The 10 Best Free Events Happening in September

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

courtesy photo
Manchester Trolley Nights, happening on Thursday, September 20, is one of the 10 best free events of the month.

1. Backyard Barbecue Festival, Hooksett, September 1-2

Everyone's favorite sporting and hunting store, Bass Pro Shops, is holding a Labor Day weekend family barbecue. From noon un til 5 p.m. on both days, families can enjoy free hot dogs and dessert samples (while they last), as well as enjoy games and activities for the kids. In addition to the food and fun, Bass Pro will be holding seminars at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. with topics on grilling and barbecue sauce making. (603) 541-5200;

2. Sandown Old Home Day, Sandown, September 7-8

A classic New England festival comes to Sandown for two days of free festivities. Enjoy a parade, live tunes and kids' activities and, new this year, go for a spin on the fest's steam train. (603) 887-0212;

3. Auburn Day and 26th Annual Duck Race, Auburn, September 8

Each year, the Auburn Historical Association puts on this free festival featuring the Salmon Falls Apple Pie Contest, Duckling Dash 5K, Pretty Chicken Contest, local artisans, Roaming Railroad, Wildlife Encounters, food vendors and more. Don't miss the day's main event: the official duck race, which kicks off at 3 p.m. Top prize is $1,000 and cash prizes are awarded for the top 10 fastest ducks.

4. River Valley Artisans Art & Wine Tour, Westmoreland, September 8-9

This annual event allows you to enjoy delicious wine and stroll among displays of various paintings by local artists. Poocham Hill and Summit Winery have joined the River Valley Artisans for this weekend of art, fun, wine and food. There will be oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, photography, jewelry, fiber art and woodware among other handmade items.

5. Derryfest, Derry, September 15

Grow up in Derry? This is your chance for a homecoming. The free fest features live entertainment, a presentation from the Wildlife Encounters Zoo, and appearances from the top finishers in the Greater Derry's Got Talent competition. (603) 437-0505;

6. Manchester Trolley Nights, Manchester, September 20

Hop aboard the roaming trolley and discover the diverse arts and culture scene in downtown Manchester. The trolleys will circulate between 5-8 p.m., and riders will get to stop at places like The Bookery, Studio 550 Art Center, SEE Science Center, Cabonnay, NHIA, Manchester Community Market, Dancing Lion Chocolate and more.

7. Museum Day, Statewide, September 22

Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day is an annual one-day event in which participating museums and cultural institutions across the United States provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. Participants are allowed to download one ticket per email address and each ticket is valid for two people. Participating New Hampshire museums include, Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, Millyard Museum in Manchester, Seacoast Science Center in Rye, The Fells Historic Estate and Gardens in Newbury, Wright Museum of World War II in Wolfeboro and several more.

8. Capital Arts Fest, Concord, September 28-30

The League of NH Craftsmen invites you to this juried craft fair on Main Street in the Arts District of Concord. The event features juried members of the League and invited artisans from around New England, craft demonstrations, local music and delicious food. There will also be an exhibition gallery called “Head to Toe,” which  showcases wearable art.

9. New England Roots Festival, Nashua, September 29

Folk, Americana and bluegrass lovers, this one's for you. Musicians from those genres and more move into downtown Nashua for this two-day fest, shutting down Main Street and filling various other venues with live performances and festival accoutrements including food trucks, demos and a vendor fair. (603) 883-5700;

10. 20th Annual Autumn Craft Festival on the Lake, Meredith, September 29-30

The scenic Mill Falls Marketplace will come alive with color, flavor and music for this annual festival. Juried artisans from all over New England will be displaying their American-made works, and you will be able to samples a variety of culinary creations.

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