Mark your calendars – you won’t want to miss this year’s Vintage Christmas celebration. Filled with fun events for the whole family, the month-long event in beautiful Portsmouth, New Hampshire has cemented itself as a beloved holiday tradition for the past 12 years. This season’s highlights include the Ogunquit Playhouse production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast the Broadway musical at The Music Hall’s Historic Theater and the 37th annual Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke. Getting around town to all the holiday fun couldn’t be easier thanks to the free Vintage Christmas trolley, courtesy of the City of Portsmouth.
We invite you to delight in the magic of the holiday season here in Portsmouth. Here’s what’s happening this year:
What: The Ogunquit Playhouse production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast the Broadway musical
Where: The Music Hall’s historic theater
When: November 30–December 18
The Music Hall has once again partnered with the Ogunquit Playhouse to bring a magical holiday show to the historic theater. This year, audiences will be treated to the Broadway production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, on stage November 30–December 18. Don’t miss this classic story with unforgettable characters, stunning sets and costumes straight from London, dazzling production numbers, and Broadway actors – all with a touch of holiday magic.
In the spirit of a truly Vintage Christmas, Strawbery Banke Museum welcomes visitors to travel through 300+ years of daily life in the waterfront neighborhood of Puddle Dock. This year’s rendition of the beloved Candlelight Stroll will be “Gift from the Sea.” Along candlelit dirt lanes, visitors will walk through a historic portrayal of winter –and, where historically appropriate, the holidays of Christmas and Hannukah – among the glowing historic homes and costumed role players. The magical experience will be accompanied by a full program of musical performances and theatricals.
Help celebrate the official start of Vintage Christmas cheer and get the first look at the results of the popular 26th Annual Gingerbread House Contest Exhibit. Created by local business, artists, families, and children, the gingerbread houses will be nestled into a winter wonderland in the first floor gallery. The free exhibition is open from 10a.m.–5p.m. until December 23rd (with extended hours until 8p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).
What: Kent Stephens’ The Ragpicker’s Dream
Where: The Music Hall Loft
When: Saturday, December 17th & Tuesday, December 20th
This funny, poignant holiday play reading (no sets or costumes) will contain a collection of tales, interspersed with the work of Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows, the poetry of Robert Frost and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and the comedy of David Sedaris.
End the year with laughter at this always-a-hit comedy show, where Juston will be dishing on New England life and looking back at the year. Juston has been a guest on The Tonight Show and has performed in two Comedy Central specials, including his own one-hour show. He was recently named Best (Comedian) of NH by New Hampshire Magazine.
Enjoy the delight of a winter skate at Strawbery Banke’s professionally-maintained outdoor ice-skating rink. In the spirit of Portsmouth’s rich performing arts culture, the rink hosts a Currier & Ives-inspired show during each of the December weekends of the Candlelight Stroll. Skate rentals and sharpening services are available.
What: Pickwick’s Holiday Dinners
Where: Strawbery Banke’s William Pitt Tavern
When: December 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 16th, 17th, and 18th
Step in from the cold and back in time at Pickwick’s acclaimed Holiday Dinners. Experience the historic William Pitt Tavern in all its holiday splendor for a festive colonial four-course meal prepared by acclaimed Chef Evan Mallett of the Black Trumpet. There will also be locally-crafted libations and live music to evoke holiday cheer.
What: Portsmouth Christmas Tree Lighting & Illuminated Holiday Parade and Food Drive
Where: Market Square
When: Saturday, December 3rd (Rain date: December 4th) | Tree lighting @ 5:30p.m.; Parade @ 6:00p.m.
Experience this magical event in the heart of downtown Portsmouth. Excitement builds as the community counts down to the lighting of the Portsmouth Christmas tree and the festive fun continues with a dazzling illuminated holiday parade down Islington Street and through Market Square.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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
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
“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.
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.
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
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