Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth Turns Ten!

Now in its tenth year, Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth is all about celebrating the winter, the warmth, the light, and our collective memories of holidays past. Presented by cultural anchors Strawbery Banke Museum and The Music Hall in the historic working seaport of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, this month-long city-wide event will once again offer the irresistible Candlelight Stroll that Strawbery Banke Museum has offered for 35 years, and the live holiday shows, opera broadcasts and films in The Music Hall’s landmark 1878 Historic Theater and the intimate Music Hall Loft on Congress Street. Get ready to cuddle up with a free trolley ride through red-bricked Market Square in this elegant and delightful holiday downtown, stroll through the snowflakes to the many eclectic shops, step back in time through living history at the festively decorated Strawbery Banke Museum, 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, courtesy of the City of Portsmouth, shuttles patrons around the historic seaport each Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening for the first three weekends in December.

BACKGROUND
According to Monte Bohanan, Director of Marketing for The Music Hall, “Settled in the early 1600s, Portsmouth is the perfect town for Vintage Christmas since it’s a charming blend of the contemporary and historical. Culture, history, food – it’s an intoxicating mix.” Beyond sponsoring the trolley, The City coordinates the Illuminated Holiday Parade and ceremonial tree lighting on the first Saturday, decorates the Welcome to Portsmouth signs and period streetlights with large wreaths, and collaborates with ProPortsmouth on making First Night (New Year’s Eve) a spectacular evening in the city (ice sculpture, fireworks, live music). Finally, the library and recreation department have holiday programs.

ACCOLADES
Portsmouth was recently described by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the nation’s most kid-friendly, walkable, food-centric, historic, livable and romantic cities. On any East Coast car trip, a charming little must.” As a reporter from the venerable Yankee Magazine has said, “If another city does a better job of celebrating Christmas, I have yet to find it.” According to Stephanie Seacord, Director of Marketing at Strawbery Banke Museum, “Portsmouth is an enchanted village. And, the city can now add a new title to its list of many accomplishments thanks to an article published in Travel and Leisure magazine titled, “Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Christmas Capital of America?”

HISTORY
Seacoast historian J. Dennis Robinson ruminates on the meaning of the celebration, “The purpose of any holiday is ‘stopfulness’ — to stop, look around, and be aware. Out of that momentary awareness comes a healing and spiritual connection. We are ‘in the moment.’ We recognize that we are alive, and that our lives are short. …We compare our history against the history of others. Through the holiday tradition of giving presents, we become charitable. By receiving them, we become thankful. The pause is the gift.”

What’s new for 2014?

AT THE MUSIC HALL –
Live shows, films, HD broadcasts, historic tours, and a high-flying Broadway musical

Wonderful holiday fare is slated for The Music Hall’s two stages – the landmark Victorian 1878 theater and the contemporary Loft. Ragpickers Dream tells the stories of the holiday season in the intimate setting of the Loft, Messiah Sing creates a “happening” with Seacoast choral groups, and the year rounds out with Comedy Central’s Juston McKinney’s Last Laugh 2014. Watch for more announcements of films, HD broadcasts, Historic Tours, and live shows including a high-flying musical for the whole family as The Ogunquit Playhouse at The Music Hall Series continues to bring Broadway to the historic port – happening December 10 – 14 in the Historic Theater.

AT STRAWBERY BANKE MUSEUM –
Skating rink, time travel shop, food + drink at new café and historic tavern

Puddle Dock Pond at Strawbery Banke, the seasonal outdoor ice skating rink at the heart of the 10-acre living history museum site. In the spirit of Portsmouth’s rich performing arts culture, Puddle Dock Pond plans to host one artistic ice dancing performance per month, including a Currier & Ives-type show during one of the December weekends of Candlelight Stroll. Puddle Dock Pond will be in full operation, seven days a week, 9 am to 9 pm 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, skate rentals and concessions. The White Apron Cafe in the adjacent museum Tyco Visitor Center serves food and beverages. Puddle Dock Pond is open seven days a week, from 9 am to 9 pm, offering 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

Pickwick’s at the Banke, complementing the museum with a shopping experience reflecting Portsmouth’s colonial maritime heritage. The new store is located at 43 Atkinson Street (on the corner of Court and Atkinson) on the museum campus, and is open to the general public. No museum ticket is required to shop at Pickwick’s at the Banke. Described as a ‘magical space’ featuring local art, artisans and products; Pickwick’s at the Banke is designed to be a nostalgic space that’s accessible to a new generation. Pickwick’s management has earned a following by creating “an experience” for their guests. The merchandise, the atmosphere and the hospitality of the staff make shopping more than a pastime. Like Strawbery Banke itself, Pickwick’s at the Banke is about preserving Portsmouth heritage, historical role-playing and participating in a sort of time travel through 300 years in this Puddle Dock neighborhood.

The White Apron Café will be offering food and beverages during Candlelight Stroll, both in the newly-redecorated space in the Tyco Visitor Center and in historic Pitt Tavern on the museum grounds.

AROUND TOWN
Downtown stores and local malls get into the spirit of the season early by celebrating Small Business Saturday (following Black Friday) on November 29. Then, according to Valerie Rochon, Tourism Director for the Chamber, “The month of December is the perfect time to visit Portsmouth to sample all it has to offer – sales tax-free shopping at independent boutiques, visiting art galleries, dining at the numerous eclectic restaurants in town. And, our Shop Portsmouth retailers make it easy – by rolling out the red carpet, offering stress free shopping and entertainment by the Market Square Carolers. Rekindle the true spirit of the Holidays by shopping locally and enjoying a traditional downtown experience in our historic seaport during Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth!”

About the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce/For more information
Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce
500 Market Street, P.O. Box 239, Portsmouth, NH 03802
603.610.5510; fax: 603.436.5118
Hours: Monday-Friday 9-5:00pm
www.portsmouthchamber.org
www.goportsmouthnh.com

For further information about New Hampshire, visit the New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism website at http://www.visitnh.gov
Sponsored in part by a Joint Promotional Program grant through the New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism Development – www.visitnh.gov

Strawbery Banke Museum Celebrates 34th Annual Candlelight Stroll

Once Upon a Winter’s Eve

Candlelight Stroll. (c) David Murray, Clear Eye Photo

Strawbery Banke Museum celebrates “Once Upon a Winter’s Eve” during the 34th annual Candlelight Stroll, December 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22, 2013. The event takes place from 5 to 9 pm on Saturdays and 4 to 8 pm on Sundays. Candlelight Stroll is generously supported by Bank of America, the New Hampshire State Council for the Arts, Lincoln Financial Group, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Amica Insurance, The Provident Bank, Newburyport Five Cents Savings, R.M. Davis, Inc, The Mark Wentworth Home, Kennebunk Savings, the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, Darrell’s Music Hall, Bruce Mast & Associates, Inc., Northeast Credit Union, and Wentworth Greenhouses.

Showcasing 350 years of seasonal and holiday traditions against the backdrop of the Museum’s furnished historic houses. On these weekend evenings, the Museum grounds glow with hundreds of lighted candle lanterns, the houses are adorned with thousands of hand-made decorations crafted from live greens and dried flowers and herbs collected from the Museum gardens, and the air is filled with the sound of holiday music and scent of woodsmoke.

Visitors stroll from house to historic house, greeted by costumed role players and performers who recreate the traditions of times past, rediscovering the joys of simpler times. A toasty bonfire crackles throughout the event to warm frosty fingers and toes. Complimentary refreshments and hot apple cider are offered at the Cider Shed. The White Apron Café at Strawbery Banke offers light meals and serves a pub menu in Pitt Tavern — visited by George Washington, John Hancock, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Traditional hearth-cooking demonstrations, crafts demonstrations, and winter projects for kids provide interactive fun for multiple generations. “Candlelight Stroll is a cherished holiday tradition that offers a charming setting for children and adults to enjoy America’s multicultural holiday activities and customs,” said Strawbery Banke Museum president and CEO Lawrence J. Yerdon. “Candlelight Stroll is a magical event at an enchanting time of year. We are delighted to anchor the city-wide Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth celebration with this authentic and unique experience.”

Highlights this Year

The theme for this year’s Candlelight Stroll is “Once Upon A Winter’s Eve” and visitors will experience a variety of holiday preparations across cultures and across time:

  • ALDRICH HOUSE — 1908 Pineapples & Posies with Mrs. Lillian Aldrich
  • CHASE HOUSE — 1818 A Mid-Winter Wedding
  • GOODWIN MANSION — 1870 T’was the Night Before Christmas
  • MARDEN-ABBOTT HOUSE & STORE — 1943 Dreaming of a White Christmas
  • SHAPIRO HOUSE — 1919 Fourth Night of Hanukkah
  • SHAPLEY-DRISCO HOUSE — 1795 Snowy Days on Puddle Dock and a 1958 Holiday Avon Party.

Additionally:
— Live music, cookies & hot cider at the Cider Shed.
— Horse drawn carriage rides
— bundle up on Puddle Dock and enjoy this age-old tradition.
— Families learn wreath-making and create handmade holiday decorations in the Jones House.
— Savor 18th century holiday hearth cooking and tinsmith crafting handmade lanterns and tin star ornaments in the Wheelwright House.

Tickets and Other Information

Avoid lines by purchasing tickets in advance! Tickets can be purchased in advance in person at the Strawbery Banke Visitors Center at 14 Hancock Street up to the date of the event. Advance tickets may also be purchased online at www.strawberybanke.org  starting November 1st. Tickets are $22/adults, $11/children (ages 5-17), and $55/family. Group and corporate rates are available. November discount: $2 off the ticket price on all tickets purchased by November 30, 2013.

Visitors who are concerned about parking for this popular event can enjoy all that Portsmouth has to offer hassle free with the FREE Vintage Christmas trolley connecting Strawbery Banke Museum, The Music Hall, the municipal parking garage on Hanover Street, and numerous free satellite parking areas. The trolley is generously provided by the City of Portsmouth as part of a Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth. The Vintage Christmas collaboration aims to highlight the rich seasonal programs of Strawbery Banke Museum and The Music Hall, and is the result of a fruitful collaboration among the City of Portsmouth, Strawbery Banke Museum, The Music Hall, the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, and local hotels and retail shops.

Vintage Christmas 2012

Christmas Magic in Portsmouth

“If another city does a better job of celebrating Christmas, I have yet to find it.” – Yankee Magazine

“One of the ‘Top Ten Things Not to Miss in New England’” – Boston Globe

Plan the perfect holiday visit now!

It’s time to make plans now for the perfect holiday visit during Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth throughout the entire month of December 2012. Presented by cultural anchors Strawbery Banke Museum and The Music Hall, it’s a month of Strolls, Shows and Stayovers in the historic working seaport of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Listed as “one of the Top 100 Events in North America” (ABA) and “one of the Top Ten Things not to miss in New England” (Boston Globe), Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth has people returning year after year to the small city that Travel Guide of America calls “the crowning glory of the New Hampshire Seacoast.” Now in its eighth year, Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth will once again offer the irresistible Candlelight Stroll that Strawbery Banke Museum has created for 32 years, the live holiday shows, opera broadcasts and films in The Music Hall’s landmark Historic Theater and the intimate Music Hall Loft on Congress Street, and the welcoming stays in the elegant and delightful holiday downtown. Get ready to cuddle up with a free trolley ride through red-bricked Market Square, stroll through the snowflakes to the many eclectic shops, step back in time through living history at the festively decorated Strawbery Banke Museum, 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.

According to Patricia Lynch, executive director of The Music Hall, “Portsmouth is the perfect town for Vintage Christmas since it’s a charming mix of the contemporary and historical. It’s all about celebrating the winter, the warmth, the light, and our collective memories of holidays past. The Music Hall, with its landmark Victorian theater (one of the prettiest theaters in America!) is also the most popular New Hampshire performing arts center recognized nationally for its programming and Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth is no exception. Expect lavish decorations in the both the Historic Theater and the chic new Loft, top flight comedians spoofing the holidays, great holiday music from legends like Natalie MacMaster, literary events, and of course magical holiday treats. When I created Vintage Christmas back in 2005 and approached our partner Strawbery Banke Museum, I envisioned that Portsmouth could become the Christmas Capital of North America, and well 2012, here we are!”

Joining the two nonprofits this year will be Presenting Sponsors Churchill’s Garden Center; the City of Portsmouth; Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce; Seacoast Media Group; and The White Apron. Lead Sponsors include Holloway Automotive; Seacoast Local; and Weather Partner 107.1 WERZ. Great Bay Academy of Dance, which produces An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker at The Music Hall’s Historic Theater, will be participating as a Community Partner. A handy calendar/map will be available to visitors to make it easy to get around town. Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth also has its own website, VintageChristmasNH.org to make it even easier for visitors to plan their trips. The map/calendar will also be available on the site to download.

Presenting Sponsors
Lead Sponsors
Community Partner
Music Hall Season Sponsor
Back by popular demand: City provides free Vintage Christmas Trolley

The free city trolley is wildly successful. Patrons use it to not only ferry themselves from free parking lots to the center of town, between The Music Hall and Strawbery Banke Museum, but also to give themselves a brief overview of what Portsmouth has to offer. The trolley’s scheduled route – to run the first three weekends of December on Saturday and Sunday from 1:30-10:30pm – is a quick 20-minute loop with several stops to jump on/off for shopping, and to get a bite to eat and drink. Day visitors will be able to park at various lots around town and jump on the trolley, while overnight visitors in downtown hotels will be able to walk to convenient trolley stops.

Strawbery Banke Museum visitors tour Portsmouth’s oldest neighborhood

The holiday decorations, vignettes and role-players at Strawbery Banke Museum’s Candlelight Stroll (Dec 1 & 2, 8 & 9, 14 & 15; 5-9 pm on Saturdays and 4-8 pm on Sundays) are designed to carry visitors into holiday lives from the past as the 10-acre museum and its 40 historic buildings recreate December through the centuries in the Portsmouth neighborhood of Puddle Dock. Visitors are welcomed into the 1919 Russian Jewish kitchen of Mrs. Shapiro as she prepares the Hanukah celebration. The 18th century night watchman stops to warm himself in front of the bonfire. The wagon drawn by a winter-furry farm horse, Doc, makes the rounds along the dirt lanes lined with the flickering wood-and-glass candle lanterns that are the signature of Candlelight Stroll. New this year, the tiny white lights that outline the grounds and the electric candles in the windows will remain on each night throughout December – not just on the weekends of Stroll. The holiday decorations in each house, including the family Christmas tree in all its Victorian glory in the front parlor of the Goodwin Mansion will be showcased during holiday house tours the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Beyond the Candlelight Stroll, there will be Holiday House Tours December 26-30. Candlelight Stroll tickets are on sale now on the website, strawberybanke.org

About the Music Hall’s two theaters

Historic Theater: Step over the threshold of this landmark Victorian theater – the oldest in New Hampshire – and into the Beaux Arts Founders Lobby featuring superlative patron amenities. Upstairs, the newly renovated upper lobby leads into the elegant 900-seat auditorium – now restored to its 1878 splendor – has welcomed artists ranging from Mark Twain to Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. Patrons greet friends and neighbors in this community great room, a gathering place for conversation on a site dating back to the days of Frederick Douglass. The original hardwood floor and horseshoe balcony ensure superior acoustics for stage and screen events.  Full concessions are available in both lobbies. Just around the corner from the Historic Theater, the Music Hall Loft features the same fabulous programming, but in a smaller more intimate (125-seat) setting, with gourmet food and cocktails that can be taken right to each seat.

Vintage Christmas Updates

Website: VintageChristmasNH.org
Twitter:  @vintage_xmas
Facebook:  facebook.com/vintagexmas
Weather:  Tune in to 107.1 WERZ for your Vintage Christmas Weather Update on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Vintage Christmas 2012 Schedule – a month of shows + strolls

For more informationVintageChristmasNH.org

Friday, November 30
5:30 Mary Flynn Trio – Vintage Christmas kickoff ● Music Hall, Loft

Saturday, December 1
1pm Met@The Music Hall: La Clemenza di Tito (Mozart) ● Music Hall, Historic Theater
1:30-10:30pm Vintage Christmas Trolley 20 min. route
5pm Holiday Tree Lighting ● Market Square
6pm Illuminated Holiday Parade
5-9pm Candlelight Stroll ● Strawbery Banke
7pm Wuthering Heights (film) ● Music Hall, Loft

Sunday, December 2
1:30-10:30pm Vintage Christmas Trolley 20 min. route
2pm, 7pm Natalie MacMaster ● Music Hall, Historic Theater
4-8pm Candlelight Stroll ● Strawbery Banke

Monday, December 3
5:30pm Historical Tour ● Music Hall, Historic Theater

Thursday, December 6
7:30pm Deepak Chopra ● Music Hall, Historic Theater

Saturday, December 8
1pm Met@The Music Hall: Un Ballo in Maschera (Verdi) ● Music Hall, Historic Theater
1:30-10:30pm Vintage Christmas Trolley 20 min. route
5-9pm Candlelight Stroll ● Strawbery Banke

Sunday, December 9
1:30-10:30pm Vintage Christmas Trolley 20 min. route
4-8pm Candlelight Stroll ● Strawbery Banke

Friday, December 14
7pm Great Bay Academy of Dance: An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker ● Music Hall, Historic Theater

Saturday December 15
10am, 2pm & 7pm Great Bay Academy of Dance: An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker ● Music Hall, Historic Theater
1:30-10:30pm Vintage Christmas Trolley 20 min. route
5-9pm Candlelight Stroll ● Strawbery Banke

Sunday, December 16
1:30-10:30pm Vintage Christmas Trolley 20 min. route
4-8pm Candlelight Stroll ● Strawbery Banke
7pm Ragpickers Dream ● Music Hall, Loft
11:30am & 2:30pm Great Bay Academy of Dance: An 1836 Portsmouth Nutcracker ● Music Hall, Historic Theater

Monday December 17
5:30pm Historical Tour ● Music Hall, Historic Theater
7:30pm Ragpickers Dream ● Music Hall, Loft

Tuesday, December 18
7:30pm Messiah Sing ● Music Hall, Historic Theater

Friday December 21
8pm Merry Funny N.E. Christmas ● Music Hall, Historic Theater

Saturday, December 22
12pm Met@The Music Hall: Aida (Verdi) ● Music Hall, Historic Theater

December 26-30
Holiday House Tours ● Strawbery Banke

Saturday, December 29
HD broadcast: Barrymore (with Christopher Plummer) ● Music Hall, Loft

Monday, December 31
First Night Portsmouth

RESERVATIONS

Shows

Tickets for all Music Hall holiday shows can be purchased at The Music Hall box office at the Historic Theater (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth), on the phone at 603.436.2400, or online at http://www.themusichall.org

Strolls

Ticket prices for Strawbery Banke Museums’ Candlelight Stroll are $20 for adults, $10 for children, and $50 for families (2 adults and their children ages 17 and under). Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.strawberybanke.org or by phone at 603.433.1107. Tickets may be used any night of the Stroll.

About Strawbery Banke Museum

Connect with the Past! See how people in the Puddle Dock neighborhood of Portsmouth lived over nearly 400 years of New England history. Through restored furnished houses, exhibits, historic landscapes and gardens, and costumed role players, Strawbery Banke interprets the living history of generations who settled in Portsmouth, NH from the late 17th century to the mid 20th century on its 10-acre campus.  Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, NH is open 10am-5pm daily May through October and for Candlelight Stroll and historic house holiday tours in December. Call 603-433-1100 for more information or visit: http://www.strawberybanke.org

About The Music Hall

The Music Hall is a performing arts center featuring curated entertainment from around the world in two theaters in its downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire campus – one, a landmark 1878 Victorian theater, the other the intimate Music Hall Loft around the corner, recently named “best performing arts venue” by Yankee Magazine and the recipient of the NH AIA award for design excellence. Acclaimed signature series bring top authors and artists to both stages, while HD broadcasts and independent film fill both screens. A radio show broadcast on NH Public Radio originates here. This dynamic arts center urges patrons to Explore + Learn via master classes, post film panel discussions, and matinees for children. An anchor cultural organization in this historic working seaport, The Music Hall is one of downtown Portsmouth’s biggest employers and largest contributors to the regional economy: The Music Hall and its patrons contribute $7 million annually to the local economy through show and visitor related spending. Innovative in its outlook, the organization is community oriented and committed to making the Seacoast flourish. The Music Hall is 501c3 nonprofit managed by a professional staff with the assistance of a volunteer board.  Though global in the scope of its artists and programs, The Music Hall operates independently with the support of 3,000 members, 300 business supporters and 40 community partners. Welcoming more than 100,000 patrons (including 20,000 children) each year from the tri-state area and beyond, The Music Hall is the region’s center for the performing arts, literature and education…easy to get to, impossible to forget. http://www.themusichall.org

“the beating cultural heart of New Hampshire’s seacoast” – Boston Globe