Once the temperatures start cooling and the leaves drop, a look at the calendar confirms what Mother Nature has been telling us. Here comes the holiday season! We present our holiday round-up to guide you to the best holiday festivals MidCoast Maine has to offer.
Maine is known for its picturesque seaside towns and villages. But wait until you see them all decked out for the holidays — picture old-fashioned Christmas celebrations bolstered by tradition, full of twinkling lights, and maybe a dusting of snow.
As with most things, what’s traditional to us Mainers may be fascinatingly new and different for you. Have you ever seen Santa arriving by boat at a pier? Or lobster traps stacked and decorated to resemble a Christmas tree? Once you have seen it, you will never forget it. Come celebrate the holidays with us!
The Captain Nickels Inn, located in scenic Searsport, ME, becomes the hub of holiday festivals in MidCoast Maine. Relax in seaside elegance and select your holiday adventures from the many choices available. With dozens of downtown shops just an easy drive from the Inn, holiday shopping is a breeze. Or just relax and enjoy a glass of wine in our elegantly decorated parlor and sitting rooms.
Rockland’s Festival of Lights
Weekend following Thanksgiving
The annual Festival of Lights typically begins at noon the Friday after Thanksgiving, with Santa Claus arriving at Rockland Harbor via Coast Guard boat. Landing at Middle Pier in Buoy Park, he then leads kids and kids-at-heart to Mildred Merrill Park near the lobster pot tree. Join the “tree” lighting at 6 pm and stay for the Festival of Lights Parade.
Visit the decorated shops downtown, keeping warm with hot cocoa or warm apple cider.
Camden’s Christmas By the Sea
Celebrated for more than 30 years, Christmas by the Sea is a multi-day festival. Events include a tree-lighting in Harbor Park, carolers, and holiday music, carriage rides, craft fairs, and so much more. Santa arrives by lobster boat in Camden Harbor. At just over a 30-minute drive from our Maine bed and breakfast inn, visiting picturesque downtown Camden will surely make you feel like you’re inside a living Christmas snow globe.
Waterville’s Kringleville and Parade of Lights
Parade of Lights and Kringleville
Day after Thanksgiving
Main St, Waterville
Waterville’s annual celebration starts with a parade the day after Thanksgiving. Witness dozens of floats that bring Santa and Mrs. Claus to their holiday home of Kringleville. This tradition of a log cabin housing Santa during the season began in 1969. You can expect a mini ice rink in front of the cabin and many arctic creatures outside.
Located just under an hour west of Captain Nickels Inn, both Kringleville and the Waterville Opera House are fun visits in and of themselves. Visit the Waterville Opera House for tickets, times, and more information on holiday events.
Belfast’s Holiday on the Harbor
Steamboat Landing Park, Belfast
Santa returns to Belfast’s Steamboat Landing Park each December for Holiday on the Harbor. The event includes horse-drawn wagon rides, live carolers, fun activities for the kids, hot chocolate, and more. Depending on the weather, it takes place in the Boathouse or along the Belfast Harborwalk.
The arrival of Santa is not the only event in Belfast. The annual tree lighting happens the first few days during December, kicking off sales in all of the downtown stores. Pick up a local passport, and visit local businesses for a chance for a prize (not to mention super savings).
Belfast celebrates Hanukkah with the Lighting of the Menorah at sundown with music and readings. The menorah will remain lit throughout Hanukkah.
Just ten minutes down the road from Captain Nickels Inn, Belfast is one of our very favorite MidCoast Maine towns! Loaded with fun things to see and do, it’s a special treat to see it all decorated for the holidays.
The best holiday festivals in MidCoast Maine happen all around us, and our Searsport inn is at the center of it all. Come experience the holidays with us here at Captain Nickels Inn. We can’t wait to decorate for the season and share the holidays with you!
Published: October 2022; updated March 2023