Whether you’re looking to start your holiday shopping early or just want a fun day out for the family, Freeport is the place to be this weekend.

L.L. Bean’s flagship store is getting a jump up on the holiday season by hosting its annual season-long Northern Lights festival on Friday. Bowdoin College’s a cappella groups Meddiebempsters and Miscellania will provide holiday music for the festivities, culminating in the lighting of a 60-foot tree in Discovery Park at 6:45 p.m.

Bring a used coat to be donated to a senior coat drive, co-hosted by Maine Area Agencies on Aging. For every coat received, L.L. Bean will also donate $5 to the Keep ME Warm Campaign.

While you’re in town, check out some of these other attractions:

• A new movie theater is opening today in Freeport Village, finally giving residents a place to catch a flick without traveling to Brunswick or Falmouth. For its debut, the six-screen Nordica Theatre is showing “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” “Footloose,” “The Ides of March,” “Happy Feet Two” and “Puss in Boots” (the latter two in both 2-D and 3-D). See pages E11 and E15 for movie times.

• If you love gelato, you’ll love The Fresh Batch, a relatively new cafe at 20 Bow St. The eatery offers a full dining menu (including vegetarian and gluten-free fare), but its true drawing power derives from its gelato selection, which rotates on a regular basis. Free tastings are welcome, so you can be sure to get a batch you like. There’s even liquor-infused gelato for the 21-and-older crowd (ID required).

• Once you’ve satisfied your sweet tooth at The Fresh Batch, you can shop for the kids on your holiday list by bounding upstairs to Island Treasure Toys — or relive your youth via the shop’s many retro-themed products. (Who says you’re too old for Lincoln Logs?)

• For a full-on sugar and/or alcohol mouth explosion, go down Main Street a piece for tours at Cold River Vodka (865-4828) and Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections (865-4071), located just a few blocks from each other. Both offer free samples, so you can continue the adventure at home. Call ahead for tour times.

• Cap off your evening with a meal at Azure Cafe, located within walking distance of L.L. Bean at the corner of Main and Elm streets. Just about every dining establishment in Maine claims to have the best lobster dish, but Azure has the awards to back it up.

• Come back to L.L. Bean between 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday or Sunday to ride an old-fashioned, horse-drawn carriage around the campus. It’s free, but donations are appreciated.

Bean, of course, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week — and this weekend is only the beginning. Check llbean.com/events for a list of upcoming holiday events between now and Dec. 31.

 

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at [email protected]