Gardens Aglow 2020

Contest a go, and show will go on in a whole new light

Wed, 09/23/2020 - 10:00am

    For Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, the show will go on this year. Recently, the Gardens announced that, after careful planning, research, communication with state and town officials, and in conjunction with COVID-19 safety protocols, Gardens Aglow will light up the peninsula for the sixth year in a row – with one important change: What has been a walking tour in previous years will become a driving experience in 2020.

    “We wanted to find a safe way of continuing and honoring what’s become an annual tradition for so many families,” says Gardens President and CEO Gretchen Ostherr. “Our committee has worked hard to map out the safest, most accessible route, taking traffic and congestion very much into

    To ensure that traffic will flow smoothly, both on the peninsula and along the Gardens Aglow route, CMBG made the decision to establish limited entries per 15-minute intervals. “We worked with the town of Boothbay, and this system will help us avoid back-ups onto the road,” said Ostherr.
    Tickets are sold by the car, not by the person, and are only available in advance for a specific time slot.

    “To ensure the success and safety of this event, we will not be selling tickets onsite, and our patrons must print their tickets before arrival,” Ostherr explained. Cars that arrive without tickets will be turned away.

    Vehicles that exceed height restrictions (no more than nine feet in height) will also be turned away, and no refunds will be given. There will be no trailers, buses, limos, or RVs allowed. Because this is a driving tour, guests will remain in their cars, making the event safe in the light of COVID-19 restrictions.

    No food or restroom facilities will be offered this year, but those interested are welcome to visit for seasonal shopping.

    “This has been a challenging year,” concluded Ostherr. “But for the health of our region, our organization, and the families who look forward to this seasonal event, this year’s Gardens Aglow will go forward, warm, safe, and accessible to all.”

    A driving tour, rather than a walking tour, means Gardens’ staff has had to re-envision the display, but it’s giving staff the opportunity to get creative and produce something new. Even those who have made Gardens Aglow their holiday tradition can expect something new this year.

    It’s also giving peninsula residents an opportunity to get creative as CMBG once again sponsors the annual Community Lighting Contest. Anyone who might be considering an entry should start planning now.

    This year’s winners will be chosen by popular vote.

    If your home or business is on the Boothbay peninsula in Edgecomb, Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, or Southport, and your property is visible from a public roadway, you are eligible to win. Displays will be judged in two categories – business and residential. Employees and family members of CMBG are not eligible to enter.

    To participate, complete the registration form at and click on the “Contest” link. Entries must be received by Nov. 7 to be included in the lighting contest map and eligible for judging. There is no fee to enter. Displays must be completely installed and lit nightly between the hours of 4 and 9 p.m. beginning no later than Nov. 20 and continuing through the evening of Jan. 2, 2021.

    Including contest entries on a comprehensive map, available on the Gardens Aglow website, will give visitors the chance to tour the peninsula, extend their seasonal outing and vote for their favorite displays. Votes for residential and business displays will be tallied separately. First place in both categories will receive $1,000. Second place, $500; and third place, $250. Winners will be announced in January.

    Gardens Aglow, a firm tradition in Maine’s seasonal calendar, runs Thursdays-Sundays, Nov. 21 - Jan. 2, plus the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and every night, Christmas Day through Jan. 2, 4:30-8:30 p.m. The event is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.

    Tickets are $40/car for nonmembers and $30/car for members. To show our appreciation to the Boothbay peninsula for the tremendous outpouring of support – especially this year – CMBG is holding a special Community Night at Gardens Aglow on Nov. 20, 4:30-8:30 p.m. Community Night is a special complimentary showing for Boothbay peninsula residents only. Timed tickets will be required for entry, details to follow. Between Gardens Aglow and Boothbay Lights, the Boothbay peninsula will again be the place to be for wintertime cheer. Experience the Gardens’ explosion of festive color, then enjoy a wide variety of the region’s seasonal activities.

    For more details and to order tickets, visit; for a complete calendar of regional offerings, visit