The Polar Express 4D, now through Jan. 3, National Aquarium in Baltimore, 501 E. Pratt St., (410) 576-3800, aqua.org, $4 in addition to admission. In this blissfully shortened version of the feature-length film, viewers are subjected to the fourth dimension of cinema as the sensations of a frosty atmosphere, hot cocoa, and a bustling train enhance the film--a serious upgrade from Sensurround.
City Blocks, noon-4:30 p.m. Nov. 21, Harborplace Light Street Pavilion, (410) 243-1333, free. Watch up to 10 teams of architects build structures from more than 5,000 Tyco blocks in preparation for Santa's downtown arrival. If spectating isn't your thing, have a go at your own offertory for The Red One, who arrives at 4:30 p.m.
Christmas Favorites, 2 p.m. Nov. 27, Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick, (301) 600-2835, weinbergcenter.org, $6, students and seniors $4. Sit in an old-school theater for Christmas and family favorites Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, The Pink Panther: A Pink Christmas, Tom & Jerry's Night Before Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Saves the time you'd spend looking for a copy on Betamax.
Santa Trains, weekends Nov. 28-Dec. 13, Walkersville Southern Railroad, 34 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Walkersville, (301) 898-0899, wsrr.org, $10, seniors $9, children $7, infants free. Ride the locomotive with Santa, his preferred method of transportation on Rudolph's sick days.
Hands on Holidays Hanukkah Party, 10:30-11:15 a.m. Dec. 1, Enoch Pratt Library Light Street branch, 1251 Light St., and 10:30-11:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Dec. 10, Enoch Pratt Library Canton branch, 1030 S. Ellwood Ave., (410) 356-5200, jcc.org, free. Toddlers (with an adult) celebrate Hanukkah with circle time, sing a-longs, puppet shows, and yummy latkes.
Breakfast with Santa, 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. Dec. 5, Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, (410) 730-3987, wildelakecommunityassociation.org, $5. Breakfast may very well be Santa's favorite meal. Sit down with Father Christmas for breakfast before photo ops and one-on-one pony requests.
Celebration of Light, 1-5 p.m. Saturdays Dec. 6-27, Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, (410) 889-3399, artbma.org, free. Celebrate the winter holidays by examining the art of light through kaleidoscopes, paper lanterns, and a tour of film. If it seems cruel, remember we begin to gain daylight starting Dec. 21.
Holiday Breakfast, 8-10 a.m. Dec. 12, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 1876 Mansion House Drive, (443) 552-5271, marylandzoo.org, $35, members $25, children under 12 $15, children under 2 free. Eat a hot, yummy breakfast with Santa and the zoo's penguins. It's like being at the North Pole with the ol' man, but with less (or no) snow and zero jet lag.
Yulefest Family Fun, noon-5 p.m. Dec. 12, Mother's Purple Patio, 1113 S. Charles St., (410) 727-4500, historicfederalhill.org, free. With a moon bounce, visits from Santa (BYO camera), a pet parade at 2 p.m., and a Toys for Tots donation drop-off.
Nature Gingerbread Houses, 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 12, Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, (443) 738-9220, explorenature.org, $20, members $15. Those countless hours devoted to Legos will come in handy for this hands-on, no bake, take home gingerbread class.
Holiday Cards Papermaking, 2-3 p.m. Dec. 13, Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, (443) 738-9220, explorenature.org, $10, members $6. Kids learn to use recycled paper to make holiday greeting cards. Let them take this lesson home for handmade gifts on the cheap for the family. Act surprised.
Gingerbrick Making, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 19, Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, portdiscovery.org, free with admission. Let the little ones get industrial with the hands-on instruction of a spicy sweet mini-museum made of "gingerbricks." Shouldn't science always smell like baked goods?
Hibernation Fascination, 2-3 p.m. Dec. 20, Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, (443) 738-9220, explorenature.org, $10, members $6. Learn how hibernating mammals survive the long winter sleep without heat packs, electric blankets, snacks, and a stock of Snuggies.
Winter Break Activities, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 26-Jan. 1, the Walters, 600 N. Charles St., thewalters.org, free. Keep the kiddos busy every day of winter vacay with activities, games, roaming education carts, and beautiful art.
Winter Crafts, 1-3 p.m. Dec. 26-30, Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, portdiscovery.org, free with admission. Now that the tree's unplugged, it's time to celebrate the remains of winter (snow, cocoa, icicles--you get the idea). Let the kids do it with glue and glitter with someone else's rug to catch the mess.
Holiday Week Explorations, 2 p.m. Dec. 28-Jan. 1, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, marylandsciencecenter.org. Visit the Learning Lab to dig on everyday science related to your holiday decorations, the New Year's ball, and road salt.
Cloudy with a Chance of %u2026, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 29, Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills, (443) 738-9220, explorenature.org, $40, members $25. Let the little ones learn how to paint winter scenes in this indoors and outdoors painting workshop. Artistic representations of meatballs optional.
Midnight Noon, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 31, Maryland Science Center, 601 Light St., (410) 685-2370, marylandsciencecenter.org. Indoctrinate your little one to the confetti-filled tradition while the gettin's good with assistance from Milkshake and Blue Sky Puppet Theater.
Noontime New Year, noon Dec. 31, Port Discovery, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, portdiscovery.org. Take the tykes out for their own little New Year where they can toast the new year with their own Champagne and mini-weiners (milk and cookies) and learn how people celebrate across the world, including the ones who are having their own midnight on the other side of the globe. Then tuck them in early and head out on your own.
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