A whole week with the kids? A few ideas to keep them busy (and you happy) over winter break

December 22. 2017 6:44PM
Children are poised for the 12 p.m. balloon drop at the Currier Museum of Art's "Noon Year's Eve" celebration. (COURTESY)

If by 7:45 a.m. Saturday you were already wondering when the holiday break would be over and the kids would be headed back to school, then you might need this list.

The Granite State has winter-break weary parents covered with vacation week offerings that include everything from old-timey entertainment to snow play to learning about fish (in a fun way).

The following is just a sampling of shenanigans for kids - and parents - to enjoy before school starts up again next week. (For more ideas, visit nh365.org.)

Old Fashioned Train Rides

North Conway

The North Conway Scenic Railroad will be offering twice-daily train rides from Dec. 26 -31. Both trains (11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) run from North Conway village south to Conway, making for an hour round-trip. Pulled by restored locomotives, the passenger cars offer seating in coach class, first class and upper-deck panoramic dome. Ticket prices range from $17.50 to $26.50 for adults and $12.50 to $22 for kids 4-12.

For more information visit conwayscenic.com.
Entertainment and activities for children are a big part of the fun at First Night Portsmouth. (COURTESY)

First Night Portsmouth

This family friendly event is an alcohol-free community celebration on New Year's Eve. The party kicks off outside with a street dance from 5 p.m. to midnight on Pleasant Street at Market Square. Visitors can also do a little stargazing with New Hampshire Astronomical Society, watch a fireworks display at the South Mill Pond or watch ice sculptures being created.

Meanwhile, indoors, there will be face painting at St. John's Fellowship Hall as well as a slew of live performances throughout the evening at venues around town by a variety of artists including a mentalist sword swallower, a magician, storytellers, a puppeteer, singers and musicians. There will also be a chili dinner and cook-off which benefits the Youth Service Fund.

For a complete list of activities and entertainment visit www.proportsmouth.org.

Noon Year's Eve Currier Museum, Manchester

Too little to stay up 'til midnight? Noon Year's Eve is the next best thing for a kid. This family-friendly party takes place on Sunday, Dec. 31 from 10 am to 3 p.m. at Manchester's Currier Museum of Art. The event features outdoor activities, art-making, face painting, a big balloon drop, bubble wrap fireworks and dance party. 

New this year, the event will feature the comedy juggling act of Bryson Lang and live performances by local musicians. The Morning Buzz's Laura Boyce, from WHEB and Rock 101, will host the countdown with the crowd for Noon Year's.

There will also be a variety of kid-friendly food available for purchase in the Currier's Winter Garden Café, and families can enjoy a food truck and hot chocolate ice bar outside.

"This is such a distinctive event," stated Alan Chong, director of the Currier. "We want to encourage people of all ages to enjoy the art and the beauty of the museum. We are excited that families continue to want to share this special holiday-time with their children and join the Currier Museum in ringing in the New Year - a little early."

Space is limited. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids 17 and under. For more info, visit currier.org.

Ugly Sweater Day Mount Sunapee, Newbury

This event gives you an excuse to pull out that hideous light-up sweater you secretly love. On Dec. 28, families can come out in their best ugly sweaters to hit the slopes at Mount Sunapee in Newbury. Prizes and awards will be given out for kids and adults after a group run down from the summit. 

The event requires a lift ticket or pass. For more information, visit www.mountsunapee.com.

STEAM & Animation Workshops Derry

Renaissance Kids and Purple Porcupine Studios are presenting two tech-oriented workshops for kids ages 6 to 11 this week in Derry at the Marion Gerrish Community Center, 39 West Broadway.

On Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., there'll be a Dragon Wings STEAM workshop. The program starts with an exploration of electronics and engineering, during which the kids can expect to create a mechanical dragon with flapping wings and learn about simple circuit wiring.

After a lunch break, students will then spend the afternoon learning creative art techniques to decorate the dragon.

"They will come home with a new knowledge of engineering design techniques, electrical circuits, and having learned new art techniques," said Chris Rodrigues, owner of Renaissance Kids. "It's special because we are bringing art and science together to build something interesting and beautiful."

On Saturday, Dec. 30, the group will host a Green Screen Animation workshop from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The children will learn how to create animations on iPad Minis and make green screen videos. Students will be able to place themselves into their animations and can take their creations home.

Cost for the Dragon Wings workshop is $65; the animation workshop is $15. For more information visit renaissancekid.org.

Zest Fest: New Vaudeville Festival Seacoast Science Center, Rye

The Pontine Theater will be presenting four days of fun for little ones with the Zest Fest: New Vaudeville Festival from Tuesday through Saturday, Dec. 26-30, at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye.

Each show features a different exciting performer including BJ Hickman (Dec. 26 and 28), Steve Corning (Dec. 27), The YoYo Show (Dec. 29), and Bryson Lang (Dec. 30). Shows are daily at the Seacoast Science Center on the grounds of Odiorne State Park, 570 Ocean Blvd.

Tickets are $15 per day, and may be purchased at www.pontine.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door a half-hour prior to each show, based on availability.
The raptors who live and fish along the Merrimack River, including the bald eagle, are in the spotlight at Thursday's annual open house at Amoskeag Fishways in Manchester. (COURTESY)

Amoskeag Fishways Open House Manchester

The raptors of the Merrimack will be the focus of Amoskeag Fishways' annual open house on Thursday, Dec. 28, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"This year the Open House theme and focus is on River Raptors," said Helen Dalbeck, Executive Director of Amoskeag Fishways. "There will be interactive and fun educational programs on our river birds of prey throughout the day. We will have craft tables where visitors can make a bald eagle mask, peregrine falcon puppet, bird window silhouettes and raptor rubbings."

The Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center is an environmental education center on the Merrimack River. The center's winter hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In addition, the center has an interactive exhibit hall that allows visitors to explore the Merrimack River and learn about the watershed, historical use of the Amoskeag area, and river wildlife.

For more information visit www.amoskeagfishways.org.

Family Tinkering Program Montshire Museum, Norwich, Vt.

This hands-on science museum - located in Norwich, Vt., just over the Connecticut River from Hanover, will be offering a Family Tinkering Program with an activity called "Chain Reactions," on both Dec. 27 and 28 from noon to 4 p.m.

"In this activity, families work with provided materials and tools to build an oversized, collaborative Chain Reaction Machine," said Montshire spokesman Trish Palao. "Each group will create a sequence of events which triggers one machine, and then the next machine, and so on, to make a continuous chain reaction from the first machine to the last."

The museum will also have its usual line up of daily activities at the Science Discovery Lab which includes Lab Coat Investigation, which explores a different topic every day - from making batteries to using microscopes, extracting DNA to modeling glaciers, and more. 

For more information visit www.montshire.org.

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