Map of Treelighting

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With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the winter holidays. The biggest of the bunch is Christmas, now less than a month away. The countdown officially begins tomorrow, with tree lighting ceremonies and festivals throughout the state.

Portland, along with a number of other communities, holds its tree lighting on Friday in Monument Square. Ahead of the 5:30 p.m. festivities, part of Congress Street in front of the Portland Public Library will be shut down to make way for a stage, which will feature holiday and children’s music by Rick Charette and his Bubblegum Band and dancers from the Maine State Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.”

“If the weather is good, we’d expect up to 10,000 people,” said Jan Beitzer, executive director of Portland’s Downtown District. “Everyone wants to come and hear Rick Charette sing ‘Mud.’ “

In addition to this popular sing-along, the Portland event features a singing Santa who arrives by fire truck. New this year is a special person who will pull the candy-cane lever and light the tree. The honor goes to 9-year-old Cameron Tufts of New Gloucester, who is battling leukemia and was selected for the task by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine.

Beitzer estimates that the tree will be lit between 6:05 and 6:15 p.m. For anyone who needs to warm up before then, the library will be hosting an open house with free refreshments until 6 p.m.

Should you want to avoid the crowds in Portland, here are a number of other tree lighting events to check out: 


Brunswick’s Holiday Tree Lighting, 5 p.m., Maine Street Mall — Before the tree is lit, join a community sing-along, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, and watch Santa and Frosty arrive. After the lighting, horse and buggy rides will be offered from roughly 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Dyer Library/Saco Museum’s Festival of Trees, 5 p.m., Saco Museum — Watch the tree lighting and then check out the dozens of decorated trees and wreaths in the museum’s Main Gallery.

Waterville’s Parade of Lights, 6 p.m., Castonguay Square — Watch dozens of floats light up Main Street as Santa arrives and the giant spruce is lit. Prior to the event, and running through Dec. 22, kids can visit Santa in Kringleville in Castonguay Square.

Rockland’s Festival of Lights, 6 p.m., Mildred Merrill Park — Enjoy cookies, cocoa and holiday music, and then watch Santa arrive to light the unique lobster-trap tree. 


Bath’s Children’s Tree Lighting, 3 p.m., Library Park — Children can bring homemade ornaments and hang them on the tree before it’s lit. After the ceremony, kids will get jingle bells and can walk with Santa to City Hall to enjoy cookies and caroling and get photos taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.

Lighting of the Nubble, 5 p.m., Cape Neddick Lighthouse, York Beach — Hear live music and enjoy cookies and hot chocolate before the lighthouse is lit at 6 p.m. 


New Gloucester’s Tree Lighting, 4:30 p.m., Town Hall — Before the festivities start, enjoy refreshments at the library beginning at 4 p.m. Afterwards, hear holiday tunes sung by the New Gloucester High School chorus and see the tree lit.

Gorham’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, 4:30 p.m., Narragansett School — The fun starts with reindeer games in front of the school at 4:15 p.m. At 4:30 p.m., the Light Parade leaves Mechanic Street and travels to the school, where Santa will arrive on the fire truck at 4:45 p.m. to light the tree. People are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the local food pantry. 

DEC. 2

Standish’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Town Hall — Take part in Christmas caroling and watch for Santa’s arrival. Free refreshments will be served, and people are encouraged to bring a donation for the local food pantry. 642-3461. 

DEC. 3

Christmas Prelude Tree Lighting, 5:30 p.m., Dock Square, Kennebunkport — Join Christmas caroling with the Kennebunk High School chamber choir, and then see the tree lit.

Portland Museum of Art’s Copper Beech Tree Lighting, 6 p.m., High Street Sculpture Garden — See illuminated prints created by Maine College of Art students and listen to holiday music by the Vox Nova Chamber Choir. Then take a candlelit walk to the tree.

Cape Porpoise Lobster Trap Tree Lighting, 7 p.m., Cape Porpoise Square — Enjoy refreshments at the Cape Porpoise Fire Station, take part in caroling, and see the unique tree lit.

Biddeford Tree Lighting, 7:40 p.m., City Hall — Watch children break-dancing and then see the tree lit. Afterwards, kids can watch free holiday films at the Heart of Biddeford office, 205 Main St., and at The Oak and The Ax, 140 Main St., Suite 107. 

DEC. 4

Boothbay Harbor’s Lights Festival, 4 p.m., Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library — Enjoy a community sing-along with the Boothbay Region Alumni Community Band. Kids can visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus before the tree lighting. After the ceremony, watch the Lighted Boat Parade beginning at 5 p.m.

Bridgton’s Festival of Lights, 5:25 p.m., Stevens Brook Park — The tree-lighting festivities start with a candlelight stroll down Main Street at 5:20 p.m. and are followed by the Festival of Lights parade, refreshments, crafts and visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus inside the Community Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 647-8786.

Country Christmas in Bethel, 4:30 p.m., Village Common — Children will do a jingle-bell run down Main Street to the common, where Santa will arrive on a fire truck to light the tree. 

DEC. 5

North Yarmouth’s Tree Lighting, 6 p.m., Wescustogo Hall — Festivities start with a potluck dinner at 5 p.m., then a gathering outside the hall for caroling and the annual tree lighting. 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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