Vintage Christmas Events in Portsmouth

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 39th 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 28-December 16: "Elf The Musical"

"Elf The Musical" is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. This modern day Christmas classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf.

2018 "Elf The Musical" show times:

  • Wednesday, November 28, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 29, 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 29, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, November 30, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 1, 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 1, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 2, 12 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 2, 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 5, 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 5, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 6, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, December 7, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 8, 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 8, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 9, 12 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 9, 4:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 12, 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 12, 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, December 13, 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, December 14, 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 15, 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 15, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 16, 12 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 16, 4:30 p.m.

The Music Hall is located at 28 Chestnut St. in Portsmouth. Visit The Music Hall for tickets and more information.

Every day in December: 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 in late November/early December (weather permitting) 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 1: Portsmouth’s Illuminated Holiday Parade

Tree lighting – 5:30 p.m.
Parade – 6 p.m.
Rain date is December 2.

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 1-2, 8-9, 15-16 and 22: 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.

Ticket prices for the Strawbery Banke Candlelight Stroll are $25 for adults, $12.50 for children and $60 for families (two adults and their children ages 17 and under). 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 18-19: Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra’s Family Holiday Pops

Celebrate the season with this annual tradition of singing holiday song favorites old and new. Tickets for these performances sell out, so get yours early. Tickets are $30, $25 for seniors and groups and $15 for students. Both shows at 7:30 p.m. The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut St. See the website for tickets and more information.

December 28-29: Juston McKinney’s Year in Review 2018

End the year with laughter as the Seacoast’s own Juston McKinney performs two hilarious nights 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 has also been named Best Comedian of NH by New Hampshire Magazine. Have the last laugh of 2018 with Juston as he dishes on New England life and looks back at the year that was. Show times are at 8 p.m. and tickets are $26. 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.

Categories: Holiday Guide Events