The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Navigating Maine’s Holiday Magic: A Guide to Local Festivities

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The Costal Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine are lit up with decorations for the holidays.

Picture it. A small, snowy, picturesque town decorated with cute festive lights, their windows radiating warmth and light, casting a shadow on the snow. The stars dance in the clear night sky overhead. Your breath makes a puff of condensation, which gets swept up in the icy night air. Now let us make that a reality. 

The holiday season in Maine can be a great time to grab friends and loved ones and explore the different special holiday attractions of both coastal and inland areas. From gardens decked out in thousands of lights to even more local spots like the tree lights in Lewiston, the winter can be picturesque in Maine. So, sit back and relax with your steaming hot chocolate from Commons and get to know some of our favorites. 

If you’re looking for gifts for friends and want to shop local, look no further than the Shopping Village in Auburn. For the 16th and 17th of December, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., some local vendors of Auburn will set up shop in Anniversary Park, New Auburn (8 Second St). Based on European holiday markets, the City of Auburn purchased the sheds to provide a spot for the vendors to sell their products to customers. For more information, see their website.

If you’re thinking of more local areas, the town of Lewiston has set up lights around the downtown, which give a certain special sparkle. On Saturday, December 16 Lewiston will be hosting “Sparkle Saturday” as a way of promoting small businesses. From 10am- 1pm the Farmers Market (75 Park St) will be open and other businesses will be hosting vendors in their stores! For more information see their Facebook page. Walking the Riverside Trail with a hot drink in your hand this weekend might be a great way to see the Androscoggin River in the cold!

But if, in the spirit of finals, you’re feeling adventurous to get off of campus and see more of Maine, there’s plenty to do all across the state.

Across some more residential areas, some houses put on light displays that sync to music. A house in Monmouth, Maine, (20 min drive from campus) puts on a yearly light show synchronized with music. The house, located at 74 Warren Rd, puts on a great (and free) show from 4:30-9 through New Year’s. Once you get there be sure to tune the radio to their frequency of 91.7 FM.

The L.L.Bean complex, located in Freeport, is a classic spot to enjoy the winter. From window shopping to playing around in the tent section of the main store, L.L.Bean is a popular destination for families during the holidays. On their website, you can find the different events that they are hosting throughout December. There are events like their light displays, the model train, the snow globe and even curling lanes on the front lawn! Be sure to check out the free hot cocoa, Santa and live reindeer on Fridays (4-8 p.m.), Saturdays (12-6 p.m.) and Sundays (12-6 p.m.) until Dec. 23. If you’re not in the mood to visit just L.L.Bean, the entire town of Freeport decorates their stores for the holidays and impressive light displays can be seen from the road. You could even visit the coast! 

Hadley Blodgett ’26 poses with a giant wooden troll, named Roskva, at the Costal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. (Zach Weinstein)

While you’re down south, check out some of Maine’s most famous light displays at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. This magical event runs from Nov. 18 to Dec. 31, 4 pm-9 pm. The Coastal Botanical Gardens in Boothbay decorate their 14 acres of gardens with over 750,000 LEDs, bringing them to life even in the cold. You can walk through interactive displays of lights and see the scenes of animals and flowers that have been built with lights. There are even some 30-foot wooden trolls decorated with holiday lights! Tickets are $19 for adults and they sell out fairly quickly, so get your tickets soon! (We recommend bringing layers and warm clothes as the gardens can be cold at night!)

If you want to tap into the whimsical and nostalgic holiday magic that we felt as children, you can literally step into one of the most beloved Christmas movies ever made: The Polar Express. The fun begins at Portland’s Ocean Gateway Marine Terminal, where you will embark on The Polar Express™ Train Ride. The train will be warm and glowing with holiday decorations and festive cheer. After The Conductor leads you aboard the vintage, narrow-gauge train, the chefs will serve you cookies and hot, hot chocolate! During the ride on the steam locomotive, you’ll hear the train whistle blowing and timeless holiday music the whole time. Tickets start at $35/person and the train runs roundtrip rides to the North Pole until Dec. 23. The ride lasts about an hour. 

A 1.5-hour drive East will bring you to Camden, Maine, where you can spend your holiday season by the sea. Hike up the slopes of Mt. Battie and take pictures with the glowing star atop its tower, which shines down upon the residents and visitors of Camden, serving as a symbol of hope and community togetherness each winter. A five-minute drive will take you to the Camden Snow Bowl, where you can revel in beautiful views of the ocean as you ski down the trails of Ragged Mountain. The Camden Snow Bowl is also the venue for the US Toboggan Championships on Jan. 2-4! If you’re feeling competitive, you can register for the race in teams of 2-4. If you’re looking for a more relaxing time, you can take a leisurely ride down the toboggan chute, which sends you skating out onto the frozen surface of Hosmer Pond, or you can go tubing down the mountainside. 

With its quaint towns, snow-crowned mountains and various holiday activities, Maine truly is a winter wonderland. We hope that during the upcoming festive season, you find time in your busy schedules to grab your friends, throw on your puffy coats, sip your steamy cups of hot chocolate and embrace the holiday spirit. 

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About the Contributors
Hadley Blodgett, Assistant Arts & Leisure Editor
Hadley (she/her) is a Sophomore from Buckfield, Maine which is really close to Bates. She is a member of the Brass Ensemble and also the Jazz Band, and does music in her free time too. In her free time volunteers with the Auburn Community Concert Band providing free community concerts through the summer and winter. Besides a minor interest in music she also enjoys being outside and exploring parts of Maine she hasn’t been to before. Her favorite hike is currently Eyebrow Loop Trail. In her free time she writes, works, and also dabbles in photography.
Gail Curtis, Contributing Writer
Gail is a sophomore from Rockport, Maine. She is an English major on the Creative Writing track, and a Rhetoric, Film, and Screen Studies minor. When she’s not writing, she loves reading gothic novels, swimming in lakes, and drinking honey-vanilla chai lattes from the Ronj.

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