Vintage Christmas Events in Portsmouth for 2016

Get your holiday fix at the many festive Vintage Christmas events happening throughout December in Portsmouth.
Photo by David J. Murray/Clear Eye Photo

One town in New Hampshire really pulls out all the stops for Christmas with a month of events that range from musical performances to ice skating.

Vintage Christmas once again showcases the magical Candlelight Stroll, now in its 37th year, at Strawbery Banke Museum and live holiday shows at The Music Hall’s landmark Historic Theater and the intimate Music Hall Loft on Congress Street. It all takes place in elegant and festive downtown Portsmouth, which also happens to have some excellent independent stores for Christmas shopping.

Get ready to cuddle up with a free trolley ride through Market Square, stroll through the snowflakes to the many eclectic shops, step back in time to welcome “The Winter Visitor” through 300 years of living history at the festively decorated Strawbery Banke Museum Candlelight Stroll, sample Portsmouth’s famous culinary specialties or enjoy a first-class show at The Music Hall. Back by popular demand – the free Vintage Christmas Trolley shuttles patrons around the historic seaport each Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening for the first three weekends in December.


Here are a few of this year's events:

November 30-December 18: "Beauty and the Beast"

Be swept into the romantic story of the Beast who could only be saved by love in this lavish Ogunquit Playhouse production based on the Academy Award-winning film. This gorgeous musical dazzles with incredible sets and a wonderful score that features new songs along with classic favorites. "Beauty and the Beast" has run for 13 years on Broadway, and has garnered nine Tony nominations, including best musical.

Shows are at 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Wednesdays (excluding Nov. 30), Saturdays and Sundays and 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St. Visit The Music Hall for tickets and more information.

Opening December 1: Labrie Family Skate

The entire family will love skating at Strawbery Banke's Puddle Dock Pond, a seasonal outdoor ice skating rink at the heart of the 10-acre living history museum. In the spirit of Portsmouth's rich performing arts culture, Puddle Dock Pond will host costumed “Currier & Ives” skaters on the ice during Candlelight Stroll weekends. Puddle Dock Pond at Strawbery Banke opens on December 1 and will be in full operation, seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. throughout December and on through New Year's Day and the months of January and February.

Puddle Dock Pond offers 12,500 square feet of professionally maintained ice surface combining an 80' x 125' oval and a 60' diameter circle all surrounded by a post and rail fence. A seasonal pavilion houses ticketing and skate rentals. The White Apron Cafe in the adjacent museum Tyco Visitor Center serves food and beverages. Puddle Dock Pond offers public skating (including several free sessions each week), pond hockey for children and adults and skating lessons for all ages. Skate rentals and sharpening services are available. For details, schedules and more information, visit

December 3: Portsmouth’s Illuminated Holiday Parade

Tree lighting – 5:30 p.m.
Parade – 6 p.m.
Rain date is December 4.

Count down to the tree lighting in Market Square and stay for the illuminated holiday parade that winds through the heart of Portsmouth.

The Portsmouth Illuminated Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony. Photo by David J. Murray/Clear Eye Photo

December 3-4, 10-11 and 16-18: The Candlelight Stroll and Historic Dinners

Stroll through life in a simpler time as 350 years of American history, winter traditions and holiday celebrations unfolds around you in New Hampshire's oldest waterfront neighborhood. Costumed role-players greet you in the historic homes where you are invited to rediscover the joys of simpler times. Mrs. Shapiro prepares a Hanukah celebration her 1919 Russian Jewish kitchen. Mrs. Goodwin, her family and servants prepare a Victorian Christmas. Father Christmas, the night watchman, “Mayor Frank Jones” and other role-players make their rounds along the dirt lanes; and the Abbotts await news of their soldier fighting in Europe in the Second World War. You'll also enjoy the carolers, Christmas crafts and more sights, sounds and smells of the holidays.

Until November 30, ticket prices for the Strawbery Banke Candlelight Stroll are $20 for adults, $7.50 for children and $55 for families (two adults and their children ages 17 and under). After that date, tickets increase by $5. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at (603) 433-1107. From 5 p.m.-9 p.m. on Saturdays and 4 p.m.-8 p.m. on Sundays. Puddle Dock Pond skating and Candlelight Stroll bundles are also available.

Step back in time at the delightful Strawbery Banke Museum Candlelight Stroll.

On Candlelight Stroll weekends you can also enjoy a very special Christmas dinner. Step back in time at the Strawbery Banke Museum’s historic William Pitt Tavern for a delicious Colonial-era, four-course meal prepared by acclaimed chef Evan Mallett of the Black Trumpet. This series of dinners, offered as a part of Portsmouth’s popular Vintage Christmas lineup, also features locally crafted libations and live music to evoke holiday cheer. Each evening has three seatings at 4, 6 and 8 p.m. The cost is $70 for adults and $30 for children. Reservations are a must and can be made at Pickwick’s Mercantile, Pickwick’s at the Banke, by calling Mr. Pickwick at (603) 427-8671 or online.

December 17 and 20: "Ragpicker's Dream"

Kent Stephens’ annual holiday play reading (no sets or costumes) features brilliant performances from top Seacoast talent. This funny, poignant collection of tales, adapted for the stage by Kent Stephens, includes a glimmering morsel from Kenneth Graham’s "The Wind in the Willows," the poetry of Robert Frost and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the comedy of David Sedaris. 1:30 p.m. December 17 and 7 p.m. December 20. Tickets are $10. The Music Hall Loft, 131 Congress St. Purchase tickets here.

December 20-21: Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra’s Family Holiday Pops

This year, the PSO invites special musical guests Taylor O’Donnell and Chris Klaxton to celebrate the season with Holiday favorites old and new. Tickets for these performances sell out, so get yours early. Tickets are $25, $22 for seniors and groups and $12 for students. Both shows at 7:30 p.m. The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St. See the website for tickets and more information.

December 29: Juston McKinney’s Last Laugh 2016

End the year with laughter as the Seacoast’s own Juston McKinney performs one night only at The Music Hall. He has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Conan O’Brien" and has two Comedy Central specials including his own one-hour special. He was recently named Best Comedian of NH by New Hampshire Magazine. Have the last laugh of 2016 as Juston’s topics include his New England life and looking back at the year that was. 8 p.m. Tickets are $24. The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St. See the website for tickets and more information.

Learn More

Want even more Vintage Christmas information and events? Click here for a complete schedule and more information.