6 Things You Need to Know About Gardens Aglow Maine in Boothbay Maine

The Maine coastline is filled with beautiful beaches and vistas and a host of wildlife. Most people visit the region from spring through fall because temperatures are mild. However, Gardens Aglow Maine is a very good reason to brave the frosty temperatures of Boothbay Harbor during the winter. This light display is held at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens every year.

About the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

The Gardens started as a small effort between friends. Now, it stretches across 295 acres in the MidCoast, making it the largest botanical gardens in New England. The staff provides tours throughout the regular open season, which is mid-April through October.

For example, Highlight Tours are available at 11 a.m. every day of the regular season. The Botany of Butterflies Tour, though, is only available at 2 p.m. from mid-June until the end of the season. The Gardens offers private and accessible cart tours as well.

What You Should Know About Gardens Aglow Maine

Since the Botanical Gardens is the largest in New England, Gardens Aglow makes for the biggest and brightest light display in the region too. In fact, more than 650,000 Christmas lights are used to transform the central gardens and buildings into a wonderland.

people walking through gardens aglow maine - best tips to see gardens aglow maine at the coastal maine botanical gardens in boothbay harbor
Photo courtesy of MaineToday’s Ben McCanna

This annual extravaganza of lights puts on a brilliant display of color from mid-November through the end of the year. Every year, there may be a special exhibit as well. The light display and exhibit will be viewable Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. except on Thanksgiving Day. From about mid-December, though, the display is open every day except on Christmas Eve.

During the event, you won’t be able to walk around the rest of the Gardens. Aside from that, there’s more that you should know about Gardens Aglow Maine.

1. Tickets Are Available Online and Attendance is Capped

While you can make reservations for Gardens Aglow Maine over the phone, getting tickets is easy online. In fact, buying online might be the best option because the Gardens will be enforcing a cap on attendance to prevent overcrowding.

Another reason why buying online may be best is because you can’t get tickets if you show up at the Gardens and all of the time slots are sold out. It’s important to understand the ticketing policy as well. When you buy your tickets, the date and time that you choose is set in stone. There is no refund on unused tickets.

There’s only one way around this, and that’s to buy Flex Tickets. Although they’re more expensive, these tickets give you the option to attend Gardens Aglow any time during the event. Like the general admission tickets, you can’t get a refund if you don’t use them.

After you make a purchase, you’ll receive an email with printable tickets. You can print them and enter Gardens Aglow through the express line. Otherwise, the staff can look up your reservation or confirm your tickets with the email when you arrive.

2. Group Tickets Get a Special Rate at Gardens Aglow Maine

Since Gardens Aglow is so popular, it gets a lot of large groups. Discounts are available for 10 people or more who use one payment method. Groups that plan to arrive on a tour bus or other oversized vehicle should call the staff to make parking arrangements before they arrive. If they don’t, they’ll have to park off-site.

gardens aglow at coastal maine botanical gardens in boothbay harbor
Photo courtesy of MaineToday‘s Shannon Bryan

3. Parking Is Limited and Dark in Some Areas

Parking at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is very convenient, but the spaces are limited. Carpooling with family members or friends can reduce your chances of waiting for a parking spot or not finding one at all.

On the other hand, you could use the shuttles that continuously run during Gardens Aglow. They pick up attendees near the Boothbay Harbor Town Clerk and Fire Department. You can park anywhere downtown and go to the municipal parking lot to ride the shuttle. After the event, you can ride the shuttle back to the municipal lot.

If you decide to drive to the Gardens, keep in mind that it can get dark in some areas of the parking lot when the sun goes down. Those areas are the farthest away from the light display. Because of that, a flashlight can light your way through the parking lot if you arrive or leave after dark. You won’t need the flashlight to get around the Gardens, though.

4. Winter Maine Weather Makes the Walking Event Cold

When you plan to take a wintry stroll to see Christmas lights in Maine, you need to dress for the weather. Although there are indoor activities at the Bosarge Family Education Center, Gardens Aglow is an outdoor event. The weather in November and December can get really chilly, so you should wear warm layers for the walk, which takes at least an hour. It’s important to wear comfortable shoes as well.

In some cases, though, extreme winter weather forces the Gardens to close the event. If bad weather develops, you can check the Gardens Aglow website and Facebook page for possible closings. Then, you can contact the Gardens for a full refund or help to reschedule your visit. You can even use the event tickets for admission during the regular season if you plan to return.

tips for gardens aglow at coastal maine botanical gardens in boothbay harbor
Photo courtesy of MaineToday‘s Shannon Bryan

5. Only Snacks Are Available

The Kitchen Garden Cafe at the Gardens won’t be open for sit-down dinners during the event. However, you’ll be able to get some grab-and-go snacks from the Market and Snack Shack. Make sure that you plan ahead for that.

6. The Garden Shop Sells Unique Boothbay Harbor Gifts

When you’ve completed your walk among the Christmas lights, don’t forget to visit the Gardenshop. It’s full of unique items that can only be found in Boothbay Harbor, such as locally made honey, soaps, candles, shirts, hoodies and more. These can make great holiday gifts for loved ones. There’s even a selection of the energy-saving lights that decorate the central gardens.

Outside of the Flagship Inn, a Boothbay Harbor Hotel in Coastal Maine

The Best Place to Stay for Gardens Aglow, Restaurants, Shopping, and More

One of the closest hotels to Gardens Aglow, Flagship Inn & Suites offers a range of great amenities at our year-round property. We’re family-friendly, pet-friendly, and handicap-accessible.

Our inn even runs specials for guests who plan to attend Gardens Aglow, so give us a call today for help planning your trip to Gardens Aglow and the Boothbay Harbor area this winter!