December is upon us and that means, even if Starbucks and drug stores beat us to the punch, the holiday season is in full swing. With strung lights and garlands covering the city, the excitement of the season is enough to overwhelm, but in just a few short weeks and several thousand calories later, it will be over before you know it. Here are 20 holiday happenings to help you make the most of it.
TO DEC. 21: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY
Center Stage, Pearl Theater, 700 N. Calvert St. Tues.-Sun. Times vary. $19-59. 410-332-0033. centerstage.org. Frank Capra’s timeless film comes to life with this holiday performance for the whole family.
TO DEC. 23: A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, 7 S. Calvert St. Thurs.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 & 8 p.m., Sun. 2 & 7 p.m. $15-48. 410-244-8570. chesapeakeshakespeare.com. This performance puts a Charm City twist on Charles Dickens’s classic holiday tale, set in Baltimore’s 19th century business district.
TO DEC. 24: CHRISTMAS VILLAGE IN BALTIMORE
West Shore Park, 501 Light St. Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Free-$5. 443-760-0686. baltimore-christmas.com. This outdoor German Christmas market boasts 45 vendors of arts, crafts, and goods, plus a Bavarian beer garden for brews, bratwurst, and mulled wine.
TO JAN. 4: SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS
Symphony Woods, Columbia. Wed-Mon. 6-10 p.m. $20. 410-740-7666. hopkinsmedicine.org. This annual festive fundraiser features more than a mile of illuminated woods to walk, bike, or drive through, with proceeds benefitting the Howard County General Hospital.
TO: JAN. 25: HOLIDAY FESTIVAL OF TRAINS AND TOYS
B&O Railroad Museum, Ellicott City Station, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City. Wed.-Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free-$16. 410-461-1945. Borailroad.org. The B&O Museum’s annual celebration pays tribute to holidays past with toy trains and model railroads.
DEC. 4: MONUMENT LIGHTING FAMILY FESTIVAL
The Walters Art Museum and the Washington Monument, 600 N. Charles St. 5-8:30 p.m. Free. 410-547-9000. thewalters.org. Celebrate the annual Washington Monument lighting with music, refreshments, holiday films, and kids activities. The main event is at 7 p.m; fireworks to follow.
DEC. 5: HANDEL’S MESSIAH
Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. 7:30 p.m. $21-76. 410-783-8000. bsomusic.org. Meyerhoff Symphony Hall’s superior acoustics provide a full experience of Handel’s holiday classic.
DEC. 5: NATIONAL AQUARIUM HOLIDAY CELEBRATION
National Aquarium, 501 E. Pratt St. 5-9 p.m. Free-$34.95. 301-576-3800. aqua.org. The National Aquarium’s Knott Harbor View Room transforms into a Holiday village, with live music, crafts, snacks, and hot chocolate.
DEC. 6: MERRY TUBACHRISTMAS
Harborplace Amphitheatre, 201 E. Pratt St. 3-4:30 p.m. Free. 410-323-1000. harborplace.com. The Christmas tuba tradition, started at New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza in 1974, travels across the country and now makes it to Charm City for a performance of classic holiday music.
DEC. 6-7 & 13-14: SANTA’S STREETCAR
The Baltimore Streetcar Museum, 1911 Falls Rd. 12-5 p.m. $5-7. 410-547-0264. baltimorestreetcar.org. This festive family event includes classic streetcar rides with Santa Claus, storytelling, music, holiday snacks, and a large decorated tree.
DEC. 6, 14, 20: BREAKFAST WITH SANTA
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 1876 Mansion House Dr. 8:30-10 a.m. $18-35. 410-396-7102. marylandzoo.org. Enjoy a buffet breakfast and create seasonal crafts at the zoo’s new penguin exhibit.
DEC. 7: A FAMILY HANUKKAH CELEBRATION
The Jewish Museum of Maryland, 15 Lloyd St. 2:30 p.m. $1. 410-732-6400. jewishmuseummd.org. Get in the Hanukkah spirit with a family concert by kid-rock band, Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights, and take home festive crafts.
DEC. 7: THE MAYOR’S 41ST ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARADE
Starting at Poly/Western High Schools, 4600 Falls Rd. 1 p.m. Free. mayorschristmasparade.com. Set up shop along this 2.5-mile route for a parade full of marching units, floats, bands, and more.
DEC. 12: THE SWEATER SET’S HOLIDAY SWEATER PARTY
Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave. 8 p.m. $13-15. 410-276-1651. creativealliance.org. A multi-instrumental duo hosts this holiday event with live music, comedian Jonathan Burns, unicyclist Evan Young, and an ugly sweater contest.
DEC. 14: FOLGER CONSORT’S A RENAISSANCE CHRISTMAS
The Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St. 2-4 p.m. Free. 410-547-9000. thewalters.org. The music ensemble presents a Christmas concert on the Sculpture Court featuring music of Flanders and Italy circa 1500 with vocalists, winds, and strings.
DEC. 15: HOLIDRAMA!: PART DEUX
Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. 8 p.m. $20. 410-332-0033. stoopstorytelling.com. Start off the night at 7 p.m. with cocktails and live music by Caleb Stine and the Brakemen, followed by the Stoop Storytelling Series annual holiday show, featuring seven people telling true, personal, seven-minute holiday tales.
DEC. 19: A JOHN WATERS CHRISTMAS
Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place. 7 p.m. Sold Out. 410-244-0057. baltimoresoundstage.com. The Baltimore-born filmmaker’s critically acclaimed one-man show is full of holiday mischief with adult humor and eccentric entertainment.
DEC. 20: IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
The Senator Theatre, 5904 York Rd. 10 a.m. Free. 410-727-3464. thesenatortheatre.com. This annual free screening features the classic 1946 Oscar-nominated, Frank Capra film, starring James Stewart.
DEC. 20-31: TWELVE DAYS OF SCIENCE
Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St. Times vary. Free-$18.95. 410-685-2370. mdsci.org. This weeklong event features holiday-themed arts and craft demos, workshops, and shows.
DEC. 21: SNOWFLAKE TOUR OF CHARLES VILLAGE HOMES
Village Learning Place, 2521 St. Paul St. 12-4 p.m. $12-15. 410-243-3467. snowflaketour.info. Explore and admire a variety of festively decorated historic homes during this merry saunter by the Charles Village Civic Association.