On The Town

Holiday Light Shows and Drive-Thru Displays to Check Out This Month

From the harbor to the zoo, the Baltimore area is aglow with festive family fun.

The name of the holiday season game is hustle. As soon as December rolls around, the obligations are in full effect, sometimes leaving little time to embrace the comfort that this time of year promises. If you’re looking for a way to take a step back and enjoy some of the season’s simple pleasures, how about admiring the enchanting holiday lights around town?

From new displays to twinkling traditions, there’s no shortage of opportunities to get in the spirit. Bundle up, grab your friends and family, and head out to one of these ongoing illuminated events, which can be viewed while on foot or from the comfort of your car.

TO 12/31: Guinness Holiday Light Walk
This month, the outdoor decor at the Guinness Open Gate Brewery in Halethorpe will expand well beyond its impressive holiday keg tree, which is constructed from more than 250 kegs of Diageo beer. To accompany the tree this season, the brewery will feature a number of glowing outdoor installations that range from the famous Guinness harp to a classic Maryland crab. While strolling along the walk, guests can sip winter beers such as the Winter Warmer Ale with notes of vanilla bean, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Or try the new Coquito Stout, an eggnog-like spin on the traditional Puerto Rican holiday drink in the form of a stout, made with coconut and a signature spice blend. The light walk is free and open to the public all month long. 5001 Washington Blvd., Halethorpe. 

—Courtesy of Guinness Open Gate Brewery & Barrel House

TO 12/31: Miracle on 34th Street
In Hampden, on the 700 block of W. 34th Street between Keswick Road and Chestnut Avenue, the 74th annual Miracle on 34th Street runs through New Year’s Eve. The time-honored winter tradition features more than two dozen Baltimore rowhomes and front lawns decked out with over-the-top light displays. With so much creativity and possibility, you never know what you might discover along this Hampden sidewalk. 700 W. 34. Street.

To 12/31: Winter City Lights
With more than 1 million lights across 18 acres, this light festival’s inaugural season promises to deliver a breathtaking experience. Take a walk down the illuminated 1.5-mile walking trail that transforms the woods into an enchanted forest, or take in the majesty of a 52-foot Christmas tree. Visitors can also look forward to food, bonfires, snow tubing, and nightly “snowfall” to put you in the ultimate holiday mindset. 4501 Olney-Laytonsville Road, Olney. $39-$48.

TO 1/1: Lights on the Bay
Now in its 27th year, this holiday drive-thru is lighting up Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. Open evenings from 5-10 p.m., the annual fundraiser for the SPCA of Anne Arundel County allows cars to travel through illuminated archways and experience shining sleighs, stars, castles, and, of course, installations dedicated to our furry friends. Plus, bring the youngsters for a kids-only scavenger hunt and prize raffle based on items in the light show. The price of admission varies by the size of your vehicle and visitors also have the option to purchase 3-D glasses. 1100 E. College Pkwy, Annapolis. $20-50.

TO 1/1: Merriweather Symphony of Lights
More than 300,000 bulbs are used to light up Merriweather Post Pavilion for this Howard County tradition. With the exception of designated walk-through nights on Dec. 8 and Dec. 31 (when fireworks will go off on the hour for the annual New Year’s Eve celebration), the holiday spectacular is open to cars from 6-10 p.m. on weekdays and 5-10 p.m. on weekends. 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia. Drive-thru entrance on Broken Land Pkwy / Hickory Ridge Rd. $20 per car. 

—Courtesy of Merriweather Symphony of Lights

TO 1/2: Upperco Yuletide Village 
Bundle up and make a trip out to the county, where this mesmerizing drive-thru installation (courtesy of Upperco Volunteer Fire Co.) awaits. Complete with everything from twinkling lights and a train garden to a Santa-ready reindeer station helmed by Rudolph, the experience is open Fridays through Sundays leading up to Christmas, and Monday through Friday December 26-30. 16020 Carnival Ave. $5-20

TO 1/1: Zoo Lights
Take a walk on the wild side at The Maryland Zoo, where more than 100,000 LED lights will shimmer in the shape of the historic institution’s most beloved creatures. Zoo Lights offers an immersive experience where guests can walk and admire animal-themed light displays, sip hot chocolate, and enjoy free train and carousel rides. The event runs from Friday-Sunday, 5-8 p.m. 1876 Mansion House Drive. $30.

TO 2/2022: Sailing Through the Winter Solstice
Delight your favorite sailor with a road trip to Downtown Frederick to enjoy this ever-growing fleet of holiday-themed vessels, which will be on display now through March 2023. Feast your eyes on an array of glowing pirate ships, gaff-rigged ketches, sparkling schooners and yawls. Plus, be sure to cast a vote for your favorite one. Proceeds from each vote are set to benefit Color on the Creek and other Frederick county-based initiatives. 35 E. All Saints St. $1 per vote

—Courtesy of Old Westminster Winery

TO 3/2023: Winter Greenhouses Beneath Twinkling Lights at Old Westminster Winery
This Carroll County spot is taking holiday sipping to gorgeous new heights with its winter greenhouses. Each weather-proof fixture sits beneath sparkling strung lights, with toasty heaters and decor to make the perfect festive setting for your party of 2-8 guests. 1550 Old Westminster Road  $65 ($150 food and beverage minimum.)

Additional reporting by Lauren Cohen, Grace Hebron, and Lydia Woolever.