It’ll be hard to resist the holiday spirit this December. Between the tree lightings, boat parades and caroling, there’s plenty to do to celebrate the season and revel in the cold weather.
Through Dec. 31
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, 132 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay Harbor
See the gardens covered in thousands of colorful lights. It’s a wonderland to walk through, and this event was a big hit last year for that very reason. If you need a warm-up, sit by the outdoor fire or pop into the cafe for a cocktail. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
Christmas at Victoria Mansion
Through Jan. 8
109 Danforth St., Portland
The opulent interiors of Victoria Mansion are worth visiting any time of year, but the holiday season is extra special, thanks to the dozen or so designers who decorate the mansion rooms each Christmas. It’s wonderfully fancy and over the top. Closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Tickets are $15, $13.50 for AAA members and seniors.
Golden Chariot Ride & Cocktail Party
Dec. 2 & 9, 5 p.m.
Seashore Trolley Museum,
195 Log Cabin Rd, Kennebunkport
Take a ride on a vintage trolley car through the woods. The “Golden Chariot” is an open-air car, so bundle up. After the ride, you’ll be treated to two signature cocktails (or non-alcoholic beverages) and appetizers. Tickets are $25.
Harbor Lights Festival
Dec. 3, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
It’s a holiday festival with all the trimmings, including a tree lighting, caroling, craft show and wagon rides. At 5 p.m., catch the lighted boat parade in Inner Harbor. (There’s a viewing party at Mine Oyster. $25 tickets include food, two drinks and a warm place to watch.)
A Christmas Carol
25 Forest Ave., Portland
Catch a production of this classic holiday tale. Sure, you already know how it ends, but the story of ghosts and goodwill, family and Christmas spirit will warm your heart just like it did the first time. Tickets are $41–$46, $4 off for seniors.
Fire and Ice
Dec. 9 & 10, 5–10 p.m.
95 Ocean Ave., Kennebunkport
Embrace the impending winter by drinking cocktails outside. There will be bars and sculptures carved from ice, plus bonfires to keep you warm. Music, dancing and lots of food inside, too. Tickets are $30.
Dec. 17 & 18, 2 p.m.
Arts Center, Westbrook
Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Merrill Auditorium, Portland
Set in Victorian Portland, with sets and costumes inspired by the Victoria Mansion, Portland Ballet’s production is an annual tradition that showcases the talent of professional ballet dancers and local kids you might know. Tickets $39–$45 for the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, $23–$58 for the Merrill Auditorium.
Christmas with Cornils
Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.
20 Myrtle St., Portland
Enjoy holiday music from throughout the centuries during this annual event. Organist Ray Cornils is celebrating 26 years at the helm of the Kotzschmar Organ and the music is sure to get you in the spirit of the holidays. Tickets are $29–$47.
Jan. 1, noon
The Brunswick, 39 West Grand Ave., Old Orchard Beach
Welcome the new year with a cold plunge into the Atlantic and some fundraising for a good cause. Proceeds for the popular event benefit Special Olympics Maine, and the plunge will give you bragging rights the rest of the year. Raise $100 minimum.
Jan. 21, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
Multiple locations in Rangely
It’s mostly about the snowmobiles—the radar runs and demo rides. But it’s also about the marshmallow roasting, the helicopter tides and the chili-chowder cook-off.
Shannon Bryan is a Maine-based writer and editor.