Portsmouth NH

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The towns that nestle along New England’s rocky, spectacular coastline are legendary for many things: remarkable history, breathtaking beauty, and incomparable character. These many towns may all be remarkable, breathtaking, and incomparable – at any time of year, or any moment within that year – but there is one town that shines especially, and never more so than a special time of year. While some may think first of the shimmering, vibrant hues of autumn; the glimmering, dewy blossom of spring; the sparkling, lush flash of summer. But in Portsmouth, there’s one season that glitters more brightly – the wintery holiday season. The glisten of untouched snow, glowing candles in windows, woodsmoke dancing in the crisp air. Nothing shows off our harbor as the Christmas Capital of North America quite as well, unless it’s the bevy of wonderful events that celebrate it all.


Christmas tree in Market Square, downtown Portsmouth, NH, USA

Christmas Tree in Market Square, Susan Cole Kelly

There’s nothing merrier than starting off the month of festivities with an fabulous, town-wide party – and December 3rd’s Parade and Tree Lighting couldn’t be more perfect. Setting downtown at its loveliest vantage, live music performances start the evening off in the square, followed by the gorgeous tree lighting to signal the beginning of the holiday season, and then immediately followed by a luminescent parade through the town.

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Portsmouth Holiday Parade 2013, David J. Murray

For the elfing inclined, there’s nothing quite so jolly as a day spent shopping for the ones we love the most. This year, let that shopping help an important local organization in attending the Center for Wildlife’s Holiday Bazaar! Transformed into a magical forest shop, and open every Saturday until December 25th, the bazaar has gifts ranging from handmade jewelry to an organic chef’s delights, based in all the beauty nature has to offer. Those who join also have the opportunity to meet owls, falcons, and hawks up close – perfect for the tiniest elves who might need a bit of entertainment distraction during shopping.

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Nubble Lighthouse in Winter, Portsmouth NH Photography

There are few spaces as gracefully majestic and opulently welcoming as The Music Hall. Originally built with majestic lines and stunning structural work, TMS Architects was honored to renovate and redesign the Loft and adjoining spaces of this historic edifice – and much like the rest of our town, it is most radiant when hosting its vast array of holiday offerings. This season, the performance to see is the Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra’s Family Holiday Pops on December 20th & 21st, a féte unlike anything else with special guests Taylor O’Donnell and Chris Klaxton filling the hall with beautiful music.

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Vintage Christmas at The Music Hall, The Music Hall

If celebrating Christmas now is delightful, stepping back in time to see how Portsmouth celebrated as the Christmas capital for the past 350 is pure wonder. Luckily, with the Strawbery Banke Vintage Christmas in Portsmouth’s Candlelit Stroll, every brilliant facet throughout that history is on display on each weekend through New Year’s. Visit sumptuously decorated homes adorned with thousands of handmade ornaments, sit by the resplendent bonfire, and experience the cherished traditions of eras past – all by the magic of luminous candlelight.

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Candlelight Stroll at Strawbery Banke, David J. Murray

Portsmouth’s glorious beauty is unquestionable at any moment of the year; but there’s something in December’s light that brings an even greater richness to these moments. Yet even with the music, the decorations, and the glowing firelight, there’s only one element that makes these last moment of the year shine so bright – Portsmouth’s people, supporting and celebrating everything they do to make their town a wonderland, in winter and beyond.

 

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New England is a place of unparalleled history and beauty. Even those who root against our sports teams this time of year can’t find fault in their home cities, and even that most brutal of seasons soon to come has a vast and pristine grace all its own. As a gem in the New England crown, Portsmouth is no different in this – except for being a unique intersection of fascinating history and astonishing beauty. A natural setting of exquisite vistas joined by an abundance of natural resources have long drawn people across continents to this specific harbor, bringing wealth and culture to flourish into paradigm unlike any other. A physical testament to this duality – this meeting of history and beauty – is no better embodied than in architecture, and within Portsmouth’s architecture, no place shows a better example than the John Paul Jones House.

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by J Dennis Robinson

Portsmouth is unique. New Hampshire’s only seaport, soon to celebrate its 400th anniversary, blends charm and culture with vitality and commerce. In this series historian J.Dennis Robinson profiles people who influenced, honored, pictured, preserved, and promoted the historic architecture of “The Old Town by the Sea.”  

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The first few weeks September are so often the sweetest of summer. While it may go by too fast, things on the whole slows down; everyone wants these few moments to last before the hectic beast that is autumn sets in. The end of summer is time for a breath, when most people understand that work can take a back seat, schedules can slacken, and those softly hazy days can truly be enjoyed. This is the time to truly relish time, summer, and especially our community. Enjoy these last summer favorites of events in Portsmouth before those lustrous fall days set in, to bring even more beauty with its cool winds and shifting colors.

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chase house door

by J Dennis Robinson

Portsmouth is unique. New Hampshire’s only seaport, soon to celebrate its 400th anniversary, blends charm and culture with vitality and commerce. In this series historian J.Dennis Robinson profiles people who influenced, honored, pictured, preserved, and promoted the historic architecture of “The Old Town by the Sea.”  

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Cool nights and perfect days welcome us to the end of June, where there’s nothing quite like having a locally brewed beer out on the back deck after work. While most of us in Portsmouth depend on the tourist season, there is nothing better than these last few weeks where we have summer all to ourselves. With all that our town has to offer, and with this ideal weather, enjoying the outdoors while it’s still all ours is the best part of this month.

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An illustration of the John Langdon Mansion by Helen Pearson from VIGNETTES OF PORTSMOUTH

by J Dennis Robinson

Portsmouth is unique. New Hampshire’s only seaport, soon to celebrate its 400th anniversary, blends charm and culture with vitality and commerce. In this series historian J.Dennis Robinson profiles people who influenced, honored, pictured, preserved, and promoted the historic architecture of “The Old Town by the Sea.”  

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After months of continuous snow, slate gray skies, and that endless marrow-deep chill in the air, Portsmouth’s classic New England “spring” has finally begun to pass and summer is mere days from being officially here. The days will lengthen, kids will be out of school, and nights will be filled with warm honey light and cool breezes by the sea. What better way to welcome the season than by being involved in the area you love best? Beat the tourists with some amazing insider events around town, and get the most out of these early summer days.

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Twice a year, home design professionals from all around the world gather at the High Point Furniture Market in North Carolina. It’s the largest furnishings trade show in the world, and as they like to say, “if you can’t find it at High Point, it probably doesn’t exist.” We’re always on the lookout for fabulous furniture finds for our clients, so we sent our interior design team to scout out the latest and greatest. Here are a few trends that inspired us…

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Architecture Advocates: Sarah Foster

by J Dennis Robinson

Portsmouth is unique. New Hampshire’s only seaport, soon to celebrate its 400th anniversary, blends charm and culture with vitality and commerce. In this series historian J.Dennis Robinson profiles people who influenced, honored, pictured, preserved, and promoted the historic architecture of “The Old Town by the Sea.”  

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