Ten-year-old Dinah Routhier was literally alight with holiday cheer, and color, during her family’s recent visit to the half-million light extravaganza known as Gardens Aglow at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. At one point, her face was a dreamy blue-green from all the lights ablaze in the tree house of the children’s garden. At another juncture, her eyes shined a sparkling orange thanks to some tall tree trunks wrapped in flame-colored LED lights. Her physical glow was made warmer by the hot chocolate and doughnuts she consumed.
Dinah, the daughter of this reporter, spent about an hour and a half exploring the seemingly endless displays of lights at Gardens Aglow on a recent blustery Friday evening. There were lights on hundreds of trees, bushes, garden sheds and all manner of garden structures. Unlike light gazing in a residential neighborhood, where you eventually find a house that isn’t lit up, Dinah and her family felt like they could walk all night and never run out of lights twinkling in the darkness.
One thing Dinah discovered that would help others when they visit was the indoor Winter Fun Warming Station, where a model train is running through Christmas scenes and people sit at tables to get warm with cocoa and snacks. It’s a little off the beaten path, but spending a few minutes there will give you warmth and strength to see more lights.
Here is more about what Dinah thought of Gardens Aglow, in her own words.
What was your favorite one or two things about Gardens Aglow?
I really liked that there were these trees that were decorated with lights that were dark orange at the bottom and they sort of got lighter (orange) as they went up so they looked like they were on fire. And so that was really cool. (Dinah’s sister Sophie called it “Forests Aflame.”)
There was also a tree that had strings of white lights hanging from it, and the white lights like flickered and stuff, and it looked like there was snow falling off the trees.
Was it cold, windy or snowy? Did the weather make the lights seem more festive?
There were long, tall trees with pink and yellow lights and they were blowing in the wind and it looked like they were waving.
Was there any way to get warm in the cold while looking at all the lights?
There was a — they called it a snack shack, I think, and it had hot chocolate and doughnuts. So that was really yummy. And there was a building you could go inside, and it was warm, and there was a train set you could watch. (Plus hot chocolate, snacks and tables to sit down at.)
What was your favorite area of the botanical gardens?
In the children’s garden, there’s a pond and they had stretched strings of lights over it, so it looked really cool and it looked like the pond was made out of lights.
What would you tell someone else who is going to Gardens Aglow?
Drink a lot of hot chocolate because it’s yummy and it’s warm. And there’s this scavenger hunt thing where you have to find little animals made out of hedges. There was a frog, a rabbit, a fox, a squirrel and a rooster. I found three.
Want to know how Gardens Aglow became so popular? Read on!