Southern Maine towns love to get decked out for the holidays in classic New England styles. For most, dressing up downtown includes a brightly lit Christmas tree in the center of downtown.
In fact, those tree lighting ceremonies are a big deal in York and Cumberland counties. Some are part of multi-day celebrations like Kennebunkport’s Prelude or simpler single-day festivals with parades. Others last just an hour or two. Virtually all, however, do more than just flip a switch. At the very least, attendees typically enjoy light refreshments, carolers and sometimes, if they are lucky, a visit from Santa himself.
Where to find tree lighting ceremonies in Southern Maine
Here is a round up of this year’s tree lighting ceremonies. Some might include a menorah lighting.
Biddeford is hosting its Downtown Holiday Festival including a tree lighting on December 1 beginning at 5:30 pm. The events take place at the City Square, adjacent to Town Hall on Adams Street.
Brunswick’s Tree Lighting Ceremony is on November 25 on the Brunswick Mall. It begins with events at 3 pm and culminates in the tree lighting at 5:30 pm.
Freeport Sparkle runs from December 1-10 and is a jam-packed holiday festival. The tree lighting occurs at the end of the holiday parade, which starts at 6pm, on December 1.
Gorham hosts a Tree Lighting Ceremony and Parade on November 26 at Robie Park (2 Ball Park Road). Games begin at 3 pm. The parade starts at about 4:30 pm. The tree lighting takes place at about 5 pm.
There are three different tree lightings in the Kennebunks.
Downtown Kennebunk is holding its ceremony from 5-8 pm on November 25. Update — The tree has been moved this year from Tibbets Plaza (near 50 Local) to Rotary Park, along the river. This is the same date as Pajama Shopping Day on Small Business Saturday.
In West Kennebunk the tree is located at the Dorothy Stevens Community Center at 80 Thompson Road. The ceremony is at 6 pm on December 3.
Ogunquit actually hosts two tree lighting ceremonies. Both are on December 8, the first day of Christmas by the Sea.
From 4:30-7 pm enjoy the festivities around Rotary Park at Perkins Cove. After you’ve enjoyed the festivities there, head to Veterans Park on Beach Street for the lighting of the downtown tree at 8:15.
In Portland, there are watch parties, sing along events and an artisans fair in and around Monument Square (456 Congress Street) beginning at 1 pm on November 24. The tree gets lit at about 5 pm.
On December 1, the Portland Museum of Art hosts the lighting of its copper beech tree. The event takes place at 7 Congress Square. Festivities begin at 6. The lighting is at 6:30. The museum is open until 8 pm and admission is free.
Here are other times you can get free museum admission at PMA.
Saco’s tree lighting takes place on Friday December 1 from 5:30-6:15 at the Saco Transportation Center. The following week it hosts a Holiday Festival and Parade of Lights on December 9.
Scarborough is hosting an evening of events on November 16, beginning at 5 pm with its tree lighting ceremony at 5:15.
South Portland’s tree lighting takes place at Mill Creek Park on December 1. Festivities begin at 4:30. The tree lighting is at about 6 pm. Mill Creek Park is at 50 Hinckley Drive.
Standish hosts its annual tree lighting on December 7 from 5:30-6:30 pm. The actual lighting takes place around 5:45 pm. It is located at the Standish Municipal Center, 175 Northeast Road.
Light Up Westbrook hosts and annual tree lighting ceremony on December 4 at 4:45 pm. The tree is at Riverbank Park, 677 Main Street.
Ok, so York doesn’t actually host a tree lighting. Instead they host a lighting of the lighthouse. What could be more Maine than that!
The Nubble lighting takes place during the days long Festival of Lights on November 25. Festivities begin at 4 pm.
Here’s a picture we took of the Nubble Lighthouse recently.