Gnome cut outs on a frozen pond with a big sign that says "chilling with my gnomies."

15+ Maine Winter Festivals You Won’t Want To Miss [2023]

Maine is known for its cold, harsh winters. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have fun in the cold! In fact, there are always Maine winter festivals and celebrations happening all winter long throughout the state.

In this post, we’ll list fifteen (+) of the most popular winter festivals in Maine. Most offer live entertainment, food & drink, ice carving, and, of course, lots of lights.

A completely frozen field with frozen trees in the background--time for a winter festival.
Definitely looks like it’s time for a festival!

15+ Maine Winter Festivals You Won’t Want To Miss

The descriptions can get a little repetitive because of so many common events. Make sure to visit the page of any festival you think sounds interesting in order to find out more. So, get ready to plan some winter fun and shake off that cabin fever!

1. Auburn Winter Festival–Lewiston-Auburn

After a couple of COVID years, there isn’t much information on this except that it’s held in January in Auburn (or Lewiston-Auburn, really). However, there are tons of winter activities in the area, and they will probably team up with Lewiston to put together a fantastic winter festival.

Keep an eye on their page (and we will too) for updated information.

2. Bath Winterfest–Bath

Home to one of the nation’s most important shipbuilding sites, Bath, Maine is a charming little maritime city that celebrates the winter months. The Bath Winterfest celebration is held every year on the first weekend in December.

As with most winter festivals in Maine, you’ll find a variety of family-friendly activities, including a parade, live music, and ice sculptures all over town. There are plenty of opportunities for hot chocolate.

If that’s not your thing, head over to the beer garden and listen to some live music.

3. Boothbay Festival of Lights–Boothbay Harbor

The Boothbay Festival of Lights is a two-week celebration that takes place in December. This festival features a variety of family activities, including an outdoor ice skating rink, caroling, and a visit from Santa Claus.

One of the highlights of the festival is the lighted boat parade, which takes place on the last Saturday of the festival. If you’re looking for a unique winter festival experience in Maine, this is definitely the festival for you.


This is also the best time to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden because it’s Gardens Aglow time! If you are planning to be in the area, you have got to see this! We have a whole post about everything you need to know to visit this AMAZING place.

Check out Gardens Aglow. If you don’t plan early, you might miss out!

4. Camden Winterfest–Camden (Jan.)

Camden’s Winterfest is a can’t-miss event for anyone in the area. The festival features a variety of activities and attractions, including ice sculpting, a chili cook-off, and live music. They have a doggie fashion show, which is actually always a popular event.

Winterfest is held every year on the first weekend in February.

Since you’re in Camden, you can also head to Mt. Battie, where you can actually do ice climbing, or keep your feet on the ground with some cross-country skiing. Prefer downhill skiing? Head over to the Camden Snow Bowl.

If you are really brave, you can participate in the Polar Plunge in Camden Harbor.

The fact that Camden happens to be in one of the most scenic areas of Maine doesn’t hurt, either. Attend this amazing festival as part of a romantic weekend getaway, and take a couple of day trips using the itineraries from Belfast and Boothbay Harbor.

A really tall water fountain that is now all ice instead of water.
Just a frozen fountain.

5. Carnavale Maine–Portland

Carnaval Maine is a five-day festival held in Portland, Maine every February/March. This year it is March 7-12. It’s a celebration of winter with music, food, and fun for families all day long.

It’s held on the Eastern Promenade, which is a pretty cool spot for a festival, especially since you ride the Narrow Gauge Railway out there.

It is going to be held on the working waterfront from now on. You’ll find activities from live performances to face painting and everything in between. This year (2023), you’ll find theater, comedy, ice sculptures, food trucks, and performances by Maine Academy of Modern Music students, and much more.

In the evening, you can expect to find plenty of beer from Maine craft brewers, some wine tasting–most from Maine’s own vineyards, and cocktails along with local cuisine.

Carnavale is a major winter festival in Maine.

6. Fire and Ice Festival–Kennebunkport

The Fire and Ice Festival is one of the most popular winter festivals in Maine. It is held every year in Kennebunkport. The festival features a variety of live ice sculpture demonstrations, as well as fire performers.

There is also a variety of food available, and you can order your drinks at the Festival’s ice bar. The Fire and Ice Festival is a great Maine winter festival that offers something a little bit different. Their tagline is:


Sounds like a pretty good festival to me!

Check out this detailed Kennebunkport Fire and Ice post for more information.

A ground cover of orange twinkle lights with trees decorated with Christmas lights in the background at Gardens Aglow.

7. Gardens Aglow–Boothbay

Gardens Aglow is just an amazing, amazing festival of lights held at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. It coincides with Boothbay’s Festival of Lights, so you will get twice the magic if you go to Gardens Aglow during the Festival of Lights.

I have an entire post about Gardens Aglow, so if you are looking for one of the best holiday light displays in Maine, head on over to the post to see what is so incredible about this particular place.


That’s right, I’m putting this twice (three times if you count the section above!). Know why? Because it’s possibly twice as good as any other light festival in Maine!

This is also the best time to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden because it’s Gardens Aglow time! If you are planning to be in the area, you have got to see this! We have a whole post about everything you need to know to visit this AMAZING place.

Check out Gardens Aglow. If you don’t plan early, you might miss out!

8. Ice Fest--Belfast (Feb.)

This festival has everything from ice sculpture contests to sledding, snowshoeing, and of course, food and drink. It also happens to be located in one of the coolest little coastal towns in Maine.

The 1st State of Maine Ice Carving Championship is just one of the activities you can find in downtown Belfast during the Ice Fest.

There will be ice bars where you can have a drink (hopefully Darby’s will be serving Cosmos!) in between participating in one of the many outdoor activities happening during the festival.

If you’re visiting from out of town, make it a weekend and plan on a day trip or two.

Me sitting on chunks of ice on the side of a river.

9. Ice Harvest Festival–South Bristol (Feb.)

The Ice Harvest Festival is an annual event held in South Bristol, Maine. It celebrates the tradition of ice harvesting and features a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. There is an ice sculpture contest, live music, and plenty of food and drink to keep you warm.

The festival is a great way to experience a piece of really cool Maine history and have some fun in the process.

10. Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude–Kennebunkport

Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude is one of the most popular winter festivals in Maine. It’s also a major tourist event. The festival runs for ten days and features a variety of events, including caroling, ice sculpting, an outdoor market, and a tree lighting ceremony.

There is also a Santa Parade and a visit from Santa himself on the final day of the festival. Christmas Prelude is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and enjoy some time with friends and family.

11. Maine Pond Hockey Classic (Feb.)

Living in Maine, there are plenty of times when the temperature doesn’t break 32° for weeks at a time. Mainers are optimists, so it just makes sense to take advantage of these wonderful conditions.

Hence, this amazing pond hockey tournament. Pond hockey is one of the greatest winter activities in Maine. It offers everything an outdoor winter sport should: crisp air, fast hockey, and friendly competition.

I know this isn’t technically a festival. However, like the snowmobile races, the atmosphere is one of a festival. The tournament lasts for days, there is a beer garden right out on the ice, and people are having an amazing time. Close enough to a festival for me!

12. Poland Community Winter Festival–Poland

The Poland Community Winter Festival is an annual event that celebrates the winter season. It features a variety of activities, including snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding, and more.

There is also a community bonfire, live music, and plenty of food and drink to keep you warm throughout the day. The festival is a great way to experience the true beauty of winter in Maine.

13. Portland Winter Light Festival–Portland

The Portland Winter Light Festival is a new addition to the winter festival scene in Maine. It takes place over the course of two weeks and features a variety of light displays, including LED sculptures, interactive light installations, and more.

There is also live music, food trucks, and a variety of other activities to keep you entertained throughout the day.

View of the back of a snowmobile pulling a sled through a snow covered field.

14. Snowmobile Races–Turner (One Lunger 100) (Feb.)

This is serious Maine. The races are held in an open field, on a half-mile track. It’s basically really old snowmobiles competing, and it’s awesome! Bring a folding chair and a blanket, because you’ll need to sit and you’re going to get cold.

There are fires scattered here and there to help warm you up, and there are usually a few food trucks so you can get something hot to eat. It’s hard to explain how much fun these races are because they don’t really sound fun.

You can’t race these, but you can rent snowmobiles for a fun winter vacation.

It might be a stretch calling this a festival, but the atmosphere is like a festival, so I’m going with it.

15. Somerset Snowfest–Somerset County (Feb.)

This winter festival offers a variety of popular winter activities like an ice fishing derby, a kite-flying derby, and a winter triathlon. But THEN, it throws in a couple of really unique activities. Think kayaking is only for summer?

Think again. You can drag that kayak out of storage and enter the downhill kayak race! It also hosts the Northeast’s only equestrian skijoring competition. (That’s when someone is pulled on skis by horses!)

This is a pretty cool Maine winter festival where you’ll get to participate in, or at least watch, some one-of-a-kind events. The towns of Skowhegan, Canaan, and Madison come together to put this winter festival on.

16. Sparkle Celebration–Freeport

Each year, Freeport hosts one of Maine’s most popular holiday celebrations, the Sparkle Celebration, in concert with L.L. Bean’s Northern Lights celebration. The festival opens with the Parade of Lights, and Santa appears to bring the town’s animated Christmas tree to life!

The week-long festivity includes a decorating competition and gift certificate giveaways with the Stealth Elf. The Sparkle Stroll is a fun way to see all the downtown decorations. Visitors will also enjoy a Frosty Frolic with food trucks, holiday music, and tasty treats.

There is even a Holiday Around the World walk where you can learn about important holidays in various cultures. You can also enjoy free ice skating at Discovery Park, free hot chocolate, and there are even heated benches if you want to rest!

17. Westbrook’s Winterfest (March 4)

Only in its fourth year, it already gets several thousand visitors. Where else can you find a 35′ tall inflatable winter slide?! (Fondly known as Mt. Everest.) The festival is held at Riverbank Park, and activities usually happen between 10am and 2pm. There are tons of the typical events here (food vendors, photo booth, face painting, petting zoo, etc.), but you’ll also find some unique things to do, besides, of course, sliding down Mt. Everest!!

There’s ice skating–but on synthetic ice! How cool is that? A craftsman carving the Grinch out of a tree, but with space inside for a fire to roast marshmallows or make S’mores. There will also be a fire hula hooper and a river rescue demonstration, which should be amazing!

Read more about the Freeport Sparkle Celebration.

The sun setting over the frozen Yukon River with some ATVs and a snowmobile in the foreground.

Conclusion: 15+ Maine Winter Festivals You Won’t Want To Miss

(This picture is not from Maine, but bush Alaska, where I taught for a short time.)

No matter what type of winter festival you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it in Maine. From fancy events like Fire & Ice to traditional community celebrations and unique events like the One Lunger 100 Snowmobile Races, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

So get out and explore the ‘real’ Maine and do something a little different during the holiday season (which is really all winter long) by joining in on one of our awesome winter festivals.