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Posted: November 17, 2016

Embrace the holidays! 30+ can’t-miss holiday events in southern Maine

Written by: Staff Reports

‘Tis the season for many things, some more pleasant than others. There’s the crush of last-minute shopping and the office Christmas party hangovers to contend with. But there’s also a whole mess of cheery fun to to be had so get out there and throw your arms around the holidays. May your streets be lined with peppermint and your heart wrapped in tinsel as you peruse this year’s guide to can’t miss holiday events.

Nov. 25-Jan 8: Christmas at Victoria Mansion

Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth St., Portland | $15, $13.50 seniors, $5 for 6 10 17, $7 for college students, under 6 free, $35 family rate.  |
Enter the magical – and historical- spot in Portland that pulls out all the stops every holiday season by inviting local designers to decorate its many rooms. You’ll be inspired and transported back in time to a pre-internet, pre-black Friday era when the magic of Christmas was simpler yet all the more glorious.

Nov. 26-Dec. 31: Old Fashioned Christmas in Bath

Downtown Bath |
They start things off with a tree lighting, Jingle Bell Walk and visit with Santa on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and keep the merriment going all the way through December. Festivities include trolley rides and caroling on Friday nights, a downtown Bath Open House on Dec.9 and the annual tradition of Red Letter Boxes where letters to Santa and holiday cards for seniors can be dropped. On New Year’s Eve at Noon don’t miss the annual Paul Revere Bell Ringing at Bath City Hall. You’ll sing out the old year and ring in the new one and then repair inside for bell ringing and refreshments.


Press Herald file photo

Nov 25-Dec 4: The Nutcracker

Merrill Auditorium, Portland | $21-66 |
With visions of sugar plum fairies dancing in your head, you’ll lose yourself in the annual magical performance of The Maine State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker.” The show features classic choreography, fantastical costumes and live music by the Maine State Ballet Orchestra. You’ll see 30 professional ballet company members AND more than 200 local Southern Maine dancers do their thing.

Portland Press Herald file photo by Gregory Rec.

Portland Press Herald file photo by Gregory Rec.

Dec. 1-11: Christmas Prelude

Kennebunkport | Many activities free |

It’s an idyllic tradition that lasts for 11 glorious days all over Kennebunkport. Events include dinners, ornament decorating, Christmas house tours, trolley rides at Seashore Trolley Museum, tree lighting ceremony, live nativity, blueberry pancake breakfast, live music,  craft fairs, Christmas Tree tour and dozens of other seasonal sensations that will grow your heart at least three sizes larger this holiday season.

Dec 2-4: Art on the Hill SEA Holiday Art Sale

East End Community School, Portland |
Over 80 local artists and an incredible weekend of holiday shopping! There’ll be something for everyone on your shopping list at this three-day event. You’ll see a wide-range of artwork, jewelry, soaps, clothing and countless other unique items so shop early and often.



Dec. 2-3: MECA Holiday Sale

Maine College of Art, Portland | 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 | Facebook.
Give the gift of original art. Find the perfect gift, crafts, and fine arts by MECA students, alumni, faculty and staff. Shop, connect with the arts, and buy local. Free admission.

Dec. 3 : Harbor Lights Festival

Boothbay Harbor |
Spiced with a nautical theme, there’s a whole bunch of mid-coast merriment happening in Boothbay Harbor. This decades-old event includes a festival of trees, craft show, live nativity, lap time with Santa, wagon rides, tree lighting and a host of other holiday goings on. The night closes out with a lighted boat parade where the locals will be lighting up the harbor by decking their hulls with holiday lights.

Dec. 2 & 3: Downtown Holiday Festival

Downtown Biddeford + Saco | Free |
It all starts at 5 p.m. on Friday night with Biddeford’s traditional Downtown Holiday Festival in City Square that includes cookie decorating, sleight rides, a visit with Santa and more. The fun continues on Saturday including Saco’s Parade of Lights.

Dec. 4: South Portland’s Holiday Fest

Mill Creek Park, South Portland |
Now if this isn’t good old-fashioned fun, I don’t know what is. Eat hot cider, hot dogs, meatball heroes, cupcakes, hot chocolate and s’mores and sing along to Christmas carols with the South Portland High School and Middle School chorus students. Once properly in the spirit, visit Santa at City Hall or go on a horse drawn carriage ride through the park. Then watch the tree lighting at 6 p.m. Now that’s some holiday cheer.

Dec. 3  Gardiner Holiday Parade of Lights

Downtown Gardiner |
Gather one and all on Water Street in downtown Gardiner for the annual Parade of Lights which steps off at 4:30 p.m.  Plenty of other jolly happenings will be going down pre and post parade so plan on spending a few hours soaking up the seasonal fun.

Winter Street Center graphic

Dec. 2 & 3: Twisted Christmas

8 p.m. Winter Street Center, 880 Washington St., Bath. $15.
Get a babysitter lined up for this one because this event is for the grown-ups. Twisted Christmas is a nice and naughty evening of entertainment that includes plenty of laughs, audience participation, music and holiday spirit.


Sparkle weekend photo

Sparkle weekend photo

Dec. 2-4: Sparkle Weekend

Freeport |
It’s a town-wide holiday celebration featuring a talking Christmas tree, a parade of lights, visits from Santa, dynamic light shows, an ice walk and free horse-drawn carriage rides. Plus concerts, performances, parades, movies, and craft sales. And let’s not forget that this is in Freeport, so spontaneous outbreaks of shopping will likely occur.

Dec. 2-18: “A Christmas Survival Guide”

City Theater, 205 Main St., Biddeford. $20. or 207-282-0849
Catch a musical where the characters, armed with a copy of “A Christmas Survival Guide” and a positive attitude, dive head first into an urban holiday landscape in search of the true meaning of Christmas. Through spirited songs and vignettes they all learn to cope with the season in ways that will crack you up and warm your heart.


Press Herald file photo

Dec. 3: Santacon

Starts at 4 p.m., various bars, Portland. Free to participate.
Gather all ye  Santas, Mrs. Clauses, Rudolphs, Christmas trees, Abominable Snowmen, Leg Lamps, elves and other holiday-themed costumed revelers because it’s Santacon time! This is a pub crawl like none other and donations will be collected for Family Crisis Services. Dress fabulously and drink responsibly.


Photo courtesy Good Will-Hinckley

Photo courtesy Good Will-Hinckley

Dec. 4-10: “Festival of Trees”

Good Will-Hinckley, Hinckley |
See dozens of beautiful holiday trees decorated by local artists, students and nonprofits, each with a story to tell. On Dec. 3, enjoy an elegant brunch and wine tasting. The festival opens to the public Dec. 4, there’s a “Down Home Dinner” Dec. 7 and a chance to eat breakfast with Santa on Dec. 10. There’s also a Santa letter-writing station, scavenger hunt, craft fair, cookie decorating workshop and woodworking workshop.

Dec. 11: OOB365 Christmas at the Beach

11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. American Legion Hall, 14 Imperial Street, Old Orchard Beach.
Check out the Christmas Crafter Fair while the kids hit the Kids Shop, which is full of items priced at 25 to 50 cents. There’ll be kids games, hot cocoa, cookies and a chance to paint your own Christmas ball, too, before taking some tome to sit with Santa. Then head down to the town square for the lighting of the Christmas tree at 4 p.m.

Dec 4: Beat Santa 4-Miler

9 a.m. Starts at Brunswick Hotel, 39 W Grand Ave., Old Orchard Beach. $25 in advance, $35 day of.
Which Santa is the mystery Santa? You won’t know until the race is over, but if you run faster than the mystery Santa, you’ll get $10 off your registration fee next year. There will be best costume awards so don’t be shy about donning now your gay apparel.

Dec 4: Freeport Jingle Bell Run/Walk

10 a.m. Starts at Mast Landing School, 20 Mollymauk St., Freeport. $30 in advance/$35 day of for adults, $15 in advance/$20 day of for children under 10.
You’re welcome to go all-out Santa for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk.  Because who doesn’t want to tun sporting a Santa beard and elf slippers? Either way, you’ll raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation and will have a jolly good time doing it.


Press Herald file photo

Dec. 8: Merry Madness

4 to 10 p.m. Starts at Portland House of Music, 25 Temple St., Portland. $15. in advance, $20 day of.
Those local shops you love stay open late for your winter shopping pleasure during Portland Downtown’s annual Merry Madness event on Dec. 8. Start the evening off at Portland House of Music from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and retrieve your official Merry Madness wine glass or mug. Use it to receive free wine tastings and other refreshments throughout the evening.  Shop yourself silly at participating shops until 10 p.m.

Dec. 9-11: A Christmas Carol

The Public Theatre, 31 Maple Street, Lewiston | $20, $5 for 18 and under |
“A Christmas Carol” is a classic, timeless story, worth revisiting every year. And at The Public Theatre, all performances are followed by a short program of holiday carols and stories with fiddler and storyteller Jennifer Armstrong.

The Nonantum Resort photo

Dec. 9 & 10: Fire & Ice Bar

5 to 10 p.m. The Nonantum Resort, 95 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport | $30, 21-plus event |
With blazing bonfires, ice bars and sculptures, local food and live music, Fire & Ice Bar is actually one of the season’s hottest events.

Nutcracker Burlesque photo

Nutcracker Burlesque photo

Dec. 16-23: Nutcracker Burlesque

St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland. $18.
The Nutcracker Burlesque takes the holiday tale and transforms it into something sultry and modern. The sugar plum fairy is coming to Portland and she’s bringing the sexy. The show features a wide array of dance genres including ballet, disco, swing, and classic burlesque performed to rock versions of classic songs by Tchaikovsky and others you’ll recognize. All shows are at 8 p.m. Tickets are $18 and always sell out fast.

Dec. 9-11: “A Christmas Carol”

The Public Theater, 31 Maple St., Lewiston. $20, children 18 and under, $5.
Rediscover the magic of theater, when six actors and a fiddler bring Charles Dickens’ classic story to life in a way you’ve never imagined and will never forget. Performances at7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Dec. 10 Santa Dash 5K Run/Walk, 10K Run and 1K Elf Shuffle

Starts and ends at Narragansett Point, Gooch’s Beach, Kennebunk. $30 5K, $35 10K, $10 1K Elf Dash.
The first 200 registrants get a free Santa or elf suit to run in, which means you’ll look merry and jolly even if you’re slogging through every kilometer. Be sure to bring a small, unwrapped gift to donate to Toys for Tots. Runners will get to walk, run or sprint along the beaches and roads of the Kennebunks. Run starts at 10 a.m.


Press Herald file photo

Dec. 17 : Boat Parade of Lights

Casco Bay, Portland. $10 for ferry ride on Casco Bay Lines.
Nothings says “holidays” quite like the  annual Portland Harbor Boat Parade of Lights. It’s a truly   magical night of the year when watercraft gather together, draped in their holiday finest. The parade of well-lit boats is visible from the shoreline, and Maine State Pier is a fine place to gather and gawk. But you can also climb aboard a Casco Bay Lines ferry and watch it all from the water. (Tip: Smart folks board early to snap tables in the enclosed upper deck and uncork a few bottles of wine.) Boat leaves at 4:30 p.m., parade begins at 4:45 p.m. Free to watch from shore, $10 to watch from Casco Bay Lines ferry.

Portland Ballet graphic

Portland Ballet graphic

Dec. 17,18 & 23: The Victorian Nutcracker

Westbrook Performing Arts Center (Dec. 17 & 18) and Merrill Auditorium, Portland (Dec. 23). Tickets $39-$45 at Westbrook Performing Arts Center and $23-$58 at Merrill Auditorium.
Join Portland Ballet for a magical journey through Victorian Portland to the enchanted Kingdom of the Sweets! This classical Nutcracker story is set in beautiful Victorian Portland, with sets and costumes inspired by the Victoria Mansion.

Sarah Morrill/ photo

Sarah Morrill/ photo

Dec. 11: PICNIC Holiday Sale

Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore St., Portland. Free admission.
Crafters and artists from the local and regional indie DIY scene will be selling handmade products in a variety of materials as well as vintage goods. Admission is free. Shoppers and their little ones can get their photo taken with the Yeti, and enjoy delicious food. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free admission.


Dec. 11: Portland Brewers’ 5K Holiday Dash

Starts on Eastern Prom, Portland. $35.
Run or walk a wintry 5K on the Eastern Promenade in your festive gear, and then grab a post-race beer and brunch at Ri-Ra. Runners assemble on the Eastern Promenade Trail between Ocean Gateway and the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad. Proceeds support the work of Portland Trails. Race starts at 11 a.m.

Dec. 19 : Sing! It’s Christmas

Chocolate Church Arts Center, 804 Washington St., Bath. free admission.
For decades family and friends have gathered on the last Monday before Christmas to sing their hearts out together. Rumor has it, Santa Claus will be dropping by so be on your best behavior and bring your voice to this community sing along. Tacky Christmas sweaters optional.



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