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Holiday Guide Feature

City Paperís 2004 Holiday Guide

Illustrations by Emily Flake

Holiday Guide 2004

Gimme Gimme This Gimme Gimme That City Paperís Annual Holiday Guide

Giving the Gift of Gifts The City Paper Staff's Suggestions for How to Buy Your Family's Love this Year

Calling All Angels How You Can Help Local Organizations With The Gift Of Your Holiday Dollars | By Edward Ericson Jr.

How Much Is That Pony in the Window? A Look At The Financial And Emotional Costs Of Getting Your Kid A Pony For Christmas | By Gadi Dechter

Wish List Local Moms Make Holiday Wishes For Their Children | By Christina Royster-Hemby

Ho-Ho-Home For the Holidays | By Emily Flake

Some Like It Hot Hereís How Explains How to Fire up Hot Holiday Drinks | By Van Smith

City Paperís 2004 Holiday Guide We are so psyched for a break from the usual routine, from the 9 to 5, from,well, work. And that's...

Posted 11/17/2004

We are so psyched for a break from the usual routine, from the 9 to 5, from,well, work. And that's what this time of year means, with all of its feasts, celebrations, and entertainments. In preparation for this joyous season full of family, faith, and shopping, we have worked our tails off to find out what's going on, which hasn't always been easy, considering it's, like, a week before Thanksgiving. We hope you have good times before the depression of bills, resolutions, and diets that is January. And hey, Happy New Year, when it comes, and cheers. And peace.

Shopping

Carriage House Holiday Sale. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 21, Evergreen House, 4545 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, www.jhu.edu/~evergreen/evergreen.html, $5. Can you say, "One-stop museum-shop shopping?" Very good. That's a tongue twister. Unique holiday gifts from the American Visionary Arts Museum, the Baltimore Civil War Museum, the Lacrosse Museum and Hall of Fame, and many more.

Downtown Dollar Days. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 4, noon-4 p.m. Dec. 5, Evergreen House, 4545 N. Charles St., (410) 516-0341, and Homewood House, 3400 N. Charles St., (410) 516-5589, $1. A 20-ounce pop costs you more than this afternoon. Admission to both museums, festive with holiday music, decorations, and light refreshments, is only a buck.

Holiday Arts Weekend. Noon-5 p.m. Nov. 20-21, the Mill Center, 3000 Chestnut Ave., (410) 236-5098, free. The Mill Center Artists aren't quite Santa's elves, but these crafty folks have workshops that are far from top-secret. A behind-the-scenes look at artists' work and workspaces, along with a chance to pick up a special something.

Holiday Bazaar. 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dec. 4, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Doyle Formal Lounge, 4701 N. Charles St., (410) 532-5542, ww.ndm.edu. Graduates of the Weekend College host this shoparama filled with gifting options for at least some of the people on your list.

Holiday Extravaganza. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Thursday until 7 p.m., noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 4-23, Baltimore Clayworks, 5707 Smith Ave., (410) 578-1919, www.baltimoreclayworks.org. Holiday pots. Heh.

Holiday Pottery Sale. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 3-4, Center for the Arts, room 309, Towson University, 8000 York Road., Towson, (410) 704-2787. Pottery, the gift that keeps on giving. Handmade, functional, and attractive pottery on sale courtesy of the Towson University Pottery Guild.

Shopping and Wrapping Days. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 11, Calvert Marine Museum, Route 2, Solomons, (410) 326-2042, www.calvertmarinemuseum.com. Purchases made in the Museum Store are wrapped for free during these special hours made for the lazy or less than creative.

Very Merry First Friday. 6 p.m. Dec. 3, Belvedere Square, southeast corner of York Road and Northern Parkway, (410) 464-9773, www.belvederesquare.com, free. Promotions and live music accompany the merchants aiming to get you in the, um, cha-ching . . . holiday spirit.

Kid stuff

Breakfast with Santa. 8:30-11 a.m. Dec. 4, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Doyle Dining Room, 4701 N. Charles St., (410) 532-5542, ww.ndm.edu, adults and ages 13 and over $8, ages 6-12 $6, ages 2-5 $4. Besides the yummy breakfast buffet, a chance to talk to Santa, and crafty projects, this afternoon offers an opportunity for children to learn the joy of giving. Just bring a unwrapped toy for donation to a local charity and get a picture taken with Santa that you get to take home.

Charlotte's Holiday Adventure. Lunch at noon and the show starts at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Chesapeake Music Hall, 339 Busch's Frontage Road, Annapolis, (410) 626-7515, www.chesapeakemusichall.com, $12. Give your friends and family a break by taking everyone's tykes out for a special afternoon of theater just for kids, plus they get fed first so nobody will be whining about popcorn.

Christmas for Kids. 11 a.m. Dec. 18, Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, (410) 523-7097, www.baltimorechoralarts.org. A fun stage production with Ronnie the Reindeer and Santa Claus. Oh, and some music too.

Holiday Concert. 3 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Thomas More Parish, 6806 McClean Blvd., (410) 494-1480, $15 with discounts for seniors, students, and children. What better way to get psyched for the season than to watch aspiring young crooners belt out a holiday jingle or two? The Children's Chorus of Maryland asks that you check out their performances of Britten and Purcell among others, but leave the little, little ones at home so the music isn't drowned out by wailing babies whose adorable Santa hats are on too tight.

New Year Celebration at Port Discovery. 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Port Discovery, the Children's Museum, 35 Market Place, (410) 727-8120, www.portdiscovery.org, free. The kiddies get to make noisemakers and hats and giant countdown numbers to do their own faux midnight countdown to noon instead. How cute is that?

Santa's Place at Harborplace and the Gallery. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20-Dec. 24, Harborplace and the Gallery, Inner Harbor, (410) 244-1030, free. Get the kiddies excited for a li'l shopping by promising them a stop on Santa's lap, and prolly a candy cane and sticky hands.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Class. 4-5:30 p.m. Nov. 23, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1453, www.brooksidegardens.org, $5. If you can't get your kids to eat their veggies on a daily basis, they might not be big fans of sitting at a Thanksgiving table long after they've had their two bites of mashed potatoes. Let them decorate the table however, with hollowed-out pumpkins and the like, and they may pause a minute to admire their creations before they run off to play video games.

Winter Break. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 15-31, Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547- 9000, www.thewalters.org, free with admission. Don't let your children's brains go to waste over school vacation--take 'em to Walters for an artsy field trip and hands-on activities.

The Nutcracker and Other Dancetastic Performances

The Nutcracker. Dec. 2-5, Hippodrome Theatre, 15 N. Eutaw St., (410) 547-7328, www.france-merrickpac.com, $28-$69, Dec. 9-26, Warner Theatre, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. N.E., Washington, (410) 547-7328, $20-$69. A production nuanced with references to the D.C. area, Washington Ballet's The Nutcracker still remains grounded in ballet tradition and makes use of young local dancers in the roles of soldiers, bunnies, clowns, and candy canes.

The Nutcracker. Dec. 11-12 and 19, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 263-5544, www.balletmaryland.com, $20-48. There will be something special about each performance of Ballet Maryland's "brand new" version of The Nutcracker. Several boast accompaniment by the Annapolis Chorale and Chamber Orchestra, and one features a post-performance reception courtesy of the Wine Cellars of Annapolis. Attendees of the performances on Dec. 19, family discount day, are invited to a Sugar Plum Party. Ever been to a Sugar Plum Party before? Sounds sweet.

The Nutcracker. 8 p.m. Dec. 2-4, 3 p.m. Dec. 5, Stephens Hall, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, (410) 704-2787, $18, students and seniors $12. It's another production of the classic ballet sure, but Towson's Dance Company has done it for 33 years now, so you know it'll be a good one. At the very least you'll be jealous that you don't get to frolic in the Kingdom of Sweets like the dancers do.

A Christmas Carol and other theater

A Baltimore Christmas Carol. 7:30 Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9-12 and 16-19, the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, www.baltimorechristmascarol.com, www.creativealliance.org, $18, members, seniors, and students $15, ages 12 and under $12. Take Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, reset that bad boy in Mobtown, add some country tunes and a sense of humor, and what you've got is this new American musical, courtesy City Paper contributing writer Geoffrey Himes.

A Christmas Carol. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19-20, 2 p.m. Nov. 21, Mercy High School, 1300 Northern Pkwy., (410) 433-8880, $10, $8 advance. The Mercy High Footlighters open their holiday season with the Dickens' classic. Hey, alotta famous actors started in high school--you may just see the future Parker Posey and Will Smith.

A Christmas Carol and Yuletide Cheers. Nov. 26-Dec. 26, Chesapeake Music Hall, 339 Busch's Frontage Road, Annapolis, (410) 625-7515, www.chesapeakemuscihall.com, $32-$35. We all know the heart-wrenching tale of Ebenezer's prophetic Christmas Eve and can't help but wonder if it all could have been avoided had a little preemptive Yuletide Cheer--you know like "Rockin Around the Christmas Tree" and "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"--been compulsory. Two holiday shows on alternating weekends.

The Early Monday Morning Show End of Year Blow Out Bash. 8 p.m. Nov. 27, Mobtown Theatre, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, www.mob-town.net, $10. Besides giving out awards and doing that little thing they do called improv, the Early Monday Morning Show is doing a special presentation of Little Suzie's Effed Up Christmas!, which sounds sorta funny to us.

Jesus Christ Superstar. Dec. 29-Jan. 2, Hippodrome Theatre, 15 N. Eutaw St., (410) 547-7328, www.france-merrickpac.com, $17-$62. Who would've thought? The words Jesus and "packed with hit songs" describing the same show. Who cares if it's the wrong Christian holiday? You can still hit up Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's rockin' version of the Passion.

Rudolph the Red-Hosed Reindeer. 8 p.m. Nov. 26-27, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday after that through Dec. 18, Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul St., (410) 752-1225, www.spotlighters.org, $15, adults only. Hell yeah, you read that right--adults only. This little ditty about the relationship between Santa and his reindeer is a farce, but with a serious message about tolerance, and includes a transvestite reindeer main character. That's funny. We are laughing with not at.

Scrooge. Dec. 14-19, Hippodrome Theatre, 15 N. Eutaw St., (410) 547-7328, www.france-merrickpac.com. In addition to imparting a heartwarming moral, Dickins' classic is also an excuse for saying "curmudgeonly miser-like bastard" in a British accent. This musical version stars Richard Chamberlain. Ni-ice, Father Ralph.

Scrooge the Musical. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday Dec. 3-19, Audrey Herman Spotlighters Theatre, 817 St. Paul St., (410) 752-1225, www.spotlighters.org, $15. The Spotlighters are bringing their long-running family-friendly Scrooge back this year as a tribute to Audrey and Bill Herman.

Traditions

Chanukah Celebration. 1-4 p.m. Dec. 5, Weinberg Jewish Community Center, 5700 Park Heights Ave., (410) 356-5200, ext. 324, $10, children $6, $7 advance, children $3 advance, ages under 3 free. Li'l ones, old folk, and all the family members in between can enjoy entertainment like a concert by Lox & Vodka, tasty noshes, and Michael Rosman and his "Amazing Feats of Comedy Variety Show," plus Chanukah vendor shopping and craftastic activities.

Chanukah Gift Bazaar and Healthy Fair. 1-4 p.m. Nov. 21, Rosenbloom Jewish Community Center, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., (410) 356-5200, ext. 502, bring a friend cuz non-members are welcome, babysitting is available but you can't just drop your kids off or anything. Shop for Judaica, jewelry, crafts, books, and more or check out the fitness and health fair for information and inspiration for losing those post-holiday pounds.

"The Chanukah Story." 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.baltimoresymphony.org, $22-$44. Presented by the Western Wind, this story of Chanukah is narrated by NPR's Annabelle Gurwitch and features international musical selections from the past and present. For the whole family although not recommended for children under the age of 6.

"Happin' Hannukah." 8 p.m. Dec. 4, the Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave., (410) 276-1651, www.creativealliance.org, $10, members $8. With the Charm City Klezmer Dance Troupe, featuring Max and Gudith Geller and Michael Raitzyk, this show celebrates klezmer, the traditional music of eastern European Jews, and latkes. Latkes!

Kids' Chanukah Fun. 10:30-11:30 a.m. Dec. 9, Weinberg Jewish Community Center, 5700 Park Heights Ave., (410) 356-5200, ext. 347, $8, JCC members $5. Latkes, hands-on art projects, songs, and stories about every kids' favorite time of the year.

Kids' Chanukah Treasure Hunt. 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Weinberg Jewish Community Center, 5700 Park Heights Ave., (410) 356-5200, ext. 590, free but registration required. Bring a flash light to help you find the last cruse of oil.

Kwanzaa Family Day. 2-5 p.m. Dec. 26, Baltimore Museum of Arts, 10 Art Museum Drive, (410) 396-7100, www.artbma.org. It's all about unity on this, the first day of Kwanzaa. Family friendly events include storytelling, a performance by Sankofa Dance Theatre, and a mask-making workshop.

National Great Blacks in Wax Museum's Kwanzaa Celebration. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 26, National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, the Alberta Cason Room, 1601-3 E. North Ave., (410) 563-3404, www.greatblacksinwax.org. Begin Kwanzaa's seven special days with local artists and community. The seven guiding principles are sure to be at the forefront of tonight's party.

National Great Blacks in Wax Museum's Thanksgiving Celebration. 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Nov. 27, National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, 1601-3 E. North Ave., (410) 563-3404, www.greatblacksinwax.org. Foodstuffs, tours of the museum, entertainment, a karaoke contest, and other good times all within one of Baltimore's treasures.

Vegetarian Pre-Thanksgiving Potluck. 5 p.m. Nov. 21, St. John's of Hamilton, United Methodist Church, 5315 Harford Road, (410) 366-8343, for info about vegetarianism visit www.vrg.org, $4, children free. Please bring a vegan dish for four from each of your family members along with a serving utensils and a recipe card per dish, and reusable dinner ware to keep down on waste. Sounds like a lot of work? Welcome to the holidays. And hey, bring a veggie canned good to donate to folk less fortunate.

Music

"Advent Lessons and Carols." 5 p.m. Nov. 28, Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., (410) 560-6776. The Choir of Men and Boys from St. Stephens Traditional Episcopal Church invite you to hear some sounds of the season.

Baltimore School for the Arts Holiday Performance. 7 p.m. Dec. 15-17, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 18, Baltimore School for the Arts, Schaefer Ballroom, 712 Cathedral St., (410) 625-0403, www.bfa.org, $12, students $8. Spend the evening watching what Baltimore's most talented kids can do with pretty music from the likes of Bizet, Corelli, Copland, and Anderson, along with dance pieces from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Ballet. We bet they kick a li'l butt.

The Canadian Brass. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.baltimoresymphony.org, $22-$44. And a horny yuletide to you too!

"Christmas Cheer." 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12, the Garrett Jacobs Museum, 11 W. Mt. Vernon Place, (410) 625-3525, www.cabalto.org, $23, seniors $18. Holiday music from around the world at an event that isn't short on cheer. Only a grinch doesn't love tree lighting, sing-a-longs, and a merriment-inducing Champagne toast. Cheers.

"Christmas from Dublin." Dec. 22, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 263-5544, www.balletmaryland.com, $28-$33. Ciaran Nagle, Anthony Norton, and Paul Byrom sing from their wide repertoire of holiday songs. The show was sold out last year so don't dawdle.

Christmas with Choral Arts. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, Cathedral of Mary our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., (410) 523-7097, www.baltimorechoralarts.org, $15-$40. Your basic choral masterpieces plus familiar carols to join in on. Concert is in memory of late Morgan State University Choir director Nathan Carter, God bless.

"Creole Christmas" featuring New Orleans Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Dec. 5, Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis, (410) 263-5544, www.balletmaryland.com, $20-$25. A chunk of New Orleans holiday jazz played by New Orleans musicians, some so old they look like they're nodding off on stage. That's okay with us cuz these cats bring it. It's about respect, man, and chops.

Festival of Lessons and Carols. 4 p.m. Dec 12 and 19, 7 p.m. Dec 18, Cathedral Church of Saint Matthew, 3400 Norman Ave., (410) 668-2003, $15, seniors $12, students $10. One of the stops on the busy Maryland State Boychoir's agenda this holiday season.

"Holiday Choral Collage." 7:30 p.m. Saint John's Lutheran Church of Pikesville, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, Grace English Lutheran Church, Lutherville, (410) 704-2787, www.towson.edu/music/choirs, a free offering will be taken. One more holiday concert on this rather long list.

Handel's "Messiah." 8 p.m. Nov. 20, 3 p.m. Nov. 21, Coffman Chapel, Hood College, 401 Rosemont Ave., Frederick, (301) 696-3577, 8 p.m. Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Dec. 12, Naval Academy, $15, one free ticket for Hood students, faculty, and staff member, other students $10. This classic features soprano Jan Aaland, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Honan-Carter, tenor Michael Forest, and bass-baritone Stafford Turner, along with orchestra, choirs, organ, and harpsichord, all under the direction of Brenda Weiser.

Handel's "Messiah." 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14-15, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.baltimoresymphony.org, $22-$44. Edward Polochick leads the Baltimore Symphony and the Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphonic Chorale.

Holiday by the Bay. 8 p.m. Dec. 10, Mahan Hall, 101 Buchanan Road, Annapolis, (410) 293-0263, www.usna.edu/USNABand, free. The final, holiday-themed performance of the U.S. Naval Academy Band. And hey, Annapolis is fun. Seriously.

A Holiday Cabaret: "Look Out Ol' Santa's Back!" 6 and 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4, Center for the Arts, room 392, Towson University, 8000 York Road, Towson, (410)704-2878, $7, students and seniors $4. Holiday music in a table-seating-with-a-cash-bar kind of setting. Jazz and performances by the Music Department's Music for the Stage ensemble. Bring cash.

Holiday Chorale Concert. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Saint John's Lutheran Church, 8808 Harford Road, Parkville, Dec. 10, Grace English Lutheran Church, 8601 Valleyfield Road, Lutherville, (410) 704-2787, free. Towson University's Chorale promises you traditional and diverse holiday music in "acoustically fine spaces." In other words, better than a club.

"The Holiday Sing!". Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 11, the Hippodrome Theatre, 15 N. Eutaw St., (410) 547-7328, www.france-merrickpac.com, free with a ticket or donation of non-perishable foodstuff or new, unwrapped toy. A day-long musical event with all sorts of community, school, youth, and church choirs filling the air with their voices, along with an art-and-crafts holiday bazaar. Be prepared for sing-a-longs, cookies, and hot chocolate.

"Home for the Holidays" featuring Robert Goulet and Shirley Jones. 7:30 p.m. Dec.16-17 and 20-21, 2 p.m. Dec. 18 and 21, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.baltimoresymphony.org, $26-$54. Seventy-five dancers, singers, and musicians plus Goulet, Jones, and audience sing-a-longs. Looks like a festive time indeed.

Kix for Christmas. 7 p.m. Dec 18, Thunderdome, 3612 S. Hanover St., (410) 354-4700, www.thunderdomeonline.com, $20. This veteran local metal band is joined by special guest the Blue Vultures to rock you into the spirit hard.

Charles Kokoski. 3 p.m. Dec. 5, Rice Auditorium, Spring Grove Hospital Center, Wade Avenue, Catonsville, (410) 592-9322, free. Presented by the Free State Theatre Organ Society, this pipe organ master performs a program of holiday music.

Los Straitjackets Christmas Pageant. 7 p.m. Dec. 12, Rams Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410) 268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $22. Surf guitar and Mexican wrestling masks? Sounds like our kind of Christmas. The World Famous Pontani Sisters also make an twirling and shaking appearance.

Martina McBride's "The Joy of Christmas." 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 1st. Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., (410) 347-2020, www.baltimorearena.com, $39.50-$49.50. This cutie brings the twang and brokedown "my man left me with five kids and no car" country vibe to Christmas music--you know, like every other chick in Nashville.

Merry Tuba Christmas. 3:30-4:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Harborplace Amphitheater, Pratt and Light streets, (410) 244-1030, www.godowntownbaltimore.com, free. Sure you've heard "Jingle Bells," but have you heard 200 tubas do "Jingle Bells"?

Music for the Christmas Season. 3 p.m. Dec. 12, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, Marikle Chapel of the Annunciation, 4701 N. Charles St., (410) 532-5542, ww.ndm.edu, free. Another concert of holiday classics in case you happen to be up Notre Dame way.

Santa's Coffee House. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 11, Calvert Marine Museum, Route 2, Solomons, (410) 326-2042, www.calvertmarinemuseum.com. Blood pressure rising as the temperature drops? Kick back with a hot decaf bevy and take in some local tunes after-hours in the museum lobby.

Singers Madrigale. 1:30-3:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Mount Clare Museum House, Carroll Park, 1500 Washington Blvd., (410) 837-3262, www.mountclare.org, free with admission. Old fashioned holiday music to accompany the old fashioned holiday decorations.

Michael W. Smith's Christmastime Tour. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., (410) 547-7328, www.1stmariner-arena.com, $28-$45. The Christian recording star is joined by Points of Grace and the Katinas.

A Smooth Jazz Christmas. 8 p.m. Dec. 11, Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St., (410) 547-7328, www.smoothjazz1043.com, $45-$75. Saxophonist Grady Nichols opens for Vanessa Williams in a show that promises to be smooth. Like silky smooth.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas Tour. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 1st. Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., (410) 347-2020, www.baltimorearena.com, $32.50-$42.50. A larger-than-life winter-themed rock opera presented by a large orchestra comprised of musicians and vocalists of all ages and races. A dorktacular, if you will.

Vienna Boys Choir. 3 p.m. Dec. 12, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.baltimoresymphony.org, $22-$44. Enjoy the magic of this famous choir sharing both classic and pop tunes.

"What a Wonderful Christmas" with Anne Murray and members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.baltimoresymphony.org, $28-$75. After 36 years and almost as many albums, Ms. Murray is still a "Songbird", especially with the older crowd. So why not call up grams and ask her to join you for an evening with the original famous Canadian lady singer?

Winter Solstice/Christmas Concert. 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 19, McDowell Hall, St. Johns College, 60 College Ave., Annapolis, (410) 849-2494, www.chambermusicannapolis.org, $20, students and seniors $16. NPR's Neal Conan performs with Ensemble Galilei and reads essays from Ogden Nash, Jim Harrison, Lee Young-Li, and Mary Oliver.

Winter Solstice Reunion Concert. 3:30 and 8 p.m. Dec. 18, Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, Towson, (410) 243-7254, www.kenkolodner.com, $18-$25. Ah, solstice. Helicon's Ken Kolodner, Robin Bullock, and Chris Norman get you in the mood of the "season" with Scottish, Irish, French Canadian, Appalachian, and other music from around the world.

Open Houses/Tours

Annapolis Christmas Candlelight Walking Tours. 7 p.m. Dec. 11, 17, and 18, Three Centuries Tours, (410) 268-7601, ext. 104, $14, ages 10 and under $7. Check out our historic capital at its best: festively decorated and merry.

Christmas at an English Country House. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec.10-12, Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, (410) 557-9570, www.ladewgardens.com, $10, seniors and students $8, ages under 12 $2. With ribbons and bows exploding from your closets and the house still a mess from Thanksgiving, you can retreat to this lovely circa 1747 manor. And major plus--it's cleaned, arranged, and decorated in the theme of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" by someone else.

Gala Holiday Season Champagne Opening. 2-7 p.m. Nov. 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 21, Tatiana, 14290 Triadelphia Road, Glenelg, (410) 442-1144, www.tatianaltd.com. You know it'll be good if it's got "gala" in the name. Live music from guitarist Greg Overton helps kickoff this Painters of Substance exhibit.

Mount Clare Open House. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 4, Mount Clare Museum House, Carroll Park, 1500 Washington Blvd., (410) 837-3262, www.mountclare.org, $5, seniors $4, students $3. Like many other historic mansion-type abodes this time of year, Mount Clare Museum House is festively decorated and open to guests for the musical stylings of the Monumental City Ancient Fife and Drum Corps and cooking demonstrations from Pat Rever.

Mount Vernon Holly Tour. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 5, the Peabody Institute, Rouse Visitors Center, 1 E. Mt. Vernon Place, (443) 524-2370, www.friendsofmountvernonplaced.com, $50, $20 tour only. If you try not to covet thy Mount Vernon neighbor's property, maybe you should stay away from this community ritual. Take a peek at seven private residences "decked out in their holiday finery," Peabody Institute's recently completed renovation, and Saint Ignatius Church; you may even dine at the exclusive Maryland Club. This showcase of the homes owned by "the Baltimore elite of yesteryear and, increasingly, by the Baltimore elite of today" will leave you warm and fuzzy inside . . . until you head back to your crappy apartment, that is.

Old Neighborhoods of Bel Air Candlelight Tour. 2-6 p.m. Dec. 11, Downtown Bel Air, (410) 879-8643, $15. It'll be all about ambiance on this candlelight jaunt through 16 historic homes. And it'll be all for two local charities. Proceeds go to purchasing playground equipment for Bel Air Elementary School and to the Colleen and Erin Marlatt Scholarship Fund.

Solomons Christmas Walk. Dec. 10-12, Calvert Marine Museum, Route 2, Solomons, (410) 326-2042, www.calvertmarinemuseum.com. Joy and merriment in the form of food, live entertainment, and shopping. Follow luminaries for events all around the island, and make sure to stop and see Santa.

Victorian Holiday Open House and Bake Sale. 1-4 p.m. Dec. 5, Mt. Ida Visitor Center for the Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, 3691 Sarah's Lane, Historic Ellicott City, (410) 465-8500, $5. Hot drinks and snacks with the antebellum living-history troupe Almira's Polite Society in the 19th century Victorian mansion that was once a famous girls' school. Plus a tasty bake sale to laugh in the face of your low-carb lifestyle.

MisTLE-aneous

Baltimore Ice Rink at Harbor Point. Opens Nov. 26, daily skating through Feb. 28, South Caroline, Thames, and Block streets, Fells Point, (410) 244-1030. Get some stress-relieving exercise, wear the kiddies out, and take part in a tradition made famous in New York's Rockefeller Center.

Downtown Holiday Lunch Party. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 18, Harborplace and the Gallery, Pratt and Light streets, (410) 244-1030, www.godowntownbaltimore.com. Forget the brown bag. If you're working downtown you can "lobby hop" and sample food from area restaurants.

Drum Point Lighthouse Lighting. 4-6 p.m. Dec. 4, Calvert Marine Museum, Route 2, Solomons, (410) 326-2042, www.calvertmarinemuseum.com. A little sparkle makes everything better, even a lighthouse. Music and refreshments also available.

Fells Point Festival of Lights. Noon-9 p.m. Dec. 4, Fells Point, (410) 659-8900, www.fellspointdevelopment.com, free. Along with multiple entertainments, including carolers and musicians, this festive all-day event boasts a tree-lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. and the Parade of Lighted Boats at 6 p.m. Plus, Santa's lap is up for grabs until 5 p.m..

Garden of Lights. 5:30-9 p.m. Nov. 20-21, 26-28, Dec. 1-5, 8-12, 15-23, 26-30, Jan. 2-9, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1453, www.brooksidegardens.org, $15 per car or van. You thought your electric bill was nasty during the holidays. One drive through the Garden of Lights, with its illuminated whimsical monster, its kaleidoscope caterpillar, and its 600,000 twinkling lights, and you'll never complain again.

Holiday Cooking Demos with the Yum Yum Sisters. Noon Dec. 2, Lexington Market, 400 W. Lexington St., (410) 685-6169, www.lexingtonmarket.com, free. Stop by the always-colorful Lexington Market this afternoon for cooking and party tips from local foodies Ilene Spector and Sandy Spanos, and maybe do a li'l shopping while you're at it. Remember: a good hostess is always prepared with a nice cheese ball or bowl of nuts.

Holiday Festival of Trains. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Nov. 26-Jan. 2, Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum, 901 W. Pratt St., (410) 752-2490, www.borail.org, $14, seniors $10, ages 2-12 $8, ages under 2 free. The quintessential Christmas tree with its base littered with shiny packages almost always boasts a toy train at the forefront. Therefore, a celebration of the classic plaything and the work that goes into constructing its railroading layouts might just be the perfect holiday outing.

Holiday Nature Crafts and Gift-Making. 1-4 p.m. Dec. 15, Irvine Nature Center, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Stevenson, (410) 484-2413, www.explorenature.org, $15, members $10. Wanna give some homemade presents this year but your knitting fingers are on strike and you weren't that good anyway? This workshop is full of gift ideas, including mitten magnets and snow globes. Registration required.

Holiday Workshop. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Nov. 17, Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care, 6601 N. Charles St., (443) 849-8251, free. Not everyone is jolly come the holidays. Hospice of Baltimore is ready and willing, though, with a registration-required workshop to help those whose ho, ho, ho is more like ho-hum. The workshop will offer information on coping and planning for the holiday season.

Mayor's Christmas Parade. 2 p.m. Dec. 5, begins at the Poly/Western Complex, corner of Falls Road and Coldspring Lane, travels south on Falls Road to 36th Street and continues east to Chestnut Avenue, and ends at 37th Street, www.mayorschristmasparade.com, free. Miss Yuletide, Santa, and Mayor Martin O'Malley and the O'Malley clan ease on down the winter road in this pride-filled Hampden good time parade. Wake up late, grab some hot cho-cho, and watch it all from the sidelines--you aren't in it, right?--before margarita/nacho time at Holy Frijoles.

A Monumental Occasion: The 33rd Annual Lighting of the Washington Monument. 6-7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, Mt. Vernon Square at Charles Street, (410) 244-1030, www.godowntownbaltimore.com, free. See all your friends, neighbors, and co-workers at Baltimore's most favorite evenings of the season; includes choirs singing, sweet and savory food for sale, celebrities, and fireworks. Be sure to stop by the Maryland Historical Society for hot cho-cho and caroling. Or for some wassail and cookies at the Walters Art Museum.

Natural Nut and Cone Wreath Workshop. 10 a.m.-noon Nov. 17, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1453, www.brooksidegardens.org, $35. Are you a sure shot with a hot-glue gun? This class will let you use your talent to assemble a crafty and long-lasting holiday decoration. Fee includes materials and registration is required.

Pet Photos with Santa. Noon-2 p.m. Dec. 4-11, the Can Company, 2400 Boston St., (410) 558-2262, www.thecancompany.com. Santa loves Fido too! Commemorate kitty's first Xmas with a snap shot of Saint Nick and the little fur ball, cause, you know, they love that.

Thanksgiving Centerpiece Class. 10 a.m.-noon Nov. 23, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, (301) 962-1453, www.brooksidegardens.org, $42. Don't let a dead bird get all the attention at your Thanksgiving gathering. Whip up a centerpiece that, according to Brookside, mixes "traditional with trendy." Fee includes materials and registration is required.

Thanksgiving Day Parade. 11 a.m. Nov. 20, starting at Eutaw and Pratt streets, travels along Pratt Street to Market Place, (410) 752-8632, www.bop.org. Who needs Macy's? Baltimore welcomes Santa for the 53rd time in this annual parade. Bundle up and take public transportation today. Traffic is going to be a bitch.

Tree-lighting Ceremony. 6 p.m. Dec. 4, Belvedere Square, southeast corner of York Road and Northern Parkway, (410) 464-9773, www.belvederesquare.com, free. Kind of like the ending of The Grinch, where all the Whos stand hand-in-hand 'round the tree in the center of town joyously singing in their incomprehensible language on Christmas morning. We hope anyway.

Winter Celebrations. 1-5 p.m. Dec. 4, Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., (410) 547- 9000, www.thewalters.org. Colder weather means higher heating bills and less daylight, but it also means hot chocolate and Winter Celebrations. Hands-on art activities help celebrate winter holidays around the world and may get your mind off shoveling your walk.

Helping Others

"An Annapolis Christmas." 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20, Rams Head Tavern, 33 West St., Annapolis, (410)268-4545, www.ramsheadtavern.com, $27.50. Local musicians play a benefit concert for local charities.

Benefit Show. 8 p.m. Dec. 18, Sidebar Tavern, 218 E. Lexington St., (410) 659-4130, www.sidebartavern.com. Performances from the Shakedowns, Die Cheerleader Die, V.P.R., Big Daddy Chrome, Gamma Rays, Booboisie, and the Twats. We are not sure who is benefiting here, but if you were hitting a club tonight anyway. . . .

Festival of Trees. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 26-27, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 28, Kennedy Kreiger Institute, 707 N. Broadway, (443) 923, 7300, www.festivaloftrees.kennedykreiger.org, $10, children and seniors $5. A chance to pick up some gifts and to enjoy an atmosphere characterized by hundreds of trees and wreaths. Good boys and girls will wanna see Santa as well.

Festival of Wreaths. Dec. 1-5, Carroll County Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster, (410) 848-7272, ccpl.carr.org. Help deck someone else's halls and benefit the Carroll County Arts Council at the same time. Register to decorate by Nov. 29 or just check out the wreath displays and silent auction.

Fine Arts and Crafts Exhibit and Sale. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 20, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Nov. 21, Immanuel Episcopal Church, 1509 Glencoe Road, Glencoe, (410) 472-2828, free. Pick up a painting, some jewelry, a piece o' pottery, or one of the other countless fine arts and crafts on sale this weekend to benefit Paul's Place Soup Kitchen. That's the holidays for ya: A li'l getting, a li'l giving.

Holiday Brass Concert. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 929 Ingleside Ave., Catonsville, (410) 931-0665, $13, seniors and students $10. Members of the Baltimore and National symphony orchestras' brass sections and musicians from military bands perform seasonal music, carols, and sing-a-longs. Proceeds benefit the International Women's Brass Conference.

Holiday Ceramics Sale. 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Nov. 29, Anne Arundel Community College, Cade center for Fine Arts Room 219, 101 College Parkway, (410) 777-7495. Works donated by students and faculty sold for your holiday purchasing pleasure. Proceeds benefit the Keramos Society, the college's organization for ceramics students. Leave your Visa at home--no credit cards accepted.

Parade of Lighted Boats. Dec. 4, Inner Harbor, Fell's Point, (410) 342-4858, www.sailbaltimore.org. Water festivities sponsored by the Fell's Point Yacht Club to benefit Toys for Tots. See pretty boats and give toys to kids. Now that's a win-win.

Symphony Homes for the Holidays: Tour of Historic Lutherville. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 2-4, Church of the Holy Comforter, 130 W. Seminary Ave., Lutherville, (410)783-8023, www.baltimoresymphony.org, $20, $15 advance. Self-guided tours of this historic neighborhood gives you ideas for decorating your own house. The tours benefit the Symphony's youth programs.

Spirit of Christmas Arts and Crafts Show. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 13, Big Vanilla Athletic Club, 1209 Ritchie Hwy., Arnold, (410) 263-3804, $5. Annual event sponsored by the Naval Academy Women's Club to benefit the group's scholarship and charity fund.

Symphony Lights. 6-10 p.m. Nov. 22-Dec. 10, 6-11 p.m. Dec. 11- Jan. 2, Symphony Woods, Columbia, (410) 740-7666, $15 per car. Babies and holidays both have drawbacks. The stress, the smells, the crying--and that's just one trip to the mall. You'll forget all these negatives however at a fund raising event for Howard County General Hospital's Maternal Child Services. Twinkling, larger-than-life entertainment that'll put anyone in a good mood.

New Years Eve

New Year's Eve Deck Party. 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31, Pier 1, 301 E. Pratt St., (410) 539-1797, www.constellation.org, $7.50, seniors $6, children $3.50. Avoid the Inner Harbor crowds and ring in the New Year aboard the USS Constellation. Drink up, take a special tour, and watch cannon firing demonstrations all night. Proceeds from the evening benefit the museum's projects and future exhibits.

New Year's Celebration. 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Dec. 31, Harborplace, Light and Pratt streets, (410) 752-8652, www.bop.org, free. Baltimore bids farewell to 2004 with live entertainment and your requisite fireworks spectacular. Bundle up and get those well-intentioned resolutions ready, not to mention your camera phone.

New Year's Eve at Top of the World. 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Dec. 31, Top of the World Observation Level, 27th floor of the World Trade Center, 401 E. Pratt St., (410) 837-8439, www.promotionandarts.com. Check out the city below from one of the best views in Baltimore. Light refreshments will be served--and that better mean Champagne.

"Salute to Vienna: The World's Greatest New Year's Eve Concert." 3 p.m. Jan. 1, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., (410) 783-8000, www.baltimoresymphony.org. A spectacle of dance and music with conductor Andras Deak, tenor Zrinko Soco, soprano Olga Szilagyi, the National Ballet Hungarian, and the Strauss Symphony of America.

Related stories

Holiday Guide Feature archives

More Stories

Stuffed (11/18/2009)
The 2009 City Paper Holiday Guide

The Gifts That Count (11/18/2009)
The presents that have stayed in our writers' thoughts

The Wish List (11/18/2009)
Gifts we wish we could afford

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