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Maine’s Winter Wonderland

November 28, 2015 Destination North America No Comments Print Print Email Email

November is when Maine really gets ready for winter. From holiday festivals to ski resorts preparing trails and well-curated exhibitions opening at the state’s lauded small art museums, it’s a time of celebration, outdoor fun and contemplation. 


For writers, editors and bloggers looking for short-lead news, there are details under Happening Now. Those in search of longer lead news – such as coastal inns offering winter packages and a preview of the snowmobiling season –scroll down to Looking Ahead.



Maine celebrates the season with a roster of inventive winter festivals. Foremost this year is Gardens Aglow, a festival of lights at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. From November 21 through December 31, more than 150,000 lights will be strung among the popular 14 acre gardens to create the largest light display in Maine. The always popular Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport offers tree lighting, fireworks, a candlelight stroll, caroling and the arrival of Santa on a lobster boat. In late January, it’s Camden Winterfest, a celebration of snow sports and in-town activities that has been dubbed “Maine’s Mardi Gras.”


Maine’s smaller, family-oriented ski areas are where generations of Mainers and out of state skiers learned to carve their turns.  There are gentler, uncrowded slopes that offer a relaxed welcome to newbies, such as Mt. Abram in Locke Mills. Many of these mountains, like Shawnee Peak in Bridgton, offer night skiing that allows you to enjoy a really long ski day. Camden Snowbowl is the only ski mountain in the East where you can enjoy spectacular ocean views from the summit, glimpsing the islands in Penobscot Bay as you’re making your turns. The Snowbowl is also famous for its 400-foot toboggan run, open on weekends and holidays, and boasts a new lodge. Go to Visit Maine for a complete look at Maine’s family ski resorts.


Winter is when Maine’s small art museums host some of their most important shows of the season. The Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville is currently featuring one of Maine’s most famous painters in an exhibition called “Alex Katz: A Singular Vision.” There are highlights from the museum’s permanent collection, several recent acquisitions on view for the first time, and two important loans in this show that runs until May 8, 2016. “Picturing Maine,” at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland features work by such legendary photographers as Berenice Abbott, Paul Caponigro, Eliot Porter and Joyce Tenneson until March 27, 2016. At the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, “Olive Pierce: Photographing a Maine Fishing Community” features the work of contemporary Maine photographer Olive Piece in a show that runs until January 17, 2016.



Winter is the ideal time for a health and wellness getaway. At Meadowmere Resort  in Ogunquit, the Mind, Body, Spirit Spa offers the Ogunquit Maine Spa & Wellness Package, where guests can choose from Swedish massage, Reflexology or a Balancing Facial. At Samoset Resort on the Ocean in Rockland, The Spa at the Samoset offers a full range of massages, treatments and facials, with a variety of spa packages. In York Harbor, the Stage Neck Inn has an intimate spa called the Spa at Stage Neck, with a roster of massage treatments.  There are also a host of day spas throughout the state, such as Healing Hands Holistic Wellness  in Winthrop, where owner Sara M. Dostie offers healing sessions, yoga and day-long snowshoe outings.


When it snows in the mountains of Western Maine, dedicated riders stash their mountain bikers and grab their fat bikes to hit the wintry trails at Maine Huts & Trails. Fat bikes, equipped with huge tires, are designed to float through the top few inches of snow. Thanks to underinflated tires, they’re buoyant and the ride is cushy, clearly built for comfort, not speed.  The bikes are ideal for the trails at Maine Huts & Trails, which are fairly flat with no significant elevation changes, making it suitable for riders of all skill levels. The four eco-lodges in the Maine Huts & Trails system are found along a 45-mile span of wilderness trail, making them an ideal winter adventure for fat bike fans, cross country skiers and snowshoers.

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