When I was younger, driving around to see Christmas lights was an activity. Sure, they were pretty to happen upon, but all I ever really wanted to do was go out and hunt them down. Drive around for as long as it took to take them all in, stretching further and further from home, winding through neighborhoods new and old, noticing which houses had switched things up from the previous year.
I should probably note that when I say “younger” I mean through my high school years. And college too. Okay, it’s actually still something I do but the displays just don’t seem to be quite the same as they used to be.
So when friends suggested we visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens’ Gardens Aglow display, I jumped at the chance to wander through this whimsical winter wonderland, eager to recapture the feeling of being surrounded by lights that seemed to go on forever.
The ticketing process was a little confusing, but I think that we had timed tickets that let us enter during the first shift of people. There was no time limit for our stay, so it wasn’t entirely surprising that things filled up quickly and by the time we left there was a line well down the road of people waiting to enter and park. I know the parking is tough here anyway, and hopefully it’s something they streamline before next season.
It wasn’t quite dark when we first arrived, but by the time we looped through the first section the lights stood bright against the dimming sky. We wound in and around and under light set-ups, along with guests old and young that all seemed equally excited to be there. The weather this year has been crazy, so it didn’t feel all that wintery, but this display would have been beautiful with a light coat of snow. (We also all felt like it would be the perfect setting for a “haunted garden walking tour” around Halloween time. CMBG take note – you once asked our group how to attract more young people, turns out we want more spooky nighttime garden events.)
If you’re feeling nostalgic, in the spirit of the season, or if you have kiddos, make this trip next year. It’s worth the drive.