13 fun events across NH to put on your calendar this summer

UFO Festival Pet Costume. Courtesy of the Exeter UFO Festival

By Stacy Milbouer

May 13, 2024

Who needs to rent a cottage on the lake? You can stay home and have tons of fun at one of the many summer festivals in New Hampshire this year. Here are some events for your calendar:

Eighth Annual NH Bacon & Beer Festival, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Outdoor Fields, 221 Daniel Webster Highway, Merrimack, June 1 12:30 – 4:30 p.m. This celebration of savory bacon alongside the endless possibilities of craft brews is a fundraiser for the High Hopes Foundation which provides life-enhancing experiences and medical equipment to New Hampshire’s terminally and chronically ill children. There will be 60 craft brewers offering more than 150 kinds of beers, 20 bacon samples, and 25 barbecue samples. Advance tickets are $60 and $80 the day of the event. Designated drivers are $35. Tickets are available here.

Memorial Day Weekend Craft Festival, Mills Falls Market Place, 312 Daniel Webster Highway Meredith, May 25, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., May 26, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., May 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. There will be more than 85 juried crafters and artisans offering jewelry, folk art, quilts, photography, fiber arts, pottery, wearable art, and more. Admission is free.

Market Square Day, Portsmouth, June 8 celebrates this seacoast city’s vibrant downtown. Approximately 50,000 people are expected to walk through Portsmouth to enjoy live entertainment, crafts, local products, and food offered by Seacoast artists, crafters, and merchants. The day kicks off with the Market Square Day 10K Road Race. Most of downtown Portsmouth is vehicle-free and pedestrian-friendly from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The 101st Laconia Motorcycle Week, June 8-16. Riders come from all over the country to the Lakes Region for this national motorcycle rally. The American Motorcyclist Association-sanctioned event includes hill climbs, vintage and super motor races, and stunt shows. Laconia Motorcycle Week also has demo rides from some of the biggest major motorcycle manufacturers including Harley-Davidson, Indian, Yamaha, and more. There is live music, bike shows, and vendors featuring the latest and greatest in the motorcycle industry. Race fans can camp at Motorcycle Nirvana in the center of the racing action.

Hampton Beach Sand Sculpting Event, Hampton Beach, June 20-22. The theme for this year is “Sand Wars—May the Beach Be with You.” Visit the coast and watch as 200 tons of imported sand is sculpted into stunning, three-dimensional vignettes. The entire area is illuminated for night viewing through June 26. Visit the beach or view the entries here. The competition gets international attention and sculptors participate by invitation.

The 50th Annual Prescott Park Arts Festival, 105 Marcy St., Portsmouth, June 1 to Aug. 6. This 10-week summer season of more than 90 family-friendly arts programs includes themed music festivals, concerts, a film series, dance, children’s events, and signature musical theater. Admission to all events is on a suggested payment basis and no one is turned away, allowing access to high-quality art for everyone.

Hillsboro Summer Festival, 29 Preston St., Hillsborough, July 11-14. A family favorite for over 35 years, this four-day event includes a parade, live entertainment, food, carnival rides, fireworks, and a 5K road race. For a schedule of events and details of admission costs, visit here.

New Hampshire Music Festival, Plymouth, July 9 – Aug. 2. This is the 72nd year New Hampshire Music has presented a series of classical music performances by artists from all over the country. The live concerts are performed at the foot of the White Mountains, at the Silver Center for the Arts at Plymouth State University, and Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main St, New London. Subscription tickets are on sale now. General tickets go on sale May 16. For a full schedule of performances, look here.

Jericho ATV (All Terrain Vehicles) Festival, Androscoggin Valley, Aug. 2-3. Hit the over 1,000 miles of interconnected trails in the state’s ATV-friendly towns during this action-packed weekend. Events include a blessing of the ATVs, an outdoor movie night, downtown Berlin Block Party, a torchlit parade, food festival, a cornhole tournament, and a concert in the park. The ATV curfew is extended for Friday, Aug. 2, and Saturday, Aug. 3. All riders must be off the road and trails by 10 p.m.

Suncook Valley Hot Air Balloon Rally, Drake Field, Barnstead Rd, Pittsfield, Aug. 2-4. Not only will you be able to see the arrival and take-offs of these gorgeous aircraft, but there are plenty of events including helicopter rides, sunrise/balloon rise yoga, carnival rides, a river-raft regatta, a pancake breakfast, and fireworks.

Exeter UFO Festival, Exeter, Aug. 31 to Sept. 1. This year marks the 59th anniversary of the “Incident in Exeter,” the highly publicized alleged sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object in Kensington by an 18-year-old boy. The festival includes guest speakers, a trolley ride to the site of the supposed alien spotting, an alien costume/pet parade contest, and plenty of children’s events. The festival is put on by the Exeter Area Kiwanis Club. All money raised at the event is donated to local children’s charities. Tickets purchased online

Hampton Beach Seafood Festival, Ocean Boulevard, Hampton, Sept. 6, noon to 9 p.m., Sept. 7, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sept. 8, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission tickets purchased online by Aug.1 are $8 a day, $10 after that date. Children under 12 are free. Admission does not cover the cost of food. There will be over 50 local food vendors selling their wares including fresh appetizers, entrees, and desserts. There will also be over 70 crafts and artisan booths, an outdoor bar, and two stages with over 15 performances.

Don your tartan and wrap up the season at the NH Highland Games & Festival, 60 Loon Mountain Rd., Lincoln, Sept. 20-22, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. This is one of the largest highland games in North America. This celebration of Scottish heritage includes Scottish music, dance, food, and fun to heavy athletics, sheep dog trials, and massed bands. There are classes in street curling, stone lifting, and more. Sign up for a seminar and explore topics ranging from Scottish cooking to genealogy. There are also special programs for children and shopping at Vendor Village. Tickets are on sale online for day, weekend, performances, and food and drink events.



  • Stacy Milbouer

    Stacy Milbouer is an award-winning journalist and has covered New Hampshire for many publications including the Boston Globe, New Hampshire Magazine, and the Nashua Telegraph.



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