CONWAY — From jingle-bell sleigh rides and tree lightings to holiday craft fairs and concerts, let alone visits by that white-bearded jolly ol’ fellow in red, Mount Washington Valley is an enchanting place to celebrate the spirit of the holiday season.
For a truly memorable holiday outing, head to the white-steepled mountain hamlet of Jackson for its ongoing Traditionally Yours, Jackson celebration (jacksonnh.com). Highlights of the Jackson celebration over the next few weeks include open houses and craft fairs, holiday tastings and shopping.
The favorite for many are the sleigh rides with chocolates, offered weekends through Dec. 22. Each rider receives an average of 10 handmade chocolates, a festive Christmas holiday bag for any chocolates not eaten on the tour, a Jingle Bell and an Austrian horse drawn sleigh ride through Jackson Village, offered by the Nestlenook Farm Resort.
You start your journey by checking in at the picturesque Nestlenook (a great place to go skating on Emerald Lake — skate rentals are available). There are hearthside fires at the gazebo, and the setting is perfect for holiday family photographs.
Here, you pick up your first homemade chocolate treat. Then you board the sleigh, and your journey begins. The tour makes several stops at local businesses along the route, and you don’t even have to get out of the sleigh — your next homemade chocolate treat will be brought out to you.
Tours are given from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. hourly at a cost of $30 per person (children 3 and under sitting on mom or dad’s lap and not taking chocolates are free). To book a reservation, call the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce at (603) 383-9356 or the Nestlenook at (603) 383-7101.
The Nestlenook this year is once again presenting “The Miracle at Nestlenook Ledges,” Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 21.
Your journey begins on one of their Austrian sleighs, which brings you to Santa’s Workshop, where the old Storyteller will regale one and all with a story which emphasizes the true spirit of Christmas. Santa, elves, toys, hot chocolate, gifts and more make this a wondrous journey.
It’s offered Fridays at 6, 6:45 and 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at 5:30, 6:15, 7 and 7:45 p.m. Cost is $29.50 per person age 2 and over. Advance reservations are required as space is limited and may be made by calling the Nestlenook at (603) 383-7101.
A highlight tonight (Dec. 7) is a reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at the Inn at the Ellis River from 4-6 p.m. (tickets are $20; reserve by calling 603-383-9339 or by go to innatellisriver.com).
Meanwhile, there is no shortage of festivities elsewhere in the valley and in nearby communities this holiday season, starting this weekend.
SATURDAY, Dec. 7
• Settlers Green’s daylong Holiday Festival & Tree Lighting includes free horse-drawn sleigh rides leaving every 15 minutes from the rotunda at Timberland; plus mini snow tubing with Cranmore, carolers beginning at noon, photos with Santa presented by MWV Kiwanis; free hot chocolate and candy canes. There will even be a chance to win a $500 shopping spree. Enter at the gazebo near J Crew. The tree lighting will be held at Settlers Green Streetside at 4:30 p.m. Info: (603) 356-7031, settlersgreen.com.
• Breakfast with Santa at the North Conway Community Center from 8-11 a.m. will be followed by the third annual “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular,” also at the center, from 1-3 p.m., presented by the elves at Badger Realty. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand for photos; portraying Santa’s reindeer will be puppies from Little Angels Service Dog’s newest litter. Proceeds benefit Little Angels and the community center. Info: (603) 356-2096.
• Continue the Grinchmas fun into the evening and enjoy the Mount Washington Valley Skating Club’s holiday performance, “Grinchmas On Ice,” from 5:15-7 p.m. at the Ham Arena, 87 West Main St. in Conway Village. Complimentary holiday cookies, as well as a place to drop off donations for Little Angels Service Dogs. After the show, stick around and enjoy free skating. Admission to the show is free, courtesy of Community Celebrations. Info: (603) 447-5886, hamarena.com/mwvskating club.
• Cassidy Gallery Muffins and Mimosas, 9 a.m.-noon at their brand-new location at the Majestic Theatre/Bolduc Block on Main Street in Conway Village. Info: firstname.lastname@example.org.
• 14th annual Shop Till U Drop Event, Brownfield Community Center, 82 Main St., Brownfield, Maine, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Call (207) 890-2388. Proceeds benefit Friends of Brownfield Rec.
• Madison Elementary School PTO Cafe Noel Craft Fair 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be available, along with local crafts. The school is located at 22 Route 113 in Madison.
• Holiday Open House at Burnt Knoll Firearms in Bartlett, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (603) 986-9622.
• Christmas Fair at Christ Episcopal Church, 16 Pine St., North Conway from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Jewelry, craft table, cookie walk, baked goods, holiday decor.
• Jackson Grammar School Artisan Fair, Whitney Community Center, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Jackson students will share their crafts and baked goodies; local artisans’ work also for sale.
• Sixth annual Holiday Artisan Fair at the Wildcat Inn & Tavern, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Jackson Village. Some of the valley’s most talented artisans gather to display, discuss and sell their special creations. Raffles, door prizes, food and drink specials. Info: wildcattavern.com.
• Children’s picture-book author Jamie L.B. Deenihan will be at White Birch Books in North Conway at 1 p.m. to share her newest picture book, “The Tooth Fairy vs. Santa.” Info: whitebirchbooks.com.
• Christmas Caroling Sing-Along: Starting at 5 p.m. at the Bradley Park Gazebo, Main Street, Fryeburg, Maine. Presented by Christ Home Church, a non-denominational church.
• “To the World — Peace and Joy” holiday bell concert of old favorites with a new twist, performed by the Wakefield Memorial Hand Bell Choir at 2 and 5 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Wakefield, UCC, 2718 Wakefield Road, Wakefield. Reserved seating recommended. Call (603) 522-3189 or email email@example.com.
• Mountain Top Music “Jazz for the Holidays” Home Concert at 3 and 7:30 p.m., featuring pianist Tom Snow and saxophonist Mike Sakash, performing in a stunning mountaintop home at Silver Lake beautifully decorated for the season. Seats are $35 per person and must be reserved online by credit card at mountaintopmusic.org/concert-series.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY, Dec. 7-8
• “Christmas in the Village” in Center Sandwich. 9-11:30 a.m., Breakfast with Santa at the Corner House Inn; free horse-drawn wagon rides from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the village center; book and craft fairs at several locations and food. Info: discoversandwich.com.
• Looking for some local holiday train fun? The Believe in Books Literacy Foundation annually presents its extremely popular “Journey to the North Pole,” Dec. 7-8, Dec. 12-15, Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 27-29. Go to journeytothenorthpole.org.
• The Conway Scenic Railroad (conwayscenic.com) offers its Santa’s Holiday Express Dec. 7-8, Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 20-23 and vacation week trains will run daily, Dec. 26-31 and Jan. 2-3, 2020, at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to Conway from North Conway. Call (603) 356-5251 for tickets.
• Check out M&D Theater Company’s production of “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical,” running at the playhouse at the Eastern Slope Inn Thursdays-Sundays, Dec. 5-15. The plot is described as “It’s holiday time down in Armadillo Acres (North Florida’s premier mobile-living community), and everyone’s filled with warmth and beer.” For tickets, call (603) 733-5275.
• Open house and holiday sale at Macomber Glass Studio, 480 Eaton Road, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 22, 1-4 p.m. Info: macomberglass.com.
• A White Mountain Christmas at First Church of Christ, Congregational, 2503 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, will be held at 7 p.m. The concert will feature Ray Cornils, municipal organist emeritus for the city of Portland, Maine; plus trumpeters Robinson Pyle and Greg Gettel. Info: (603) 356-2324.
SUNDAY, Dec. 8
• Pet Photos with Santa at Four Your Paws Only noon-3 p.m. Help celebrate the howl-a-days with the fine folks at this pet specialty store, now celebrating its 25th year. Proceeds benefit the Conway Area Humane Society. Info: fouryourpawsonly.com.
• Art classes for kids begin Dec. 8 at Jackson Art Studio & Gallery, 155 Ridge Road, Jackson. Kids can make their own holiday gifts. Additional information, including the full schedule, can be found at jacksonartnh.com.
• Stone Mountain Arts Center Finest Kind Artisan Craft Fair 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Brownfield, Maine, venue, with baked goodies and mimosas, fine works by regional artisans and musical entertainment by Erica Brown and the Bluegrass Connection. Info: (207) 935-7292, stonemountainartscenter.com.
• MWV Choral Society presents “A Christmas Oratorio” by Camille Saint-Saens with string ensemble at the First Church of Christ, Congregational in North Conway at 2 p.m. George Wiese, director; Susan Ferre, organ; and Regina Christianson, harp. $10 suggested donation. Info: mwvcs.org.
• Fryeburg Academy Candlelight Concerts at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center. 4 and 7 p.m. featuring the school’s choral and instrumental ensembles. Free admission. Call (207) 935-9232.
TUESDAY, Dec. 10
• Join Delaney’s Hole-in-the-Wall of North Conway for its annual holiday party on from 5-8 p.m. Over a dozen local artisans, new and returning, a local beer and wine tasting (of course), and food, seasonal drink specials and gift card sale. Call (603) 356-7776.
• Glenn Miller Orchestra in the ballroom at the Omni Mount Washington Resort, 7-10:30 p.m. Call (603) 278-1000.
THURSDAY, Dec. 12
• The Sandwich Singers, directed by Peggy Johnson, perform Christmas music at St. Andrew’s-in-the-Valley on Whittier Road in Tamworth at 7 p.m.
FRIDAY, Dec. 13
• Settlers Green Holiday Homecoming 3-7 p.m., carolers, photos with Santa, pop-up Artisan Marketplace, firepits, ugly sweater contest, complimentary refreshments and a deejay. Info: settlersgreen.com.
• Bradley Backstage 7:30 p.m. Heather Pierson Jazz Trio’s Annual Charlie Brown Christmas Concert at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center at Fryeburg Academy. Call (207) 935-9232.
• Celtic Christmas with the Sky Family at the Agape Worship Center, 60 Bean Road, Moultonborough, 7 p.m. Call (603) 677-6254.
SATURDAY, Dec. 14
• Mountain Garden Club annual Holiday Boutique 9:30 a.m.-noon. at the North Conway Community Center. Call (603) 356-2096.
• “A Christmas Carol” with Will Rhys, Denmark Arts Center, Denmark, Maine, 7 p.m. Rhys has adapted Dickens’s magical tale to create this unique production in which he weaves together the joy of storytelling with his skills as an actor to bring each character to life. Snow date: Dec. 15 at 2 p.m. Info: denmarkarts.org.
• The 16th annual TUBACHRISTMAS concert in Wolfeboro from 2-3 p.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 258 South Main St. Bring family and friends and enjoy this free public concert of holiday music and traditional carols, which will be performed by a low brass ensemble. Low brass instruments, such as tubas and euphoniums normally found at the back, will be the featured up-front instruments. Monetary donations gratefully accepted for the L.I.F.E. Ministries Food Pantry.
• The Sandwich Singers, directed by Peggy Johnson, perform Christmas music at the Melvin Village Community Church, Melvin Village, at 7 p.m.
• A Night with Acoustic Nuisance at the Wildcat Tavern Cold River Radio Show Mini Concert, 8-10 p.m. For dinner reservations, that are required for guaranteed seating, call (603) 383-6502; wildcattavern.com.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY, Dec. 14-15
• Mount Washington Valley Inn to Inn Holiday Cookie & Candy Tour: Visit 12 inns all dressed in their holiday finery, taste scrumptious holiday cookies and candy and take home a collection of scrumptious recipes in a keepsake cookbook on this scrumptious self-guided, ticketed tour 11 a.m.-4 p.m. each day. In addition, demonstrations, artisan sales and gift ideas will be featured at each inn, so you can do a little holiday shopping, too. Stay at one of the inns and receive a custom-made keepsake ornament. Info: countryinnsinthewhitemountains.com.
• Tina Titzer’s Holiday Festival of Dance & The Nutcracker Sweets at the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center in Fryeburg, Maine, on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Call (207) 935-4020 to reserve tickets.
SUNDAY, Dec. 15
• Lovell Historical Society’s Christmas Open House will be held from 1-4 p.m. at the 1839 Kimball-Stanford House, 551 Main St. (Route 5), across from the Lake Kezar Country Club in Lovell, Maine. For more information, call (207) 925-3234 or go to lovellhistoricalsociety.org.
• The historic First Christian Church, known as the Old White Church, of Center Tuftonboro celebrates the season with a special Community Christmas Service, beginning with a special musical prelude at 5 p.m. The church is across from the General Store in Center Tuftonboro. For information, call Joe Ewing at (603) 569-3861.
• Second annual Sip, Shop & Dine Craft Fair at Deacon Street Restaurant/Martini & Whiskey Bar in North Conway, 3-7 p.m. Over a dozen local crafters. Come in for dinner, an appetizer or a glass of wine and enjoy the cozy atmosphere of holiday shopping. Call (603) 356-9231.
• Holiday Marketplace at Sea Dog Brewing Co., North Conway: Crafters, artisans and vendors will be displaying their wares. Stop in for an evening of food and drink specials. 5-8 p.m. Call (603) 356-0590.
• The Sandwich Singers, directed by Peggy Johnson, will perform Christmas music at the Methodist Meeting House in Center Sandwich, starting at 7 p.m.
FRIDAY & SATURDAY, Dec. 20-21
• Stone Mountain LIVE for Christmas: Carol Noonan will be joined by Kevin Barry and Duke Levine as well as special guest “Guitar God” Bill Kirchen. Info: stonemountainartscenter.com.
FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY, Dec. 20-22
• Mount Washington Valley Christmas Celebration Presented by M&D at Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse. Come share in a holiday journey as local youth take a trip through some of their favorite pastimes of the festive season. This Christmas Celebration will feature some of your favorite Christmas tunes and stories and also feature some exciting dance performances, before culminating in a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” and a special appearance by Santa Claus. Info: yourtheatre.com.
MONDAY, TUESDAY & WEDNESDAY, Dec. 23-25
• Merry Little Christmas Celebration at Omni Mountain Washington Hotel: Fun events and great times for the holiday. Info: omnihotels.com/hotels/bretton-woods-mount-washington.
Enjoy the season — and the snow. Ho, ho, ho!