Things To Do: Portsmouth Fire & Ice Festival


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Ever find yourself struggling to come up with winter activity ideas? There’s the classic snow-related ones like skiing, snowboarding, sledding… you get the idea. Which are all wonderful things to do, but tend to be quite limited when a winter like this one has little snow (well, so far).

 

Thankfully we have Portsmouth, a little hub of activity with an endless list of things to do. From shopping destinations and delicious restaurants aplenty, to entertainment theaters like the Music Hall and Seacoast Repertory Theatre, how could you ever be bored with this bustling city?

 

To add a bit of excitement to the drab winter days, Portsmouth does something extra for its community each February called the Fire & Ice Festival - a celebration of Valentine’s Day, President’s Day weekend and the winter season. Put on by the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, the week-long event features activities like ice bars, music and dining, dog sled rides and ice sculptures. This year marks the third annual Portsmouth Fire & Ice Festival; its events are scheduled from Wednesday February 10th – Monday the 15th.

 

Interested? Let’s take a look at the itinerary a bit more closely. (For further details on timing and pricing, visit the Chamber’s full-length schedule here.)

 

Wednesday the 10th

Fire & Ice Kick-Off Party

What’s a grand festival without a kick-off party? This free event takes place from 5-7pm at theMartingale Wharf, a local favorite. With delicious tastings, an ice bar and ice sculptures, it’s sure to be an exciting way to get the week going.

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BANFF Mountain Film Festival

Called “unique, exhilarating and provocative,” the BANFF Film Festival is the largest mountain festival in the world and travels to over 35 countries. It’s a world tour of films exploring the adventure, excitement and inspiration of the mountain world, brought to life by renowned authors, photographers, adventurers and filmmakers from all corners of the globe. If breathtaking nature scenes and heart-pounding adventure is up your alley, you’ll want to take in BANFF – it’s only stopping once along the Seacoast on its world tour, and this is it. The show starts at 7pm at theMusic Hall Historic Theater.

 

Thursday the 11th

Skating at the Puddle Dock Pond

The perfect activity for couples and families alike, ice skating at Strawbery Banke’s Puddle Dock Pond is a must. The rink (complete with a resting area and fire pit) is open to the public all day, and there’s a quaint cafe next door to warm up and enjoy a few tasty treats.

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Food and Drink

There are countless opportunities for fine dining and Portsmouth’s best food throughout the week (do keep in mind, though, that some venues require registration ahead of time). This second day of the Fire & Ice festival features samplings of the Atlantic Grill, as well as a Fire & Icelandic Tasting at the Salt Cellar with Portsmouth chefs Matt Louis of Moxy and Greg Sessler of Cava.

 

Music

Looking for a music event or two? Thursday of Fire & Ice includes Satchmo at the Waldorf, a look into the life and career of Louis Armstrong at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre. Or step into the Music Hall Historic Theater for a musical performance by Chris Botti, the world’s top selling jazz instrumentalist (and a heck of a trumpeter).

 

Friday the 12th

Skating at the Puddle Dock Pond

No need to speak on this one again. But really, go try it – it’s fun no matter how young or old you are.

 

Theater

Friday evening of the festival is chock-full of theater to enjoy. For a bit of laughs, check out Mike McDonald’s Comedy Xxtra-Vaganza show at the Music Hall, joined by three other comedic talents previously featured on The Tonight Show, Letterman, and Conan. Satchmo at the Waldorf plays again at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, while Sophocles’ Greek tragedy Antigone entertains at The Players’ Ring Theater.

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Saturday the 13th

Skating at the Puddle Dock Pond

Food and Drink

Hungry for lunch? Strawbery Banke Musuem will be holding a hearth cooking workshop and lunch at 11am. Later in the evening there is the Atlantic Grill’s “Wine Me, Dine Me, and Tango” event, and of course there’s the popular Fire & Ice Bar Crawl which takes place throughout the afternoon and evening (popular enough that it is sold out at this time… sorry for that build up).

 

Music

The Players’ Ring will hold various musical performances throughout the day, including singer/songwriter Jamie Bradley and youth violin duo Dacha and Sava Thurber. Searching for something a little more brassy? Then head over to 3S Artspace in the evening for a performance by No BS! Brass Band.

 

Ice Sculptures and Fire Dancers

Yes, you read that correctly. Take in the (free) Portwalk Place Festival for ice sculpting demonstrations and fire dancing performances – fire and ice is right! If you’re feeling the munchies, take a snack break nearby; there are plenty of goodies to eat throughout the day.

Theater

Missed Satchmo at the Waldorf earlier this week but still want to catch it? The show will play again on numerous occasions throughout Saturday’s busy schedule at the Seacoast Rep. And speaking of repeating shows, Antigone at The Players’ Ring will be on replay as well.

 

Sunday the 14th

A lot of Saturday’s activities will repeat again on Sunday, so for the sake of not sounding overly repetitive, let’s gloss over those and talk about what’s new to Sunday’s Fire & Ice activities. Cool?

 

Dog Sled Rides

We think this one sounds neat. Apparently so does the rest of the community, because tickets sold out fast. Participants will take off from the Atlantic Grill in Rye, where dogs pull up to three people on a sled. While registration has already been filled, we didn’t want to leave this one out – so keep it on the radar for next year’s festival if you’re interested, and get those tickets early!

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Fire & Ice Bar Crawl #2

The first bar crawl may be sold out, but there’s still room to register for the second. Check-in is at the Seacoast Rep on Bow Street; ticket-holders will be given a wristband and map and sent on their way to enjoy Portsmouth’s best Fire & Ice cocktails.

 

Food and Drink

Looking for a romantic spot to enjoy a Valentine’s Day dinner with your sweetheart? The charmingStrawbery Banke Museum is happy to help with its own Fire & Ice Valentine Dinner. Reservations are required for the evening, which includes a dinner for two and ice skating at the rink.

 

Theater

Touche Taps presents Soul Surgery at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre this evening. A “whimsical and romantic journey” of tap dance, live music, body percussion, poetry and dance explores how to renew ourselves after becoming stuck in a rut of life’s mundane patterns.

 

Monday the 15th

Music

Apart from dog sled rides and ice skating, Monday’s to-do includes a musical performance at the 3S Artspace in the North end of Portsmouth. Freakwater performs at 7:30pm, accompanied by Jaye Jayle & Drunken Prayer – a harmonic blend of country and Americana sounds.

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And there you have it! It goes without saying that there are many things to do throughout the winter season in Portsmouth, and the Fire & Ice Festival presents a special opportunity for city goers with a variety of interests. Don’t forget to take a peek at the full schedule on the Portsmouth Chamber’s website (including other deals around town to spots like Stonewall Kitchen, the Seacoast Rep, and hotels for those looking to lengthen their Portsmouth stay). We’ll see you around our favorite city streets!

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