With Gardens Aglow, Merry Madness and a dazzling circus adventure
SantaCon Portland Maine
Saturday, Dec. 1, 5 p.m. to closing time
Party with hundreds of Santas and other merry types hanging out in the Old Port during this annual event that includes drinking, dancing and reindeer games like jumping rope with holiday lights. Get creative with holiday character costuming (selfies encouraged), follow the meetup locations for SantaCon Portland Maine on Facebook or Twitter and bring a donation for Family Crisis Services. (facebook.com/SantaconPortland)
Thursday–Sunday through Dec. 31, 4–9 p.m.
Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, 132 Botanical Gardens Drive, Boothbay
With hundreds of thousands of lights, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens boasts the largest light show in Maine. To have a merry time, dress for an outdoor walking tour and buy tickets in advance. While you’re there, enjoy some holiday shopping in the Gardenshop. Tickets are $8 kids, $12 seniors and $14 adults. (mainegardens.org)
Dec. 6-7, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland
This popular women’s storytelling event hosted by Lael Couper Jepson of SheChanges is back to celebrate and honor women—our power, perspectives, voices, wisdom, stories and relevance. But this time there are two nights and 10 brave women getting personal. Storytellers are Anne Morin, Louisa Irele, Corinne Mockler, Lyn Carter and Nadine Farag (Dec. 6), and Ashley Dobbs, Rosa Slack, Molly Neuner, Robin Hodgskin and Virginia Dearani (Dec. 7). Tickets are $20 in advance at onelongfellowsquare.com; $25 day of show.
Thursday, Dec. 6, 4–7 p.m.
U.S. Custom House, 312 Fore St., Portland
This Portland Downtown event brings thousands of 21+ revelers downtown for a unique holiday shopping event. It all starts with a glass of wine and jazz quartet The Nightcaps at the historic U.S. Custom House. And then more than 75 shops stay open until 10 p.m. Tickets are $20. (portlandmaine.com/merry-madness)
Sparkle Weekend Celebration
Friday-Sunday, Dec. 7–9
Freeport’s three-day kickoff to Christmas includes a parade of lights down Main Street to wake up the famous Talking Christmas Tree and loads of other stuff to do, including horse-drawn carriage rides, a holiday movie marathon, festive rides on the Amtrak Downeaster, music, food and, of course, plenty of places to shop. (sparklecelebration.com)
Cirque Dream Holidaze
Thursday, Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Cross Insurance Arena, 515 Main St., Bangor
This two-hour cirque adventure with 20 astonishing acts, original music and 300 costumes is just the spectacle for the holidays, celebrating Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s. Tickets are $29 and up via ticketmaster.com.
Bahaha Humbug Holiday Comedy Show
Friday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.
Frontier, 14 Maine St., Mill 3 Fort Andross, Brunswick
Come for dinner, stay for the laughs with some of Maine and New England’s best and brightest comics. Tickets are $12 in advance (via brownpapertickets.com), $15 at the door. (explorefrontier.com)
Stranger in a Strange Land
Thursday, Jan. 10, 7–9 p.m.
Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland
National Geographic photographer Jodi Cobb gives a whirlwind retrospective of her career spanning four decades, illustrated by award-winning photography and video and concluding with a Q&A session. Known for breaking through barriers and going undercover to reveal hidden societies, Cobb captures fascinating glimpses of Japan’s secret Geisha culture, the cloistered lives of Saudi Arabian women, a wide range of human trafficking and more. Tickets are $35–40. (portlandovations.org)