Gardens Aglow: Then & Now

Gardens Aglow

Maine winters may be long, but we have so much to offer during the quieter, darker months of November and December—which is exactly what Gardens Aglow set out to prove. But how much do you know about the history of this seasonal event that has quickly become a tradition for so many?  

Gardens Aglow’s inaugural year was 2015. Originally, we did lots of research and surveys to see if hosting a seasonal light show during November and December was even viable and, if so, how far would people travel and how much would they be willing to spend on such an experience?

Beginning in February of 2015, a team began research. They interviewed other botanical gardens across the country, surveyed guests and members, and talked to town leaders. The results indicated that the community, Maine, and even surrounding states would rally for such a winter attraction.  

Here’s a snapshot of where we began and what you can expect this year.


  • Starting in September, a total of around 30 staff strung nearly 200,000 LED lights in the upper gardens—over 14 miles, laid end-to-end.
  • We featured a snowman scavenger hunt.
  • More than 36,000 people visited Gardens Aglow.


  • Gardens Aglow features over 360,000 lights this year – that’s 31 miles of lights.
  • We featured a fairy house scavenger hunt.
  • The inaugural Community Lighting Contest took place.
  • Boothbay Lights began welcoming visitors with a wide variety of activities, dining, shopping, and lodging experiences.
  • 75,000 guests came to Gardens Aglow.


  • Gardens Aglow featured more than 500,000 lights—that’s about 43 miles’ worth.
  • We featured an animal scavenger hunt.
  • We had three pop-up weddings!
  • 78,000 guests


  • 650,000 lights, or around 56 miles.
  • The inaugural year for the “aurora borealis” tunnel, which took over the Native Butterfly House.
  • 83,000 guests


  • We welcomed 100,134 guests this year including a newlywed couple still in their wedding attire
  • 700,000 lights, around 60 miles.

2020 & 2021:

  • Due to COVID, Gardens Aglow was held as a driving tour.
  • We introduced many new lighted sculptures.
  • Guests could download a map of Community Lighting Contest entrants and tour the peninsula, voting for their favorites.
  • Around 88,000 guests attended each year.


  • Starting in August, a total of 100 staff and volunteers strung 750,000 LED lights—over 66 miles of lights.

  • We expect upwards of 120,000 guests this year.

  • There are over 300 lighted sculptures of familiar flora and fauna, all created by hand, including: three moose, a ruby-throated hummingbird, several ducks, geese, a fox, a turtle, two owls, a dragonfly, 250 flowers, and two dozen assorted mushrooms. Our sculptures are inspired by our native species.

  • We’ll once again have a downloadable map of lighting contest entries so guests can vote for their favorites.