7 events to visit in Maine this January


After the indulgences of the festive season, January is the ideal time to partake in more wholesome pursuits, and in Maine the opportunity to do so is presented by several exhibitions and events taking place across the state.

(Photo: Portland Old Time Music Gathering)

There’s enough to keep visitors to Maine busy for weeks, or even months, on end, even without attending one of the state’s popular annual events. But if you’re coming here in January and would like to attend a great festival, exhibition or other cultural occasion during your stay, then there’s no end of opportunities approaching. We’ve picked out 7 of the best events taking place in Maine to help you see in 2022.

Portland Old Time Music Gathering

For more than two decades, the Portland Old Time Music Gathering has been held to celebrate traditional, Appalachian-style string-band music by showcasing some of the country’s most acclaimed artists and performers. Held over several action-packed days, the hugely popular grassroots volunteer-run festival features a diverse programme of concerts, community jam sessions, acoustic instrument workshops, song swaps, dancing sessions, a cabaret, kids activities, and plenty more.

Tiffany Center, Portland / 12-16 January 2022

Christmas Festival of Lights

(Photo: David Prasad via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Presenting the sights and sounds of the festive season, this magical event which runs beyond Christmas into January is said to be the largest Christmas choral festival in the world. Featuring more than 150 indoor concerts performed by some of the region’s finest school, church and civic choirs, it offers a family-oriented blend of traditional celebration and serene reflection, reflecting the season of hope that Christmas offers to families around the world. Concerts are scheduled each evening in The Grotto’s 600-seat chapel, while family entertainment in plaza area includes outdoor caroling, puppet shows, and a live petting zoo.

The Grotto, Portland / Through 2 January 2022

‘The Industrial Heart: Enterprise, Innovation, and Creativity’ exhibition

With the full name of Museum L-A: The Story of Work and Community in Lewiston-Auburn, The Museum L-A in Lewiston’s Bates Mill Historic District is packed full of exhibits and artefacts that chart the cultural and social history of the area. This January, the museum will debut this fascinating exhibition focussing on the local textile, shoe, and brick-making industries and both the objects and the stories of the people who worked in those sectors, all serving to tie the area’s history into the present and future.

Museum L-A, Lewiston / From 27 January – xxx 2022

‘Dino Dig’ exhibition

Located in the city of Bangor, the Maine Discovery Museum is one of the region’s most popular winter attractions. Home to a range of interactive exhibits that invite you to explore the worlds of science, nature, geography, children’s literature, music, art, and anatomy, there’s always something to satisfy all ages and tastes. Among their permanent exhibitions is Dino Dig, which invites budding paleontologists to discover Maine’s exciting fossil hunting scene, learn how to dig up and identify your own fossils, and discover fascinating facts about dinosaurs such as what they were like, how big they were, and what they ate.

Maine Discovery Museum, Bangor / Permanent

Portland’s Folk Festival

(Photo: Portland’s Folk Festival)

First held in 2018 as a way for local musicians to celebrate and enjoy each other’s craft, Portland’s Folk Festival is coming back strong in 2022 after a year’s hiatus with three full days of Folk and American music at the historic Crystal Ballroom, one of the region’s most legendary music venues. Staying loyal to its original mission of bringing the local Portland music community together, the event will once feature a curated line-up that highlights some of the best folk and Americana acts that the area has to offer.

McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, Portland / 14-17 January 2022

‘Creeping Pavement: Depictions of an Urbanizing America’ exhibition

Among the Bowdoin College Museum of Art’s winter exhibitions is this fascinating exploration of artists’ changing attitudes toward urban spaces over the course of the late nineteenth to twentieth centuries, as depicted through a variety of media. Tracing the evolution of the American city as it grew into its own distinct environment, the works on display foreshadow the industrialisation and commercialisation that was to come, as well as presenting more contemporary urban views, both serving to examine issues at the heart of cities and highlight the many different facets of a perpetually developing urban landscape.

Becker Gallery, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick / Through 30 January 2022

‘Who Makes History? How People, Museums & Archaeology Can Tell the Full Story’ exhibition

The concept of American museums held roots in a European precedent that saw the collecting of objects worthy of study by the elite class who could afford to spend time exploring their world. This means that museums developed through a colonial mindset; a perspective of the majority community – mostly of European descent – that often ignored or misunderstood the stories of Black and Indigenous peoples when creating a national  “origin story.”  This exhibition explores the Brick Store Museum’s own collecting history and how museums can reshape this story to include the input of these previously disregarded communities.

Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk / Through January 2022