Events, features and things to do for families in New Hampshire
Maybe it’s the warm weather that puts us in such a festive mood each year? One look at this year’s summer events calendar and it becomes clear: when the temperatures rise, we like to celebrate. From fun community events to headliner festivals that draw visitors from across New England (and around the world), summer in New Hampshire can feel like a non-stop party. And you and your kids are invited! Some of the best “fests” around are family friendly happenings that you won’t want to miss. Here’s a rundown of some of the most exciting events taking place this summer.
Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke Museum kicks off the month with An American Celebration, a good old-fashioned Independence Day block party, complete with children’s bike and wagon parade, traditional games and crafts, historic garden tours, live music, living history, hands-on activities, food and fun for all. Events run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on July 4, with a ceremony swearing in new U.S. citizens at noon.
Once you’ve recovered from the fireworks of early July, it’s time for the annual Hillsborough County Balloon Festival (July 8 to 11). Come see the big, colorful balloons float up in the air -- even take a ride in one -- and then stay for the Carnival Midway, music and food, 4x4 truck and tractor pulls, Classic Car Show, sky diving demonstration, and 5K road race.
If your family just didn’t get its fill of patriotic fun earlier in the month, meet John Adams and celebrate America’s founding and freedom at Exeter’s annual American Independence Festival. Role players, British and Patriot re-enactors, traditional artisans, music, food, sidewalk sales, children’s activities and fireworks are just some of the fun. Plus, see an original Declaration of Independence at the American Independence Museum, the host of the event. (July 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
In Nashua, the summer’s most anticipated event for children is the city’s annual Fairy Tale Festival (July 16 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Boasting music, dance, storytellers and children’s entertainers, games, crafts, bouncy house fun, and free books, this event really is a fairy tale come true for families looking for some no-cost summer fun. And don’t forget the fairy wings! Festival-goers of all ages are encouraged to don their fairy, elf, knight, prince or princess best for the event.
For some summer fun on the wild side, look no further than Loon Festival, held at the Loon Center in Moultonborough (July 16). With crafts and games for the kids, presentations by loon biologists for the adults, and food, beverages and wildlife exhibits for everyone, the festival is a chance for the entire family to learn more about these fascinating waterbirds. Afterward, enjoy a kid-friendly hike on the grounds of the Markus Wildlife Sanctuary.
Give this summer’s soundtrack some classical flavor by attending one of the many concerts held throughout the Lakes Region and Plymouth State University as part of the NH Music Festival (July 5 to Aug 12). This year's conductor is Ben Loeb, sister of pop singer Lisa Loeb. During a soon-to-be-announced concert date, the two are set to perform together in a trip down the musical memory lane of their childhood. Plus, Lisa will perform her hit, “Stay (I Miss You)”.
In honor of the Contoocook River and its refreshing waters flowing through town, Jaffrey Riverfest is the perfect small town summer celebration filled with music, food, "Musical Chairs on Main", artisan crafts fair, antique cars, tethered hot air balloon rides, library book sale, arts and crafts and lots of games for kids, movies and much more. Always held the last Saturday in July, this year's festival is July 30.