Celebrating Christmastime in the Queen City

Feeling festive? You’ll find plenty of holiday magic in Manchester

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style… We all know the words to the song. Now make the lyrics come to life with a visit to New Hampshire’s Queen City this month.

It’s not officially the holiday season until the annual Manchester Holiday Parade has marched merrily along Elm Street. Watch festive floats aglow in holiday lights and local high school bands playing toe-tapping tunes on Saturday, December 2. The parade steps off at 4 p.m. from 1750 Elm St. and ends at the intersection of Elm Street and Lake Avenue.

Manchester’s Palace Theatre celebrates the holiday season with its annual production of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’s classic story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim. Known for his penny pinching ways, Scrooge is visited by three ghosts on a snowy Christmas Eve. These ghostly visits reveal Scrooge’s past, present and future, filling him with newfound hope and joy in the Christmas season. You know the story; now see the Palace Theatre bring it to life on stage. Filled with lively song, this is a treat for all ages. Performances are Friday, December 1 through Saturday, December 23.

Christmas markets are a European tradition taking hold across the United States, including here in New Hampshire. At Downtown Manchester’s Holiday Market, browse through local artisanal gifts and crafts in a festive atmosphere filled with music and good cheer inside Brady Sullivan Plaza at 1000 Elm St. Bring the kids! The market is open Thursdays, December 7 and 14, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays, December 9 and 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Do you need to burn off some calories? Do it in style — and for a good cause — at the Ugly Sweater 5K Run, a benefit race for the Manchester Animal Shelter on Saturday, December 16, starting at 9 a.m. The 3.1-mile run, jog or walk takes place around Manchester’s scenic Millyard, starting and ending at the Foundry restaurant on Commercial Street. Wear your favorite ugly Christmas sweater and take a photo at the finish line with Santa. Kids younger than 12 run for free.

Or how about a spin around the ice? Public skating takes place Saturdays and Sundays throughout December at JFK Memorial Coliseum on Beech Street. Don’t worry if you don’t have skates – rentals are available for $5. For more information, call 624-6444.

No, it’s not a dream. The Polar Express is arriving at the Manchester Public Library’s West Branch and your kids are invited to hop on board. On Tuesday, December 12, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., kids can take part in holiday games, crafts and stories at a festive Polar Express party. Admission is free. For more details, call 624-6560.

For more free holiday fun, stop by Barnes & Noble on South Willow Street throughout the month for a special Saturday story time featuring favorite holiday stories and activities. The month kicks off with How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Saturday, December 2, at 11 a.m.

Pop go the holidays when the Boston Pops Orchestra, conducted by Keith Lockhart, returns to Manchester for its 15th annual Holiday Pops concert at the SNHUA Arena on Elm Street. Get ready to clap, tap your feet, and sing along with Christmastime favorites on Saturday, December 16. Special guests include The Metropolitan Chorale.

Finally, what’s the holiday season without the Nutcracker? To get your fill of sugar plum fairies and dancing mice, look no further than Ballet Misha’s award-winning production. Performances are Saturday, December 16, and Sunday, December 17, at The Dana Center at St. Anselm’s College.

Jacqueline Tourville is a longtime contributor to Parenting NH.

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