In the Boothbay region the holiday season begins with the Early Bird Sale & Pajama Party and Gardens Aglow in mid-November. The holiday lists unfurl as we make our way to our favorite shops and those shops that have just what the Cindy-Lou Who in your life wants! And, no doubt, she and children of all ages look forward to the magic of Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (CMBG) and this year all will be enthralled by 650,000 lights of all colors adorning 14 acres of the gardens beginning Thursday, Nov. 15 - yes, that’s this week! - through Monday, Dec. 31 (except for Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve). As Kris Folsom described (this is not verbatim): The journey begins with the passage through an ethereal corridor of dancing lights intended to evoke the aurora borealis. There is also music, snacks, hot chocolate, and holiday shopping in the Gardenshop. CMBG is holding a special Community Night at Gardens Aglow - just for Boothbay peninsula residents - on Wednesday, Dec. 5!
Gardens Aglow experiences are on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. Tickets are timed for three separate arrivals each night at 4 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 7:30 p.m. Tickets, $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for children 3-17 (children under 3 are free) and $36/family of four, are available online. Visit www.MaineGardens.org for complete details including shuttle bus information.
Santa makes his first traditional appearance in the region the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Boothbay Common. This year, that date is Nov. 24. ETA: 6 p.m. aboard one of the Boothbay Fire Station’s finest trucks! Santa, sometimes with the Mrs., visits with children to learn what they hope to find under their Christmas trees. Hot chocolate, cookies ... music, caroling.
The magical Festival of Trees display at the Opera House draws hundreds upon hundreds each year. See this year’s donated, theme-decorated trees Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.
Harbor Lights Festival - Ahh Harbor Lights! Quite possibly my favorite festival in our region! The North Pole entourage arrives at the Town Landing aboard the Novelty (what an appropriately named vessel for this gig, no?). And, having been an elf during festivals past, I can tell you there’s something very magical about being on the water with a boatload of festive characters, especially when the crowd at the Town Landing comes into view. (Insert shiver here).
Everyone loves Harbor Lights, produced by the holiday elves at the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce; it is a fun-filled day of wagon rides, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, open houses, the Festival of Trees at the Opera House, caroling with music by the Boothbay Community Band, the tree lighting and countdown, procession to Our Lady Queen of Peace for a live nativity or pageant - led by Three Wise Guys, I mean Men. Three Wise Men. And the lighted boat parade ... the full schedule is on the Chamber’s website, www.boothbayharbor.com
The North Pole Express at Boothbay Railway Village runs three weekends, beginning Dec. 8 and 9. And, yes, Santa will be there. Another great family event ... storybook readings, cocoa and cookies, and kids can make vintage-inspired ornaments for their trees at home! For more, visit https://railwayvillage.org.
The Dough Ball & Preview Party - In the fabulously decorated Opera House - take a bow, Kevin Kiley - the Dough Ball, Dec. 14 is a ticketed event at which gingerbread creations catching the eyes of the contest judges are awarded prizes - and where every sweet structure constructed for the Gingerbread Spectacular is showcased. This don’t miss event is entertaining and mind-blowing! The region is home to many expert, creative builders who never cease to amaze. See the 2018 models on Dec. 15 and 16 during the Spectacular - a free event!
Community Holiday Potluck & Carol Sing at Opera House - Great food, great music, sensational atmosphere! Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.
Victorian Christmas at the Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Museum, 97 Cross Rd., Alna, is on Dec. 22 this year. Free train and horse-drawn carriage rides - and sleigh rides if there’s snow! - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (last train ride at 3 p.m.). Treats. And a visit from a special guest ... hmmm, who could that be?!
Soon the 24-hour Christmas/holiday music station will be live on the radios, Christmas trees will be at local stands, wreaths and poinsettias will be in every store ... and, hopefully, you’ll have loved ones around you to share it with.
To quote Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation” early on in the film when daughter Audrey has become frozen from head to toe while the family searched the wilderness for the Griswold family Christmas tree, “It’s all part of the experience, honey.”