Holiday events abound this December, from carol singing and tree lightings to Santa runs and inn-to-inn cookie tours. You can also step out for an early winter hike or a nighttime ride on an open-air trolley. Here are some of this month’s highlights:
Nov. 30–Dec. 30
It’s a month of quintessential New England Christmas events, including craft fairs, bonfires, a blueberry pancake breakfast, hat parade, tree lighting and Christmas stroll, caroling at the Franciscan Monastery, Fire + Ice Bar at Nonantum Resort and the lobster trap tree lighting in Cape Porpoise.
Golden Chariot Ride & Cocktail Party
Dec. 1 and 8, 5–6:30 p.m.
Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunk
Bundle up for a winter trolley ride in an open car at Seashore Trolley Museum. You’ll ride the stunning Golden Chariot under the stars and through the trees, then return back to the museum to warm up with signature cocktails and appetizers. Cost is $25, call 207-967-2800 ext. 101 or 111 to reserve tickets.
“It’s A Wonderful Life: Adapted” Live Radio Play
Dec. 2, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., Portland
Celebrate the Holiday Season with this beloved American classic. This heartwarming story of renewal is presented as a 1940s radio broadcast with sound effects performed live on stage adapted by Joe Landry. With the help of an ensemble and an angel named Clarence, George Bailey learns the million different ways that we are tied to those around us. Tickets are $38–$65. Multiple performances through Dec. 24.
Santa Hustle Maine 5K & Half Marathon
Dec. 3, 7 a.m.
The Maine Mall, South Portland
We all know Santa is fast (he delivers all those presents in one night, after all). Test your Santa speed with a holiday-themed 5K or half marathon, when hundreds of Santas take to a course that features festive music and cookies along the way. Registration costs $35–$70.
SheSpeaks: Life In The Arena
Dec. 7, 7 p.m.
One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland
SheSpeaks is an empowering evening of storytelling. The evening’s theme is “life in the arena,” and six women will share their stories of stepping into, standing out in, and making their way in arena of life. This speaking series is designed to celebrate and honor women—their power, perspectives, voices, wisdom, stories and relevance. Men are always welcome, too. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 the day of.
Sweetback Sisters Country Sing-a-Long
Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Chocolate Church Arts Center, Bath
The Sweetback Sisters bring their heartwarming and harmonic country singing to the stage and invite you to sing along during this old-timey Christmas sing-a-long. Tickets are $18.
48th Annual Service of Carols and Lights
Dec. 8, 7 p.m.
Lorimer Chapel, Colby College, Waterville
Enjoy readings and carol singing by candlelight, along with the sounds of the Nickerson Carillon. This Colby tradition has continued since 1971, and it’s a festive evening of traditional and contemporary seasonal music from around the world.
Early winter hike
Dec. 9, 9 a.m.
Bald Peak Trail, Pleasant Mountain, Bridgton
Grab your winter gear for a guided hike on the Bald Peak Trail of Pleasant Mountain and explore an interesting geological feature known as the “Needle’s Eye” along the way. Loon Echo Land Trust staff will lead on this 4-hour hike, and hikers will need to bring proper gear, water and snacks. Depending on conditions, you may need snowshoes or traction devices.
Inn to Inn Cookie & Candy Tour
Dec. 9 and 10, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Technically, this event isn’t in Maine, but it’s worth hopping the border for a weekend full of historic inns and delicious sweets. Ten inns are participating, and each will be decked out in holiday finery as you taste holiday cookies and candy at each stop. There will also be demonstrations and artisan sales. Overnight packages available. Tour tickets are $30.
Magic of Christmas
Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Merrill Auditorium, Portland
A sure-fire way to get into the holiday spirit, Magic of Christmas is an annual tradition for some attendees. This year (Robert Moody’s final season as music director) includes the Magic of Christmas Choir, of course, as well as sopranos Suzanne Nance and Susie Pepper. Tickets range from $36 to $82. Performances run Dec. 8–Dec. 17.
Rock My Soul
Dec. 17, 4 p.m.
One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland
It’ll be a spirit-soaring afternoon of “gospelized” Christmas carols and R&B with the Rock My Soul choir and band, a secular, 30-member, roots-based gospel choir well known for its “raise the rafters” style. Expect high-energy renditions of songs like “Joy to the World” and introspective carols such as a Temptations arrangement of “Silent Night.” Tickets are $20 advance, $25 the day of.
Fall Exhibition: Maine and Again
Dec. 19, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
UMaine Museum of Art, Bangor
Featuring over 40 works by painter Jack Balas, who lives and works in Arizona and Colorado, “Maine and Again” is the largest assembly of the artist’s work to date. The exhibition includes a selection of images that retell the artist’s adventures touring Maine as a young man in the 70s. Exhibit runs through Dec. 30.
New Year’s Eve Wine & Oysters Walk
Dec. 31, 2:45 p.m.
The Old Port Sea Grill, 93 Commercial St., Portland
Say goodbye to 2017 with wine and oysters! This walking tour of Portland’s food scene includes stops at four local establishments, where you’ll sample Maine oysters paired with delicious wines. You’ll also learn a few new things, too, as Sommelier Erica Archer offers up some wine education. Tickets are $65 advance, $75 the day of.