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From axe-throwing and mini-race cars, Nashua’s beloved Winter Holiday Stroll returns

By Dean Shalhoup - Senior Staff Writer | Nov 12, 2022

A man wearing a Santa Claus hat makes his way toward the Christmas tree at this year’s 25th annual Winter Holiday Stroll. As he heads down Main Street, he joins a sea of thousands gathered in the heart of downtown Nashua to watch on as the tree is lit.

NASHUA – One’s first reaction upon learning that there will be some people among the thousands at the upcoming return of the city’s Winter Holiday Stroll who will be throwing axes around that night might not be terribly favorable.

But fear not – this increasingly popular sport, sort of a cross between a lumberjack competition and a dart game with much bigger and heavier “darts” will all take place within a specially-equipped trailer where safety and following the rules are paramount.

The debut of axe-throwing at the stroll is one of several new attractions that have been added to the already long list of reasons to put the Winter Holiday Stroll on your Thanksgiving weekend schedule.



Nashua’s Winter Holiday Stroll is returning after a two-year hiaitus due to the pandemic.

WHEN: 5 – 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 26

WHERE: Throughout downtown Nashua. Candlelit procession begins at City Hall, ends at Library Hill

HOW MUCH: Stroll itself is free. Prices vary among vendors, stores, restaurants

MORE: Go to www.downtownnashua.org, click on the link to the stroll page. Full schedule will be posted when it is finalized


What makes this, the 28th edition of the event, so special is its return after a two-year hiaitus due to the pandemic. For nearly three decades, just one year between strolls was plenty long enough to wait, never mind three years.

“Its return is highly anticipated to be one of the biggest and best yet,” a post on the city website announces. I’d say that’s a highly-attainable prophecy.

Among the important things to remember for those who plan on heading down to City Hall for the 5 p.m. step-off of the candlelit procession is that Main Street and several side streets between Library Hill and East and West Hollis streets will be closed to traffic at 3 p.m.

For those who don’t want to hassle with finding a place to park, Nashua Transit and First Student will be offering free bus shuttles from 4 to 10:30 p.m., running in 10-minute loops between Rivier University’s Memorial Hall and Holman Stadium.

Carnival games are another new wrinkle this year, according to Great American Downtown exeuctive director Carolyn Walley, who took a brief break from the hectic schedule that comes with planning an event of this magnitude.

“We’ll definitely have all kinds of entertainment, I think we’re up to about 30 performers,” Walley said of the schedule, which she is in the process of finalizing. Once all the time slots and locations are filled in, the schedule will be posted at downtownnashua.org.

The axe-throwing trailer, meanwhile, comes from “Axe Play,” which is based in Hudson and features seven lanes and 14 targets at its Lowell Road location, plus the mobile trailer that takes the show on the road.

If any patrons happen to see a miniature race car or two zip past them, they will have come from the East Pearl Street area and belong to Londonderry Motor Sports.

With Nashua having earned a reputation over recent years as a go-to destination for the arts – both performing and visual – it stands to reason that many artists and arts groups will be present, among them the artists with Positive Street Art, who will be in the area of Jaja Bells, and Justin Contois, a characture artist.

Maison De L’ Art, a gift shop and art gallery on East Pearl Street, will be open to visitors, and for those interested in browsing a wide variety of crafts, perhaps for holiday gifts, a craft fair will be open from 3-9 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Center, next to the church.

Walley said there are seven food vendors signed up, and pretty much every restaurant will be open.

Booths tended by Members of all kinds of nonprofit agencies and organizations will be welcoming strollers passing by their booths.

But no matter which attractions or activities or performances visitors are drawn to, everything begins with the traditional candlelit procession, a sight to behold as it steps off at 5 p.m. and makes its way from City Hall to Library Hill.

Programs and candles will be handed out as strollers arrive for the procession, Walley said.

Along the way, favorite holiday songs and Christmas carols will fill the air, and once the sea of strollers arrives at Library Hill and fills in, the tree-lighting countdown will begin.

Certainly among the most popular venues will be Santa’s Village, where kids of all ages can say hi to Santa and Mrs. Claus and, for the older “kids,” soak up the nostalgic atmosphere.

Out front in the parking lot, children can board a train for a ride around the area. Somewhere along the way, they are likely to catch a glimpse of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Those familiar with more contemporary characters may encounter Elsa and Anna of “Frozen” fame.

Walley summed it up: “We definitely have a lot going on.”

Dean Shalhoup’s column appears weekly in The Sunday Telegraph. He may be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.


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