Maine holiday celebrations are steeped in history and tradition


MAINE - There is nothing like the experience of an old-fashioned New England holiday, and each of Maine's historic small towns and cities celebrates the season in its own unique way.

In quaint villages, people stroll cobblestone streets sipping hot cider and listening to street carolers as they admire festive store window displays. Pottery, gourmet food products, balsam-stuffed pillows, and other Maine- made finds are added to rapidly growing holiday wish lists.

In the Maine mountains, a couple takes a romantic moonlit ride on a horse- drawn sleigh adorned with bells and garland. Afterward, they sit near the fire at a cozy inn decked out in red, green and gold, enjoying a seasonal feast prepared with fresh local ingredients. Tomorrow, they'll hit the slopes for their first downhill run of the season.

Visiting a snow covered farm to choose and cut or select your own fresh cut Christmas tree is the quintessential New England holiday experience, and Maine's fragrant balsam firs and Currier and Ives-like wintry landscape draw people from miles away. In appreciation, a number of local growers offer special amenities like horse-drawn carriage rides or homemade cookies and hot cocoa to keep visitors warm. Many also specialize in handmade wreaths, and some have full-scale holiday gift shops on-site. For those who reside outside of the region, select growers ship trees and wreaths directly from the Maine woods to homes across the U.S. For a complete list of Christmas tree farms, visit where you can also find listings of food and agricultural producers who ship their own products through the mail.

The holiday revelry in Maine begins in late November and continues on through the first of the New Year, with bonfires on the beach, tree
lighting festivals, a chowder tasting contest, holly trolley rides, holiday symphonies, light parades, candlelight caroling, and tours of stately homes
lavishly decorated for the holidays. No matter where you join in the celebration, the arrival of Santa Claus is the centerpiece of every
hometown holiday festival, whether Old St. Nick arrives by horse-drawn sleigh, fire truck, ATV, or lobster boat. Here is a sample of the many
events taking place this holiday season in Maine:

11/25/2005-  Country Christmas in Bethel
12/24/2005  Open houses, ice skating on the common, Saturday afternoon horse-drawn wagon rides, workshops, arrival of Santa, musical performances, Community Messiah Sing, and Taste of Bethel.

11/25/2005-  Rockland Festival of Lights Celebration
11/27/2005  Santa arrives by Coast Guard boat, visit historic inns holiday open houses, Parade of Lights, horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers,
children's activities, Santa's Workshop, and extended shopping hours.

11/26/2005-  25th Annual Fort Kent Arts & Crafts Festival
11/27/2005  Juried arts and craft fair featuring more than 100 exhibitors.

11/26/2005  Lighting of the Nubble, York
Cookies, hot chocolate, music, Santa Claus, plus the big countdown to the turning on of the Christmas lights on the Cape Neddick Lighthouse.

11/26/2005-  Old Fashioned Christmas, Bath
12/31/2005  A magical place during the holidays. The town is transformed with a spectacular holiday light display with special church services, craft fairs and an antiques show.

12/02/2005-  Christmas by the Sea, Camden
12/04/2005  A weekend celebration of the holiday season with shopping, musical entertainment, community tree-lighting ceremony, horse drawn wagon rides, a Holiday House Tour of private residences and inns, and Santa arriving by lobster boat.

12/02/2005-  Freeport's 12th Annual Sparkle
12/11/2005  Main Street Magic Parade of Lights, carolers, talking Christmas tree, Santa, horse drawn carriage rides, and Holly Trolley.

12/04/2005  13th Annual Celebrate the Season by the Sea, Old Orchard Beach Tree-lighting event with hayrides, entertainment, hot chocolate and food.
Bonfire and caroling on the beach and holiday bazaar. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive on a fire engine.

12/03/2005  21st Annual Harbor Lights Festival, Boothbay Harbor Santa and friends arrive by boat, horse drawn wagon rides, craft fair, time
with Santa, lighting of Christmas tree, and the spectacular Lighted Boat Parade.

12/03/2005  Festival of Lights, York
The all-day celebration includes craft fairs, open house celebrations, caroling, and the beautiful illuminated parade at 4:30 p.m. Enjoy church suppers, caroling groups, concerts, and Santa Claus.

12/03/2005  Shaker Christmas Fair, New Gloucester
Nine rooms of the 1816 Trustee's Office at the Sabbathday Lake are open to the public and offer a multitude of holiday gifts for all ages. Shaker
homemade baked goods are for sale - fruitcakes, cookies, candies, hot herb biscuits, breads.

12/03/2005-  Farnsworth Homestead Open House, Rockland
12/18/2005  Normally closed during the winter, the museum opens the homestead for viewing its holiday finery.

12/09/2005-  19th Annual Christmas by the Sea Celebration, Ogunquit
12/11/2005  A festival of holiday activities designed for the young at heart in quaint Ogunquit Village. Tree lightings, caroling, bonfires, shopping,
open houses, Chowderfest, and more.

12/10/2005-  Victorian Christmas at the Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport
12/11/2005  The Museum's Fowler-True-Ross House, a 19th century sea captain's home, will be decorated by area florists. There will be a
Festival of Trees in the Vestry, Holiday House Tour, and a Friday evening concert.

This holiday season, visit Maine for a traditional New England holiday experience. For vacation planning assistance, visit, or
call 1-888-95-MAINE. If you're coming to do some holiday shopping, log on to and visit the "Online Open House" to get a sneak preview of the handcrafted products you'll find in Maine specialty stores.


Maine lodging accomodations list and availability:

Bar Harbor, Maine

Camden, Maine

Kennebunkport, Maine

Ogunquit, Maine

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Portland, Maine

Information from comes from our editorial staff. Advertisements do not influence the articles and points-of-view on, unless otherwise specified. Rates and event dates are subject to change. We recommend calling your vacation destination first before setting out on the planned itinerary.

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