The 10 Best Festivals in New Hampshire!

The festivals a state offers are like a glimpse into its soul: Their themes reflect the recreational and cultural details held most dear by locals. These events are also an opportunity to showcase the state of New Hampshire to outsiders, those drawn to us by common interest who may know little else about our great state. Whether you hit the circuit, or pick one that speaks to you, the fairs and festivals of New Hampshire are proud traditions of shared amusements and heritage.

1. Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic, Hampton Beach, NH

Each year in the heart of summer, 200 tons of imported sand are added to the shores of Hampton Beach for one of the nation’s best sand sculpting competitions. Ten master sculptures, vying for a grand prize of $15,000, create breathtaking works of fine(grain) art that rival history’s best. The masterpieces are lit at night, and remain standing for weeks, making an open aired, seaside museum for all who visit. 

2. WOKQ Chowder Festival, Portsmouth, NH

As both New England’s oldest and largest chowder festival, WOKQ’s Portsmouth event is well worth the visit. Twenty restaurants serving up variations on the classic like smoked scallop or vegetarian chowder, alongside incredible live entertainment, makes for a truly delicious way to spend an afternoon. 

3. New Hampshire Magazine’s Best of New Hampshire Party, Manchester, NH

Truly a proud celebration of our beloved state, New Hampshire Magazine’s Best of New Hampshire is one of the yearly highlights. Based on reader votes for their favorite spots, the party features over 65 booths offering food and beverage samples, live music and entertainment, and a breathtaking firework display to cap off the evening. Even more exciting, the event takes place at the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of the Manchester Fisher Cats. One lucky guest will win an all-inclusive, week-long vacation on Squam Lake, proceeds go to a local charity, and surprise music guests have included Taylor Swift and Steven Tyler in past years. New Hampshire Magazine’s Annual Best of Bash is truly a way to celebrate what makes our state just so great. 

4. Seacoast Microbrew Festival, Dover, NH

Everybody knows New Hampshirites brew quality beer, and the Dover’s Seacoast Microbrew Festival pays homage to that instinct. Hosted by 7th Settlement Brewery on the scenic Cocheco Riverbank, the festival takes place over two days and features plenty of entertainment and, of course, outstanding beer. Enjoy your suds alongside great food, live music, and good people at the Seacoast Microbrew Festival. 

5. Laconia Motorcycle Festival, Laconia, NH

Honored with the title of the nation’s oldest motorcycle rally, the first of this annual event took place in 1916 as a part of the Gypsy Tour. These tours were described in 1919 by Motorcycle and Bicycle Weekly Magazine as having two primary goals: “To provide a good time for the riders, and their wives, sisters, and sweethearts,” and to “create a more favorable public opinion of the motorcycle and… riders.” Both of these original motivations are addressed still today at the Laconia Festival. Whether you arrive on a hog or in a minivan, this week-long roster of events and camaraderie is a wonderful way to get outdoors and meet new people. 

6. Great Waters Music Festival, Wolfeboro, NH

For over 20 years, the Great Waters Music Festival has been providing Wolfeboro with great music and outstanding community spirit. The festival presents quality concerts every year throughout the spring and summer in beautiful venues for fair prices. Whether you enjoy the entire season as a Wolfeboro native, or swing into town to catch a show, the Great Waters Music Festival is one of the best ways to enjoy diverse live music in the state. 

7. League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair, Newbury, NH

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Fair is an annual celebration of the dedication and talent shared by our incredible local artisans. For over 80 years, this festival has been a place for both creators and admirers to gather together in appreciation of quality hand goods. Visit the fair for workshops, demonstrations, live music, shopping, and togetherness. 

8. Atlas Pyrovision Festival of Fireworks, Jaffrey, NH

At the end of August, one of the world’s most impressive display of pyrotechnics takes place in Southern New Hampshire. The brainchild of Atlas, the Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce, and the Jaffrey Airfield Silver Ranch, this show is not to be missed. Over 35 straight minutes of jaw dropping fireworks, accompanied by carefully selected music, is sure to impress even the most jaded among us. The display is preceded by an evening of family friendly events, so come early, and be sure to bring both a lawn chair and a childlike sense of wonder. 

9. New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival, Lincoln, NH

A glorious display of strength and athleticism descends on Loon Mountain every Autumn in the form of the New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival. Top international athletes gather to showcase their skills, and spectators come to admire them. Other competitive fields of the festival include piping, drumming, fiddle, harp, and highland dancing skills.

10. Exeter UFO Festival, Exeter, NH

As home to one of the most widely-told stories of alien abduction, New Hampshire is a natural location for a world class UFO festival. The event draws abduction and UFO experts considered to be at the top of their field from around the world, and provides an opportunity for believers to come together and share. All proceeds from the event benefit the Exeter Kiwanis club. 

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