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Holiday Guide

The Holiday Guide

What to do and where to go this season

Photo: Amy Davis, License: N/A

Amy Davis

Breakfast With Santa and Friends at the Maryland Zoo

Photo: , License: N/A, Created: 2007:12:05 14:01:55

MICA Art Market


This is the year, the year you are going to actually enjoy the holidays. Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve usually passes in a blur of carols heard over mall sound systems, fever pitch shopping, obligatory family get-togethers, and frantic decking of the halls. Before it all gets underway and your stress level goes through the roof, stop, take a deep breath, and peruse this guide to all things holly and jolly. In these pages you’ll discover chain-store-free shopping opportunities, more Nutcrackers than you’d find at a toothless squirrel convention, holidays plays, kid’s activities, music, tours, tree lightings, Santa photo-ops, and ways to give to those in need. And, we’re not just talking Christmas here. There are also celebrations of Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve nestled among all the references to the fat man in the red suit.

As you read through, we have one request for your Yuletide sanity: Don’t try to do it all—or even a small fraction of it all. Choose a couple of events, just a manageable few, and really relish the experience. It’s time to take back the most wonderful time of the year.

Anna Ditkoff knitted this stocking full of holiday happenings with help from Danielle Ariano, Natalie Copeland, Andy Holter, Dennis Mizzoni, Sarah Salovaara, and Emily Schiller.

Shopping

Christmas in the Woods, through Nov. 27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday; Rockfield Manor, 501 Churchville Road, Rte. 22, Bel Air, (410) 256-8152 during the show, (410) 256-8152 after hours, christmasinthewoods.com, free. Get your holiday shopping done early, choosing from jewelry, crafts, collectibles, antiques, toys, decorations, and specialty foods.

Carroll County Christmas Farmers Market, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17, Agriculture Center, 700 Agriculture Center Drive, Westminster, (410) 848-7748, carrollcountyfarmersmarket.com, free. Fill your stomach or your loved one’s stockings with baked goods, gourmet food, emu meats, pasture-raised beef, eggs straight from the farm, plants and holiday floral arrangements, and crafts and fine art courtesy some 100 vendors.

Winterfest, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 12-5 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 6,closed Nov. 24 and 25 and Dec. 25 and 31, Baltimore Clayworks, 5707 Smith Ave., (410) 578-1919, free. Ceramic artists from all over the country are invited to display utilitarian works. Admire the ceramics on display or purchase one to give as unique holiday gift.

Frosty Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 25, Downtown Frederick Main Street Area, (301) 698-8118, downtownfrederick.org, free. Carolers, Frosty the Snowman, Scrooge, the Grinch, and Santa stroll around downtown Frederick on this extended holiday shopping day. Get a ton of your shopping done and enjoy free gift wrapping and hot cocoa.

Maryland Christmas Show, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays Nov. 25-27, Frederick County Fairgrounds, 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 845-0003, $7, children ages 10 and under $4, parking $2. This massive 28-year-old event is seven buildings and a couple big top tents’ worth of Yuletide cheer with arts, crafts, clothing, jewelry, garlands, wreaths, toys, and holiday decorations.

Frederick Festival of Greens, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Nov. 25-Dec. 04, closed Nov. 24, Cultural Arts Center, 15 N. Market St., Frederick, (301) 662-4190, frederickartscouncil.org, free. Some 100 wreaths and trees decorated by local artists, schools, community groups, and businesses are up for silent auction. Myriad designs range from quirky to traditional offering something to match any holiday decorating scheme. Proceeds benefit arts in Frederick County. There will also be entertainment and activities for kids and adults to enjoy while picking out your favorite greenery.

Bazaart Holiday Art Market and Preview Party, preview party 5:30-8 p.m. Nov. 25, art market 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 26, American Visionary Arts Museum, Jim Rouse Visionary Center, 800 Key Highway, (410) 244-1900, avam.org, preview party $20 $10 for AVAM members, market free. More than 50 artists and craftspeople from across the region offer jewelry, textiles, paper crafts, metalwork, sculptures, paintings, and mixed media art for sale. This is AVAM, so expect more than the usual craft-fair tchotchkes. Come to the preview party for first crack at all the goodies along with drinks and light fare.

Country Crafts Guild Fall Arts and Craft Show, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 27-28, Rock Hall Fire House, 21500 Rock Hall Ave., Rt. 20, Rock Hall, (410) 778-1432, free. Snap up all sorts of Christmas décor, including ornaments, wreaths, tree skirts, and stockings. Also snag crafty gifts items like quilts, hand knits, doll clothes, and pottery. You can even get presents for the canine or feline friend on your list.

Open House and Holiday Sale, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 2, Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City, (410) 313-2787, hocoarts.org, free. Art and crafts are available for your gift-buying pleasure.

Holiday Bazaar and Santa’s Workshop, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Dec. 3, MBK Gymnasium, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 4701 N. Charles St., (410) 435-0100, events.ndm.edu, free. More than 40 vendors hocking holiday ornaments, candles, coffee, sweets, hand-knits, jewelry, soaps, stationery and whatever else their crafty minds come up with. Children can visit Santa’s Workshop and make gifts for the moms, dads, and siblings on their list.

Holiday Heap, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 3, St. John’s Church, 2640 St. Paul St., charmcitycraftmafia.com, free. Stuff your stockings with off-beat high-quality crafts and art by the Charm City Mafia and other regional artists.

Holiday Mart, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 3, Gary J. Arthur Community Center at Glenwood, 2400 Route 97, Cooksville, (410) 313-4700, howardcountymd.gov/RAP, $3-$4. For nearly 40 years, Howard County has been putting on this craft fair featuring juried works by more than 140 craftspeople.

Joy-Jingle-Jam, noon-5 p.m. Dec. 3, the 800 block of Aliceanna Street, itsawaterfrontlife.org, free. The VIPs and the Kelly Bell Band provide a soundtrack to your holiday shopping. Santa and his Elf will be around to take pictures with the kids and three neighborhood garages offer three hours of free parking.

Three Saturdays in December, 5-9 p.m., Dec. 3, 10, 17, Downtown Frederick Main Street Area, (301) 698-8118, downtownfrederick.org, free. Three nights of carriage rides, holiday music, live entertainment, hot cocoa, and shopping in downtown Frederick. On Dec. 3, collect a beloved holiday recipe from store, gallery, or restaurant. That’s more than 80 recipes. On Dec. 10, the same goes for drink recipes, and Dec. 17 collect holiday quotes and add your own cheer to a community holiday car that will be displayed in the area.

Chanukah Bazaar and Zumba Party, 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. Dec. 4, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Jewish Community Center, 5700 Park Heights Ave., (410) 500-5919, jcc.org. If holiday shopping isn’t enough of a callisthenic for you, add a little Zumba to the experience. The dancing takes place from 9-11 a.m., the hopefully less strenuous shopping goes from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Out of Hand Craft Show, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4, Knights of Columbus, 201 Homeland Ave., 410-592-9158, free. Local artists Sandra Magsamen and Anita Klein have been bringing together crafty types for over 20 years, so stuff your stocking with handmade goods that range from jewelry to sweaters to home décor.

Olney Farmers and Artists Holiday Market, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 4, Montgomery General Hospital Thrift Shop, 2801 Olney-Sandy Spring Road , olneyfarmersmarket.org, free. Santa, kids’ activities, and holiday vendors take over the Olney Farmers and Artists Market.

Merry Mart, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, free. Tired of the retail mosh-pit that is the mall? Hit this holiday gift extravaganza for clothing, jewelry, bags, ceramics, soaps, toys, and works of art by Creative Alliance staff, the Charm City Craft Mafia, the Baltimore Etsy Street Team, and other local artists.

MICA Art Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 7-10, Maryland Institute College of Art, Leidy Atrium, Falvey Hall lobby and Rosenberg Gallery, Brown Center, 1301 W. Mount Royal Ave., (410) 225-2280, mica.edu, free. Want to buy local this holiday? It doesn’t get much more local than buying arts and crafts from more than 250 MICA students, faculty, staff members, and alumni. The stocking stuffers include fine art such as paintings, illustrations, sculptures, mosaics, and prints, along with books, toys, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, stationary, and clothes. You can even buy wrapping paper, so it’s pretty much one-stop shopping. A portion of the proceeds go to need-based student scholarships.

Wish Upon Waverly Miracle on Main Street, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 10, Greenmount Avenue commercial corridor, (443) 838-6271, betterwaverly.org, free. Get your photo taken with Santa, listen to holiday tunes, help decorate a tree, and grab some free refreshment at the Waverly Main Street office at 427 Merrymans Lane then buy some gifts at local stores. Stop in at St. John’s Christmas Bazaar (3009 Greenmount Ave.) from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and end the day with a tree-lighting ceremony with take place at the Waverly Main Street office from 6-8 p.m.

Let It Snow Celebration, noon-5 p.m. Dec. 18, Harbor East, itsawaterfrontlife.org, free. Holiday music, strolling entertainment, and ice cravings will turn this shopping and dining destination into a winter wonderland.

Charm City Craftivists Present: Last Chance Holiday Craft Show, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Dec. 10, Maryland State Boychoir Center for the Arts, 3400 Norman Ave., (443) 695-5367, chamcitycraftivists.blogspot.com, free. With a wide variety of items for sale, the show introduces some new faces to the Baltimore craft scene. Pick up some local handmade gifts like Duff’s Scruff Beer Shaving Soap or Hippydrome Herbal Bath Salts.

Kid Stuff

Photos with Santa, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, noon-6 p.m. Sundays before Thanksgiving; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays after Thanksgiving; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 24; through Dec. 24, the Mall in Columbia, 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway, (410) 730-3300, themallincolumbia.com, free to visit, photographs $22.99 and up. Your little one can spend some quality time with the only person you actively want to break into your house. Hugs, smiles, Christmas wishes, and other holly jolliness are free; pictures with the merry old elf are not.

The Santa Photo Experience, 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays in November, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays in December, through Dec. 24, Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover, 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, (410) 540-5110, arundelmillsmall.com, free to visit, photographs $22.99 and up. Why settle for seeing the big man sitting on a chair in the middle of the mall, when you can bring you kid to Santa’s living room, complete with stocking-festooned fireplace? Saying “hi” is free, photos will cost you upwards of $22.99.

Santa’s Place, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 24, Harborplace Amphitheater, 200 E. Pratt St., (410) 332-4191, harborplace.com, free to visit, photographs $22.99 and up. Santa gets a whole house in the Inner Harbor for the children to visit, conveniently located near the Occupy Baltimore tent village. A holiday light and music show fills the sky with cheer every half hour from 6-8 p.m.

Photos with Santa, through Dec. 24, White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd.,(410) 931-7100, whitemarshmall.com, free to visit, photographs $22.99 and up. Your kid definitely will not cry when you put him or her on a large laughing stranger’s lap. The experience is free, photographic proof will take more than a few bills.

Photos with Santa, through Dec. 24, Towson Town Center, 825 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, (410) 494-8800, towsontowncenter.com, free to visit, photographs $22.99 and up. Yet another chance to get your cherub’s picture taken with Santa Claus.

The Polar Express 4D, through Jan. 2, 2012, National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-3800, aqua.org, $5 in addition to admission. A 15-minute version of the film based on Chris Van Allsburg’s book featuring a computer-generated Tom Hanks as just about everybody.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, through Jan. 2, Adventure Theatre, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, (301) 634-2270, adventuretheatre.org, $18.Adventure Theatre presents the world premiere of this off-kilter take on ’Twas the Night Before Christmas by Tony-nominated playwright Ken Ludwig about a mouse that is stirring in a house on Christmas Eve. Appropriate for children 4 years and older.

Gobble Gobble Weekend, Nov. 25-27, Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, portdiscovery.org, $13.95, children under 2 free. Three days of fall activities including science and craft activities, music with Uncle Pete, and lessons in juggling and other circus shenanigans courtesy of a former Ringling Bros. performer. Different activities are offered different days, so check the schedule or risk tears of disappointment.

Holiday Laser Show, 3 p.m. daily, noon Saturdays-Sundays and Nov. 25, Nov. 25-Dec. 24, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, marylandsciencecenter.org, free with admission. The planetarium will be awash in holiday hoopla as laser-light images appear in time to holiday tunes ranging from Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” to the Eurythmics’ version of “Winter Wonderland” and the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Christmastime.”

Photos with Santa, Nov. 26-Dec. 24, Mondawmin Mall, 2401 Liberty Heights Ave., mondawmin.com, free to visit, photographs $22.99 and up. You don’t have to do to the suburbs to get your own tiny Tim’s picture taken with Santa, just head over to Mondawmin Mall.

Santa Trains, 11 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays Nov. 26-Dec. 17, Walkersville Southern Railroad, 34 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Walkersville, (301) 898-0899, wsrr.org, $12, seniors $10, children $7, babies under 1 free. Reservations are required for this train ride with Santa with a hot chocolate and cookie chaser.

Monument Lighting Family Festival, 5-8:30 p.m. Dec. 1, Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, thewalters.org, free. Get out of the cold and enjoy music, holiday films, refreshments, and art activities for children before and after the Washington Monument lighting.

Celebrate World Holiday Traditions, 5-9 p.m. Dec. 2, National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-3800, aqua.org, free with $8 Fridays after 5 admission, The Polar Express 4D is $4 more. Learn how different cultures celebrate holidays, make cards out of recycled materials to send to members of the armed forces, say hi to Santa, and listen to the Holiday Brass Ensemble.

Breakfast with Santa, 8 a.m. Dec. 3, the Mall in Columbia, Nordstrom Cafe, 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway, (410) 730-3300, themallincolumbia.com, $10. Break bread with Santa and give some money to the Howard Hospital Foundation, putting you firmly on nice list. Seating is limited, so get tickets early.

Breakfast and Lunch with Santa, 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 3, Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, (410) 730-3987, wildelakecommunityassociation.org, $5. Share a meal with Saint Nick. Tickets required and must be purchased in advance.

A Christmas Carol: The Broadway Musical, 1 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays Dec. 3-18, 4 p.m. Dec. 11, Community College of Baltimore College, Essex campus, J Building, 7201 Rossville Blvd., 443-840-2787, ccbcmd.edu/performingarts/childrensplayhouse.html, $10. If you think the Dickens’ classic would be great if it had more big musical numbers, the Children’s Playhouse of Maryland production is the one for you. Have breakfast with Santa before the Dec. 17 show for $15.

Hands-on-Holidays Chanukah Downtown, 10:30 a.m. Dec. 4, Enoch Pratt Free Library, central branch, 400 Cathedral St., (410) 396-5430; 12:30 p.m. Dec. 14, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Roland Park branch, 5108 Roland Ave., (410) 396-6099; 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 15, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Canton branch, 1030 S. Ellwood Ave., (410) 396-8548; prattlibrary.org, free. Celebrate the festival of lights with your little ones at the library, courtesy the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore.

Celebrate Kwanzaa, 12:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Edmondson Avenue branch, 4330 Edmondson Ave., (410) 396-0946; 6 p.m. Dec. 5, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Brooklyn branch, 300 E Patapsco Ave., (410) 396-1120; 10:30 a.m. Dec. 7, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Cherry Hill branch, 2492 Giles Road, (410) 396-1168; 6 p.m. Dec. 7, Enoch Pratt Free Library, central branch, 400 Cathedral St., (410) 396-5430; 1 p.m. Dec. 8, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Hampden branch, 3641 Falls Road, (410) 396-6043; 1 p.m. Dec. 15, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Orleans Street branch, 1303 Orleans St., 410-396-0970; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Washington Village Branch, 856 Washington Blvd., (410) 396-1099; 6 p.m. Dec. 19, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Northwood branch, 4420 Loch Raven Blvd., (410) 396-6076; 3 p.m. Dec. 21, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Herring Run branch, 3801 Erdman Ave., (410) 396-0996; 3:30 p.m. Dec. 27, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Patterson Park branch, 158 North Linwood Ave., (410) 396-0983; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 29, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Govans branch, 5714 Bellona Ave., (410) 396-6098; prattlibrary.org, free. Charles Duggar lays out the principles of Kwanzaa at libraries across the city.

Breakfast with Santa, 8:30 a.m. Dec. 10, Baltimore Museum of Industry, 1415 Key Highway, (410) 727-4808, thebmi.org, $12-$17, children under two free. Chow down on a breakfast buffet with Santa and watch a magic show performed by Dave Thomen of D’s Magic.

Rock the Dock Family Holiday Bash, 1-5 p.m. Dec. 10, Power Plant, 600 block of East Pratt Street, itsawaterfrontlife.org, free. Kids make holiday-themed arts and crafts projects, play games, and decorate a tree while live music plays.

Strathmore Family Sings: Christmas Music with Betty Scott, 4 p.m. Dec. 11, the Music Center at Strathmore, Education Wing, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $6.30-$7. Grammy winner and Strathmore Education Program Coordinator Betty Scott leads kids 6 and up and their families through standards like “Silver Bells” and “Winter Wonderland.”

Hands-on-Holidays Chanukah Downtown, 10:30 a.m. Dec. 16, Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St., (410) 732-6400, jewishmuseummd.org, $5. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore invites you to celebrate oil lasting way longer than expected while noshing on snacks, making crafts, and participating in activities at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.

Cookies and Milk with Santa, noon Dec. 17, Mondawmin Mall, 2401 Liberty Heights Ave., mondawmin.com, free. Santa reads a story, while your little one gobbles up cookies and milk courtesy of the Great Cookie.

Griots’ Circle Kwanzaa Family Program, noon Dec. 17, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Walbrook branch, 3203 W. North Ave., (410) 788-3555, griotscircleofmarylandinc.org, free. The storytellers of the Griot’s Circle of Maryland take you from Umoja to Imani.

Griots’ Circle Kwanzaa Celebration, 3 p.m. Dec. 17, Historic Harlem Theater, 618 N. Gilmor St., (410) 788-3555, griotscircleofmarylandinc.org. Griot Circle of Maryland’s storytellers weave tales of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa Celebration, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 3, New Student Center, Morgan State University, 1700 E. Cold Spring Lane, (443) 885-4328, morgan.edu/academics/kwanzaa, free. School-age children can learn the meaning of Kwanzza, do some arts and crafts, sing, dance, eat, play games, and listen to storytellers.

Maria Broom StoryDancer, 3 p.m. Dec. 3, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, free. Maria Broom uses dance to explore the songs and stories of Kwanzaa with help from drummer Jali D.

Baltimore Reads Holiday Fair, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 10, Baltimore Reads Book Bank, 10 N. Calvert St., (410) 752-3595, baltimorereads.org, free. Food, story time, a visit from Santa and one of this elves, and, of course, free books, makes this an event worth marking you calendar for.

Breakfast with Santa and Friends, 8:30-10 a.m. Dec. 10 and 18, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 1876 Mansion House Drive, (443) 552-5276, marylandzoo.org, $35, members $25, children under 12 $15, children under 2 free. Meeting Santa is cool and all, but you can do that at pretty much any mall in the country this time of year. Getting to meet penguins and Santa while having a hot breakfast and doing crafts at the zoo, on the other hand, is a one-of-a-kind experience. Same-day zoo admission is included. This event sells out so get your tickets in advance.

Handmade Glass for Kids, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $58.50-$65. Eileen Martin teaches children ages 7 to 11 to make ornaments, sun catchers, or mezuzah out of glass as holiday decorations or gifts.

Christmas for Kids, 11 a.m. Dec. 17, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, baltimorechoralarts.org, (410) 523-7070, $13. Ronnie the Reindeer, Santa, Pepito the Clown, and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society get together for a holiday show.

Chanukah, Christmas Day, and Chinese Food Family Fun Day, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 25, Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St., (410) 732-6400 jewishmuseummd.org, free. Don’t spend Christmas moping just because some fat guy doesn’t shower you with gifts. Instead, nosh on Chinese food at the Jewish Museum of Maryland while making origami and Chinese lanterns and playing mah-jong in honor of the exhibit Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture and American Jewish Identity.

Winter Break Activities, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 26-Jan. 1, the Walters, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, thewalters.org, free. Distract your kids from their post-Christmas let down with a week of winter-themed art activities at the Walters. No registration required, just drop in and get crafting.

Kwanzaa Family Fun Days, 1-3 p.m. Dec. 28-30, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture, 830 E. Pratt. Street, (443) 263-1800, africanamericanculture.org, $6-$8, children under six, members, and Maryland Public School teachers with ID free. Catch different Kwanzaa activities and performance each day at the Reggie. Wednesday there’s an African dance and drumming class. Thursday kids make African headwear—kufi hats for boys and gele head wraps for girls. Friday make a unity cup to use in your own Kwanzaa celebration.

Midnight Noon, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 31, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, marylandsciencecenter.org, free with admission. Just because the ball drop is past your children’s bedtime, doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy New Year’s Eve. Kids can make party hats and noisemakers (pro-tip: “break” the noisemakers as soon as you get home), dance to a performance by Milkshake, and laugh with or at Now This! Improv as they ring in 2012.

Nutcrackin’

The Nutcracker, 7 p.m. Nov. 25, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Nov. 26-27, THEARC Theater, 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE, Washington, (202) 362-3606 ext. 605; 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 17, 1 p.m. Sundays, additional performances 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18, 2 p.m. Dec. 22-23, 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Dec. 24, Dec. 1-24; Warner Theatre, 13th and E St NW, Washington, (410) 547-7328; washingtonballet.org, $29 at THEARC, $30-$90 at Warner Theatre. This is the 50th Anniversary of the Washington Ballet’s D.C.-centric reimaging of The Nutcracker. The ballet is set in Georgetown in 1882 with George Washington standing in for the Nutcracker and King George III taking over for the Rat King.

The Nutcracker, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Bowie Center for the Performing Arts, 15200 Annapolis Road, Bowie, (301) 805-6880, bowiecenter.org, $25-$30. The National Ballet performs the Russian holiday classic. A pre-show called “Magic of The Nutcracker” for children ages 2-12 starts at 1:30 p.m. each day ($5 per child, parents free) but you can’t go unless you also have tickets for a full performance.

The Nutcracker, 6 p.m. Dec. 3 and 1 p.m. Dec. 4, Patterson Mill High School, 85 Patterson Mill Road, Bel Air, (410) 877-0777, harfordballetcompany.org, $17-$23, tea party $7. New York City Ballet dancers and students at the Harford Ballet Company team up for this production. A tea party with cast members follows each performance.

Nutcracker Tea, 1 p.m. Dec. 4, Carroll County Dance Center & Ballet Conservatory, 6933 Warfield Avenue, Sykesville, (410) 795-3255, carrollcountydancecenter.com, $10. Meet cast members and see excerpts from The Nutcracker performance.

The Nutcracker, 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, noon and 4 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 8-18, Baltimore School for the Arts, 712 Cathedral St., (443) 642-5167, bsfa.org, $10-$15. The BSA’s best and brightest twirl through this production choreographed by Boston Ballet Director Barry Hughson.

The Nutcracker, 8 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10, 2 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 600-2835, weinbergcenter.org, $11-$25. For the 32nd year in a row, Maryland Regional Ballet and guest artists from the New York City Ballet present the tale of the Mouse King.

The Cracked Nut, 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Dec. 10-11, Howard County Center for the Arts, 8510 High Ridge Road, Ellicott City, (410) 480-1686, hocoarts.org, $5. Ballet, swing, and even synchronized swimming collide in this off-beat take on The Nutcracker, the already odd tale of novelty gift coming to life.

The Nutcracker, 4 p.m. Dec. 10, 2 p.m. Dec. 11, Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills, (410)795-3255, carrollcountydancecenter.com, $20. The Carroll County Dance Center and Ballet Conservatory’s version of the classic ballet features guest dancers from the American Ballet Theatre playing the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Cavalier.

The Nutcracker, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 4 p.m. Sunday Dec. 11, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 667-7974, baltimoreballet.org, $30, children under 12 $15. Watch the Baltimore Ballet Company put Clara and her prince/nutshell through their paces.

The Nutcracker, 7 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 4:30 p.m. Sundays Dec. 10-18, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 280-5640, mdhallarts.org, $19-$45. Bring your little ballerinas in training to the Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s rendition of the classic holiday ballet.

The Nutcracker, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-17, 3 p.m. Dec. 18, Gordon Center for the Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills, (410) 887-1238, baltimorecountyyouthballet.com/home.html, $15. Mice, kitchen goods, snowflakes, chocolate, coffee, tea, candy canes, gingerbread men, and marzipan shepherdesses dance for your amusement in this surreal holiday ballet.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 and 16 at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $27.50-$87.50; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, 1 and 5 p.m. Dec. 18, Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mt Royal Ave, (410) 685-5086, lyricoperahouse.com, $35-$100. Tchaikovsky’s ballet danced by 40 of his countrymen and some extra-large puppets. This is pretty much considered the crème de la crème of Nutcracker experiences.

The Nutcracker on Ice, 5:15 and 7 p.m. Dec. 17, 4:30 and 6 p.m. Dec. 18, Columbia Ice Rink, Oakland Mills Village Center, 5876 Thunder Hill Road, Columbia, (410) 730-0322, columbiafsc.org, $12. The Mouse King, Sugar Plum Fairy, and a flurry of dancing snowflakes strap on skates for this annual holiday tradition.

The Nutcracker, Dec. 2-11, Robert Parilla Performing Arts Center, Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville, (301) 762-1757, mbtdance.org, $18-20. The Metropolitan Ballet Theatre twinkle their toes to Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable score.

 

A Christmas Carol and Other Seasonal Shows

Frosty, through Dec. 27, Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre and Children’s Theatre, Willowtree Plaza, 5 Willowdale Dr., Frederick, (301) 662-6600, wayoffbroadway.com, $16-17. Frosty the Snowman comes to life in front of a classroom of children in this dinner theater production. Reservations strongly recommended.

Christmas Tidings, through Dec. 30, ay Off Broadway Dinner Theatre and Children’s Theatre, Willowtree Plaza, 5 Willowdale Dr., Frederick, (301) 662-6600, wayoffbroadway.com, $25-$46. An original musical set in Christmas card and gift shop. Advance tickets recommended.

White Christmas, 6 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 8, 5900 Symphony Woods Road, Columbia, (410) 995-1969, tobysdinnertheatre.com, $34.50-53. Irving Berlin’s musical includes such chestnuts as “White Christmas,” “It’s Cold Outside,” and “Snow.”

A Christmas Carol, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 25-Dec. 4, Chesapeake Art Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, (410) 440-8460, chesapeakearts.org, $12. Dickens’ purists rejoice: The Pasadena Theatre Company is putting on a non-musical version of A Christmas Carol.

Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, 3 p.m. Nov. 26, Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, (410) 848-7272, carrollcountyartscouncil.org, $6-$9. A holiday musical about a family facing hard times—pretty timely, huh?

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, 6:30 p.m. Nov. 26, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 280-5640, mdhallarts.org, $25. Some very naughty children terrorize a church Christmas pageant. Better fictional ones than your own, right?

Baltimore Improv Group’s Thanksgiving Therapy, 8 p.m. Nov. 26. Mobtown Theater at Meadow Mill, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, (888) 745-8393 bigimprov.org, $8-$10. Laughing burns calories, and after all the turkey and pie you ate, you could use it. Four improv troupes help you get rid of the extra pounds and the leftover family angst.

The Living Christmas Tree, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 1 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 1 and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Riverdale Baptist Church, 1177 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, (301) 249-9111, livingtree2011.com, $10, seniors $9. A 30-foot Christmas tree filled with a 80-person chorus sings your face off in this theatrical presentation. Stop by an hour before the show to see a live nativity. Dress warmly, because mangers don’t have central heating.

A Christmas Carol, 8 p.m. Dec. 9, 3 and 8 p.m. Dec. 10, Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, (410) 848-7272, carrollcountyartscouncil.org, $13-$15. Maryland Ensemble Theatre takes you through Ebenezer Scrooge’s past, present, and future.

Burlesque-A-Pades’ Holiday Inn, 9 p.m. Dec. 10, Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., (410) 662-0069, theottobar.com, $15. Burlesque performers the Pontani Sisters, Albert Cadabra, Miss Saturn, and Paco Fish shake what Santa gave them.

Drop3 Improv and Comedy Holiday Show, 11 p.m. Dec. 10, Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul St., (410) 752-1225, spotlighters.org, $10. Drop3 pokes fun at the holidays with help from audience suggestions.

A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays, 3 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays, 1 p.m. Dec. 31, Dec. 14-Jan. 1, Olney Theatre, 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road, Olney, (301) 924-3400, olneytheatre.org, $26. Paul Morella performs this one-man show that is sure to excite Dickens purists. Rather than adding songs or McDuck-ing Scrooge, Morellas uses Dickens write for the original novella to bring the story to life.

A Christmas Carol, 10 a.m. Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, 2 p.m. Dec. 18, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 600-2835, weinbergcenter.org, $22, seniors and students $20, children $12. It just isn’t the holidays if you don’t hear one “Bah humbug!” and a “God bless us every one!” This bah-ing and blessing come courtesy of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre and the Fun Company.

A Christmas Carol in Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-17, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, bsomusic.org, $16-$57. An orchestra and chorus bring Dickens’ tale to life through classical, Broadway, blues, and gospel music.

Oy Vey in a Manger, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Dec. 16, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, $27, members $22. Drag a capella quartet Kinsey Sicks sing “God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians” and “Satan Baby” for the gentiles and “Don’t Be Happy, Worry” and “I Had a Little Facial” (presumably to the tune of the dreidel song) in a show about what happens when your manger goes into foreclosure.

Hack and Slash Christmas Special in Color, 8 p.m. Dec. 16-17, 2 p.m. Dec. 18, Hammonds Lane Theatre, Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, (410) 636-6597, hackandslash.com, $29-$55. This combination of music and comedy including comedian Kyle Cease raises money for charities such as Habitat for Humanity and collects food and clothing to be distributed to the needy. But the best part is that not only can you go in your pajamas, the organizers are actively requesting that you do so.

Holiday Readings (With Some Surprise Packages), 8 p.m. Dec. 16-17, 2 p.m. Dec. 18, 7 p.m. Dec. 19, Rep Stage, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, (443) 518-1500, repstage.org, $15. Rep Stage Producing Artistic Director Michael Stebbins takes you into the deliciously warped mind of David Sedaris as he reads from Sedaris’ essays “Season’s Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!”, “Based Upon a True Story,” and “Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol.”

A Dickens Christmas, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $15-$65. Readings from Charles Dickens’ works accompanied by holiday music courtesy of the Cathedral Choral Society. You can also join in the caroling and have your picture taken with the actor playing Dickens before the show.

A John Waters Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 21, Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mt Royal Ave, (410) 685-5086, lyricoperahouse.com, $35-$65. John Waters brings his razor-sharp wit and love of the absurd to the holidays in this one-man show.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $10, the cover will be donate to the Baltimore School for the Arts. BSA’s theater department head Donald Hicken reads Dylan Thomas’ iconic tale while BSA instructors Nancy Krebs and Becky Mossing sing tunes about the season.

Trixie Little and Monkey’s Holiday Spectac-u-thon, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, 7 and 10 p.m. Dec. 23, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, $22, members $17. Nothing screams Christmas like a burlesque show. It’s a holiday-themed night of acrobatics, trapeze performances, and striptease.

Comedy Cantonese, 8:30 p.m. Dec. 24, Magooby’s Joke House, 9603 Deereco Road, Timonium, (410) 252-2727, magoobys.com, $30. Marc Unger, Rain Pryor, and other Jewish comedians come together for a night of jokes, drinks, a Jewish trivia contest, and, of course, Chinese food. Last year’s show sold out so get your tickets early.

Traditions

Power Plant Holiday Light Show Spectacular, 6, 7, and 8 p.m. nightly, and 9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, through Dec. 31, Power Plant, 600 block of East Pratt Street, itsawaterfrontlife.org, free. The building with the giant guitar on it goes bananas with lights, lasers, and music brightening up the winter night sky in honor of the holidays.

Festival of Wreaths, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30-Dec. 4, Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, (410) 848-7272, carrollcountyartscouncil.org, free. Over uniquely decorated 200 wreaths are up for grabs in a silent auction that benefits the Carroll County Arts Council. Get a pretty holiday decoration and benefit your community in one fell swoop.

Miracle on Main Street, 3-8:30 p.m. Nov. 26, Downtown Westminster, Main Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street, (410) 848-9000, westminstermd.gov, free. The Holiday Electric Parade starts at 5 p.m. and travels down Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street. Right after the parade, Santa hops off his sleigh and helps with the tree lighting. Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates performs in the Carroll Arts Center at 3 p.m. for $6-$9, and the Westminster Family Fitness Center hosts free kids games, crafts, and activities from 6-8:30 p.m.

Miracle on 34th Street, Nov. 26-Jan.1, 34th Street between Keswick Road and Chestnut Avenue, christmasstreet.com, free. Hampden’s monument to overzealous holiday cheer is in force again this year. We recommend parking and walking rather than driving through for the full experience, and to avoid waiting in a long-ass line.

Chanukah House, throughout the month of December, 6721 Greenspring Ave., thechanukahhouse.com, free. Don’t let Christmas monopolize garish decorations and conspicuous consumption of electricity. It may not be as big or opulent as the original Baltimore Chanukah House, whose owners moved to Florida, but this heavily decorated home celebrates the festival of lights to the nth degree.

A Monumental Occasion, 5:30-8 p.m. Dec. 1, Mount Vernon Place, 600 block of North Charles Street, (410) 752-8632, bop.org, free. Grab some hot cocoa and something to nibble on from the vendors, listen to holiday music, and huddle for warmth with fellow Baltimoreans while waiting for the Monument to light up—at about 7:30-7:45 p.m.—and a fireworks display.

Mondo Baltimore: Ho, Ho, Ho and Popo, 7 p.m. Dec. 1, the Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave., mondobaltimore.com, free. Mondo Baltimore hosts a decidedly unusual night of holiday films. The evening begins with a compilation of Christmas specials featuring police, followed by Santa with Muscles starring Hulk Hogan. Between films, grab some off-beat gifts from local vendors at the Mondo Bazaar.

Little Italy Christmas Tree Lighting, 7 p.m. Dec. 2, Little Italy, corner of High and Stiles streets, littleitalymd.com, free. Members of Baltimore Choral Arts Society carol around Little Italy’s outdoor Christmas tree and an Italian-speaking Santa says, “Ciao.” Stay warm through the festivities by drinking hot apple cider and eating roasted chestnuts and cookies.

Night of 100 Elvises, 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 2-3, Lithuanian Hall, 851-3 Hollins St., nightof100elvises.com, $55 advance for general admission, $65 at the door. We’re not sure what Elvis has to do with the holidays besides singing “Blue Christmas,” but this event is definitely a Baltimore tradition. Twelve bands and 12 Elvis tribute artists play Elvis music until gyrating hips gets sore with no repeating songs in the main ballroom each night. The Elvis Lounge and the Jungle Room keep you all shook up too. A Southern buffet, beer, and soda are free; all other beverages must be purchased at the cash bar.

Parade of Light Boats, 6 p.m. Dec. 3, Baltimore Waterfront in the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, and Canton, fpyc.net, free. More than 50 boats sail from the Inner Harbor to Fells Point decked out in festive lights. Santa Claus may be aboard one. The sailors get prizes for the best decorations in several categories; you get one hell of a show.

The Mayor’s Annual Christmas Parade, 2 p.m. Dec. 4, Hampden and Medfield neighborhoods, (410) 366-0726, mayorschristmasparade.com, free. This is not your average Christmas parade. It’s the holidays, Hampden-style. Sure, there’ll be marching bands, Shriners, and floats but you’ll also see local eccentrics flitting along the parade route with Darth Vader, the mayor, and Santa.

Family Chanukah Open House, 12-4 p.m. Dec. 25, Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Jewish Community Center on the Weinberg Campus, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills, (410) 356-5200, jcc.org, $free. Before lighting that fifth candle on your menorah (not including the shamash, of course) head to the Owings Mills JCC for a day of family-focused activities which just happens to land on the same day as some other winter holiday.

Kwanzaa Family Day, 1-5 p.m. Dec. 28, Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum of Drive, (443) 573-1700, artbma.org, free. A day of activities and performances inspired by the museum’s Hand Held: Personal Arts from Africa exhibit. Create a festive headdress and an African head comb, weave together fabric and yarn or design a quilt square. Storyteller Maria Broom performs at 2 p.m. and African drummers and dancers lead a dance workshop at 3:30 p.m. Both performances are free but tickets are required and seating is limited. Get tickets at the museum at 1 p.m.

Music

Billy McComiskey’s Irish Family Thanksgiving, 8 p.m. Nov. 26, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, $15-$20. McComiskey brings together family and friends to perform traditional Irish music with a focus on gratitude. You can join in the music-making at a ceili (an Irish party/jam session) after the show in the Marquee Lounge.

Hanukkah Tea, 1 p.m. Nov. 29, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5108, strathmore.org, $25.20-$28, reservations required. Sip Strathmore-blend tea, nibble on a light lunch, and listen to music inspired by the festival of lights.

Christmas with Choral Arts, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29, Baltimore Basilica, 409 Cathedral St., (410) 523-7070, baltimorechoralarts.org, $25-$75. Our WYPR crush and Baltimore Choral Arts music director Tom Hall brings his songbirds and an orchestra to the Basilica for an evening of classic holiday music.

Christmas with Aaron Neville and Allen Toussaint, 8 p.m. Nov. 30, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $31.50-$55. New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint, who you may recognize from David Simon’s show Treme, kicks off the festivities followed by Aaron Neville crooning some R&B-flavored holiday ditties.

A Skaggs Family Christmas, 1 p.m. Dec. 1, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $25.20-$68. Something about the holidays causes musicians trot out their families and thrust instrument into their kin’s hopefully expert hands. Ricky Skaggs gets his kids and even his in-laws in on the action playing bluegrass-tinged renditions of “Little Drummer Boy,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and so on.

Celtic Christmas Shows, 8 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 9, Cellar Stage, 5315 Harford Road, uptownconcerts.com, $20-23. Helicon founding member Robin Bullock, Ken Kolodner, and Elke Baker take up the holiday mantel Dec. 2 playing citterns, mandolins, hammered dulcimers, and such. Maggie Sansone, Andrea Hoag, Matthew Bell, Patrick Egan, and Seth Kibel put their own spin on it Dec. 9.

Handel’s Messiah, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 8 p.m. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, bsomusic.org, $25-$65; Dec. 3, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $28-$88. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra along with conductor and harpsichordist Edward Polochick and the Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphonic Chorale bang out this holiday chestnut.

The 5 Browns Holiday Show, 8 p.m. Dec. 2, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $18.90-$58. The 5 Browns aren’t just classical pianists, they are a testament to overcoming adversity. The three daughters came forward about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of their father, who was convicted and sent to prison. Come for holiday music that goes way beyond “Jingle Bell Rock,” stay for the lesson in rising above.

Mrs. Claus Tea, 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Dec. 3, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5108, strathmore.org, $25.20-$28, reservations required. Children ages four and up listen to holiday music, sip tea, nosh on treats, and enjoy story time with Mrs. Claus.

Tuba Christmas Winterfest, noon Dec. 3, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 600-2828, weinbergcenter.org, free with a donation of cash or canned food to the Frederick Community Action Agency. While we’re not sure how tubas and Christmas got linked up, hearing some songs, seeing some movies, and singing along with Santa and Wurlitzer organ sounds festive to us.

Music for the Holiday Season, 2 p.m. Dec. 3, Marikle Chapel of the Annunciation, Notre Dame of Maryland University, 4701 N. Charles St., (410)-435-0100, events.ndm.edu. The university’s concert choir performs Christmas music, because you can never hear enough of that.

Holiday Jazz Concerts, 2 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 3-17, Mondawmin Mall, center court, 2401 Liberty Heights Ave., mondawmin.com, (410) 523-1534 , free. Live jazz renditions of holiday fare provides a soundtrack to shopping.

Cryptic Christmas, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3, Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place, (410) 244-1131, ramsheadlive.com, $12. Cryptic Warning, Crimson Orchid, and A Normal Kill perform at this benefit for 98Rock’s Polar Bear Plunge for the Special Olympics, proving they’re dark and heavy do-gooders.

A Celebration of Winter Solstice and the Holiday Season, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $20. Jazz singer Sue Matthews and pianist Stef Scaggiari make sure the winter solstice doesn’t get short-changed in this holiday concert.

Merry Tuba Christmas, 3 p.m. Dec. 4, Harborplace Amphitheater, 200 E. Pratt St., (410) 332-4191, harborplace.com, free. More than 200 tubas and euphoniums (tenor tubas) take over the Harborplace Ampitheater to blast holiday cheer into your ear holes.

Crabs for Christmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 4, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $10. David DeBoy and the Hons perform songs from his album Crabs for Christmas for 20 Years along with new ditties in a night of city stereotyping sure to please people who like that kind of thing.

Home for the Holidays, 7 p.m. Dec. 4, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 280-5640, mdhallarts.org, $25. The Brooks Teglar Orchestra recreates big band renditions of popular Christmas music in the style of a World War II-era radio broadcast.

Handel’s Messiah, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia, (410) 799-9321, procantare.org, $20-$23. Columbia Pro Cantare picks and chooses pieces of Handel’s seminal work with help from the festival orchestra and soloists Amy Van Roekel, MaryAnn McCormick, Charles Reid, and Lester Lynch. Get there an hour early for a free pre-show lecture.

Christmas with Aaron Neville and his Quartet, 8 p.m. Dec. 5, Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com, $69.50. Aaron Neville lends his silky voice to some N’awlins-style versions of holiday classics.

David Koz and Friends Christmas Tour, 8 p.m. Dec. 5, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $34.20-$72. Smooth jazz saxophonist David Koz plays songs from his holiday albums.

Cirque de la Symphonie, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Friday-Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 7-11, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, bsomusic.org, $17.50-$80; 8 p.m. Dec. 8, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $28-$88. Aerialists, contortionists, and jugglers add visual flair to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s holiday show.

The 12 Days of Christmas with Vince Gill and Amy Grant, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mt Royal Ave, (410) 685-5086, lyricoperahouse.com, $46.50-$86.50. Country music star Vince Gill and his “Baby Baby”-singing wife Amy Grant perform their hits (meaning that “Baby Baby” song is going to be super stuck in your head afterward) and traditional Yuletide tunes.

Jim Brickman: A Christmas Celebration, 8 p.m. Dec. 7, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $31.50-$55. Adult contemporary artist Jim Brickman brings electric violinist Tracy Silverman and singer and former Indianapolis Colt Benjamin Itecht for a night of holiday music.

Peter White’s Christmas, 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Dec. 8, Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com, $49.50. The holidays seem to bring all the smooth jazz musicians out. Peter White, along with Mindi Abair and Kirk Whalum, perform a mix of old Yuletide stand-bys and originals.

A Celebration of Christmas, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, 8 p.m. Dec. 9, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 280-5640, mdhallarts.org, $42. Mr. Green, the Annapolis Chorale, the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra and the Annapolis Youth Chorus make with the holiday music.

A Celtic Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 8, Baldwin’s Station, 7618 Main St, Sykesville, (410) 795-1041, baldwinsstation.com, $20. Jody Marshall, Carey Creed, Andrea Hoag, Paul Nahay, and special guest Grace Griffith perform Celtic holiday music.

Sounds of the Season, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Stevenson University Greenspring Campus, Inscape Theater, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson, stevenson.edu, free. Stevenson’s chorus, ukulele orchestra, jazz ensemble, and string band come together for a night of classics and unconventional holiday music.

We Wish You a Metal Christmas, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Talking Head Club at Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St., (410) 783-7888, sonarbaltimore.com, $10-$20. Outram, Aries, Sanhedron, and others play at this metal antidote to the usual holiday schlock.

Victoria Vox and ellen cherry’s Not All Holiday Holiday Show, 8 p.m. Dec. 9, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, $11-$16. Local singer/songwriters Victoria Vox and ellen cherry band together for an evening of song that includes holiday standards and original work.

Christmas Cheer, 1 p.m. Dec. 10 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 11, the Engineers Club, 11 W. Mount Vernon Place, (410) 625-3525, cabalto.org, $22-$37, college students with ID $8, children ages 8-18 $5. The Concert Artists of Baltimore perform the usual carols and holiday songs you’ve never heard before. Brunch is available at 11:30 a.m. before the Saturday show.

Tis the Season, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $20. Jazz guitarist Howard Alden and vocalist Jeanne Gies team up for a night of odes to the season.

Need a Little Christmas? Concert, 8 p.m. Dec. 10, First and Franklin Church, 210 W. Madison St., (410) 728-5545, newwavesingers.org, $13-$15. New Wave Singers of Baltimore make with the holiday tunes.

A Winter’s Night: Ensemble Galilei, 8 p.m. Dec. 10, Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, $15-$20. Local musicians Sue Richards, Ginger Hildebrand, and Carolyn Surrick join the Ensemble Galilei and Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan for a night of poetry, stories, and music.

National Philharmonic: Handel’s Messiah, 8 p.m. Dec. 10, 3 p.m. Dec. 11, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $32-$79, children ages 7-17 free if purchased by phone or at the ticket office. The National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale gives voice to Handel’s holiday warhorse.

Christmas on the Court, 1-4 p.m. Dec. 11, the Walters, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, thewalters.org, free. The Walters hosts Joyous Voices, a caroling group that warbles holiday songs from yesterday and today, and by yesterday we mean Victorian and medieval times.

Matthew West and Mandisa: Heart of Christmas Tour, 7 p.m. Dec. 11, Lyric Opera House, 140 W. Mt Royal Ave, (410) 685-5086, lyricoperahouse.com, $10-$24.50. Gospel singer and ninth-place finalists on American Idol Mandisa partners with contemporary Christian singer Matthew West for an evening of songs that presumably will have a bit more to do with that a baby born in a barn than a guy in red who breaks into your house to give you presents.

Cabaret of Cheer, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $15. Pianist and singer Todd Harrison Twining gets in on the whole holiday show thing.

An Annapolis Christmas, 7 p.m. Dec. 12-13, Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com, $30. A bevy of Annapolis musicians take the stage to benefit the Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians, a nonprofit that serves basically them. Go online to see the line-up for each night.

Pink Martini, 8 p.m. Dec. 12, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $55-$125. Pink Martini combines Latin, jazz, cabaret, classical, and other genres in its music. Tonight the ensemble performs songs from its 2010 holiday album Joy to the World, along with other seasonal ditties.

The Capital Hearings: An A Cappella Holiday, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $13.50-$15. Who needs instruments when Capital Hearings, an a capella ensemble, can give you everything from Renaissance tunes, Top 40, jazz, and carols with nary a string or brass instrument in sight?

Rob Levit Holiday Showcase, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 280-5640, mdhallarts.org, $12. Holiday music performed by local musician Rob Levit and friends.

Jazz for the Holidays, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $10. If you can’t quite get over the break-up of local band the Bridge, check out drummer Mike Gambone’s trio putting a jazzy spin on holiday music.

Holiday Cabaret, 7 p.m. Dec. 15, 8 p.m. Dec. 16-18, CenterStage, 700 N. Calvert St., (410) 986-4000, centerstage.org, $10-$30. Charm City Klezmer and Veronica’s Youth Steel Drum Orchestra kick off the festivities an hour before show time. Then jazz singer Felicia Carter and bassist Amy Shook take the stage, followed by the Divine Voices of Praise Gospel Choir.

Lena Seikaly: Holiday Jazz Standards Concert, 11 a.m. Dec. 16, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $13.50-$15. Mezzo-soprano Lena Seikaly croons “Let It Snow,” “Silent Night,” and other holiday favorites.

Walt Michael and Co. Holiday Concert, 8 p.m. Dec. 17, Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, (410) 848-7272, carrollcountyartscouncil.org, $17-$19. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist (including the hammered dulcimer) Walt Michael bangs out the winter songbook.

Charlie Brown Jazz Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, (410) 848-7272, carrollcountyartscouncil.org, $7-$10; 6 p.m. Dec. 16, 3 p.m. Dec. 18, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, marylandsciencecenter.org, free with admission. Enjoy a screening of A Charlie Brown Christmas—we dare you not to tear up when the sad little tree gets all gussied up—and then hear the film’s score by Vince Guaraldi performed live by the Eric Byrd Trio.

A Very Mary Christmas, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $10. Sopranos Mary Grace Mazzulli and Mary DeLacy Kidwell lilt and trill their way through the songs of the season with Lou Smith on piano.

Sing-Along Messiah, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, baltimorechoralarts.org, (410) 523-7070, $25. If you’re tired of having Handel’s Messiah sung at you and want to get in on the action, this event is for you. Tom Hall, the music director of Baltimore Choral Arts and a radio personality on WYPR-FM, leads his chorus and you through the powerful tune. Just remember, this is the Messiah not The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so you should probably leave the props at home.

Simply Sinatra Christimas, 8 p.m. Dec. 16, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 280-5640, mdhallarts.org, $12-$45. Steve Lippia and the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra give the usual Christmas the Old Blue Eyes treatment.

Helicon’s 26th Annual Reunion Winter Solstice Concert, 3:30 and 8 p.m. Dec. 17, Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 243-7254, events.goucher.edu, $18-$28. Helicon whips out the hammered dulcimer, fiddle, tin whistle, and other folk instruments for two performances of holiday music inspired from traditional music across the globe.

Hard Travelers Christmas Show, 7 p.m. Dec. 17, Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com, $25; 8 p.m. Dec. 18, Baldwin’s Station, 7618 Main St, Sykesville, (410) 795-1041, baldwinsstation.com, $25. A country/folk take on the holidays.

Messiah/Christmas Oratorio, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 1200 Churchville Road, Bel Air, (410) 836-2773, harfordchoralsociety.org, $20, seniors. A full chorus and orchestra crank out Handel’s hallelujah-fest and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

The Redd Brothers Christmas Show with Amy Shook, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $20. Another entry is Germano’s attempt to prove that there is no such thing as too many jazz Christmas shows.

Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra: A Bohemian Christmas, 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $18-$20. The Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra lives up to its names playing Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s rendition of The Nutcracker Suite.

Joey and Rory: A Farmhouse Christmas, 8 p.m. Dec. 20, Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com, $22.50. Husband and wife, Joey and Rory, put a country spin on the usual Christmas show.

The Music Pilgrim Trio, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $13.50-$15. Classic, jazz, and traditional music fuse together in this Chanukah themed-show.

Messiah Sing-Along, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 600-2828, weinbergcenter.org, $18, seniors and students $12, children $10. Frederick Children’s Chorus’ founder and artistic director, Judy DuBose leads her chamber singers and you through hallelujah after hallelujah.

National Philharmonic Presents Holiday Celebration with the Washington Symphonic Brass, 8 p.m. Dec. 22, the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $25-$45. Washington Symphonic Brass and Percussion Ensemble plays medieval and Renaissance songs that have become holiday favorites.

Kix-mas, 7 p.m. Dec. 23, Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place, (410) 244-1131, ramsheadlive.com, $25. Baltimore hard rocker Kix teams up with King Belvedere for the fourth annual Kix-mas.

Christmas Present, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 23, Germano’s Trattoria, 300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515, germanostrattoria.com, $10. Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Blades brings a wide variety of Christmas classics to the stage, from “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth” to “Away in the Manger.”

Spank Rock/Baltimore Bass Connection Xmas Party, 8 p.m. Dec. 23, Sonar, 407 E. Saratoga St., (410) 783-7888, sonarbaltimore.com, $15-$20. You know a Christmas party from the dance-party hero Spank Rock is going to be something a little bit different that the usual holly-jolly fare. Not too many carolers include “Put That Pussy on Me” in their repertoire.

O’Malley’s March, 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Dec 29, Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com, $25. The governor takes a break from running the state to play some Celtic rock and some seasonal tunes with his buddies.

Kwanzaa Program: Farafina Kan in Concert, 7 p.m. Dec. 30, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture, 830 E. Pratt. Street, (443) 263-1800, africanamericanculture.org, non-members $10, members $8, children 17 and under $5. Farafina Kan is a Washington-based West African percussion orchestra that marries reggae, blues, jazz, funk, and hip-hop music traditions. The performance includes a Kwanzaa candle-lighting ceremony.

No One Is Alone, 8 p.m. Dec. 30, Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul St., (410) 752-1225, spotlighters.org, $15-$18. At this most festive time of the year, Spotlighters’ holiday cabaret reminds you that you probably won’t die alone with songs about togetherness.

Open Houses/Tours

Symphony of Lights, 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 1, closed Dec. 31, Symphony Woods, off Broken Land Parkway, Columbia, (410) 740-7840, hcgh.org/symphonyoflights, cars or vans $20. Take a 20-30 minute long drive through 70 larger-than-life light creations.

A Carroll’s Christmas, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, through Jan. 7, Mount Clare Museum House, Carroll Park, 1500 Washington Blvd., (410) 837-3262, mountclare.org, $6, seniors $5, students $4, children ages 5 and under free. Experience a colonial Christmas with the Carroll family at Baltimore’s oldest home, decked out in traditional 18th- and 19th-century style.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, dusk till 10 p.m. through Jan. 8, Adventure Park USA, West Baldwin Road, New Market, adventureparkusa.com, $25/family car. A holiday light show filled with sweet treats and Santa. Guests are also offered discount rates to Adventure Land’s indoor attractions, such as the laser park, climbing wall, and ropes course.

The Garden of Lights, 5:30-9 p.m. weekdays and 5:30-10 p.m. weekends Nov. 25-Jan. 8, Brookside Gardens Conservatory, 1500 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1453, brooksidegardens.org, cars and vans $20-$25, cash only. Nearly a million twinkling lights in imaginative displays cover the garden, both standing alone and cloaking the natural surroundings. A holiday display of poinsettias and lush evergreens awaits inside the conservatory.

The Spirits of Christmas Past with Jacob Marley, 7 p.m., Fridays, Nov. 26-Dec. 23, 731 S. Broadway, baltimoreghosttours.com, $20, ages 21 and up. Join Cliff Long, anthropologist, historian, actor, musician, and storyteller, as he slips into Jacob Marley’s shoes and guides you through the haunted drinkeries of Fells Point.

Monument Lighting Open House, 5-8 p.m. Dec. 1, Maryland Historical Society, 201 W. Monument St., (410) 685-3750, mdhs.org, free. Take a break from the cold as you wait for the monument to light up at the Maryland Historical Society. Grab a hot chocolate or cider and some cookies, listen to live music, busy your kids with making crafts, and hear Santa Claus get festive in a nerdy sort of way as he explains the origins of Christmas symbols. Free admission to the museum free all day.

Holiday Open House, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 2-3, 1-4 p.m. Dec. 4, the Laurel Museum, 817 Main St., Laurel, (301) 725-7975, laurelhistoricalsociety.org, $18, $15 advance. Learn about the history of Laurel and see ornament of local landmarks.

Historic Annapolis Holiday Open House, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 2, William Paca House, 186 Prince George St., Annapolis, (4100 267-7619, annapolis.org, free. Step back in to the 18th century will this tour of historic Annapolis locations, including the Paca House and Hogshead, where costumed interpreters will help recreate the holidays the way our forefathers celebrated them.

Yuletide Candlelight Tours of Fort McHenry, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 3, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, 2400 Fort Ave., (410) 962-4290, baltimore.org/events, free. A unique opportunity to visit Fort McHenry at night, bathed in candlelight, and learn about Christmas observances over the last couple of centuries in this 45-minute tour. Re-enactors provide a glimpse of the holidays for soldiers and sailors at the fort since the War of 1812.

The Christmas Story in Art, 1 p.m. Dec. 4 and 18, the Walters, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547-9000, thewalters.org, free. See the Christmas story through the lens of Renaissance and Baroque paintings.

Bed and Breakfast Holiday House Tour, 2-7 p.m. Dec. 4, betterbaltimorebedandbreakfasts.com, $50, $40 advance. Local B&Bs such as Celie’s Waterfront Inn, the Blue Door, and Inn at 2920 open their doors and provide meals prepared by local chefs, along with wine pairings. Proceeds will benefit Moveable Feast.

Homewood by Candlelight Open House, 5-7 p.m. Dec. 5, Homewood Museum, 3400 N. Charles St., (410) 516-5589, museums.jhu.edu, $6, members and JHU students free. Decked out in 19th-century garb, Homewood fills its halls with live music, and its cellar with cookies and eggnog.

Festive Flavors of Federal Hill, 6-10 p.m. Dec. 6, groups meet at Shofer’s Furniture, 930 S. Charles St., (410) 727-4500, historicfederalhill.org, $55. Annual neighborhood restaurant, tavern, gallery and walking tour, with seven stops along the way. Proceeds benefit the Federal Hill Business Association and Federal Hill Main Street.

An Ever Green Evening, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 8, Evergreen Museum and Library, 4545 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, museums.jhu.edu, $6, members and JHU students free. Festive holiday fare and seasonal decorations abound at the opening of the fourth annual Evergreen as Muse student group exhibition. Silent auctions and after-hours viewings of the museum’s special exhibitions are also featured.

Christmas Open House and Greens Sale, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 9-11, Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, (410) 557-9570, ladewgardens.com, $10, seniors and students $8, children 12 and under 32, members free. Check out Ladew’s manor house, which dates back to about 1747, all gussied up for the holidays and take advantage of the greens sale. Members can enjoy a preview Dec. 8 from 6-9 p.m.

Home for the Holidays Tour, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Dec. 13, begins at The Cloisters, 10440 Falls Road, Lutherville, (410) 605-2964, , $50-$55 includes lunch and transportation. A bus tour that showcases five of Baltimore’s historic homes—Carroll Mansion, Mount Clare, Homewood, Evergreen, and the Cloisters—all decked out in their holiday finest.

Art to Dine For: City Sidewalks, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 14, Trohv, 921 W. 36th St., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org, $40. Local chanteuse Lea Gilmore leads a tour through Hampden Miracle on 34th Street (meet up at Trohv), caroling all the way. Dessert and mulled wine follows at Trohv. Proceeds benefit the Creative Alliance.

Snowflake Tour of Charles Village Homes, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 18, Village Learning Place, 2521 St. Paul St., (410) 235-2210, snowflaketour.info, villagelearningplace.org, $15, students $12. Refreshments greet you on this self-guided tour of historic homes in a neighborhood best known for drunk nerds. The tour starts at Village Learning Place and ends at the Homewood House Museum, with plenty of seriously decorated Victorian and Edwardian houses in between. And we do mean serious; children under 12 are not allowed on the tour.

Mistle-aneous

More Gore 6, 8 p.m. Nov. 23, 218 E. Lexington St., (410) 659-4130, sidebartavern.com, $5 or free with a potluck dish. In honor of Thanksgiving, the More Gore film series is showing slasher flicks about Turkey Day. Start off the evening with musical-comedy horror fest Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead followed by ThanksKilling: Gobble Gobble Motherfucker! In between take a break from the blood with Thee Lexington Arrows.

Holiday Festival of Trains, Nov. 25-Dec. 31, B&O Railroad Museum, 901 W. Pratt St., (410) 752-2490, borail.org, $14, seniors $12, children ages 2-12 $8, members free; Nov. 25-Jan. 29, B&O Railroad Museum: Ellicott City Station, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City (410) 461-1945, ecborail.org, $5, seniors $4, children ages 2-12 $3, members free. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and Frosty the Snowman have been arriving on these trains for years. This year, William Donald Schaefer’s toy train layout will be on display for the first time ever. Not to mention the usual holiday goodies from Santa’s workshop and indoor train carousel rides.

Brookside Winter Display and Train Exhibit, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 26-Jan. 8, Brookside Gardens North House, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1400, brooksidegardens.org, afternoons free, evenings $20-$25. Enjoy the beauty of Brookside Gardens’ Winter Display as the Washington, Virginia, Maryland Garden Railway Society’s “G” scale train weaves through evergreens and conifers.

Make Your Own Blown Glass Holiday Ornament, noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., Nov. 26 and Dec. 10, Corradetti Glassblowing Studio, 2010 Clipper Park Road, corradetti.com, $42 per ornament. Blow some glass, have some fun. It’s the holidays. Sign up and, with the help of instructors, make your very own 4-inch glass creation.

Silhouettes for the Holidays, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 3, Homewood Museum, 3400 N. Charles St., (410) 516-5589, museums.jhu.edu, $26 for two copies of each portrait. A 10-minute sitting will leave you with an original silhouetted portrait of any family member or friend. Advance reservations highly recommended.

Highlandtown Holiday Train Garden, Dec. 3-Jan. 3, Engine Company 41, 520 S. Conkling St., highlandtowntraingarden.blogspot.com/, $1, six for $5. Another year, another train garden. Enjoy a holiday staple at Engine Company 41’s railroad display in its third year running.

Handmade Glass: Holiday Dishes, 10 a.m. Dec. 8, the Mansion at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike. North Bethesda, (301) 581-5100, strathmore.org, $45-$50 plus a $40 materials fee. This adult craft workshop teaches you how to make fused glasses dishes. You’ll end the session with two dishes, so you can give one to your nearest and dearest and still have one to keep.

Sock Monkey Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 10, Jim Rouse Visionary Center, American Visionary Arts Museum, 800 Key Highway, (410) 244-1900, avam.org, free. Show up with a pair of scissors and a couple of clean socks and make your very own adorable sock monkey. Stuffing, sewing needles, and all your essential sock monkey decorations are provided.

Make and Take Holiday Card Making Workshop, 1-3 p.m. Dec. 10, Evergreen Museum and Library, 4545 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, museums.jhu.edu, $6, members free. Learn the art of Victorian card-making with Evergreen director/curator James Abbott. Colorful paper, ribbon, fabric, and other supplies are provided. Advanced registration required.

Mid-Atlantic Holiday Beer Festival, 1-5 p.m. Dec. 10, Pratt Street Ale House, 206 W. Pratt St. (410) 244-8900, missiontix.com, $40. Forget the spiked eggnog, mulled wine, and whatever the hell wassail is and get a real drink. Pratt Street Ale House and the Brewer’s Art team up for an evening of food and beer. Sample suds from Brewer’s Art, Oliver Ales, Evolution, Victory, Troegs, Stillwater, and Flying Dog. The buzz will help the rest of the holiday madness go down smooth.

St. Nick’s Pet Pics, 6 p.m. Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 12, White Marsh Mall, Santa Set, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd., whitemarshmall.com. Kids always get to sit on Santa’s lap, but at this event, pets get a turn. Treat your cat, dog, guinea pig, or whatever furry critter you have to a picture with ol’ Kris Kringle.

Coping with the Holidays, 6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 13, Dec. 15 and 1:30-3 p.m. Dec. 13, Dec. 14, Gilchrist Hospice Care, 11311 McCormick Road, Suite 350, Hunt Valley, (443) 849-8251, free. For all those who need a little extra help dealing with the holidays, these one-time sessions are a good way to prepare yourself and cope. Pre-registration required.

Helping Others

Fort Meade Adopt an Angel Toy Drive, through Dec. 16, Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover, 7000 Arundel Mills Circle, (410) 540-5110, arundelmillsmall.com, free. While you’re running around the mall trying to finish your own Christmas shopping, brighten another family’s Christmas as well. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to Guest Services and you’ll help make some holiday magic for the children of Fort Meade soldiers.

Turkey Trots, 8:30 a.m.-noon Nov. 24 McComca’s Funeral Home 50 W. Broadway St., Bel Air; 7 a.m. Nov. 24, Towson Family Center YMCA, 600 W. Chesapeake Ave., Towson, (410) 823-8870, 7 a.m. Nov. 24, Catonsville High School, 421 Bloomsbury Ave.; Carroll County Family Center. 1719 Sykesville Road, Westminster; (410) 697-9622, ymaryland.org, $20-$35. Four versions of the 5K run and one-mile fun run for all ages to benefit families within each community.

Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Festival of Trees, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 25-26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 27, Maryland State Fairgrounds, Cow Palace, 2200 York Road, (443) 923-7300, , festivaloftrees.kennedykrieger.org, $12, children ages 5-12 and seniors $6, children ages 4 and under free. This one goes way beyond the average winter craft show. Besides 100 different craft boutiques, the Festival of Tree sports gingerbread houses, toy train gardens, and even fairyland forests, not to mention activities for the little ones and nightly entertainment. Proceeds support the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

GivingThanks Thanksgiving Show, 8 p.m. Nov. 25, Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., (410) 662-0069, theottobar.com, $10. Shook!, Lifted, Greasy Hands, and the Tressels play a benefit for GivingThanks, a collective that helps fund inner-city music programs.

Ulman Cancer Fund Gift Drive, 9 a.m.-5p.m. Nov. 28-Dec. 14, Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, 921 E. Fort Ave., Ste. 325. ulmanfund.org. The third annual holiday gift drive aids cancer patients and their families by providing holiday gifts. Get something you think a young adult would like and drop it off at the Locust Point office.

Creative Alliance Gift Drive for City Kids, Dec. 1-31, Creative Alliance at the Patterson lobby donation box, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, creativealliance.org; also Utrecht Art Supplies, 229 W. Chase St., (410) 727-7004, utrechtart.com. Drop off a new (and unwrapped) book or art supply and help support the Creative Alliance’s Open Minds Program. Items can be dropped off in the lobby during gallery/box office hours or performances or at the Mount Vernon’s Utrecht store (which might also be a good place to get the art supplies since there is a 10 percent discount when you mention the Creative Alliance).

Holiday Masquerade Ball Fundraiser for Neglected Horses, 6 p.m.-midnight Dec. 3, Turf Valley, 2700 Turf Valley Road, Ellicott City, (301) 854-5037, turfvalley.com $80, advance $60, plus a gift for the horses. Eat drink and be merry while supporting Days End Farm Horse Rescue mission to care for neglected and abused horses.

Alternative Christmas Market, noon Dec. 4, First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, 210 W. Madison St., (410) 728-5545, firstfranklin.org, This craft fair focuses more on giving than getting. Sure you can by hand-made gifts, but the focus is donating to charitable organizations that fight to end hunger, help people in crisis, promote social justice, and preserve the planet. You can even make your donation a present for a loved one and receive a card to give your giftee.

Gift Extravaganza, 3:30-7:30 p.m. Dec. 8, GreenMount School, 501 W. 30th St., greenmountschool.org, free. Are you looking for that one unique gift for the person that has everything without breaking the bank? Then visit the gift market and check off people on your Christmas list while supporting the GreenMount School.

Holiday Hop for the Animals, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 9, Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., (410) 662-0069, theottobar.com, $15. J.P. McDermott and the Western Bop, Danny Kay and the Nightlifers, DJ Franke Deth Feige, and an as-yet unnamed surprise guest crank it out to benefit local animal rescue groups. Along with the music, there will also be a raffle, a silent auction, and a pin-up contest. And forget the tots and bring a toy for a dog or a cat.

Jingle Bell Run, 9 a.m. Dec. 11, DuBurns Arena, 1301 S. Ellwood Ave., (800) 283-7800, arthritis.org, $32.50. Who knew tying jingle bells to your shoelaces, dressing up as Santa or one of his elves, and running a 5K could help fight arthritis. Well, it can, thanks to the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m.

Q Smiles Holiday Toy Drive, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 16, Mondawmin Mall, 2401 Liberty Heights Ave., mondawmin.com, free. 92Q broadcasts live from Mondawmin Mall during this toy drive giving you a chance to see what your favorite radio personalities really look like while doing good.

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve featuring Deanna Bogart, 6:45 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31, Ram’s Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, ramsheadonstage.com, $114. Shake off those 2011 blues in Annapolis with pianist/saxophonist extraordinaire Deanna Bogart. Enjoy appetizers, a gourmet buffet dinner, and dessert before she takes the stage at 10 p.m., and stick around for the Champagne toast at midnight.

Get the Led Out: The American Led Zeppelin, 8 p.m. Dec. 31, Ram’s Head Live, Power Plant Live, 20 Market Place, (410) 244-1131, ramsheadlive.com, $45. Climb the stairway to 2012 with this Led Zeppelin tribute act. Admission includes a free champagne toast, so don’t let your old acquaintance with Plant, Page, et al. be forgot.

2012 Live!, 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31, Power Plant Live, 34 Market Place, (410) 752-5483, powerplantlive.com, $95, VIP $150. Spend your NYE running in and out of nine different venues at the Power Plant complex. Food is free until 11 p.m., and there’s no charge at the bar until 1 a.m. (VIPs get to start drinking at 8 p.m., regular schmoes wait until 9 p.m.) There will be DJs, confetti canons, and the ball drop from Times Square shown on screens so massive they may be larger than life.

New Year’s Cruise, 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31, Black-Eyed Susan, Baltimore Marine Center, 2600 Boston St., (410) 342-6960, baltimorepaddlewheel.com, $130. Cocktails start dockside at 8:30 p.m. The riverboat leaves the pier an hour later for a ride around the harbor with a waterside view of the fireworks. Dinner and dancing included.

A-List New Years Eve Experience, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. Dec. 31, Diamondz Event Center, 9980 Liberty Road, (443) 655-7198, $30, VIP $60. This over-50 event is no joke. It’s a serious-party-until-4-a.m. experience with food, live entertainment, and an open bar for VIPs and a cash bar for suckers. The experience sells out so get your tickets early.

Baltimore New Year’s Eve Spectacular, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Dec. 31, Harborplace Amphitheater, 217 N. Charles St., promotionandarts.com, free. Huddle together with the unwashed masses of our fair city in preparation for the ringing in of 2012 and the big-ass fireworks display over the harbor that accompanies it.

Big Night Baltimore, 9 p.m.-2 a.m., Sheraton Baltimore City Center, 101 W. Fayette St., bignightbaltimore.com, $99.99-$149, VIP $149.99-$199. Eight themed party areas with bands and DJs (Older Skool, Kay Jay, Lost in Paris!, Collect All 5, DJ Freezie, DJ Q, DJ Retroactive, and Paul Lewis) help you say so long 2011. The open bar helps you say hello to 2012 with a big smile on your face, and the buffet keeps you from puking all over your party shoes.

Charm City Countdown, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 31, Sheraton Baltimore North, 903 Dulaney Valley Road, (410) 549-5707, charmcitycountdown.com, $99-$119, VIP $139-$159. This massive party has six different areas, specialty bars for martinis, wine, and shooters, butlered hors d’oeuvres, and food stations. You can also dance to 10Blade, Others May Fall, Drew Stevyns, DJ Joe Ball, and DJ EdgarD; try your luck at blackjack, roulette, and craps at the casino; walk the red carpet; take a puff at the cigar lounge; and get your face or, ahem, body painted. And the proceeds benefit Caring Communities, which helps Marylanders with disabilities.

Mother’s Downtown Countdown, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Dec. 31, Hyatt Regency Baltimore, 300 Light St., downtowncountdown.net, $99, VIP $149. Drinking, eating, and dancing are pretty much the hallmark of New Year’s Eve, and this party courtesy of Lindy Promotions and Mother’s Federal Hill Grille has all that plus a massive balloon drop at midnight and a view of the Inner Harbor fireworks without freezing your butt off. Carbon Leaf and local ‘80s band the Real Geniuses perform.

Rave After Tomorrow, 9 p.m.-6 a.m. Dec. 31, Paradox, 1310 Russell St., (410) 837-9110, thedox.com, $30-$80. Most New Year’s Eve parties wuss out by last call but not the Paradox’s Rave After Tomorrow, which keeps cranking until 6 a.m. That should give you plenty of time to get down with all three of the events world-ending themes: zombie apocalypse, alien invasion, and ice age. It’s final countdown for real. ?

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