The dead of winter is when New England comes alive, especially during the holidays! New Hampshire’s Monadnock region, especially, loves to use the arts to celebrate this special time of year. Home to many diverse artists including dancers, actors, musicians, and crafters, what better way to ring in the holidays than through the arts? With signature New England charm, these local festivities are sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Enjoy the warmth of local community at a dance or theater performance, holiday choral concert, or artisan crafts market. Be sure to stay up to date with current holiday events and festivities by checking out our regional Events Calendar.
Sing Along to a Concert of Holiday Carols
Music on Norway Pond, a music performance nonprofit for children and adults, have several holiday events to light up their local Hancock, NH. The annual Noel on Norway Pond concert features the Norway Pond Festival Singers and the Jr. Mints kids’ group. To get the community involved and singing, Music on Norway Pond also organizes the annual Caroling on the Common with professional trumpeters. Locals gather in the Hancock Common, just across the street from the Hancock Meeting House, to share candles and booklets. Fun fact: Music on Norway Pond is an Ewing Arts Award winner in the category of Performing Arts!
The Monadnock Chorus typically presents their spring and winter concerts at the Peterborough Town House. If classical music is your joy, come enjoy these holiday carols! Let yourself be carried away by beautiful melodies from both old and new composers. Learn more about the uplifting and multigenerational Monadnock Chorus in our Arts Spotlight blog series.
Another non-auditioned, multi-generational chorus is The Keene Chorale, which boasts 80 voices! Also celebrating works both old and new, the Chorale presents works dating from the medieval period to baroque, classical, and modern popular songs. Fun fact: this group has played Carnegie Hall! The Chorale often sings their Holiday concert at St. Bernard Church in Keene, NH.
The Chamber Singers of Keene also performs a variety of music, both religious and secular, spanning history. This group offers two concerts per year and is auditioned!
If you love choral music, but classical arrangements aren’t really your jam – attend a performance by the Greater Keene Pops Choir. The Keene Pops usher in the holidays with newer, popular carols and American favorites each year at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Keene, NH.
Explore local holiday artisan crafts
Settled around a pond, when snow falls the village of Marlow looks like a winter wonderland snow globe. This is the perfect time to attend their annual craft fair Christmas on the Pond and Christmas Around the Bend. Warm up with homemade soups and baked goods while getting started on holiday shopping! Live holiday music enlivens a silent auction and raffle of fine goods. With over 80 vendors offering a variety of crafts from artwork to soaps, baskets, and jewelry, this event gets so much traction that a shuttle runs from the free parking to the fair!
Love crafts but not the crowds? Visit the Rabbit Ridge Artisans Holiday Marketplace. Through November and December, this handful of artisans showcase their work at the Summit Winery in Westmoreland. Stop by on your own time and enjoy a taste of wine while you look through items handmade from leather, wood, metal, and more! The festivities also include weekly workshops in crafts such as basket weaving, painting, jewelry-making, and blacksmithing.
And of course, keep an eye out for artist studios and collectives. Downtown Keene is home to 17ROX Artist Studios and Nova Arts, both of which hold holiday pop-ups! Additional artisan collectives hold holiday markets in neighboring towns like Harrisville and Marlborough. Keep an eye on our Events Calendar! (Tip: Use the visual arts category to filter for craft fairs.) Local churches and community centers often hold holiday craft, thrift, and bake sales, as well!
If seeing all those beautiful handmade goods lights you up with inspiration, look into a hands-on workshop! Local makerspaces offer workshops on skills like ugly sweater designing, wreath and ornament making, cookie decorating, basket weaving, and much more. Look into MAXT Makerspace in Peterborough to learn how to use metalsmithing, woodturning, printmaking, etc. to make fun holiday decor. Check out The Craft School at Mill Hollow Works in Keene for more!
Lastly, keep an eye out for a very New Hampshire version of the paint and sip. Local breweries like West LA Beer Company, Frogg Brewing, and Post & Beam Brewing like to host creative workshops. Enjoy a craft and a craft beer!
Attend a live theater or dance performance
There’s something for everyone in the Monadnock Region, including theater lovers! From Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to screenings of the Metropolitan Opera to new works, the local theater scene is rich. Come see Monadnock Region actors shine! The Antrim Players and Project Shakespeare love a good classic. The Edge Ensemble and Firelight Theatre Workshop produce unique new work, and the Peterborough Players offer both screenings and live performances.
For some entertaining, family-friendly magic, get tickets to a classic Christmastime favorite: The Nutcracker. Keene performing arts school MoCo Arts performs this seasonal staple every year.
If you’re traveling without kids, enjoy a holiday burlesque show! EveryBody Burlesque, also based in Keene, presents bi-monthly themed performances that celebrate body positivity and erotic sovereignty.
Keep an eye on multidisciplinary venues in the region for extensive selections of seasonal film-screenings and performances. The Park Theatre in Jaffrey, the Colonial Performing Arts Center in Keene, and the Peterborough Community Theatre are but a few!
And of course, there’s always the opportunity to get out of your seat and move your feet. The Keene Jazz Orchestra holds an annual Holiday Swing Dance at the Best Western Plus in Keene, NH. The orchestra is a 17-piece band, often featuring a seasoned vocalist for the annual Swing Dance. Get on your feet, grab a drink or a snack, and dance to some big band holiday swingers and classics!
Many of the wonderful organizations mentioned in this blog are featured in our Arts Spotlight series. Read about the great work Monadnock region arts nonprofits are doing to increase access to the arts. Start with MoCo Arts, MAXT Makerspace, or the Peterborough Players!