|Sisters observing their first fairy house.|
Details on the Portsmouth NH Fairy House Tour taking place Saturday and Sunday, September 24th and 25th, 2016.
|Mother and daughter enjoying the magic|
You can also take advantage of free parking on Peirce Island, near Prescott Park.
|A lovely sample of a tour fairy house|
Our map marked the ten “artist invitational” displays with numbered butterflies and there were four of the invitational houses for us to enjoy on the first section of our walk. Not solely restricted to artists, many of the fairy houses on display—over 200!—were contributed by local school children, gardening clubs, and non-profit groups.
|Tulle was hung between the trees |
to keep us on our path--so clever!
Signs hung from the tulle festooned around the trees gently reminded us “Shhh, Fairies Sleeping – Do Not Disturb!” and the colorful boughs steered us along the tour path. One moment we’d be in a small forest observing the houses blended into the earth and the next we stumble into a stunning English garden with fairy houses tenderly situated between the fall blooms.
Watch New England Fall Events' video (above) from our Portsmouth Fairy House visit for even more photos from the festival!
|This house featured exquisite detail.|
It’s hard to overstate how earnest and magical these houses are. Boys and girls, men and women, grandparents, aunties, you name it—everyone was equally enthralled and entranced by the displays before us. Not just an event for children, many adults without kiddos were in attendance to witness the charm of the festival.
|The bubble machine tower was a hit!|
More fairy houses were on display within the Banke’s historical gardens including the herb garden and the children’s garden. In every corner a new house peeked out from the leaves.
A beautiful (human-size) fairy house was even created with pine branches, flowers, leaves, and tree stumps for children to sit inside and feel what is like to be a tiny fairy inside a house built from natural materials.
At the far corner of the lawn, Tracy Kane the author and illustrator of The Fairy House Series® graciously greeted her fans and signed her books for the young and the young-at-heart. There was an exhibit of seasonal fairy wreaths crafted by local florists and even a fairy face painting booth (nominal fee).
|Performances of Fairy Houses - The|
Ballet took place throughout the day.
Heading towards the river, we crossed Macy Street with the help of the fairy-winged traffic cops to arrive at Prescott Park. The stage inside the park featured performances of “Fairy Houses – The Ballet” throughout the day from the Southern NH Dance Theater where the children were invited up on the stage to dance with the performers!
|Fairies love to relax by the beach too.|
As the build-your-own fairy house activity was included in the ticket price, there was nothing to stand in the way of coming up with your own creation. The activity large booth provided plenty of branches, leaves, and other natural fragments you could choose for building your house but you are also encouraged to forage through the park to add to your materials.
|Families can pre-register to display|
their own fairy house creation too.
The Portsmouth Fairy House Tour enters their 11th year on Saturday and Sunday, September 26th and 27th, 2015. Click for details. Held rain or shine from 11:00am – 3:00pm each day, we can’t stress enough how much you will love this event and encourage you to come for the full four hours—the time will fill up quickly. If you plan to make your own fairy house at the end—and we hope that you do—you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to create it.
|Strawberry Banke Museum's property|
was an ideal setting for the tour.
There are two concession areas (which we didn’t notice) and well as numerous fantastic restaurants in Portsmouth. However, the parks which host the festival are postcard pretty so packing a picnic is our recommendation. A picnic will help you maximize your time at the event and there is a lot to see and do in four hours.
Special kudos to the City of Portsmouth which appears to embrace this wonderfully fun and unique event—from the traffic cops sporting fairy wings to the impressive amount of space dedicated to hosting the festivities.
Advance tickets are the way to go. You’ll save money by purchasing ahead of time (day-of ticket prices are higher) and you won’t need to wait in line to buy them. Find advance ticket details here.
If you don’t live nearby, this is a festival completely worth a road trip to attend as you’ll spend a full day in the fresh air and are guaranteed a singular experience. This festival will surely become an annual family pilgrimage.
- Pack a picnic—you’ll be glad you maximized your time if you do.
- Wear smart shoes – A number of the houses are set in the woods which, depending on the weather leading up to the festival could be mushy or slippery.
- Be ready to squat and crouch down...and often. Most fairy houses are displayed on ground level and the best way to appreciate the detail is to get down at fairy-level.
- Pack a gardening kneeling pad if you have one for extra comfort!
|Well-marked volunteers are there to|
answer your questions or find your way
- Apply sunscreen/bug spray – We didn’t notice the bugs but never a bad idea to wear tick repellent in the woodsy area. Though many areas are shaded, the gardens and much of the Banke lawn is in full sun so pack your sunscreen.
- Free up plenty of digital memory on your camera because you won’t be able to resist taking a billion pictures of this special day.
- There are two ticket booths—one at the Governor Langdon House entrance (which was closest to downtown) and the other off Macy Street, near Prescott Park (which is closes to the Peirce Island parking).
- The tour has plenty of fairy-winged crossing guards at the intersections surrounding the park grounds and easy-to-identify volunteers to help you find your way.
Fairy House Festival Tips –Family Tips
- Stroller-friendly – It might be a tight squeeze in some of the gated historical gardens so in some cases, it might be easier to park the stroller outside the garden and carry/walk your child in.
- Fairy wings – Pack ‘em if you have ‘em but it is only $5 if you need to buy them at the kiosk.
- Show good manners - It’s a good idea to prepare your children for the exhibit—the fairy houses are never to be touched and please use a quiet voice so as not to “wake the fairies”.
- Unless you pack a platform to transport your newly-built fairy house home, you will want to prepare your kids for the idea of leaving their fairy house behind at the park. If you pack a platform, the Peirce Island parking is close to where the fairy house building takes place so it wouldn’t be difficult to retrieve it from the car before you start the activity (but definitely don’t try to carry it around while you are at the festival).
- Be sure to check out the dance performances held four times daily at the Prescott Park stage.