WINTHROP — More than 2,000 people have already booked reservations for Augusta West Kampground’s “Winter Wonderland” holiday light show, which features roughly 200,000 lights spanning nearly a mile.

The event has been in the works since April when camp owner Kale Malmsten met up with Kaleb Pushard of SkyBox Holiday & Event Lighting and pitched the idea.

Malmsten said he had been dreaming of hosting a large, festive event on his family’s campground property since he was in high school. Now, thousands are getting into the holiday spirit by driving or walking through the myriad lights and decorated trees along Annabessacook Lake.

Malmsten said that if all the lights were extended end to end, they would reach from the campground to Litchfield’s elementary school.

“I think 200,000 lights for the first year is pretty adequate,” he said. “We add stuff every day. We go, ‘Oh, we could light this or that up.’ We’ll throw lights on a spot that was a little dark, just to make everything pop. It’s pretty exciting.”

The event began on Nov. 27 and will continue until Jan. 9. Each week, guests can drive through the display on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and walk through on Fridays and Sundays.

The price for a drive-through ticket is $25 for a car with a maximum of six passengers and $75 for a minibus or large vehicle with seven or more passengers. Walking tickets are $10 each.

Malmsten and his wife, Brittany, who are both in charge of the day-to-day operations at the campground, ask that guests book a reservation via the campground’s website, as high demand may lead to congestion.

“If spots are available when they get here, we can book them at the door, but we really prefer people to buy tickets ahead of time because spots are limited,” said Brittany Malmsten.

The Malmstens secured a food truck, and may also book an appearance by Santa Claus.

“COVID really threw a wrench in things,” said Kale Malmsten, “but the cool part is, people who are comfortable are walking around, but people still have the option to drive through. It’s really a win-win for everyone.”

Though the light show is massive, there are less than a dozen people behind the scenes making everything happen. The Malmstens employ about five people to help guide traffic on drive-through nights, and two on walk-through nights. The display itself, according to Kale Malmsten, was built by a crew of three to five people.

And guests are enjoying the opportunity to get out and witness the illuminated spectacle.

“People really like the walk through nights,” said Brittany Malmsten. “There aren’t a lot of light shows in Maine doing walk-thrus. We have a store open to sell souvenirs, cups and hats, and people really enjoy coming in and talking. It’s great to see them in the holiday spirit; it’s making people very happy.”

On Sunday alone, Brittany Malmsten said about 260 people attended the walk-thru.

With the event seeing a strong turnout and reception, the Malmstens are already considering another one next year. Kale Malmsten said he has full faith that it could happen again and is already considering using double, or even triple, the number lights next time.

“We want to bring magic to central Maine,” he said.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.