Things to do Memorial Day weekend

Activities and events happening for families during Memorial Day weekend across the Granite State

Memorial Day is a time for remembering the brave men and women who have served and died for our country, and also for spending time with your family.   It’s the unofficial kickoff to summer in New Hampshire, with kid-friendly activities taking place around the state. Here are some ideas on to how to fill your Memorial Day weekend 2019 with start-of-summer family fun.


Get summer beach season off to a bang with the special Memorial Day Weekend fireworks show at Hampton Beach. Bring a blanket and some sweatshirts and snuggle up watching the free show on Sunday night, May 26, beginning at 9:30. Fireworks launch on the beach between B and C Streets, so plan your viewing spot accordingly.


Memorial Day parades are a traditional way to celebrate community and honor members of the U.S. military. Parades take place across New Hampshire — some towns even make a day of it. In the town of Bow, attend a wreath ceremony at the town pond at 3:15 p.m. to honor fallen members of the Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. and then the Memorial Day Ceremony begins at the town gazebo at 3:30 p.m. In the early evening, pull up a chair or blanket at the family-style community picnic at the Bow town gazebo from 5-7 p.m.

Attractions and amusements

The water may be too chilly to take a dip, but there’s still plenty of fun taking place in the Lakes Region over Memorial Day weekend. Get the entire family out on the lake by hopping aboard the M/S Mount Washington for a scenic cruise around Lake Winnipesaukee. Tickets for kids 12 and under are for free for all daytime cruises during Memorial Day Weekend May 25-27 and active members of the military and veterans pay only $10.

The Wolfeboro Boat Museum reopens Saturday, May 25 just in time for families spending the long weekend at the lake. While you’re in Wolfeboro, make sure to also stop in at the Wright Museum of World War II. The museum’s current exhibit on display is: Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II. Embracing themes that are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago, this exhibit takes a deep look at immigration, prejudice, civil rights, heroism, and what it means to be an American.

Are you a military family? As a special thank you to members of the U.S. military, the Hobo Railroad in Lincoln and Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad in Meredith and Weirs Beach are inviting active-duty military and veterans to ride the rails for free on Memorial Day weekend. In addition to scenic rides, the Hobo Railroad features on-board entertainment for families.

Canobie Lake Park in Salem also has a special $10 admission price for current military members or veterans during May 25-27. Children accompanying these service men or women will also receive the $10 reduced rate.

Other attractions opening up for the summer season on Memorial Day weekend include: Clark’s Trading Post in Lincoln, Santa’s Village in Jefferson and Story Land in Glen. Memorial Day weekend is a great time to visit because the weather tends to be milder  – and so are the crowd numbers. (Insider’s tip: May 25 and 26 are Guest Appreciation Days at Santa’s Village and the park offers reduced admission rates.)

Family-friendly events and outdoor activities

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be the annual Wildquack Duck Race and Music Festival, taking place in Jackson on Sunday, May 26. The festival features the popular “running of the ducks” where more than 3,000 rubber ducks race their way down the Wildcat River in support of local non-profits. Attendees can also look forward to live music, train rides, kids games, food vendors and more. Admission is free.

If you’re in the northern part of the state, then make sure you check out the Lisbon Lilac Festival happening Friday, May 24 through Sunday, May 26. This annual Memorial Day event offers something for everyone including midway rides, food and a parade for the kids and live entertainment and artisan vendors for the adults. On Saturday, there is a float parade as well as 5k fun run and walk.

Who’s ready for s’mores? Most New Hampshire State Park campgrounds will be open in time for Memorial Day, making it easy and inexpensive to get away for a camping weekend. From Crawford Notch to Mount Monadnock to Hampton Beach, there’s a campground for everyone that’s close to some of the state’s most scenic destinations. For a roundup of our favorite family-friendly campgrounds, click here. Don’t want to stay overnight? Check out state park day use areas that provide grills and picnic tables — the perfect spot for your Memorial Day cookout. State parks are also the perfect spots for hiking, biking and other outdoor fun. Here are our eight favorite NH state parks.

If you’re planning a trip to the beautiful Waterville Valley for Memorial Day weekend, then don’t miss the 30th Annual Chowderfet and Brews, which takes place on Sunday, May 26. Be sure to stick around on Monday, because the kids in your family will also love checking out the Animal Encounters Series, a Squam Lakes Natural Science live animal presentation on Monday, May 27.

If you’re in the Queen City area on Memorial Day, then don’t miss the NH Fisher Cats take on the Hartford Yard Goats at 1:35 p.m. Hartford will be in town all weekend (May 24-27) and there are a number of special promotions happening throughout the weekend, including fireworks on May 24-25.

Jacqueline Tourville is Parenting New Hampshire’s travel and tourism expert.