Dec 12 - Jan 1


Wednesday December 12

NJFK - Craft Cheer

Ages 2 to 5 step into Santa’s workshop, creating a variety of festive decorations for their holiday homes. 9:30am @ Mountain Road Library, 4730 Rt. 177, Pasadena: 410-222-6699.

NJFK - Little Luminaries

Ages 2 to 5 discover what light symbolizes in holiday stories and celebrations. Later, light up the library with a bright craft. Also Dec. 13. 10am @ Provinces Library, 2624 Rt. 175, Severn: 410-222-6280.

NJFK - Hooray for Holidays

Preschoolers celebrate the season with timely tunes, snow-filled stories and a Christmas cheer craft. 10am @ Crofton Library, 1681 Riedel Rd., Crofton: 410-222-7915.

Holiday Madness in West Annapolis

Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas with the merchants of West Annapolis. Mr. Claus gives Rudolph and the team a break today, touring West Annapolis in a horse-drawn carriage as part of Holiday Madness in West Annapolis (5pm). Santa poses for photos and listens to Christmas wishes. Join in a merry round of caroling with the Sweet Adelines and classical holiday tunes from Affinity as the sleigh makes its way through town. Take a free joy ride in Santa’s rig (5:30pm), paint your face and bring your own camera for a free snap of St. Nick at Tara’s Gifts. 5pm Santa arrives; 10am-10pm Holiday Madness @ Tara’s Gifts and all over West Annapolis: 410-295-5157.

Sing with the Salvation Army

Bring a dish to a potluck supper at St. James Parish and feast with community and friends. After dinner, the Salvation Army Brass Ensemble strikes up a set of holiday tunes for a community carols sing-along. Parish youngsters give the Ensemble toys and donations for children in need (collected at the Nov. 25 Messiah sing-along). 6:30pm potluck supper; 7:30pm carol sing @ St. James Parish, Rts. 2 & 258, Lothian. Free: 410-867-2838.

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December 12, 13, 14, 15, & 16

Nutcracker Revolution

The Washington Ballet performs a revolutionary take on a Christmas favorite with Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker. George Washington, as the nutcracker prince, leads Clara through a Sugar Plum Fairy version of early Washington D.C., complete with dancing cherry blossoms. King George III makes an unwelcome appearance as the evil Rat King. Also Dec. 19-23. 7pm WThF; 2pm & 7pm Sa; 1pm & 5:30pm Su @ Warner Theatre, 13th and E Sts., Washington D.C. $30-$80: 202-397-7328; www.washingtonballet.org.

The Santaland Diaries

Bruce Nelson recounts the humorous tale of working as an elf at Macy’s during the holiday season in The Santaland Diaries, an anti-holiday cult classic. By Rep Stage, the only professional theatre company in Howard County. 7:30pm WTh; 8pm FSa; 2:30pm SaSu @ Slayton House, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. $15-25: 410-772-4900; www.repstage.org.

December 12-30

Folger’s Second Shepherd Play

The Folger’s players perform the Wakefield Master’s classic medieval mystery, The Second Shepherd’s Play. Blending the earthly and the divine, the play centers on three shepherds, who attempt to recover a stolen sheep. The angel announcing Christ’s birth draws the rustic trio to the Nativity. No performance Dec. 25. 7:30pm Tu-Th; 8pm F; 2pm & 8pm Sa; 2pm & 7pm Su @ The Elizabethan Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St., Washington D.C. $40-$48; rsvp: 202-544-7077; www.folger.edu.

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Thursday December 13

NJFK - Little Luminaries

Ages 2 to 5 discover what light symbolizes in holiday stories and celebrations. Later, they light up the library with a bright craft. 10am @ Provinces Library, 2624 Rt. 175, Severn: 410-222-6280.

Christmas Festival at the Basilica

Spread Christmas cheer to the Catholic Charities at the first Christmas Festival at the Basilica. Tour America’s first cathedral; then settle in for an evening of traditional holiday music, featuring Edward Polochick and the Concert Artists of Baltimore. After the concert, cross the street to the Enoch Pratt Library for a gala reception. 8pm @ Basilica of the Assumption, Mulberry & Cathedral sts., Baltimore: 410-252-4005 x115.

Art of the Christmas Story

See the Christmas story on canvas during this 50-minute tour of the permanent collection, examining paintings with holiday themes and symbolism. Also Dec. 24. 1pm @ West Building Rotunda, National Gallery of Art, 4th & Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. free: 202-737-4215; www.nga.gov.

Midnight Madness II

Stores stay open until the witching hour on the last night of Midnight Madness, where you’ll find sales, discounts and holiday festivities along West St., Main St., Maryland Ave. and State Circle. Take a break from buying to stroll through lavishly decorated Historic Annapolis, where roaming groups of carolers fill the night with songs of the season. Free evening parking in Bladen Street Garage, off Rowe Blvd. 6pm-midnight @ downtown Annapolis. free, including parking and shuttle from Navy-Marine Corps Stadium; off Taylor Ave., Annapolis: 410-263-0415; www.annapolisbusinessassoc.com.

Christmas at Vincenzo’s

Support the Southern Maryland Red Cross at two holiday lunches for groups looking to spread holiday cheer with feasting and fundraising. 11am & 1:15pm @ Vincenzo’s, 14415 Dowell Rd., Dowell. $15/person; rsvp: 301-934-2066.

Christmas with Aaron Neville

Aaron Neville makes the holiday a family affair as his brother, Charles, a former B.B. King saxophonist, joins him on stage. 8pm @ Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. $73.50; rsvp: 410-268-4545; http://tickets.ramsheadonstage.com

December 13, 14, 15 & 16

Colonial Players’ Christmas Carol

Last chance this holiday season to catch Richard Wade’s musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol that has drawn packed audiences for 27 years. Arrive an hour early to try for stand-by tickets. 8pm Th; 7pm & 9pm F; 2pm, 4pm & 8pm Sa; 2pm & 4pm Su @ Colonial Players, 108 East St., Annapolis. $7 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-268-7373; www.cplayers.com.

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Friday December 14

See Spot Sit with Santa

Pets and their people have a howling good time at Yappy Hour. Meet the staff of Chesapeake Animal Clinic, get your furry friend microchiped at half price and feast on holiday treats for two- and four-legged revelers. Pets pose for a picture with Santa and hound him for extra holiday treats. Photo profits benefit Calvert Animal Welfare League. 4-7pm @ Chesapeake Animal Clinic, 9825 Old Solomons Island Rd., Owings: 410-257-2959.

Sing It Yourself Messiah

Practice some holiday harmonies with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society for a sing-along of the classic choruses from Handel’s Messiah. Singers of all levels welcomed; scores sold at the door ($7). 7:30pm @ Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd., Baltimore. $25-$35; rsvp: 410-523-7070; www.baltimorechoralarts.org.

Candlelight Caroling

Take a special traipse through Willow Oak’s Christmas Wonderland gardens as the Colonial Madrigal Singers lead you through a winter caroling walk to the North Pole. Revelers returning from the frosty pole warm themselves with spiced cider and cookies. Children under 6 take the journey at no cost. 7-9pm @ Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm, 8109 Telegraph Rd., Severn. $10 w/discounts: 410-551-2237; www.willowoakherbs.com.

Jazz up Christmas

Hep Christmas cats swing by Rams Head for a night of cool jazz and holiday cheer. Saxophonist Eric Alexander and piano man Mike LeDonne lead the quintet through a contemporary set of holiday favorites, backed by bassist James King, trumpeter Vince McCool and Brooks Tegler on drums. 8pm @ Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. $32; rsvp: 410-268-4545; http://tickets.ramsheadonstage.com.

AACC Orchestra’s Winter Performance

Warm up winter with a harmonic holiday concert by the Anne Arundel Community College Orchestra. Conductor Anna Binneweg leads the musicians through Franz Liszt’s symphonic poem, Les Preludes. 8pm @ AACC Pascal Center for Performing Arts, College Parkway, Arnold. $10 w/discounts: 410-777-2457; www.aacc.edu/performingarts.

Chorale’s Candlelit Messiah

Hear Handel’s Messiah in the intimacy of a candlelit church as Annapolis Chorale performs the holiday classic. Harmonizing with the Chamber Orchestra and guest soloists, the Chorale sings excerpts from the Christmas staple. Later, listen to the Chorale croon carols for the Nativity. 8pm @ St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Church Circle, Annapolis. $35 w/discounts: 410-263-1906; www.annapolischorale.org.

Holiday Pops at Annapolis Symphony

Hear seasonal cheer from the Great White Way as Annapolis Symphony Orchestra presents its annual Holiday Pops concert. Special guest conductor Carl Toilow from the Cleveland Pops leads three of the Broadway Tenors through favorite pieces from Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and classic holiday tunes for a tribute to show tunes and the Christmas spirit. 8pm @ Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St., Annapolis. $34-$44 w/discounts: 410-263-0907; www.annapolissymphony.org

December 14 & 15

BSO Holiday Spectacular

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra bypasses the Rockettes to bring you a chorus line of tap-dancing Santas at their Broadway-style Christmas show. Over 100 singers, dancers and entertainers flood the Symphony Hall with lavish costumed musical numbers and dramatic readings. Conductor Jack Everly leads the BSO through a musical medley as light effects and elaborate scenery take you on a trip through a winter wonderland. Later, not a creature stirs during the dramatic reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. In the lobby more small musical acts keep the Christmas cheer alive as you nibble on festive cookies and sip warm cocoa. Also Dec. 19-Dec. 23. 7:30pm F; 2pm & 7:30pm Sa @ Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. $33-$78: rsvp: 410-783-8000; www.bsomusic.org.

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December 14, 15 & 16

Cookie Exchange

Try out classic Christmas cookie recipes and bring a few of your own to share at Anne Arundel Community College’s food and culinary Cookie Exchange (GRE-328). 3-9pm @ Anne Arundel Community College, Hospitality Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute, 7438 Rt. 2, Glen Burnie. $65 includes supplies, ingredients, lab fee and recipes; rsvp early: 4l0-777-2398; www.aacc.edu.

Talent Machine’s Holiday Magic

Anne Arundel actors ages 6-18 create The Talent Machine’s 20th annual seasonal show, Holiday Magic, featuring spirited musical numbers ranging from traditional to contemporary styles and a message of holiday cheer. Special guests include Santa, Frosty, Rudolph, dancing bears, toy soldiers and other members of the holiday menagerie. Also on Dec. 20-22. 7:30pm Dec. 14; 2pm & 7:30pm Dec. 15; 2pm & 6:30pm Dec. 16 @ Key Auditorium, St. John’s College, Annapolis. $12 w/discounts: 410-956-0512; www.talentmachine.com.

Tour Annapolis by Christmas Candlelight

Take a festive frolic through historic Annapolis. Follow guides in colonial garb as their glowing lanterns shed light on life during the 1700s. Stop by the Maryland State House, the Governor’s Mansion and the homes of famous Maryland patriots to discover how colonials spent the holiday season as your guide shares colonial Christmas tales and relates the origins of modern Christmas practices. Also Dec. 20. 7-8:15pm @ Information Booth, City Dock. $14 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-268-7601 x104; www.annapolis-tours.com.

Holiday Madrigal Evenings

Sip wassail before retiring to the dining hall at St. Mary’s Statehouse for a scrumptious traditional family-style Christmas meal and listen to St. Marie’s Musica sing traditional holiday tunes. 6:30pm F; 5:30pm SaSu @ Statehouse, 47418 Rt. 584, Historic St. Mary’s City. Stand-by tickets only: $85; rsvp: 240-895-4991; www.stmaryscity.org.

NJFK - Holiday Hayride

Kids jaunt through the park on a hayride to enjoy the festival of lights, then return to the nature center for hot cider and cookies. 7pm @ Watkins Nature Center, 301 Watkins Park Dr., Upper Marlboro. $5; rsvp: Old Maryland Farms @ 301-218-6770.

Listen to the Joy of Christmas

The National Cathedral, dotted with brilliant red poinsettias, provides the backdrop for the Cathedral Choral Society’s annual holiday concert, The Joy of Christmas. Beginning with their traditional processional, the church fills with seasonal music accompanied by their majestic organ. This year, the United Voices of Scandinavian Youth Choir harmonizes with the Choral Society, performing favorite Christmas tunes and premiering a carol by Gwyneth Walker. This Washington tradition that sells out quickly. 7:30pm F; 4pm SaSu @ Washington National Cathedral, Massachusetts & Wisconsin Aves., Washington D.C. $20-$80; rsvp: 202-537-6263; www.cathedralchoralsociety.org.

Musical Artists’ Christmas Carol

Ebenezer’s epic journey through Christmases past, present and future is chronicled in Musical Artists’ Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol, featuring joyous singing, authentic costumes and intricate sets. 7:30pm FSa; 2:30pm Su @ Studio Theatre, Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Ln., Brooklyn Park. $15 w/discount. 410-636-6597; www.chesapeakearts.org.

Twin Beach Players’ Christmas Carol

Scrooge returns to Calvert County to learn from three spirits what Christmas truly means as the Twin Beach Players perform Dickens’ classic Christmas tale. 8pm FSa; 2pm Su @ St. John Vianney Catholic Church Family Life Center, Prince Frederick. $15: www.twinbeachplayers.org.

December 14 thru 21

National Ballet Theatre’s Nutcracker

The stunning full-length performance by The National Ballet Theatre of Clara’s dreamy journey through Tchaikovsky’s winter wonderland features lavish costumes and complex choreography. The National Ballet also offers two shortened morning performances, sized for a family audience. Full-length shows: 10:30am Dec. 14, 17, 20 & 21; 2:30pm & 7:30pm Dec. 15; 2:30pm Dec. 16. Family shortened shows: 10:30am Dec. 18 & 19 @ Hallam Theater, Prince George’s Community College, Largo Rd., Upper Marlboro. Family-friendly, $20 w/discounts; full-length Nutcracker $25 w/discounts; rsvp: 301-218-9822; www.nationalballet.com.

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Saturday December 15

Craft a Christmas Ornament

Add a personal touch to your Christmas tree or create a handcrafted gift for someone special. Learn how to make Willow Oak’s popular seasonal sheep, using wool and spices. Then fashion an angel for a traditional holiday decoration. 10am-noon @ Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm, 8109 Telegraph Rd., Severn. $25; rsvp: 410-551-2237; www.willowoakherbs.com.

NJFK - Outdoor Decorations

Young Salts ages 4 to 6 craft edible ornaments to hang around the marshes, providing animals with a tasty treat in lean winter months. 10am-noon @ Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons. rsvp: 410-326-2042 x41.

Come Together for Christmas

Dozens of regional artists come together for a holiday Beatles tribute benefiting the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Dean Rosenthal, the Kelly Bell Band, the Koozies and many other local favorites cover classic tracks from one of the rock and roll’s most influential groups. Sponsored by 105.7 WHFS. 7pm @ Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place, Baltimore. $10; rsvp: 410-244-1131.

NJFK - Kids Kandlelight at Belair

Little elves get a kids’ eye view of holidays past on special tours of the mansion, sip wassail and craft away the afternoon. 3-6pm @ Belair Mansion, Take an Art Walk

Art is afoot in Prince Frederick as three galleries invite holiday shoppers to Walk the Walk seasonal open houses. The three galleries offer browsers an eclectic mix of fine art, jewelry, sculpture, blown glass, photography and other creative items. Each gallery welcomes visitors with unique refreshments and surprises. 11am-4pm @:

• CalvART, Rt. 4 & Duke St.: 410-535-9252.

• Chesapeake Gallery & House of Frames, 445 Main St.: 410-257-1420.

• Main Street Gallery, 486 Main St.: 410-535-3334.

Baltimore’s Tuba Christmas

Listen to the low tones and sip warm refreshments at Merry Tuba Christmas, Charm City’s annual bass brass concert. Over 200 tubas conducted by Jim Wharton blast out holiday melodies over the Inner Harbor. 3:30pm @ Harborplace Amphitheatre, Inner Harbor, off Pratt St., Baltimore: 410-752-8632; www.tubachristmas.com.

Annapolis Harbour Carolers

Strolling bands of carolers offer a respite from the holiday hustle: Sons of the Severn noon-2pm; Singers Madrigale 2-4pm @ Annapolis Harbour Center: 410-266-5857.

NJFK - Hansel & Gretel Tea

Ages 5 and up drop breadcrumbs on the way to Darnall’s Chance, decorated like a giant gingerbread house, to hear the tale of Hansel and Gretel. Sip tea and nibble on desserts, but keep an eye out for hungry witches. Reserve early for this annual favorite. 2-3:30pm @ Darnall’s Chance House and Museum, 14800 Governor Oden Bowie Dr., Upper Marlboro. $15; rsvp: 301-952-8010; www.pgparks.com.

A Unity Christmas Carol

Pasadena Theatre Company revives its non-musical production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for a one-night benefit for Unity by the Bay’s prosperity fund. 7:30pm @ Unity by the Bay Church, 836 Rt. 2, Suite 18, Severna Park. $15 w/discounts: 410-544-7990

NJFK - Organic Ornaments

Ages 7 and up learn from Ranger Melissa how to assemble a unique ornament by raiding the kitchen pantry for herbs and spices. As you craft, learn the symbolism behind holiday spices. 1-2pm @ Anne Arundel County Trail, 51 W Earleigh Heights Rd., Severna Park. free; rsvp: 410-222-6244.

Crack the Nutcracker Case

The Ballet Theatre of Maryland puts a new twist on an old favorite with The Case of the Missing Nutcracker. In this one-night-only performance, the audience helps Clara crack the case by shouting clues and suggestions as she twirls across the stage on a quest to find her missing Nutcracker Prince. 7pm @ Main Stage, Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis. $43 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-260-5640; www.mdhall.org.

Messiah Across the Bay

The Annapolis Chorale and Chamber Orchestra cross the bridge to bring the beauty of Handel’s complete Messiah to Chesapeake College. 7:30pm @ Todd Performing Arts Center 12, Chesapeake College, Rts. 50 and 213, Wye Mills. rsvp: 410-827-5867; www.chesapeake.edu.

Jolly Jazz

Conductor Marty Knepp leads the AACC Jazz Ensemble in a big-band seasonal tribute that gives a brassy twist to familiar holiday tunes. 8pm @ AACC Pascal Center, College Pkwy., Arnold. $10 w/discounts: 410-777-2457.

Eire on the Eastern Shore

The Celtic School of Traditional Irish Dance high-steps onto the stage for a holiday celebration from the isle of Erin. Irish music quintet Maggie Sansone, Laura Byrne-Egan, Jim Egan, Matt Bell and Sue Richards accompany Irish vocalist Dominick Murray in Celtic Christmas classics 8pm @ Avalon Theatre, 40 East Dover St., Easton: 410-822-7299; www.avalontheatre.com.

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December 15 & 16

Weekends at Homestead

Finish your holiday decorating with ideas and accessories artfully and abundantly displayed. Little elves greet Santa, who takes down Christmas wishes all weekend (10am-4pm Sa; noon-4pm Su). Live music greets visitors both days with Vocal Express caroling Saturday (noon) and Bayfield Brass jazzing up the gardens Sunday (2pm). All @ Homestead Gardens, Rts. 214 & 424, Davidsonville: 800-300-5631; www.homesteadgardens.com.

The Art of Caroling at the National Gallery

Sing along as guest choirs and singers carol in the poinsettia-filled West Building Rotunda. Saturday, J.E.B. Stuart High School performs two Christmas shows. The Friday Morning Music Club Chorale sings Sunday. Two shows daily. 1:30pm & 2:30pm SaSu @ West Bldg. Rotunda, West Garden, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. free: 202-737-4215; www.nga.gov.

Lower Marlboro Live Nativity

Step back to Bethlehem, entering the stable to see the Bible’s Christmas story with live actors in period garb and a full barn of furry friends that your can pet after the performance. 4-6pm SaSu @ Lower Marlboro Church Hall, Lower Marlboro. free: 301-855-7654.

Christmas Dinner Theatre at Lower Marlboro

After the live nativity (4-6pm), take in dinner and a show with the Mt. Harmony/Lower Marlboro Players’ traditional Christmas dinner theatre. In the mock medieval musical The Towne without a Tale, villagers without a Christmas tradition sing and dance their way toward the true meaning of Christmas. Show and dinner at 6pm @ Lower Marlboro Church Hall, Rt. 262, Lower Marlboro. $15 w/discounts; rsvp: 301-855-7654.

Chesapeake Arts Nutcracker

Follow Clara’s journey through the magical Christmas kingdom with her Nutcracker Prince as The Chesapeake Ballet Company dances a full-length adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Open seating at the main stage; come early for prime seating. 7pm Sa; 3pm Su @ Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Ln., Brooklyn Park. $15 w/discounts: 410-636-6597; www.chesapeakearts.org.

Happy Holidays with the Navy Bands

The United States Navy Band strikes up a mix of traditional pieces and new holiday favorites at their Happy Holidays concert, with a musical line-up voted by Navy Band fans. New Band Captain George N. Thompson leads the charge with his Navy Band, followed by a chorus from the Sea Chanters, bluegrass crooning from Country Current, contemporary rhythms from Cruisers and the jazzy tones of the Commodores. Santa makes a special appearance to salute the troops. rsvp ended Thanksgiving; stand-bys usually welcome. 7:30pm Sa; 3pm Su @ DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D St., off 17th St., Washington D.C. free; rsvp: 202-433-2525; www.navyband.navy.mil.

Festival of Carols with Maryland’s Boychoir

Maryland’s official goodwill ambassadors spread holiday cheer with an encore weekend performance of Eric Milner-White’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. The performance is candlelit and features the premier of Stephen Paulus’ Rose of Gold. 7pm Sa; 4pm Su @ The Maryland State Boychoir Center for the Arts, 3400 Norman Ave., Baltimore. $12-$22; rsvp: 410-668-2003; www.marylandstateboychoir.org.

Sanford Christmas Concert

Continuing in Colonel Henry Sanford’s vision to foster local music in the community, the Sanford Concert Series presents its annual Christmas Concert. This year, Mainstreet Brass takes the stage for an eclectic performance of holiday classical pieces and contemporary seasonal songs, using influences from Bach to Jelly Roll Morton to spice up the mix of holiday harmonies. After Saturday’s performance, take refreshments at a reception for the band. 7:30pm Sa; 3pm Su @ St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Rt. 4, California, In St. Mary’s County. $15 w/discounts (3pm); $25 w/discounts (7:30pm); rsvp: 301-862-9541; www.sanfordconcertseries.com.

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Sunday December 16

St. Paul’s Sings Messiah

A chamber orchestra and local choral members infuse St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with the spirit of the season, singing the first section of Handel’s classic Messiah. Seating fills quickly, performance benefits St. Paul’s organ fund. 4pm @ St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 25 Church St., Prince Frederick. $10 Donation suggested; rsvp: 410-535-2897; stpaulsepis@verizon.net.

Annapolis Harbour Carolers

Strolling bands of carolers offer a respite from the holiday hustle: Joint Venture Quartet noon-2pm; Beauty Shop Trio 2-4pm @ Annapolis Harbour Center: 410-266-5857.

Government House Holiday Open House

Visit the Government House, decked with festive trees, candles, garlands and flowers. Meet the new residents, Gov. and Mrs. O’Malley, who throw open their doors and greet holiday guests with cookies and cider. This is a rare opportunities to step inside the Governor’s mansion and meet the first family. Photo ID required. 1-4pm @ Government House, State Circle, Annapolis: 410-974-3531.

Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s Nutcracker

Catch the last performance of Anne Arundel County’s only professional ballet company dancing their unique rendition of The Nutcracker. After the performance, take refreshments at a free Sugar Plum Fairy party. 1:30pm & 4:30pm Su @ Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St., Annapolis. $43 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-263-8289; www.btmballet.org.

NJFK - Oh, Deer!

Ages 6 to 9 hoof it over to the education building to learn about deer, elk, moose and reindeer. Examine antlers with a naturalist and play reindeer games. Later, roast marshmallows over an open fire, for scrumptious s’mores. 2-3pm @ Flag Ponds Nature Park, off Rt. 4, Lusby. $3; rsvp: 410-535-5327.

Christmas in the Court

Tom Hall and the Emmy-winning Baltimore Choral Arts Society Chamber Chorus fill the Renaissance Sculpture Court with songs from the Renaissance and favorite holiday carols before leading the crowd in a sing-along. No reservations; but seating fills up quickly. 2pm @ Walters Art Museum, 600 N. Charles St., Baltimore. free: 410-547-9000.

An Annapolis Christmas

Annapolis Musicians Fund for Musicians throws a holiday benefit concert to raise money for artists who cannot perform. Hear original music and holiday favorites by local musicians at two performances. Little elves can enjoy an afternoon of live holiday tunes; adults listen to a more mature evening show. Line-up of local musicians TBD; call ahead for information and reservations. 2pm all ages; 7pm adults 21+ @ Rams Head On Stage, 33 West St., Annapolis. $30; rsvp: 410-268-4545; http://tickets.ramsheadonstage.com.

Chorale’s Candlelit Messiah

Families hear Handel’s Messiah in the intimacy of a candlelit church as Annapolis Chorale and the Chamber Orchestra perform excerpts from the Christmas favorite. Later, join in the fun in a Christmas carol sing-along. 3pm @ St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Church Circle, Annapolis. $35 w/discounts: 410-263-1906; www.annapolischorale.org.

CYSO Holiday Concert

The Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra plays up the holiday spirit with two concerts. First, the String Orchestra and Wind Ensemble perform spirited holiday classics (3pm). Later, the full Symphony Orchestra plays holiday favorites accompanied by two winners pf their Piano Concerto contest (7pm). @ Annapolis Area Christian School, 716 Bestgate Rd., Annapolis. $12 w/discounts; rsvp: 443-758-3157.

Embrace an Ecumenical Service

Recognize every spirit of the season at this community sing-along and multi-denominational festivity. Sing songs from Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa traditions. Sit with Santa for a photo and nibble on a wide spread of traditional treats from lox to candy canes. The multi-cultural service ends Eastport’s month of holiday celebrations. 6pm @ Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 612 Second St., Annapolis: 410-990-9025.

Holiday Concerts at the National Gallery

Wish Beethoven a happy birthday with the plucky performance of the Leipzig String Quartet, courtesy of the German Embassy. 6:30pm SaSu @ East Building Auditorium, National Gallery of Art, 4th & Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. free: 202-737-4215; www.nga.gov.

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Monday December 17

Chesapeake Beach Beacons

The town shines tonight as judges scrutinize holiday decorations to decide which house is the Brightest Beacon on the Bay. Categories range from Best Illuminated Workboat to Most Kilowatt Hours. Award winners revealed Dec. 20 at the annual Town Hall meeting.

D.C. Choral Arts Society Christmas Concert

The DC Choral Arts Society’s 200-voices soar through the Kennedy Center at this traditional Christmas Concert conducted by Norman Scribner. Washington’s own Alvy Powell of the U.S. Army Chorus adds his baritone to the mix as a soloist for this special event. A full orchestra plays with the Choral Arts Society as they sing favorite carols, classic Christmas masterpieces and invite the audience to join in the annual sing-along. Also Dec. 23 & 24. 7pm @ Concert Hall, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. $65-$15; rsvp: 202-244-3669.

Tuesday December 18

Benefits of Better Baking

Before the Sugar Plum Fairy visits your house this year, get some ideas for healthy baking options from Chef Frances Chumley. Cut fat and sugar from your holiday treats in updated recipes for date and walnut balls, baklava and applesauce pumpkin cookies. 6:30-8:30pm @ Design Solutions, 1598 Whitehall Rd., Annapolis. $55; rsvp: 410-562-7993.

NJFK - Catch the Polar Express

Catch a reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic, The Polar Express, following a boy’s train journey to Santa’s home. Passengers sip hot cocoa and nibble cookies. 7pm @ Mountain Rd. Library, 4730 Rt. 177, Pasadena: 410-222-6699.

NJFK - Celebrate Snow

Little elves ages 2 to 5 discover the weather outside isn’t frightful as they gather to hear frosty tales about snow. Learn about snow sports, get tips for building your very own snow friend, sing songs about the winter white and make a snowflake to take home. 7pm @ Broadneck Branch, 1275 Green Holly Dr., Annapolis. free: 410-222-1905.

Wednesday December 19

All Children’s Chorus Sings Christmas

A canned good is the price of admission to the All Children’s Chorus of Annapolis’ annual holiday carol sing and concert of traditional tunes and modern holiday songs. A holiday community concert follows, featuring local musicians. A reception concludes the performance. 5:30pm @ Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, 333 Dubois Rd., Annapolis. donation of food: 410-263-9191; www.allcca.com

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December 19, 20, 21, 22 & 23

BSO Holiday Spectacular

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra bypasses the Rockettes to bring you a chorus line of tap-dancing Santas at their Broadway-style Christmas show. Over 100 singers, dancers and entertainers flood the symphony hall with lavish costumed musical numbers and dramatic readings. 2pm & 7:30pm W; 7:30pm Th; 2pm & 7:30pm FSa; 2pm Su @ Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St., Baltimore. $33-$78: rsvp: 410-783-8000; www.bsomusic.org.

Nutcracker Revolution

The Washington Ballet performs Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker, featuring George Washington as the eponymous hero and King George III as the evil Rat King. 7pm WThF; 2pm & 7pm Sa; 1pm & 5:30pm Su @ Warner Theatre, 13th and E Sts., Washington D.C. $30-$80: 202-397-7328; www.washingtonballet.org.

The Santaland Diaries

Bruce Nelson recounts the humorous tale of working as an elf at Macy’s during the holiday season in The Santaland Diaries, an anti-holiday cult classic. By Rep Stage, the only professional theatre company in Howard County. 7:30pm WTh; 8pm FSa; 2:30pm SaSu @ Slayton House, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. $15-25: 410-772-4900; www.repstage.org.

Thursday December 20

NJFK - Frosty Fun

Preschoolers settle in for snowy stories about snowmen. Later, make a chilly craft and dance yourself warm. 10am @ Severna Park Library, 45 McKinsey Rd., Severna Park: 410-222-6290.

Festive Fresh Flowers

Make a breathtaking floral arrangement for your Christmas table, combining red and white roses, white and green mums, winterberries, holly, evergreens and fresh herbs. 6:30-8:30pm @ Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm, 8109 Telegraph Rd., Severn. $35; rsvp: 410-551-2237; www.willowoakherbs.com.

Chesapeake Beach Beacons

Find out who has the Brightest Beacon on the Bay. Judges announce the residential victors in categories varying from Most Kilowatt Hours to Best Workboat. Town is illuminated thru the holidays; awards tonight at 7:30pm @ Town Hall, Chesapeake Beach: 410-257-2230; www.chesapeake-beach.md.us.

Tour Annapolis by Christmas Candlelight

Take a festive frolic through historic Annapolis, following guides in colonial garb whose glowing lanterns shed light on life during the 1700s. 7-8:15pm @ Information Booth, City Dock. $14 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-268-7601 x104; www.annapolis-tours.com.

December 20 & 21

Living Nativity at Heritage Baptist

See the Christmas story from the comfort of your car, driving through this living Nativity re-enacted by members of the church. Rain date Dec. 22. 7pm & 7:30pm @ Heritage Baptist Church, 1740 Forest Dr., Annapolis. free: 410-263-6680.

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December 20, 21, 22 & 23

NJFK - Holiday Hayride

Kids take a hayride to enjoy the festival of lights, then return to the nature center for hot cider and cookies. 7pm @ Watkins Nature Center, 301 Watkins Park Dr., Upper Marlboro. $5; rsvp: Old Maryland Farms @ 301-218-6770.

Twin Beach Players’ Christmas Carol

Scrooge returns to Calvert County to learn from three spirits what Christmas truly means as the Twin Beach Players perform Dickens’ classic Christmas tale. 8pm FSa; 2pm Su @ St. John Vianney Catholic Church Family Life Center, Prince Frederick. $15: www.twinbeachplayers.org.

Talent Machine’s Holiday Magic

Anne Arundel actors ages 6-18 create The Talent Machine’s 20th annual seasonal show, Holiday Magic, featuring spirited musical numbers ranging from traditional to contemporary with special guests Santa, Frosty, Rudolph and other members of the holiday menagerie. 7:30pm Dec. 20 & Dec. 21; 2pm & 7:30pm Dec. 22; 2pm Dec. 23 @ Key Auditorium, St. John’s College, Annapolis. $12 w/discounts: 410-956-0512; www.talentmachine.com.

Friday December 21

See Stars of the Season

Cast your eyes heavenward at Arthur Storer Planetarium and discover the celestial reason for the season. The planetarium glows with a starry Christmas program, ’Tis the Season, as visitors lean back and discover the connection between the night sky and the Christmas story. Seating limited; arrive early. 6:45pm & 8pm @ Arthur Storer Planetarium, by Calvert High, 600 Dares Beach Rd., Prince Frederick. Free; donations welcome: 410-535-7339.

Blarney in Baltimore

The Celtic School of Traditional Irish Dance high-steps onto the stage for a holiday celebration from the isle of Erin. Irish music quintet Maggie Sansone, Laura Byrne-Egan, Jim Egan, Matt Bell and Sue Richards accompany Irish vocalist Dominick Murray in Celtic Christmas classics 8pm @ The Cellar Stage, Faith Community United Methodist Church of Hamilton, 5315 Hartford Rd., Baltimore: 410-521-9099; www.uptownconcerts.com.

December 21 & 22

Do or Die’s Dead Ringer

Have a macabre merry Christmas at Do or Die Mystery’s production of Dead Ringer. When a Santa Claus is found slain, it’s time to round up the reindeer and solve this hilarious holiday horror. 8pm SaSu @ Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Ln., Brooklyn Park. $16 w/discounts: 410-636-6597; www.chesapeakearts.org.

Saturday December 22

Family Christmas with D.C. Choral Arts Society

Joseph Holt conducts the 200-voice Choral Arts Society of Washington in a holiday concert for families, featuring sing-along songs and favorite carols. This year, special guests Santa, Rudolph and Frosty take the stage to help harmonize. Ages 5+. 2pm & 4pm @ Terrace Theatre, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. $30 w/discounts: 202-244-3669; www.choralarts.org.

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December 22 & 23

Weekends at Homestead

Last chance to explore Homestead Gardens’ holiday house and take a wintry workshop: Saturday, adults bring wire cutters and scissors to learn the secrets to weaving a traditional Williamsburg Holiday Centerpiece ($60; 10am) for their seasonal table. Sunday, bring pruners and wire cutters to the Fresh Greens with Candle Holiday Centerpiece workshop ($60; 1pm) to make a garden fresh decoration for your tabletop. The Rob Levit Trio jazzes up Christmas classics Saturday (1pm). Sunday, Incidental Brass swings through a closing set of holiday tunes. All @ Homestead Gardens, Rts. 214 & 424, Davidsonville: 800-300-5631; www.homesteadgardens.com.

The Art of Caroling at the National Gallery

Sing along as guest choirs and singers carol in the poinsettia-filled West Building Rotunda. Saturday, a TBD artist fills the rotunda with seasonal sounds. The Heritage Chorale sings Sunday. Two shows daily. 1:30pm & 2:30pm SaSu @ West Bldg. Rotunda, West Garden, National Gallery of Art, 4th & Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. free: 202-737-4215; www.nga.gov.

December 22, 23 & 24

Living Nativity at Crossroad

Crossroad Christian Church breathes life into the Bible story, recreating the first Christmas, with Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds gathering around the manger to worship baby Jesus. 6-8pm @ Crossroad Christian Church, corner of Rt. 4 and Ball Rd., St. Leonard: 410-586-1272.

Sunday December 23

Friendship Baptist Living Nativity

Actors and live animals gather to recreate the Bible’s Christmas story. Later, sip hot cocoa as the Friendship Community Choir sings a cantata and favorite holiday carols. 6-9pm @ Friendship Community Baptist Church, 37 Jewell R., Dunkirk. free: 410-741-5715.

Holiday Concerts at the National Gallery

Jazz up your Christmas preparations with Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play holiday jazz, folk and blues concert. 6:30pm SaSu @ West Garden Court, National Gallery of Art, 4th & Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. free: 202-737-4215; www.nga.gov.

Tuba Christmas

Local tuba troubadours oom-pah their way through holiday favorites at a fun family concert featuring local musicians and holiday cheer. The program, designed by Harvey Phillips in the 1970s, arranges traditional Christmas carols for a tuba and euphonium performance. 3:30pm @ Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons. free: Bill White: 410-326-4608.

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December 23 & 24

D.C. Choral Arts Society Christmas Concert

The DC Choral Arts Society’s 200 voices soar through the Kennedy Center at this traditional Christmas Concert conducted by Norman Scribner. Washington’s own Alvy Powell of the U.S. Army Chorus adds his baritone to the mix as a soloist. A full orchestra plays with the Choral Arts Society as they sing favorite carols, classic Christmas masterpieces and sing-along. 7pm Su; 1pm M @ Concert Hall, Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. $65-$15; rsvp: 202-244-3669.

Monday December 24

Art of the Christmas Story

See the Christmas story on canvas during this 50-minute tour of the permanent collection, examining paintings with holiday themes and symbolism. 1pm ThF @ West Building Rotunda, National Gallery of Art, 4th & Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. free: 202-737-4215; www.nga.gov.

Shed Light on Faith

No matter what you believe, consider the true meaning of this season during Unity by the Bay’s 12 Powers Candle Lighting Service, with Mahala Connaly discussing the meaning of faith. Ralph Ray and Gary Hardnett play inspirational music for the reflective service. 7:30pm @ Unity by the Bay, 836 Rt. 2, Suite 18, Severna Park: 410-544-7990; www.unitybythebay.org.

Tuesday December 25

Christmas Day Merry Christmas!

Wednesday Dec. 26

Happy Kwanzaa

The week-long Pan-African Festival begins tonight.

Thursday December 27

NJFK - Make and Take Art Workshop

Families venture to the Baltimore Museum of art for a holiday art workshop. Make a Kwanza present or a belated Christmas or Hanukah gift. Or create a festive decoration for yourself. Also Dec. 28. 2pm @ Baltimore Museum of Art, off Howard St., Baltimore. free: 410-573-1818; www.artbma.org.

December 27 & 28

Calverts by Candlelight

Pay a social call on the Calverts and enjoy Colonial Christmas hospitality, wandering through your hosts’ festively festooned house in the glows of lantern light and enjoying refreshments. Children try their hand at traditional yuletide activities. 7pm @ Riversdale House Museum, 4811 Riverdale Rd., Riverdale. $5 w/discounts: 301-864-0420.

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Friday December 28

NJFK - Make and Take Art Workshop

Families visit the Baltimore Museum of art for a holiday art workshop. 2pm @ Baltimore Museum of Art, off Howard St., Baltimore. free: 410-573-1818; www.artbma.org.

Saturday December 29

Celebrate Kwanzaa

Discover the how Ujamaa, or cooperative economics, influences the celebration of Kwanzaa with a day of lectures, live music, African dance and crafts. 10am-5pm @ Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, 830 East Pratt St., Baltimore. $5 w/discounts: 443-263-1800.

Sunday December 30

Burning Bowl Service

Let go of pent up negativity and prepare for positive outcomes in 2008. Spiritual leader Mahala speaks about looking forward at the year and not dwelling on disappointments from the past year. Unity by the Bay’s Burning Bowl program combines with the morning service. 10:30am @ Unity by the Bay, 836 Rt. 2, Suite 18, Severna Park: 410-544-7990; www.unitybythebay.org.

Kwanza Family Day at the BMA

Celebrate the weeklong Pan-African Festival with the Baltimore Museum of Art. The BMA houses one of the earliest and most extensive collections of African art, open for you to explore with special tours offering insight into the cultural backgrounds of the pieces. Live music plays all afternoon as families try their hands at traditional arts and crafts. Kulu Mele performs, followed by storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston. Later try bead painting in a workshop led by Nigerian artist Jimoh Buraimoh. 1-5pm @ Baltimore Museum of Art, off Howard St., Baltimore. free: 410-573-1818; www.artbma.org.

Celebrate Nia

Learn how one of the founding principles of Kwanzaa, Nia (literally purpose) is incorporated into traditional celebrations of this Pan-African Festival. Visit the craft section and make a decoration inspired by the cornerstone of Kwanzaa’s fifth day. noon-5pm @ Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, 830 East Pratt St., Baltimore. $5 w/discounts: 443-263-1800.

Holiday Concerts at the National Gallery

Travel abroad to ring in 2008 as conductor Jose Serebrier leads soprano Carol Farley through traditional Austrian New Year tunes, accompanied by the National Gallery Orchestra. 6:30pm SaSu @ West Garden Court, National Gallery of Art, 4th & Constitution Ave., Washington, D.C. free: 202-737-4215; www.nga.gov.

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Monday December 31

NJFK - High Noon New Year

Kids ring in an early New Year with a day of activities focusing on traditions from Port Discovery’s featured nation, Japan. As the clock nears noon, kids count down and celebrate the almost-new year with milk and cookies. 10am-5pm @ Port Discovery, the Children’s Museum, 35 Market Pl. on the corner of Lombard St., Baltimore. $11 w/discounts; rsvp: 410-727-8120.

Annapolis Alive New Year’s Eve

Annapolis Alive rises from the ashes of the defunct First Night Annapolis, which is taking the year off to rebuild. Instead of a grand affair, the city stages a low-key outdoor street festival celebrating the 300th anniversary of the capital’s royal charter. Main Street closes down for an afternoon and evening of festive celebrations. Kids have an early New Year with games and crafts sponsored by the Chesapeake Children’s Museum (3-6pm). Caledonia Pipers pipe in the evening’s events, including a battle of the local bands ($10/ticket). Peruse handcrafted jewelry and art from vendors and pick up what you really wanted for Christmas. As always, Annapolis welcomes 2008 with a bang, as fireworks burst over the city as the clock strikes midnight. @ Main St., Church Circle to Market Space, Annapolis: 410-263-1183.

Ports America New Years Eve Spectacular

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor opens up for an evening of New Year festivities. Families head to the top of the world, Baltimore’s World Trade center, for a safe and fun haven. Kids play games and get a spectacular view of the Harbor celebrations. Below, live musical acts serenade revelers from the Harbor Amphitheatre. At midnight, the skies erupt with a spectacular fireworks display coloring the city. Tune into Mix 106.5 and listen to the specially choreographed music that accompanies the fireworks. 9pm-12:30am @ Inner Harbor; off Pratt and Light Sts., Baltimore free: 410-752-8632; www.promotionandarts.com.

Cruise in the New Year

Sail into 2008 aboard The Bay Lady during a dinner cruise and party. As the vessel circles Baltimore’s inner Harbor, feast upon a buffet dinner, dance to music spun by live DJs and toast the New Year with champagne. At midnight, venture onto the deck to watch fireworks explode over the water as Baltimore puts on its barrage of illuminated New Year festivities. 8pm boarding; 8:30pm-1am sailing; 1-1:30am dockside @ Harbor Cruises, 561 Light St., Baltimore. $175; rsvp: 410-727-3113; www.harborcruises.com.

Constellation Celebration

Sip champagne, watch fireworks burst over the inner harbor and ring in the New Year aboard the historic sloop, USS Constellation. Eat a catered supper, dance to live music and take a special tour of the floating museum. Gather on deck for the first bursts of fireworks over Baltimore. 10pm-1am @ Pier 1, Inner Harbor, 301 East Pratt St., Baltimore. $75 w/ discounts; rsvp: 410-539-1797.

Sunday January 1

Take the Plunge at North Beach

Watch a different kind of polar bear roam the Bay at North Beach when weather-defying swimmers dive into 2008. Or take a winter dip and earn a certificate for braving the elements. Warm up at a beach bonfire, sipping hot cider, roasting marshmallows and eating Del. Sue Kullen’s warming chili. 12:30-1pm sign up; 1pm take the plunge @ North Beach waterfront, by the pier: 301-855-6681.

Friday January 4

Season of the Sailor

During Calvert Marine Museum’s first free Friday of 2008, Bob Zentz performs Season of the Sailor, poems, songs and stories of seafaring perspective on holidays and winter. Seating is limited for this intimate performance; stake your claim early. 5-8pm free Friday; 7:30pm concert @ Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons. Donation asked for concert: 410-326-2042.

Saturday January 5

Twelfth Night Ball

Regency revelers don period attire or black tie for the Riversdale House Twelfth Night Ball, the last social event of the Regency holiday social calendar, with festivities from the time of Jane Austen. Dance to period music, nibble on refreshments and socialize with colonial re-enactors. 7:30pm @ Riversdale House Museum, 4811 Riversdale Rd., Riverdale Park. $30 w/discounts; rsvp: 301-864-0420; www.pgparks.com.

Cove Point by Candlelight

Take a twinkling tour of Cove Point Lighthouse during Calvert Marine Museum’s third annual candlelight program. Wander through the Keeper’s House as it glows with hundreds of twinkle lights and candles. Listen to Bob Zentz’s music and eat heavy hors d’oeuvres. Later, catch a showing of the new Cove Point historical film and settle in for lighthouse storytelling. Look for fresh greenery at Dickson’s Fields of Flowers’ floral design and arts show. Only 65 tickets sold; call early. 6-8pm @ Calvert Marine Museum, Solomons. $55; rsvp: 410-326-2042 x17.

Sunday January 6

Musical Epiphany

Celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men at St. Martin’s Epiphany concert. Carolyn Sonnen and Peggy Gilligan join soprano soloist Katherine Caldwell in this musical tribute to the joy of Christmas and the wonder of the season. 7pm @ St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1120 Spa Rd., Annapolis. $8: 410-263-4723; www.stmartinselc.org.

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