Family Travel Stories

The 18th Annual Festival of Trees, November 20-22, 2009

Our family officially kicks off the holiday season with a trip to the Festival of Trees in Portsmouth.  One of our favorite traditions is to wander through the Urban Forestry Center and marvel at the gorgeous holiday decorations.

The event features more than 100 trees, all beautifully adorned with lights and spectacular ornaments.  My kids are mesmerized by the displays and are delighted to see something fabulous every time they turn around.  Local businesses and organizations decorate the trees, and many have a “theme.” It’s always fun to see the diverse ideas and creativity – such as a local music store hanging CDs on the tree and baseball enthusiasts creating a Red Sox-themed tree with mini-baseballs, bats and “green monsters.”

A winding path leads through the Urban Forestry Center’s lawns and into their buildings, which is a nice break from the (usually) chilly weather.  And during the tour, kids get to “spy on” Mrs. Claus baking in the kitchen and sample her delicious cookies – something that my kids usually talk about for weeks afterwards.

Attendees can vote on their favorite trees, a responsibility that my girls and their friends take very seriously.  Every time we go, the kids enthusiastically debate about which tree should receive their coveted “popsicle stick ballot.” It’s tough to pick a favorite out of so many worthy contenders!

The event is best after dark, when visitors get the full effect of the twinkly lights, which make everything seem so magical.  My advice (from years of experience) – wear comfortable shoes and warm clothes.  And, if you’re like me, this event will probably inspire you to start thinking about your own holiday decorations as well!

The event runs from Friday, November 20 – Sunday, November 22 at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth.  Admission is $5/per person and children 12 and under are free.  Funds are earmarked for conservation education and supporting historic gardens around the Seacoast.  The Festival of Trees is hosted by the Portsmouth Garden Club.

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