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Welcome to the enchanting world of Kennebunkport, Maine, where the Christmas season comes alive in a way that’s nothing short of magical. Nestled along the rugged New England coast, Kennebunkport is a great place to experience the true essence of the holiday season, especially when you’re traveling with kids. I’ve visited Kennebunkport several times and adore this charming community, so follow along to see why you should experience Christmas in Kennebunkport, Maine.
The Christmas season in Kennebunkport is when this picturesque coastal town transforms into a winter wonderland of festive cheer. It’s a place where historic charm meets the joy of the holidays, offering a unique blend of coastal beauty and Yuletide spirit that makes it an exceptional destination for families.
Experience the holidays in Kennebunkport, Maine
As you explore this great place with your little ones, you’ll discover many holiday activities and traditions that make Kennebunkport an unforgettable experience. From strolling down the quaint streets adorned with twinkling lights to sipping hot cocoa by a crackling fire, there’s no shortage of heartwarming moments.
The sense of community and the season’s warmth are ever-present, creating a perfect backdrop for cherished memories with your children. Join us on a festive journey through Kennebunkport’s Christmas season, where the magic of the holidays knows no bounds.
Kennebunkport’s Christmas Prelude
The Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude is the premier winter event in Southern Maine. Held in Kennebunkport, the event starts the 1st weekend in December and runs through the second weekend as the town transforms into a winter wonderland.
The 10 days are jam-packed with your favorite Christmas traditions of Santa Claus, hot chocolate, tree lightings, trolley rides, and wine tastings. One of the highlights of the festivities is watching Santa’s grand entrance on an iconic lobster boat.
On the first Friday, the tree lighting on Dock Square kicks off the event. The tree lighting ceremony occurs twice during the prelude. Gather with friends and family to take in the lighting of this majestic tree. Over the weekend, watch the annual pooch and hat parades, meet Mrs. Claus, watch fireworks, or stroll through the Family Street Festival.
At the Family Street Festival, listen to carolers sing our favorite tunes, watch a live ice sculpting demonstration, or try some of the local eateries. Children can also listen to Santa read Twas the Night Before Christmas or build gingerbread houses with Mrs. Claus. This is the perfect family event to soak in the holiday spirit.
The fun never stops! At night, head over to St. Anthony’s Monastery for a story of the birth of Jesus mixed with candlelight caroling. Don’t wait to book an incredible trip if you’ve ever considered visiting Kennebunkport at Christmas. This is the best annual event in Southern Maine.
Annual Fire & Ice
To wrap up the last weekend of Prelude, Nonantum Resort hosts their annual Fire and Ice Event. The event is a little pricey but includes a bonfire, ice sculptures, ice bars, and fun food and drink. On a positive note, food is included in your ticket prices. Drinks are available for an additional cost.
The event is usually several hours, and there are a handful of sessions to choose from. Some of the sessions even include live music. You want to buy your ticket in advance and avoid risking a sell-out. The event is a great way to enjoy the holiday season.
Seashore Trolley Museum
During Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude, the Seashore Trolley Museum offers a seasonal trolley ride decorated for the season. While you visit, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or a fresh s’more on the outdoor fire pit. Make sure to check out their large gingerbread house on display. Santa will make a grand appearance at several points throughout the season, so check their website for details.
The event is offered the first two weekends of December, and tickets are affordable. The ride is heated and lasts for 25 minutes. After the trip, walk away to check out their outdoor exhibits. My husband took my boys here, and they all three loved it. The outdoor exhibits are so impressive- I’ve seen them as well. The Museum is open for guests during the day.
Lobster Trap Tree
If you visit Maine in December, you can’t miss checking out an iconic lobster trap tree. In the early 2000s, Maine coastal communities started designing Christmas trees out of the lobster traps to showcase the region’s lobster culture.
In Kennebunkport, you can find this unique tree at Cape Porpoise Square. If you have time, there are other trees in nearby York or Rockland, which is a bit further north, closer to Camden.
Historic House Tours
The Kennebunkport Historical Society runs seasonal house tours of the magnificent White Columns. The house is closed for most of the winter but opens during the Prelude season.
White Columns was built in 1853 and modeled off the Victorian era. As you tour, you can experience the original furnishings of the homes and learn about the Perkins-Nott family that lived here for generations. You can also learn more about the local history of the region, including shipbuilding and maritime traditions.
Stroll through the quaint shops in Downtown Kennebunkport, a classic Christmas town. While you browse local stores and art galleries, check out the Dock Square tree if you missed the tree lighting. You’ll feel like you are in the midst of a hallmark movie and easily see why Kennebunkport is one of my favorite places.
Nothing is more Maine than fresh seafood and a delicious lobster roll. Even in the cold winter, a lobster roll still hits the spot. Many popular restaurants close in the winter season, so you will have limited opportunities, but still worth taking the time to try Maine’s delicacies.
Southern Maine has some of the best lobster rolls, but you must head north to Portland, just a short drive away. Many of the Kennebunkport lobster shacks close in the winter. So hop in the car! Once in Portland, Try Highroller, Luke’s Lobster, or Eventide Oyster for a terrific lobster roll.
Just South of Kennebunkport is another adorable coastal community known for its Christmas Flair. Ogunquit, a stunning destination, is a must-visit throughout the year, and it’s a regular stop for me when I visit Maine. Nonetheless, Christmas in Ogunquit is enchanting, as evidenced by its inclusion in Travel + Leisure’s list of the top 25 towns to visit during the holiday season. If you want to immerse yourself in the festive spirit, don’t miss the chance to visit one of the finest Christmas towns in the United States.
The Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual Christmas by the Sea Festival, a must-visit for all guests. This event stands out as one of Southern Maine’s top holiday celebrations, featuring a tree lighting ceremony, crafts, delectable food, festive spirit, a parade, a bonfire, and various activities designed for children. And, of course, make sure not to miss the opportunity to meet Santa!
Traditionally, this event takes place on the second weekend of December, and the weekend is packed with a wide array of holiday activities. The festivities kick off with the illuminating of the Christmas tree in the evening.
Christmas by the Sea overlaps with Kennebunkport’s Prelude on the 2nd weekend of December. You could plan a long weekend and visit both communities to embrace the Christmas season.
Where to Stay in Kennebunkport
Kennebunkport offers private home rentals, quaint inns, resorts, and budget hotels. There are several fantastic options within walking distance of the water or town. On one of our last visits, we stayed in a rental home within town. It was a short walk to shops and restaurants.
Nestled in the heart of town, the Boathouse Waterfront Hotel is perfect for guests who like to be near the bustling activity. In addition, the hotel sits on the Kennebunk River, granting guests scenic views.
The restaurant attached to the hotel is also a great place to grab dinner. A few years ago, we spent ½ a week in Kennebunkport with a large family group. We enjoyed a delicious meal at Boathouse and took some great family photos on their patio overlooking the water, so don’t forget to snap a pic!
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White Barn Inn is the premier luxury resort in the region. The rooms are exquisitely designed with a cozy feel. They also offer cottages if you prefer more space. While you are here, you must experience dinner at the Inn’s restaurant, a meal you will never forget.
White Barn Inn is wildly popular for lodging and meals, so book in advance to ensure availability. If you are interested in visiting Acadia National, check out the best luxury hotels in Bar Harbor.
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If you want to be directly on the majestic Atlantic Ocean, then book the Cape Arundel Inn. The hotel has beautiful rooms and a roomy porch for guests to enjoy. The location is ideal for someone who enjoys staying on the water. Don’t forget to take a short walk and check out historic St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, one of my favorite places to visit while in Kennebunkport.
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Located in neighboring Kennebunk, the Waldo Emerson Inn is a small but quaint B&B. The rooms come with daily breakfast and are pet-friendly with a small fee. Guests can also access free bike rentals in the warmer months or a mild winter day.
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FAQ: Christmas in Kennebunkport
🎄What are the dates of the Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude?
Typically, the event starts on the first Thursday of the month and runs through the second weekend of December.
🎄Is Kennebunkport worth visiting in the summer?
Maine is worth a visit any time of the year, but especially this adorable town. Hotels and restaurants run specials for guests looking for a winter escape. This would be the perfect weekend away.
🎄Are the small shops in Kennebunkport open during the winter?
Yes, you can stroll through quaint Kennebunkport and shop in gift shops and local art galleries. This is a wonderful time to explore as you can avoid the crowds of the summer months of July and August.
🎄How do you get to Kennebunkport?
If you are looking for a city with an airport, then Portland is your best answer, as it is only 40 minutes away. Boston is a bit further drive to the south, but doable. We’ve flown out of both cities. I like the proximity of Portland, but Boston tends to have better prices and more flights out of Atlanta for our family.
In Conclusion: The Best Guide to Christmas in Kennebunkport, Maine
In conclusion, the magic of Christmas in Kennebunkport, Maine, is a truly enchanting experience that captures the essence of holiday cheer. From the picturesque decorations that adorn the charming streets to the warm and welcoming spirit of the community, this coastal town offers a unique and unforgettable way to celebrate the holiday season.
The combination of historic traditions, such as the Christmas Prelude festival, and the scenic beauty of a coastal winter wonderland creates a holiday atmosphere like no other. Whether you’re sipping hot cocoa by the crackling fire, exploring the beautifully adorned shops, or simply taking in the tranquil beauty of a snow-covered Kennebunkport, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Kennebunkport’s Prelude is the quintessential seaside celebration and perfect to capture the Christmas spirit. Make your plans to visit, and you’ll immerse yourself in the warmth and magic of a Kennebunkport Christmas, creating memories that will last a lifetime. Happy holidays, and may your Kennebunkport Christmas be filled with joy, wonder, and the spirit of togetherness.