The 10 Best Free Events Happening in January

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

courtesy of New Hampshire institute of art
Check out projects like this one by Markus Haala when you visit the MFA Winter Thesis Exhibition on January 12.

1. The Cape Ann School & Rockport Art Traditional Exhibit, Milford, through January 31

The New Hampshire Co-op presents this fine art exhibit and sale of paintings. The exhibit showcases the early painters of the Cape Ann School, including Anthony Thieme, Aldro T. Hibbard, Emile Gruppe and William Lester. These Cape Ann artists captured everyday life in the region, and were some of the first American artists to employ plein air painting techniques. (603) 673-8499;

2. Banjos, Bones, and Ballads, Bradford, January 4

Traditional songs, rich in local history and a sense of place, share information from the distant past. They help us interpret present day life with an understanding of the people who built our country. Tavern songs, banjo tunes, 18th-century New England hymns, sailor songs, and funny stories about traditional singers and their songs are highlights of this program by Jeff Warner. (603) 938-2104

3. Gibson’s Book Club reads “Warlight,” Madbury, January 9

Satisfy your reading itch this month by getting involved in a book club. For the month of January, Gibson’s Book Club will be reading “Warlight” by Michael Ondaatje. Join them every month for 2019, or deal yourself in as the spirit moves you. (603) 224-0562;

4. 20th Anniversary Open House, Auburn, January 12

Grab your kids and head to Auburn to celebrate 20 years of nature education at the Massabesic Audubon Center. There will be live animals on display from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., crafts and refreshments all day. There will also be free snowshoe rentals, snowman building, a nature scavenger hunt and much more. Don’t forget to participate in a program on identifying winter trees or on nature trail cams. (603) 668-2045;

5. MFA Winter Thesis Exhibition, Manchester, January 12

The biannual Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition is a celebration of the culminating work of its graduates, featuring work from students in photography and visual arts. Pictured at the top of this list is a project by visual arts student Markus Haala.

6. Gap Year Fair, Hanover, January 16

Have a teen at home that is interested in taking a pre-college break? Look out for this reputable fair to hear about the dozens of programs that provide kids with a structured year between high school and college. From international service programs to full-time internship opportunities, this will assuage any fears about sending your 18-year-old on an “Eat, Pray, Love” sabbatical.

7. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, statewide, January 21

If your office is closed for MLK Day, then use the time off to learn about the man who earned you the holiday. Groups throughout the state will be hosting events to honor Dr. King and his legacy, so find out what's happening in your town or check out free commemoration events on the state's college campuses, such as the "I Have a Dream" speech presentations scheduled at Dartmouth.

8. New England Lighthouses and the People Who Kept Them, Rye, January 23

There is something about lighthouses that gives them a broad appeal, but their vital role in our history and culture is little appreciated. Our nation was built on maritime economy, and lighthouses were part of the system that made that possible. Jeremy D’Entremont tells the history of New England’s historic and picturesque lighthouses primarily focusing on the colorful and dramatic stories of lighthouse keepers and their families. (603) 964-8401;

9. New Hampshire Wine Week, statewide, January 23 - 24

Sure, the big events of NH Wine Week cost money. But who's to say you can't create your own wine week fun? Warm up the fireplace, break out a bottle of whatever's hiding in your cellar — bonus points if it's locally made — and enjoy NH Wine Week from the cozy (and cost-free) confines of home sweet home.

10. Snow Sculpting Competition, Jackson, January 25 - 27

Art lovers, winter sports aficionados and kids who enjoy a good snowman will all find something to enjoy at this free fair. Take advantage of winter festival offerings such as a scavenger hunt and a bonfire for marshmallow roasting, and marvel at the live creation of eight-by-four-foot sculptures carved from towers of packed snow. (603) 383-9356;

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