Days might be getting shorter, but central Mainers are illuminating the long nights with elaborate light shows for the holiday season.

Augusta West Kampground at 183 Holmes Brook Lane in Winthrop, owned by husband and wife Kale and Brittany Malmsten, began hosting a light show only last year, but it is quickly becoming one of the more noteworthy events in the area, with last year’s light show stretching nearly three-quarters of a mile with about 100 lighted trees and large display pieces.

Kaleb Pushard of SkyBox Holiday & Event Lighting said last year the Winthrop show featured more than 100,000 lights.

Kale Malmsten and Pushard said the budget for the first event was well into six figures. And although between 13,000 and 15,000 people attended, the Malmstens did not make back the money spent on the lavish show.

“We knew going in that we were going to take a bit of a loss,” Brittany Malmsten said.

Because the reception was so overwhelming, Kale Malmsten said the couple were willing to give it another shot and make things even bigger for 2022.


Last year, they had parking space for about 200 cars, which Kale Malmsten said has been nearly doubled for this year.

Santa and Mrs. Claus are scheduled to make appearances every Friday and Saturday night leading up to Christmas, and a photographer is to be present to take pictures of guests.

Visitors walk Friday past a dump truck, one of several decorated pieces of construction equipment, during Winter Wonderland at Augusta West Kampground at 183 Holmes Brook Lane in Winthrop. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

The largest addition is a 45-foot, hollowed-out tree adorned with more than a half-mile of lights. Brittany Malmsten said guests can walk through the tree, and staring up from inside is like peering through a giant kaleidoscope.

“It’s mesmerizing,” she said.

Tickets can be purchased either on the Augusta West Kampground website — — or the Winter Wonderland Facebook page. Kale Malmsten said guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online to avoid having to wait in line to buy them in person.

Guests can walk through the Winter Wonderland on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and drive through the show Wednesdays and Sundays. The event is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. each night, with slots available every 15 minutes for driving and every half-hour for walking.


Kale Malmsten said he is not too worried about money, and just hopes guests have a good time.

“Even if we don’t turn out in the black, if we come close to breaking even, I’m happy enough to keep going with it,” he said. “We’re trying to push more this is more of an experience than just Christmas lights.”

The Weeks family’s Christmas display, photographed Thursday at 188 Small Road in Litchfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

While the Malmstens have recently begun hosting a light show, Scott Weeks has been lighting his Litchfield home at 188 Small Road for more than a decade.

Weeks, along with his wife, Michelle, his daughters Samantha and Lindsey and his father, Owen, have set aside a month each year to prepare and decorate their home for the holidays.

The Weeks family’s Christmas display, photographed Thursday at 188 Small Road in Litchfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Weeks said that when he was a kid, he always helped his family with the holiday lights. His biggest inspiration to begin his own show, however, was Dr. Darryl Zeleniak, an Augusta orthodontist who hosts a Christmas lights and music show at his office at 132 State St.

Zeleniak and his wife, Karen, have been holding a light show at the Augusta office for almost 20 years. The show, however, is not happening this year.


Karen Zeleniak said her husband is dealing with a back injury and she recently suffered a heart attack, preventing them from being able to set up their holiday display. She said the public response has been overwhelming, with many people worried about the couple’s well-being.

Next year, Karen Zeleniak said, the couple plan to resume their light show.

The Zeleniaks began their holiday display long ago by decorating the front of their building. They would then add to it each year.

They soon began incorporating music into the show, and programming the lights to sync with the beat. They later added a “mega tree” to the front of their building, which can be programmed to display unique images.

The Weeks family’s Christmas display, photographed Thursday at 188 Small Road in Litchfield. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“We did ‘Frozen,’ and had Elsa on the tree,” Karen Zeleniak said, “and then for the Grinch song, we had the Grinch there, with all the different parts of the song that talk about different things, like crocodiles, so it got to be quite complicated.”

But as the show grew, so did its audience, including visitors from other states.


The Zeleniaks’ show and its popularity inspired Weeks to start his own show about a decade ago, when he took his daughter to Darryl Zeleniak’s office. The orthodontist told Weeks about Light-O-Rama, a website that distributes software and gear to make the light show happen.

“A few dollars later and here I am,” Weeks said.

Weeks works with his family to program every song featured in the show.

“Every song we program is broken down into tenths of a second, and each controller has 16 channels,” he said. “We tell each channel when to come on and how long to come on. We figured out that it generally takes 1 1/2 to two minutes to program each second of a song.”

People can then stop in front of the house and tune their radios to an FM frequency that allows them listen to the music in their cars.

The display also features a donation box for the Kennebec Valley Humane Society in Augusta. Weeks said visitors typically donate between $500 and $1,500 each season.

The Weeks’ show is set for 4:30 to 10 p.m. each night until Christmas, and possibly until the new year, depending on the weather. Weeks said the Grinch is expected to make an appearance before Christmas, although the date is still being decided.

Closer to Waterville, the China Road Christmas Park is again advertising it has opened at 1229 China Road in Winslow.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. 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.