Join us at Portsmouth Historical Society as we celebrate this sweet season with the 30th Annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibition from November 20 through December 22. This year, we are “taking it to the streets” with gingerbread creations on display both at the Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center and throughout downtown in shop and restaurant windows.

Call for Entries

We need all the holiday cheer we can get!

Register today to enter your gingerbread creations in the contest!

Houses entered in the contest must be delivered to the Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center on November 13, 14, 15, or 16 during open hours, 10am to 4pm.

Please note that houses are due BEFORE THANKSGIVING this year!


Want to join the fun but don’t know where to start? This year we’re suggesting historical buildings in gingerbread form! We’ve had a lot of great houses recreated in the past, but it doesn’t have to be a landmark. It can be your own home, a favorite downtown spot, or a bit of unique architecture. Follow us on social media to for tips, tricks, and ideas!

Photo courtesy of Raya on Assignment
Slide left or right!

Have something else in mind? Go for it! The theme is in no way mandatory.

Scavenger Hunt! Raffle! Prize Ribbons!

Every year we seem to have more awards and prizes to give out. The more the merrier! This year we’ve got more than a dozen ribbons to distribute. Your creation could be the winner! Buy tickets for a chance to win a gingerbread house as your holiday feast’s centerpiece!

This year we’re putting together a downtown scavenger hunt! No need to go inside! Each participant will be entered in a special raffle for a $100 gift card to a Portsmouth restaurant! Details coming soon!

Photo, Raya on Assignment

Community judges will award ribbons, and then YOU can vote for the People’s Choice!

Rules & Conditions for Entry

Wait! Before you enter, please read the rules. Even we cheerful holiday elves need rules.

Important Dates

  • Entries must be registered no later than Monday, November 9.
  • Registered houses must be delivered to the Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center at 10 Middle Street in Portsmouth on November 13, 14, 15, or 16 between 10am and 4pm.
  • The show at Portsmouth Historical Society, as well as the downtown scavenger hunt, will be on display from Friday, November 20, through Tuesday, December 22.
  • Those wishing to pick up their gingerbread house when the exhibition is over may do so on Wednesday, December 23 from 10am–4pm, or on Thursday, December 24 from 10am–12pm. Unclaimed houses will be thrown away. (We can’t be inviting mice to stay over the holidays!)

Entry categories

Participants are required to submit entries under one of these categories. Note: If youth and teens are working together without an adult, please choose the Teen category.

  • Business/Non-Profit/Organization
  • Adult(s) (Age 19 and older)
  • Professional (chefs & bakers)
  • Multi-Generational (Adults and youths or teens working together)
  • Teen  or Teen Group (Age 14–18, working without an adult)
  • Youth or Youth Group (Age 13 and under working without an adult)


  • Maximum base size is 15” by 15”. You may NOT attach multiple bases together.
  • Entries larger than 15” by 15” will not be accepted.
  • Base must be sturdy! Your house will be picked up and moved multiple times during gallery set-up.
  • Edible materials only! This includes the “glue” that holds pieces together!
  • Entrants will be asked to give their entry a name on drop-off.
  • By entering the contest, entrants authorize Portsmouth Historical Society to use their images and images of completed work in promotional materials.


  • Gingerbread kits are allowed, provided they use only edible materials.
  • Plug-in string lights are allowed.
  • Battery-operated lights are strongly discouraged as the batteries run out within a week.
  • Your entry doesn’t have to be a “house.” We’ve seen boats, cars, books, barns, trees, etc. Anything goes as long as it’s made of edible materials!
  • Awards: The guest judges are chosen by the Gingerbread House Competition committee and volunteer their time (and good taste!)
    • Judges’ awards:
      • First place in each entry category (Business, Adult, Professional, Multi-Generational, Teen/Teen Group, Youth/Youth Group)
      • First place among the houses in the downtown scavenger hunt
      • Honorable Mentions in all the categories above
    • People’s Choice awards:
      • Best in Show (inside at the Discover Portsmouth Welcome Center)
      • Best in Show (for the downtown scavenger hunt)
      • People’s Choice for each entry category
      • Most Whimsical
      • Most Attention to Detail
      • Most Creative Building Materials
    • Committee Awards: The same group of hardcore gingerbread fans gathers every summer to begin planning this onslaught sugar-fueled holiday cheer. We’ve gotten to know a lot of the annual entrants, have seen a LOT of gingerbread creations, and we want to hand out some awards, too. So we’re reserving a couple of ribbons to bestow on our favorites!

Thank you to our generous sponsors!