Gardens Aglow has an amazing display of 500,000 lights

I can’t come up with an appropriate adjective for Gardens Aglow at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Harbor. Amazing, astonishing, fabulous, fantastic. Even these do not completely describe this display.

You really must see it sometime between now and December 31. It’s not expensive and you can buy tickets on their website or when you arrive.



This year’s display has more than 500,000 lights. That’s about 43 miles of lights! The lights are displayed in the gardens and trees and on the buildings and many are moving or going off and on, very entertaining.


Our daughter Hilary, who took this and the remaining photos and who lives in Washington DC, was home for Thanksgiving so we took her to Gardens Aglow. Our other daughter Rebekah and my sister Edie joined us for a great evening. We slowly walked the paths and took – well we must’ve taken hundreds of photos. I will share some of them with you in this column but even the photos don’t do the display justice.


The entire town of Boothbay has bought into this wonderful Christmas celebration with their Festival ofLlights. You want to cruise around town and check out all the lights.


The Botanical Gardens has snack stations with everything from soup and chili to donuts and pretzels and their café was open with a special menu. We had hoped to eat there but by the time we checked it out the was a one hour wait. While the evening was cool, the warming station was warm and the inspiring lights kept us outside for several hours.

There were lots of families there with little kids who were captivated by the magic, including multigenerational families embarking on a new family tradition for Christmas. And we even saw quite a few people in wheelchairs, thanks to the easy accessibility of the buildings and grounds.

The display runs from Thursdays through Sundays until December 31 and starts each day at 4 PM. We recommend getting there early to get a good parking place and have plenty of time to thoroughly enjoy Gardens Aglow.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.