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The Casino Ballroom: Second Only to the Sun in Hampton Beach

By S. Mathur

The Casino Ballroom in Hampton NH has been a mainstay of tourism on the New Hampshire coastline since it was opened in 1927. Regularly listed as one of the best concert venues with seating under 3,000, it is beloved by audiences and performers alike.

"I think it would surprise people how cherished the venue is within the Industry," says Andrew Herrick, Director of Marketing at the Casino Ballroom. "In a weird way the Ballroom represents NH in the minds of a lot of rock stars and they love it. In addition we sell more "live" (concert and comedy) tickets than any other venue in the state."

Photo credit Wes Rizzo

A list of the big names that have played at the Casino Ballroom over the years reads like a listing from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then some. Herrick says that these include Zeppelin, U2, Hendrix, The Doors, Seinfeld, and Phish. "The room has seen so many amazing performances," says Herrick. And in 2015, the venue, which maxes out at 2200 people, sold out over half of its shows. "I would say the fastest sellers were: Hall & Oats, Shawn Mendes, Bret Eldredge & Thomas Rhett, The J Geils Band and three nights of Godsmack."

Photo credit Ilya Mirman

The Casino has actually never been a casino, and gambling is still illegal in New Hampshire. The name derives from the Italian word meaning summer house, and the entire Casino complex has catered to summer visitors since opening its doors in 1899. Located on the boardwalk at Hampton Beach, the Casino Ballroom is open from April to November and offers around 70 shows each season. It opened with regular big band and dance performances, including by Duke Ellington and Bing Crosby. It attained legendary status in the rock era and in August 1995, on the day that Jerry Garcia died, his Grateful Dead band mates played a memorial show at the Casino. Fans who were unable to find seating inside held a candlelight vigil outside in the parking lot.

Photo credit Wes Rizzo

Not surprisingly, the Casino Ballroom has been and is a cherished part of the Hampton Beach scene. Herrick adds: "We've been blessed to be a huge part of the beach and a huge draw to New Hampshire Tourism. We put about 120,000 people through the door each year between April and November and have been at it since 1927. We generally sell tickets to people within a 75 mile radius of Hampton, so we are adding to the tourism that is already at the beach. This is the reason some business owners have joked that we are second only to the sun to their bottom line. We are a family owned concert venue, a rarity nowadays, so we try and work with local business all the time."

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