There isn’t a much better way to enjoy the winter than by spending time in New England, and New Hampshire is one of the most beautiful of all when blanketed in a layer of snow. From a thrilling dogsled ride, to festive winter carnivals and whimsical ice castles, you’ll really lose yourself and capture the spirit of the holidays with these 15 wonderful winter activities to do in New Hampshire.
Hosted by the historic Wentworth by the Sea Hotel in New Castle, the Winter Wine Festival is a can’t-miss event. Five weeks of celebration, spanning from mid-January to mid-February, with perennial favorites including the Bubbles and Jazz brunch hosted every Sunday, and Grand Vintner Dinners, each featuring a premier global vineyard. Stop in for a no-ticket-required “Flight Night” to sample wines paired with small plates, or get gussied up and enjoy one of the “Big Tastings,” complete with passed hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment. Visit the festival website for complete schedule and pricing information.
A truly professional operation, the Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson is a singular destination. Though they offer year-round sledding, nothing can top the rush of a wintery, frozen landscape racing past as a team of perfectly athletic pups leads the way. Tour the kennel to meet the 100 dogs living there, many of whom came to the Muddy Paw as rescues. Learn about the history and sport of dog sledding, and finish the experience by tipping the dogs with a special treat.
Visit the annual Ice Harvest and Winter Carnival at the Remick Country Doctor, Museum, and Farm for a huge variety of family friendly activities. Pop in to say hello to the animals in their winter coats, take a tractor-pulled wagon ride on the site’s harness racing track, play carnival games, take a walk to learn to identify native New Hampshire trees, and see the antique Model T Ford snowmobiles (rides depending on weather). The true centerpiece of the day is the ice harvest demonstration, offering a hands-on glimpse into regional history. Giant ice blocks were used for centuries to provide a natural version of refrigeration. Try your skills by cutting a block, or observe and learn about the practice’s history.
Wild winter adventure awaits at Northern Extremes Snowmobiling in Bretton Woods. A century old means of transportation over the most extreme, snowy terrains is a modern delight whether you opt for a guided tour or a design-it-yourself excursion. Enjoy a family rate, or special discount for early risers.
Whether you opt for a private Victorian sleigh, or a family ride on the Big Red Sleigh, Farm by the River consistently delivers pure delight. If you take the more romantic route, packages include champagne, chocolates, and cozy faux fur blankets. Rated by TripAdvisor as one of the top 10 sleigh rides in the world, Farm by the River offers an unparalleled brumal experience for locals and visitors alike.
A truly special holiday experience put on by the city of Portsmouth. Experience a candlelit stroll, replete with the history of winter, Christmas, and Hanukkah brought to life by the costumed role players of the Strawbery Banke museum. Visit New York without leaving New Hampshire and take in the dazzling Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast.” Stop by the Vintage Christmas kick-off party and view the incredible Gingerbread House contest, with entered works by local artists, businesses, and families, and photographic displays of New England trains in winter and past Vintage Christmas events. Try your hand with skating at Puddle Duck pond, or take in one of the “Currier and Ives” inspired ice spectaculars hosted every weekend during the festival. An endless array of enjoyment can be found in a Portsmouth Orchestra Holiday Concert, a musical version of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” a reading of a holiday play, standup comedy, and the illuminated holiday parade and Christmas tree lighting. Don’t forget to experience a traditional, four course Colonial holiday meal at Strawbery Banke’s William Pitt Tavern before you leave. The festival spans the month of December, see website for tickets and specific event information.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Delve into a truly accessible winter activity in Jackson, where 40 miles of special-designed trails guarantee a stunning trek. Whether you opt for a guided tour, or design your own adventure with a trail map, the White Mountains are a winter wonderland not to be missed.
New Hampshire’s largest ski area manages to pay careful attention to detail and provide an exciting experience for skiers of all ages and abilities. Discover 464 acres of trails, including 62 trails, 35 glades, and three terrain parks, rated by Ski Magazine as “Best Snow Quality in the East.” Don’t forget to take the three hour, one of a kind winter canopy tour, offering unparalleled views and exciting zip line action.
An experience Oprah Winfrey described as “straight out of fairy tales,” the Ice Castle in Lincoln is a beloved seasonal celebration. A one acre site, constructed with 12,500 tons of ice, draws thousands of locals and visitors looking for frozen family fun. Integrated slides and caves make for daytime fun, shifting to a more dramatic nighttime scene complete with fire dancers, music, and multicolored lights. Whether you make a day trip of it, or an add on to a wintry stay at nearby Loon Mountain, The Lincoln Ice Castle is a guaranteed delight.
Snow kiting is skiing and snowboarding, unleashed! Use a massive kite to propel yourself across the terrain, and harness the wind to nail impressive jumps and tricks. Hardwater Kiting in North Conway offers lessons and equipment for all levels of experience, though basic skiing or snowboarding skills are recommended to save time.
The Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest is a hot spot for ice climbing. Scale frozen waterfalls and ice walls alongside world class climbers, demo high quality climbing gear, and sample some of the finest beer in the state. Demonstrations, shows, and clinics all offer opportunities to hone your skills or try a brand-new activity. If you can’t make the festival, check out winter-long ice climbing opportunities in the area.
Take in a holiday classic at Manchester’s Palace Theater with “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens’ seminal story of Christmas past, present, and future. A world class production of ceaselessly positive reviews, put on with quality costumes, sets, and performers.
Experience the frozen wonderland of Mount Washington at 4,200 feet. Take the SnowCoach four and a half miles up the mountainside for glorious, otherwise inaccessible views. This nine-person vehicle, powered by an all-wheel drive train, safely transports you to another world, where you will have the opportunity to view the surrounding area and take pictures, before safely delivering you back to the base in Gorham. If weather permits and you’re feeling more adventurous, snowshoe the return trip for a fully immersive mountain journey.
An incredible winter market, bringing you the best of homemade New Hampshire. Mingle with dozens of vendors as you browse and purchase the freshest dairy, baked goods, meat, fish, maple syrup, and more. A cozy way to spend a Saturday if New Hampshire’s outdoor wonders tire you out.
Enjoy a hearty Irish breakfast, engage in a good game of broom hockey, or strap on some skates and catch the oiled-up pig on ice. There are activities for all at the Newport Winter Carnival. Snowshoe racing, Frisbee golf, a murder mystery dinner, and Winter Carnival Pageant provide family fun with New Hampshire’s signature dedication to year-round adventure. Be sure and stop by the Newport Historical Society to view the exhibit of Winter Carnivals past.