The Music Hall + Strawbery Banke Museum Present Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth

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© David J. Murray Clear Eye Photo
© David J. Murray Clear Eye Photo

The Music Hall + Strawbery Banke Museum Present Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth; The Entire Month of December 2015

This year: White Christmas the Broadway musical, Strawbery Banke skating rink, costumed holiday dining in Pitt Tavern, Figtree Kitchen cafe, The Nutcracker, and more!

“Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Christmas Capital of America” – Travel + Leisure

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

Make plans now for the perfect holiday visit!

Now in its 11th year, Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth celebrates the winter, the warmth, the light, and our collective memories of holidays past. Presented by cultural anchors The Music Hall and Strawbery Banke Museum 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 over 30 years, and the Broadway production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at The Music Hall’s landmark 1878 Historic Theater presented in partnership with the Ogunquit Playhouse.

Back by popular demand, the free Vintage Christmas trolley, courtesy of the City of Portsmouth. Cuddle up with a trolley ride through red-bricked Market Square in this elegant and delightful holiday downtown 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., Inc. to make First Night® Portsmouth (New Year’s Eve) a spectacular evening in the city (ice sculptures, 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 2015?

At The Music Hall
The Music Hall and the Ogunquit Playhouse have once again partnered to bring a magical holiday show to the historic theater. This year they will be presenting the Broadway production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, the beloved holiday classic that will be on stage December 9-20
About White Christmas
Veterans Bob Wallace and Phil Davis have a successful song-and-dance act after World War II. With romance in mind, these showbiz buddies follow two beautiful singing sisters to their Christmas show at a Vermont lodge, which just happens to be owned by Bob and Phil’s former army commander. The dazzling score features well-known standards including “Sisters”, “Count Your Blessing Instead of Sheep”, “Happy Holidays” and the perennial favorite, “White Christmas.”

At Strawbery Banke
Strawbery Banke Museum welcomes visitors to time travel through 300+ years of daily life in the waterfront neighborhood of Puddle Dock. Candlelight Stroll, one of the museum’s most treasured signature events, depicts December — and where historically appropriate, the holidays of Christmas and Hannukah — through the centuries. Candle lanterns light the dirt lanes, historic houses glow with hand-made decorations and costumed role players of all ages share their winter experiences with guests. A full program of musical performances and theatricals adds to the holiday spirit.

At Pickwicks
Holiday Dinners (Dec 5/6, 12/13, 19/20)– Step in from the cold and back in time. Join the revelry to experience the historic William Pitt Tavern. The wondrous evening includes colonial holiday fair prepared by the Black Trumpet’s Evan Mallet, libations by the Portsmouth Brewery, and live music to evoke the holiday cheer! Some seatings are still available, please reserve tickets at

Pickwick’s Official Trolley “Nickelby” Arrives!– This December enjoy the latest addition to the Pickwick’s Family, Nickelby. The 19 passenger holiday trolley will be offering transportation to Portsmouth folk during the weekends of December (Sat/Sun). More information forthcoming, visit
Open House Weekends (December Weekends Fri-Sun)– Choose a Pickwick’s adventure this holiday season–Lady Pickwick’s, Pickwick’s Mercantile, Pickwick’s at the Banke or Deadwick’s Ethereal Emporium (Nov27). Browse our curious collections, delve back in time, and of course, enjoy our complimentary gift wrapping and food sampling as always. Celebrate the season with the most joyous of all merry-makers…The Pickwickians!

Deadwick’s Ethereal Emporium– Will be re-opening November 27 (Black Friday) through Dec 24 with a new theme…stay tuned!

Returning Favorites
At The Music Hall – live shows, films, HD broadcasts, historic tours, and a beloved 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, the Nutcracker makes its return, and the year rounds out with Comedy Central’s Juston McKinney’s Last Laugh 2015. The Ogunquit Playhouse at The Music Hall Series continues to bring Broadway to the historic port, with Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – happening December 9 – 20 in the Historic Theater.

At Strawbery Banke Museum – Skating rink, time travel shop, food + drink at new café and historic tavern
Labrie Family Skate at Puddle Dock Pond, the museum’s seasonal outdoor ice skating rink at the heart of the 10-acre living history museum site operates daily, 9 am to 9 pm. In the spirit of Portsmouth’s rich performing arts culture, the rink hosts a Currier & Ives-type show during each of the December weekends of Candlelight Stroll. Labrie Family Skate 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 Figtree Kitchen cafe in the adjacent museum Tyco Visitor Center serves food and beverages. The rink schedule includes 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
Figtree Kitchen cafe in the Tyco Visitors Center is open throughout Candlelight Stroll, serving a light menu of sandwiches, quiche, sweet and savory scones, specialized pastries and hot and cold beverages.

At Discover Portsmouth– Discover Portsmouth celebrates Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth with the kickoff party Tuesday December 1, 2015 5-7pm when visitors will have the first look at the popular Gingerbread House Contest exhibit running until Christmas Eve in the first floor gallery. Created by local businesses, artists, families and kids, the gingerbread houses can be seen every day from 10am – 5pm with extended hours on Saturdays and Sundays until 8pm, and open for Art Round Town, Friday December 4 from 5-8pm. The exhibit is free and open to the public at Discover Portsmouth 10 Middle Street. Come see these magical creations and find holiday gifts in the Museum Shop!
At Pickwicks- Pickwick’s at the Banke, complementing the museum with a shopping experience reflecting Portsmouth’s colonial maritime heritage. The 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. Pickwick’s will present a costumed historical dining experience in Strawbery Banke’s Pitt Tavern on the six nights of Candlelight Stroll.

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!”