My husband and I are deep in the early years of parenting. Our children, ages 6 and 7, are nearly ready to try skiing and snowshoeing, but up until now, the winter months have required us to get creative. Thankfully, the kids are game for most any activity. We’ve discovered markets, festivals, and seasonal events to keep us entertained when the snow flies. Here are a few favorites:
Winter farmer’s markets have become prominent over the past years. We love Saturday markets because the promise of good food and live music motivates our family to get out the door. One of our favorites is the market inside the historic Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick. Our children enjoy talking to the vendors and learning about their wares (especially the Alpaca farmer at her spinning wheel). My husband and I like to take our time, shopping each table. We’ve discovered colorful pottery, artisan breads, and beautiful seasonal produce. There’s rarely a Saturday that we don’t leave with a canvas bag full of goodies to take home.
In December, Maine is brimming with holiday festivals. Nearly every town has a winter celebration. Most locals will tell you their favorite holiday event takes place in—or near—their hometown. The same applies to our family. Yarmouth, which is best known for its Clam Festival, hosts a Hometown Holidays celebration during the first weekend of the month. There are handmade wreaths, gorgeous crafts, and delicious baked goods for sale at many churches and schools. Our kids especially like some of the activities offered just for them (last year they made candy houses with graham crackers and frosting). After dark, we return to the town center for carols by candlelight, the official Christmas tree lighting, and the arrival of Santa Claus. The kids gather with anticipation in front of Santa’s red house and once they reach the door, Mrs. Claus treats them to a homemade cookie. Trust us: the experience will make you feel like you’re starring in a classic holiday film—it’s magic.
Many Maine farms offer horse drawn sleigh rides throughout the winter, but we wait until February for the World’s Greatest Sleigh Ride. Pine Tree Society, an organization that offers camps for adults and children with disabilities, hosts the event each year. Located in the small town of Lisbon Falls, in the midst of farm fields and woods shaded by evergreens, families can board a horse drawn sleigh for a donation. The draft horses themselves are something to behold. These are big strong animals that can carry a sleigh full of 8 passengers or more. Be prepared: you might have the urge to sing, Over the River and Through the Wood, while on board (we certainly did).
No matter what your family decides to do this winter, farmers markets, holiday festivals, and horse-drawn sleigh rides can be discovered wherever your Maine travels take you.