Sometimes you get a good heads up from someone. I’d never heard of the Gardens Aglow display at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens near Boothbay, but a friend said it was worth the trip and boy was she right.
Started in 2015 to create more interest in the gardens during the off season the display has grown to more than half a million low energy LED lights, artfully placed throughout the gardens. The variety of hues and intensity of color is remarkable, and a challenge to photograph.
We arrived a bit early for our 4:00 pm time with the outside temperature a cool 5 F⁰ and waited inside until they opened the doors to the gardens. There was a pleasant sunset and a noticeable bite to the air. As darkness enveloped the gardens the lights emerged, revealing the full experience. We retreated into the warmth of the main building several times during our visit to escape the penetrating cold of the Maine winter night.
Organizers added fun and mystery to the garden experience by challenging visitors to spot the frog, squirrel, fox, rabbit and rooster hidden in the displays. A fire pit provides warmth at one spot along the lighted paths and an indoor warming station at the family education center offers snacks and a model train display. When I reached the brightly lit orange tent I found it necessary to indulge in the Kettle Corn bagged and ready to go and the bag was big enough it lasted us almost all the way back to Freeport!
But mostly the experience is the lights. They have been placed with an artistic eye so the colors blend, so you are guided through the gardens by color. It’s hard to picture how many volunteers were needed to create these beautiful displays. There are about 43 miles of lights placed throughout the gardens that needed to be unpacked, tested, and put in their intended place, then they all needed to be taken down, sorted, and packed away for next year during the sub-zero weather in early January. Hats off to these folks.
The display opens after Thanksgiving and runs through December. It’s a good idea to pick up tickets on line to be sure you can get in. We purchased tickets for the first entry which was 4:00 pm. They stagger the arrival times to assure parking is available and organizers also run a free shuttle from downtown Boothbay, so you can avoid the parking at the gardens entirely.
This is a great way to spend an evening. If you’re in Maine, and anywhere remotely close, I’d highly recommend it.