The 10 Best Free Events Happening in November

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

Animal drawings like this will be on display in Gretchen Hill Woodman's show at 42 Maple Contemporary Art Center starting November 3.

Photo Credit: Gretchen Hill Woodman

1. 20 Years of Star Island Photography, Portsmouth, November 1-21

This exhibit is curated by the founder of The New Hampshire Society of Photographic Artists and photographer, Peter Randall. It brings together some of the finest work taken by the photographers of Star Island over the past 20 years. Come and see the special exhibit that celebrates the beauty, history and magic of the island. (603) 430-6272;

2. Gretchen Hill Woodman, Bethlehem, November 3-27

“There has never been a time in my life that I was not involved with animals,” notes Woodman. She has been inspired by animals her whole life and her gallery reflects that by “feeling” their curves with her pencil. Be sure to make a stop in Bethlehem to see her work and how she draws these beautiful creatures “from the inside out.” (603) 575-9077;

3. NH Open Doors, statewide, November 4-5

Like it or not, the holidays are nearly upon us. And while finding gifts for the good boys and girls (and in-laws) on your list may not be free, there's no admission fee for this statewide fair. Window shop at stores like the League of NH Craftsmen galleries, chat with artists at their studio open houses, and take your little ones to pet some cuddly creatures at the participating farms. And if you are ready to part with some cash, check out the 80+ vendors whose doors are open — and, in some cases, whose prices are marked down — for your shopping pleasure. (603) 224-3375;

4. (Watching) The Manchester City Marathon, Manchester, November 11-12

Actually participating in this Boston Marathon qualifier race costs a pretty penny and requires you to, you know, run for several hours. But spectating is blissfully cost- and exercise-free. Whip up a "Run Forrest Run" sign and camp out along the route to cheer on your sporty neighbors. After all, downtown Manchesterites don't have many better options — with 26.2 miles of race course criss-crossing the roads, you're not going anywhere anyway. (603) 488-1186;

5. Motivating the WWII Home Front via Magazine and Radio Advertising, Nashua, November 12

The last program of the fall will supplement Veterans Day at the Nashua Historical Society. Cal Knickerbocker will be discussing the advertising messages that were developed to inspire participation in the war effort. He will talk about magazine ads and play many radio public service “spots.” (603) 883-0015;

6. Tomie dePaola, Concord, November 18

The illustrated books of New Hampshire's favorite children's author make the best gifts - but signed versions are the absolute best. Just in time for the holidays, the creator of such works as "26 Fairmount Avenue" and the Caldecott Medal-winning "Strega Nona" will start things off with a Q&A, then dive into book signing. Bring your little one's favorite and get ready to rake in the brownie points. (603) 224-0562;

7. Peterborough Holiday Stroll, Peterborough, November 18

Lots of towns will kick off their holiday celebrations in the weekend after Thanksgiving, but Peterborough gets a jump on them by starting the weekend before. The holiday stroll invites visitors to explore all the best that the city has to offer. Santa will be on hand for meet and greets at one stop along the stroll; his chief elf inhabits another. Don't miss baked goods at the Methodist Church or the laundry list of bake sales and craft fairs available throughout town. (603) 924-4294;

8. Thanksgiving, Statewide, November 24

Whether you spent hundreds on a turkey feast or you'll be celebrating with a quirky tradition like gathering 'round the Chinese leftovers, spend some time on Thanksgiving to relax with loved ones and take stock of all the things you're thankful for. You can also spread the love by seeing if the community dinner in your town — like the Southern NH Rescue Mission's offering in Nashua — needs volunteers or donations. (If you're wondering, the Pats' Thanksgiving weekend game isn't til Sunday this year. But, if you get the New England Sports Network, you can catch the Bruins-Penguins matchup through your turkey coma at 1:00.)

9. Cold Turkey Plunge, Waterville Valley, November 25

Skip your own wallet and capitalize on the holiday goodwill of your friends and family to meet the fundraising minimum for this charity celebration. In the tradition of the classic polar bear plunge, the brave or crazy participants in this event will run into the wintry waters of Waterville Valley's Corcoran Pond to raise money for the disability services of Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports Programs. Costumes are welcome, Santa Claus will make an appearance, and, to top it off, the day will end with fireworks. (800) 468-2553;

10. Festival of Trees, Exeter, November 30

Bring your friends and family and see the Town Hall transformed for the 19th Annual Festival of Trees in Exeter. There will be 50 decorated evergreen trees. There will be whimsical and traditional themed décor, but they will all be unique in their own spirited way. Proceeds from the Silent Auction will go to the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce Children’s Fund.

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