Things sure feel different this holiday season. While we’re still not out of the pandemic woods yet, there are many wonderful events happening this year to fill you with spirit while you support the local economy and safely get out in the world. We’ve assembled this list of holiday chestnuts for you to peruse and will let you know about several others every week as we head toward 2022.

The 2020 Monument Square holiday tree in downtown Portland. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Monument Square Tree Cam
Streaming from 4 p.m. Friday through the holidays. portlandmaine.com/merry
Instead of the usual in-person annual tree lighting event in downtown Portland, you can raise a cup of eggnog from anywhere to see the tree lighting at 4 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving. From that moment on, you can see the tree and surrounding Monument Square area anytime you need a moment of holiday zen or want to see the hustle and bustle of the city. Should you find yourself downtown, you’ll not only see the tree but also more than 40 downtown shops and restaurants decked out for the season. And it wouldn’t be the holidays without Pandora LaCasse’s famous light displays which also get illuminated on Black Friday. Let there be light!

Grace Bauer as Cindy Lou Who in “Who’s Holiday.” Photo by Stephen Underwood

‘Who’s Holiday’
7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Through Jan. 2. St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St., Portland, $27 to $34, 17-plus. stlawrencearts.org
Good Theater invites you, though you need to be a little more than 2, to a heartfelt and hilarious holiday show. “Who’s Holiday” tells the tale of Cindy Lou Who as she thinks back on the trajectory her life has taken since meeting the Grinch all those years ago. You’d better believe there’s more than water in her cup these days, and you’ll get a kick out the colorful trailer she calls home.

Lights reflect on a moose sculpture floating in the breeze at the Gardens’ Aglow event at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which is a drive-through experience. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Gardens Aglow
4:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Through Jan 1. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, 105 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay, $40 per car, $30 per member car. mainegardens.org
Gas up and glow! For the second year, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is presenting a drive-in version of its much loved Gardens Aglow lighting display that uses almost 650,000 energy-efficient multi-colored and white LED bulbs that would stretch close to 60 miles. You’ll cruise along at 5 miles per hour and will gasp with awe at every turn. It’s something you truly have to see to believe. When you’re through, don’t be in a hurry to head back home as there will be several local businesses taking part in a lighting display contest. It will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve but open Christmas and New Year’s Day. Advance tickets required.

The Victoria Mansion in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Christmas at Victoria Mansion
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Nov. 26 through Jan. 9. Victoria Mansion, 109 Danforth St., Portland, $16, $14 seniors, $7 college students, $5 kids 6-17, under 6 and active military free, reservations required. victoriamansion.org
Another jewel in the crown of the holiday season, at least in the Portland area, is the return of Christmas at Victoria Mansion. Take a step back in time as you roam the gorgeously decorated rooms and hallways of the mid-1800s home. There’s no place quite like the mansion to fill your heart with nostalgia and joy as you imagine what the holidays were like for the family of Ruggles Sylvester Morse and his wife Olive, followed by the Libby family. Victoria Mansion has been open as a museum since 1941 and shines extra brightly through the holidays.

Maine State Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’
2 p.m. Friday through Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 4., 2 p.m. Dec. 5. Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland, $20 to $70. porttix.com
Maine State Ballet is ready, with 30 professional dancers, under the direction of artistic director and former member of the storied New York City Ballet Linda MacArthur Miele, to enchant you with the story of The Nutcracker Prince and Clara. You can expect to see brilliant costumes and sumptuous scenery. The show also features three pieces by world-renowned choreographer George Balanchine and 200 dancers of all ages on the stage through the run of shows. Get cracking on getting tickets.

Pentatonix. Photo courtesy of the artist

Pentatonix
7 p.m. Dec. 2. Cross Insurance Arena, 1 Civic Center Square, Portland, $46.50 to $146.50. crossarenaportland.com
A cappella quintet Pentatonix has three Grammy Awards on the mantle above their stockings hung with care. They just released their sixth holiday album called “Evergreen” and are taking the sleigh, or rather show, on the road for a tour that includes a stop in Portland. “Evergreen” includes takes on Joni Mitchell’s “River” along with the traditional “I Saw Three Ships” and the whimsical “Frosty The Snowman.” If you like vocal groups and holiday music, you’ll adore Pentatonix.

Mark Nahorney as Kris Kringle and Juliet Rice as Susan Walker in City Theater’s production of “Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play.” Photo by Rich Obrey

‘Miracle on 34th Street:’ A Live Musical Radio Play
7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3-19. City Theater, 205 Main St., Biddeford, $25. citytheater.org
City Theater in Biddeford presents a holiday classic the whole family will enjoy. You’ll be part of the studio audience for a live musical radio play that’s been faithfully adapted from the original 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast. This take on “Miracle on 34th Street” tells the tale of a last-minute fill-in for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade who claims to be the real Kris Kringle. A cast of seven local actors and singers, who change their voices and dialects and use simple props and costume changes, will surely melt your heart.

Don Campbell Band. Photo by Stewart Smith Professional Photography

Don Campbell Band Christmas Concert
3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 4. Jonathan’s, 92 Bourne Lane, Ogunquit, $25 to $66. jonathansogunquit.com
Have yourself a very Campbell Christmas by catching a holiday performance by the Don Campbell Band. The family-friendly shows will feature songs from Campbell’s two Christmas albums, along with other favorites, and yes, there will be singalongs. Campbell and his marvelous musicians also have holiday shows on Dec. 10 at Chocolate Church Arts Center in Bath, Dec. 11 at Music on Main in Bridgton, Dec. 12 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland and Dec. 18 at the Rockport Opera House.

A scene from Cirque Dreams Holidaze. Photo courtesy of Cirque Dreams Holidaze.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
7:30 p.m. Dec. 8. Cross Insurance Arena, 1 Civic Center Square, Portland, $39 to $99. crossarenaportland.com
When it comes to spectacular holiday events, Cirque doesn’t mess around. The Cirque Dreams Holidaze show is set in a multimillion dollar wonderland, where you’ll feast your eyes and ears on dazzling scenes, dozens of holiday production numbers, more then 300 costumes and 20 jaw-dropping acts. Seize the Cirque and get tickets before they vanish.

See The Bang Group’s Nut/Cracked in Kittery. Photo by Yi Chun Wu

The Bang Group’s ‘Nut/Cracked’
7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 2 p.m. Dec 11. The Dance Hall, 7 Walker St., Kittery, $30, $25 seniors and kids. thedancehallkittery.org
Things are kicking up in Kittery with a show by the rhythm-driven dance company out of New York City called The Bang Group. Its show “Nut/Cracked” is a funny and fresh take on the traditional Nutcracker tale performed by a troupe of highly trained and highly entertaining artists. For music, you’ll hear a blend of Tchaikovsky’s original score with tunes by the likes of Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. The show features tap dancing, singing and some out-of-the-ordinary pointe shoe moves.

One of last year’s sensational entries in The Gingerbread Spectacular. Photo by Kevin Kiley

The Gingerbread Spectacular
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 16-19. Opera House at Boothbay Harbor, 86 Townsend Ave., free, donations accepted. boothbayoperahouse.com
Here’s something you can really sink your teeth into at the Opera House at Boothbay Harbor. For four days, the historic venue becomes a Christmas candy land where you’ll see an an amazing array of gingerbread houses among other creative structures. Prizes will be awarded for most spectacular design, among other tasty categories, and the entire place will be decked out for the holidays making for a merry reason to hit the midcoast.

A look back at the 2019 Fogcutters holiday show at the State Theatre. Photo by Wohler & Co.

The Fogcutters Superfantastic Christmas Extravaganza
8 p.m. Dec. 17. State Theatre, 609 Congress St., Portland, $20 in advance, $25 day of show. statetheatreportland.com
With a massive horn section, two vocalists and holiday spirit to spare, big band The Fogcutters sure knows how to ring in the holidays! They actually made it snow inside the State Theatre a few years ago, proving that anything can happen when they take the stage. You’ll hear holiday classics galore, done up in big-band style, and there will be several knocks on the door of their family living room set announcing special guests. Fa la la la fun!


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