Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE Christmas. I love the colorful lights. I love the music. I love the glittery decorations. Every year I look forward to several events and experiences, and I wanted to share a few of those with you.
My first must-attend event is the Eastport Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade, which is scheduled for Saturday, December 11 from 6-8pm. This annual parade features boats festooned with lights and decorations that loop around the downtown City Dock area and over in the Spa Creek inlet, so there are plenty of vantage points. Parking can get tricky, though, so I recommend getting into Annapolis early. I’ll be there this weekend with some friends, so if you see me, say hi!
Either before or after the Boat Parade, you should stop by the Red Red Jingle Bell Bar. Typically known as the Red Red Wine Bar, for the month of December, this restaurant decks their halls with Christmas presents, hanging baubles, garlands, and more. They have a whole host of holiday events, including movie nights and Christmas brunches, which you can find linked above. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible, and it is the perfect place to gather with some friends to do a Secret Santa exchange, or just enjoy the atmosphere while sipping on one of their signature wine flights.
Another excellent Annapolitan tradition is Midnight Madness, which is where select stores in Downtown Annapolis stay open for shopping from 4-midnight on 12/2 and 9, and from 4-11 on 12/16. It’s such fun to walk down Main Street with your fellow shoppers when you feel like you should be home, snug in your bed, and see all the adornments added to the shops just for these few nights. There is also free and heavily discounted parking at the downtown lots and free metered parking for 2 hours to make it even easier to finish off your Christmas list in grand style.
If you are closer to Baltimore, or are willing to travel a half hour or so for more magical events, I highly recommend exploring the Miracle on 34th Street. Originated over 70 years ago by several 34th Street homeowners, now, nearly every house on the block goes all out with lights, inflatables, blow molds, crab pot Christmas trees, and more. The road is closed to traffic, so you can wander freely with your friends or your family. I would definitely suggest grabbing dinner on The Avenue (36th Street) in Hampden and then walking the few blocks to the lights since parking can be a bit of a nightmare. Conveniently, my favorite restaurant in Baltimore, The Food Market, is located on 36th St, as is the Charmery Ice Cream Shop where you can get some of the most unique flavors I’ve ever tried. Try the Old Bay Caramel — I promise it’s not as weird as it sounds.
Another personal favorite event in Baltimore is the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Holiday Extravaganza Concert. I had the pleasure of singing with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society for a few seasons, and the BSO Christmas concert was always my favorite gig. It features classic Christmas music performed by world-class symphony musicians and even some Dancing Santas. There are two concert dates this year – at 8pm on Saturday, December 18th and at 3pm on Sunday, December 19th. Tickets range from $17.50-$75, and the symphony hall does have COVID entry guidelines, so make sure to check those out on the website before going.
If you’re a Christmas light fiend like me, I definitely recommend the Lights on the Bay drive through display at Sandy Point State Park. It’s an extra-good event for animal lovers because not only can your furry buddy go with you in the car, but a portion of the proceeds go to the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. Tickets are $20 per car, and you can buy 3D glasses for $5 to enhance the experience.
Last year I had my first experience at the Symphony of Lights in Columbia. This is another drive through display, and it’s set up on the Merriweather Post Pavilion grounds. Having only been to Merriweather for concerts, it was a little surreal driving my car through the amphitheater, but it was tons of fun. There is a radio station you can tune to for an all-encompassing Christmas experience. Once again, tickets are $20 per car, and the lights run through January 2. Make sure to get there early as the line gets very long.
If you’re looking for some fun walk through lights with kids, I would recommend checking out the Zoo Lights at the Baltimore Zoo, or, for a more casual stroll, the North Pole Lights Walk in Severn at Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm. Rumor has it the Big Guy makes an appearance at the end of the North Pole walk. I’m sure there are a ton more great holiday activities that I’m missing, but the ones listed here are enough to get even the Grinchiest among us in a more festive mood. Let me know if you’ve been to any of these places or events before, and drop your favorites and recommendations in the comments.