The 10 Best Free Events Happening in December

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

photo by david j. murray, clear eye photo
Enjoy holiday entertainment and festivities at Portsmouth's Vintage Christmas celebrations throughout the month.

1. Vintage Christmas, Portsmouth, December 1-31

With events all over the city all month long, Portsmouth's annual holiday extravaganza offers something for every budget — including free. Check out the competitors in the gingerbread house competition, take in the tree lighting and illuminated holiday parade (12/1), or just do some window shopping at Portsmouth's varied and exciting downtown boutiques, all without spending a dime.

2. New Castle Village Christmas Fair, New Castle, December 1

Come and check out one-of-a-kind crafts from The Ladies of the Guild. This year’s crafts include cheerful greens baskets, unique ornaments and other nautical themed gifts that represent the island town of New Castle. There will also be a collection of mittens and hats, serving trays and wreaths. Don’t forget to try traditional fish chowder and lobster rolls while you check items off of your Christmas shopping list! (603) 431-4456;

3. Holiday Festival and Tree Lighting, North Conway, December 1

Join Settlers Green Outlet Village for a full day of holiday shopping, topped off with the lighting of the Settlers Green Christmas Tree at the Gazebo. There will also be free horse-drawn sleigh loops around the Green every 15 minutes, a mini tubing park sponsored by Cranmore Mountain Resort, free hot chocolate, music and a raffle for a $500 shopping spree. Don't miss out on this fantastic event and end your day with a photo with Santa. (888) 667-9636;

4. Mill Falls Marketplace Holiday Open House, Meredith, December 2

The shops and businesses of this lovely lakefront complex open their doors for a day full of shopping, caroling and holiday fun. Pick up gifts from the Country Carriage and Lake Winnipesaukee gear from Great Northern, then hop on the event’s horse-drawn carriage for a leisurely afternoon ride. Keep an eye out for Santa because we hear that he may be stopping by. (603) 279-7006;

5. Midnight Merriment, Concord, December 7

Get in a practice run for your New Year's Eve curfew with this eventide event. In addition to paid elements like holiday shopping and dining, this annual fête from Intown Concord features all kinds of no-cost fun. Stroll through a newly revamped downtown holiday-scape, enjoy roving carolers, and stop by the s'mores-roasting and "elfie" photography stations for all of your foodie and selfie needs. (603) 226-2150;

6. The Franklin Opera House 6th Annual Festival of Trees, Franklin, December 7-16

There are plenty of Christmas tree festivals going on around the state this month, but this one might be our favorite. Held entirely inside Franklin's historic city-hall opera house, the festival features live entertainment all weekend long and displays of wreaths, holiday goods and trees big and small. Admission is free, but the trees and other products will be auctioned off, so we'd advise bringing money for the raffle — proceeds benefit the Opera House's important mission of revitalizing Franklin's downtown. (603) 934-1901;

7. Concert at Rogers Memorial Library, Hudson, December 15

The Rogers Memorial Library will be hosting the Digital Credit Union Free Concert Series. This month's concert is Great Bay Sailor, a music group that performs eclectic folk music from Ireland, Scotland and England. It will be sure to get you in the holiday spirit, so don't miss out. (603) 886-6030;

8. Santa's Stocking Stuffer Craft Fair, North Conway, December 15-16

If you're still shopping for Christmas gifts a week from the 25th, you're likely to drop a few more than zero dollars at this last-second craft fair. But you know what costs nothing at all? Making a days-before-the-holidays artisan fair a spectator sport. Admission is free to this bazaar, so we won't tell if you're there to get a laugh out of some frantic procrastinating husbands rather than to window shop. (603) 528-4014;

9. UVMC Messiah Sing with Orchestra, Lebanon, December 16

Audience admission to this performance is free, so for music lovers who prefer listening to participating, this is a great way to catch a holiday favorite without making a dent in your holiday-season wallet. For performers, though, a $15 fee will earn you an even better perk — a spot in the show. This concert is "the more, the merrier" style, so singers and musicians are welcome to join the communal choir and orchestra for a low-cost, no-strings night of bringing Handel's "Messiah" to life. EventBrite

10. New Year's Eve Fireworks, Hampton Beach, December 31

End 2018 with a bang — or several. The state's favorite beach will host its final fireworks show of the year to ring in the New Year, so grab the family, bundle up, and welcome 2019 with a bit of explosive sparkle.

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