By: Asha Tompkins, Community Editor
The season of finals means it’s also the beginning of a long, education-free break. In the case that you’re staying in Maine for winter vacation, or plan on visiting Maine, here are some activities that just might peak your interest.
L.L. Bean outlet, Freeport, Maine
Each year, L.L. Bean provides hot chocolate and a wide display of Christmas trees in the center of their outlets from Nov. 16 to Dec. 31. They are most famous for their light shows and holiday music that plays every half hour. Visitors are welcomed to take a stop inside the warming hut located in the middle of the trail of trees, where soft yellow lights brighten up a large, pine-scented, canvas tent. Right around the corner is a wooden cabin where a line is formed to take pictures with Santa and his reindeer.
Maine Mariners hockey games, Cross Insurance Arena, Portland
If you’re a fan of fast-paced excitement, a Maine Mariners hockey game would be just the thing for you. The Mariners have their home games at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Their full schedule can be found at marinersofmaine.com. Be sure to book your tickets online beforehand for easier access.
Skiing, Sugarloaf Mountain
The most popular skiing attraction in Maine is Sugarloaf Mountain with its abundance of groomed trails, powdery snow and accommodation for all levels of skiers. There are two college student discounts, one is the New England College Gold Pass, which offers unlimited skiing and riding. The second is the New England College Silver Pass, which offers skiing and riding all season with only 12 blackout dates. A trip to the mountain is perfect for families, a group of friends, or you could even go solo and train on some black-diamond trails.
The Lobster Dip, Old Orchard Beach
As delicious as it sounds, the Lobster Dip has nothing to do with consuming a seafood delicacy. To raise money in support of Special Olympics Maine, each year on Jan. 20, volunteers dress in their typical summer attire, or lobster costumes and take a dip in the frigid waters of the Atlantic ocean. This is a once a year activity that is open to friends and family. If you choose to swim, you’ll want to be quick to warm up with some blankets and hot chocolate afterward.
Ice Skating at Thompson’s Point
With their grand opening Dec. 1, The Rink at Thompson’s Point will offer their 10,000 sq. ft. ice surface and heated areas to keep both skaters and non-skaters warm and toasty. If you purchase an admission ticket, you get unlimited skating for the day. They resurface the ice every two hours so the rink remains smooth. Their website has more information about specialized events, such as “College Night,” which takes place every Thursday. www.therinkatthompsonspoint.com/
Victorian Nutcracker, Merrill Auditorium
Every year the Portland Ballet performs the Victorian Nutcracker at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. Their performances will also extend to the Westbrook Performing Art Center. Don’t miss this classic rendition displaying the imagination in innocent holiday spirit, more information can be found on the Portland Ballet website: www.portlandballet.org/20182019-season/
Old Port Winter Holiday Historic Walking Tour, Monument Square, Portland
These 90-minute tours adventure through the deep history of the Old Port, delving into a historical exploration perfect for family members of all-ages. Under the streetlights and through the banks of snow you can be sure to expect a wintry night.
Christmas By The Sea, Kennebunkport
During Christmastime, Kennebunkport Dock Square begins to resemble a New England version of the North Pole. With a calendar full of daily events like parades, boat rides, breakfasts, DIY cookie and chocolate decorations, chariot rides, a lobster trap tree lighting ceremony and more, this charming seaside village does not hold back from spreading cheer. The schedule of events can be found on their website: kennebunkportmainelodging.com/christmas-prelude/
Annual Ice Harvest, South Bristol
Ice harvesting sounds like something Disney Studios made up for their movie Frozen, however, it’s actually a tradition in Maine. Each year, volunteers gather to harvest naturally frozen ice to maintain the tradition that began in 1826. Although it takes place in February, the annual Ice Harvest attracts both locals and vacationers to observe and participate in the historical reenactment. They provide hot dogs, soup, chili, baked goods, hot chocolate and coffee to top off a day packed with fun. More information is provided on their ice museum website: thompsonicehouse.com
Finally, even if you’re inside for some of these activities, be sure to huddle up beside a fireplace after sunset and enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. Perhaps read a book, or watch a Hallmark movie, or just take a few naps and enjoy Vacationland during the snow-covered winter.