Snowman-themed tree

Snowman-themed tree (Heather Burns photo)

Nothing sets the mood for the holiday season more than the twink­ling lights of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.

After such a difficult pan­demic-ridden year, we all could use an extra jolt of electric “Christmas light magic” to spark our Christ­mas spirit.

Luckily, the 28th annual Festival of Trees has over 200 one-of-a-kind, decorated trees sure to put even the most Grinch-like person into the holiday spirit.

Upon first entering the Festival of Trees, located at Valley Office Park, 13 Branch St. in Methuen, you are greeted by multiple aisles of decorated trees.

The main room of this event is a perfect forum for these artificial evergreens as the ceilings and walls have mirrors which reflect the thousands of twinkling lights creating a real sense of ex­citement in the air.

Off the main viewing room is a gift shop and smaller dis­play room for miniature trees and holiday wreaths.

Trees vary in height from tabletop to upwards of 12 feet, each decorated with its own unique design theme.

Standout themes for this year's trees include Movie Night, Let it Snow, The Nut­cracker, and the Boston Bruins.

The most innovative tree displays are often created with “thinking outside the box” ideas such as the Cin­derella-themed tree shaped like the princess’s iconic, blue gown, or the Snow­man Tree sporting a carrot nose, top hat and scarf.

For those who prefer to dream of a tropical Christ­mas, The Margaritaville tree is a great escape from the traditional New Eng­land white Christmas.

Lit in bright green lights, this tree is complete with surfboard and four-foot tall parrot. Under this tree you will find all the fixings for the perfect margarita, inclu­ding a new blender.

The Nightmare Before Christmas-themed tree is per­fect for those who love to celebrate Halloween straight through to the New Year. This tree features purple lights and ghoulish characters from the animated movie with the same name.

To make designs more com­petitive, all trees are judged in a variety of categories, with decisions made by a pan­el of four judges.

This year's judging pan­el comes from the Village Stu­dio of North Andover, and all awards are prominently displayed next to the winning trees and wreaths.

To add even more fun to this event, this is an interactive event for the whole fa­mily, as all tree and wreath displays will be raffled off on the last night of the festival (Saturday, Dec. 4).

A book of 26 tickets can be purchased at the same time as the admission tic­ket purchase, or anytime during your visit to the festival.

Each display has its own ticket box, so it is fun and easy to drop your raffle tickets into the box to try and win your favorite trees.

When making the crucial decision as to which tree is your favorite, be sure to check out what is under the trees as well as the decorations on the trees. Many tree displays in­clude extra gifts under or on the tree that match the theme of the tree, such as gift cards, lottery tickets, food and gift items, and toys.

This added bonus may make it difficult to decide on a favorite, so luckily you can try to win as many trees as you would like.

Admission to the festival is $10 per person, and children under 12 are free. A book of 26 raffle tickets is $5 per book, and the festival will be open daily until Dec. 4.

The proceeds from the Fes­tival of Trees provide funding to preserve the he­ritage and historical monuments of Methuen and the surrounding communities in the Merrimack Val­ley area.

Some of the preservation projects funded by this holiday event include Win­ne­kenni Castle in Meth­uen, The Whistler House in Low­ell, Stevens Library in An­dover, Bennet Public Libra­ry in Billerica, Rocks Village Handtub House in Haver­hill, and multiple historic church buildings throughout the area.

All trees and wreath displays are donated by private citizens and families, community and civic clubs, and local businesses.

Due to COVID-19, last year’s event was held virtually online, but this year is back in person and promises to be better than ever.

In past years, thousands of visitors have come to see this tannenbaum extra­va­ganza, which often caused large crowds and long lines.

To eliminate overcrowding, admission tickets are now sold in 20 minute in­crements and attendance is limited.

For those still not comfortable to venture into a public event, a virtual tour is available online.

This year, start the season off with the magic of the Festival of Trees. This fun and interactive event offers something for ev­ery­one, and if you're luc­ky, you could win that perfect tree with all the trimmings to take home and enjoy for years to come.

For more information on in-person ticket reservations and the virtual tour, visit www.methuenfestivaloftrees.com.

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