November 29, 2012

Kennebunkport all decked out for Christmas Prelude

Everything from tours, caroling and kids’ crafts to the swanky, crowd-pleasing and very adult Fire and Ice Bar await participants at the annual holiday extravaganza.

By Avery Yale Kamila
Staff Writer

If you're craving a comprehensive holiday experience with all the trimmings, Kennebunkport is the place to find it. Taking place this weekend and next, the 31st annual Christmas Prelude will deck the halls and fill the streets, shops, inns and community spaces with holiday cheer.

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Images from previous Preludes include the Fire and Ice Bar ...

Press Herald file photos

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WHEN: Thursday to Sunday and Dec. 7-9

WHERE: Dock Square, Lower Village and Cape Porpoise, Kennebunkport

HOW MUCH: Prices vary; many events are free


WHAT ELSE: Parking and shuttle services available

From classy adult parties and classic holiday happenings to children's events and meals of comfort food, Christmas Prelude offers more than 150 events. There's so much to do, you're guaranteed to discover something to please everyone in your party.

Those who love to shop will not only find festive boutiques filled with gift ideas but numerous art shows and craft fairs. Music lovers will enjoy traditional carolers, cabaret concerts, string music, chamber concerts, medieval music, modern Christmas tunes and even Christmas karaoke.

But those who attend Prelude don't need to attend a concert to enjoy holiday music.

"The first weekend is so chock-full of things," said Sheila Matthews-Bull, who owns the Rhumb Line Resort and is chairing the Prelude committee for the seventh year.

"The (Patriot) Fife and Drum (Duo) will walk through town," Matthews-Bull said. "We have a wandering minstrel, and we have the barbershop quartet. So at certain times of the day, there's music throughout town."

The majority of the Prelude festivities take place in Dock Square and the Lower Village, with a smattering of events in Cape Porpoise.

Each day brings hands-on activities for kids, including Christmas card making, photos with Frosty, gingerbread house making, ornament workshops, breakfasts with Mrs. Claus and Santa, and trolley rides.

The Dock Square tree lighting happens at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and is expected to draw close to 5,000 people. At 7 p.m. Friday, you can either take in the bonfire and Christmas carols in the Lower Village or drive to Cape Porpoise to see the lighting of the Lobster Trap Tree.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the graduating seniors of Kennebunk High School will host a Christmas Tree Tour. A fundraiser for project graduation, the driving tour features six homes decked out for the holidays with massive Christmas trees decorated by designers. Homes on the tour are located in Kennebunkport and along historic Summer Street in Kennebunk.

At 3 p.m. Saturday, the very popular and festively silly Hat Parade takes place in Dock Square. Last year, 200 people marched in the parade. If you don't have a hat, head to the hat-making workshop from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and try your hand at a little millinery.

"The hats are store bought or reindeer antlers, and then we get some that are incredibly extravagant," Matthews-Bull said.

At 2 p.m. Sunday, Santa and his elves arrive by lobster boat and pose for pictures at the Community House in Dock Square. He'll return again at the close of the festival at 2 p.m. Dec. 9, when he motors into Cape Porpoise Square on a fire truck.

A second tree lighting in Dock Square takes place at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7, followed by a fireworks display at 6:15 p.m.

After a unexpectedly large turnout last year, the Pooch Parade returns this year at 11 a.m. Dec. 9.

"We thought we might get 20 or 25 dogs, and we got over 100," Matthews-Bull said. "They all had costumes on, and if the dog didn't have a costume on, the owner did."

Each Friday and Saturday of Prelude, the Kennebunkport Historical Society will offer guided tours of the house museum, White Columns, and walking tours of the historic village. Each tour costs $10, or you can purchase tickets to both for $15.

Food and drink lovers could spend both weekends just enjoying good eats.

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Additional Photos

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... a youngster waiting for the Hat Parade to begin ...

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... and a candle-toting caroler.


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