiphuth painstakingly created a gallery full of plants and animals for this exhibit, painted in watercolor and cut out in life-size. Displayed together, they're Bioconstellation; on their own, they're each available for purchase. (603) 433-1705;

5. Concord's 17th Annual Perennial Exchange, Concord, May 6

Bored with the plants in your garden? Why not swap them out? This longstanding Friends of the Audi event invites local gardeners to bring their perennials to trade amongst themselves — creating a city full of revitalized new gardens with no hefty remodeling costs. (603) 344-4747;

6. National Public Gardens Day, Newbury, May 12-14

Also in the floral vein, this Mother's Day weekend promotion gets New Hampshirites free access to one of the state's finest professional gardens. The actual holiday falls on Friday, but the kind folks at The Fells extend their celebrations all weekend long. Bring Mom and a sandwich or two: Picnic dining as you explore the estate's 1,000-acre grounds is encouraged. (603) 763-4789;

7. Indonesian Food Bazaar, Dover, May 13

Once you've tried all the exotic cuisines explored in our May issue, add one more to your list. The Indonesian Community of New England sponsors this admission-free fête, in which a dozen vendors from around the region serve up Javanese treats including kue cucur fritters and sate padang beef skewers.

8. Run the Tri and Bike the Tri, Merrimack, May 18

Trainee triathloners can give their efforts a test run with this preview of the Greater Nashua Sprint Triathlon course. The race's bike and run coordinators will lead participants (including any canine or stroller-bound tagalongs) through the biking course at 5:30 p.m. and the running course at 6:30 p.m. If this date doesn't work for you, worry not: the event recurs on May 24, May 30 and June 5.

9. Art in Action, Londonderry, May 20-21

An art show set in an apple orchard? Don't mind if we do. This annual event from the Londonderry Arts Council features 25 artists and artisans not just selling their work but demonstrating it, ranging in medium from painting and fiber art to jewelry-making, woodworking and pottery. (603) 216-1236;

10. Dixville Notch Music, Arts & Crafts Festival, Colebrook, May 27-28

Finish the month and kick off summer with a brand-new North Country festival. The two-day fest showcases the region's best arts and music, featuring demonstrations, art shows, live music from artists including singer-songwriter Kyle Carey, and even a weekend-long live log-carving booth from Warren-based Baker River Chainsaw Sculpture. (603) 237-1898;

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