One of the newest – and most popular – sites to visit in Maine is the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden (http://www.MaineGardens.org) in Boothbay. Opened in 2007, the garden’s 270 acres of tidal shoreland include a children’s garden (complete with references to famous children’s books set in Maine, a “garden of the senses,” fairy houses, gardens featuring specific plan families, and, everywhere, sculptures, benches, accessible paths, and special exhibits. The gardens also feature a café, gift shop, education center, lecture series, craft programs … you name it. It’s become a destination for people from all over the world. Over 90,000 people from six continents visited in 2016.
In 2015 for the first time the gardens were lit for Christmas. Gardens Aglow proved an instant success — more than 36,000 guests came in November and December to see the spectacle.
This year it is even more spectacular. More than 350,000 LED lights — more than 31 miles — of lighted strands — wrapped around 325 trees and walls and dangling from branches. (One 75-foot white pine is wrapped with more than 3,000 lights.)
Environmental note: all the lights at Gardens Aglow, for the entire event, will only cost about $100 in electricity.
To add to the excitement, the towns of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor are simultaneously celebrating the “Festival of Lights” — homes and stores are brightly lit, restaurants and inns and shops are open, and, as the Chamber of Commerce says, the area is “sparkling for the winter.”
The Gardens are open nightly (Thursday through Sunday nights) from 4-9 p.m. until December 31. Food trucks and a hot chocolate station and a s’mores fire pit are part of the excitement, and the café and gift shop are often. I could tell you Gardens Aglow was worth a visit … but the pictures I took are more convincing. And they can’t begin to show you the magic of lights, or of Christmas in the Gardens.