The 10 Best Free Events Happening in May

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

The 10th Annual Mother’s Day Weekend Craft Festival is on May 11 and 12 this year. Courtesy photo

1. Patterns in Wood, Concord, May 1-June 10

The NH Furniture Masters present this collection of work by six fine furniture masters. Each piece in this exhibition is an interpretation of the meaning of a pattern. Patterns can occur naturally in the figure or grain of a particular piece of wood, or they can be added as a decorative element in a design. Patterns also happen over time as makers influence each other and strive to excel. Design, execution and craftsmanship are the patterns in this exhibition. (603) 898-0242

2. Allison May Kiphuth: Allemansrätten, Portsmouth, May 4-27

Bring the outside in with this ecosystem of an art show. Seacoast creative May Kiphuth painstakingly created a gallery inspired by the Swedish countryside. It’s based on photographs that she took during her solo travels, and is “an amalgam of the meditative nature of driving alone on foreign roads, the discomfort of exploring strange places by one’s self, and the odd but wondrous bliss that inevitably follows.” (603) 433-1705;

3. Greenerborough Fair, Peterborough, May 4

This fair brings consumers, farmers and companies together for a full day of education and conversations on how to use products, techniques and services to increase the sustainability of one’s family and the community as a whole. Throughout the day, you will learn how New England families can grow and choose food, energy, housing and lifestyles to improve health and happiness. (603) 924-7234;

4. Heifer Parade and Opening Day, Canterbury, May 4

Celebrate the Canterbury Shaker Village’s opening day by welcoming a parade of heifers back to the village from Brookford Farm. There will be activities like maypole dancing, outdoor barn dancing and even make-your-own head wreaths. Self-guided exhibits will also be available. (603) 783-9511;

5. Brewing New Hampshire: An Informal History of Beer in the Granite State from Colonial Times to t he Present, Jackson, May 8

Attention beer connoisseurs, this one’s for you. Glenn Knoblock will be exploring the history of New Hampshire’s beer and ale brewing industry from the Colonial days to today’s modern breweries and brewpubs around the state. Rare and unusual photos and advertisements document this changing industry, including the Frank Jones in Portsmouth. Knoblock will also discuss lesser-known brewers and breweries that operated in the state, including the only brewery that was owned and operated by a woman before the modern era. (603) 383-9731;

6. 10th Annual Mother’s Day Weekend Craft Festival, Hampton Falls, May 11-12

Spring is in the air, and the atmosphere will be filled with color and music at this annual festival. Over 75 artisans from all over the Granite State will display and sell their works including pottery, fine art, wind chimes, pet gifts and more. There will also be a culinary fare of herbal dips, kettle corn, pies, pesto and jams just to name a few.

7. Dixville Notch Music, Arts & Crafts Festival, Colebrook, May 25

Kick off the summer with the best arts and music the North Country has to offer. This festival is jam-packed with workshops, demonstrations, art shows and live music by such artists as blues duo Roy-Hudson with White Wolf. Don’t miss the vendor fair for local goods of all stripes from vendors like Anita’s Arts and Wandering Woolies. (603) 237-1898;

8. Lilac Festival, Portsmouth, May 26

Enjoy free tours of the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion, a guided walk on the nature trail and a scavenger hunt for kids. The mansion is located right on the water and has beautiful grounds to explore, so don’t forget to pack lunch and enjoy a picnic.

9. Memorial Day Weekend Firework Show at Hampton Beach, Hampton Beach, May 26

Bring a blanket and the whole family and kick off summer with this incredible fireworks display. (603) 926-8717;

10. Wildquack Duck Race & Music Festival, Jackson, May 27

Watch more than 3,500 rubber yellow ducks race down the Wildcat River to the finish line during this wild event. Along with the famous duck race, there will be delicious food, music, games, face painting, traveling train rides and a parade. Bring your dancing shoes, blankets, chairs and your fastest rubber duck for a fun-filled day in the park. (603) 383-9356;


11. Stargazing at Castle in the Clouds, Moultonborough, May 25

Sometimes there’s just too much good stuff to fit into the standard top 10. The beautiful estate of Castle in the Clouds invites folks from the New Hampshire Astronomical Society to guide you in a fun and informative evening of stargazing. It begins at 8 p.m. with a talk in the Carriage House, and then you’ll make your way to Shannon Pond, where you’ll get the chance to use the telescope. The event is free, but donations are welcome, and go toward making more events like this possible. Of course, stargazing needs clear skies, so make sure to keep a weather eye out and contact Castle in the Clouds if things look questionable. The decision to cancel due to inclement weather will be made by mid-morning the day of the event, and you can call (603) 476-5900 to get the official word.

Categories: Features, Seasonal Guides – Spring