Crab tree basket in Deale. Photo: Southern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce.

CBM Bay Weekly’s Guide to Chesapeake Cheer

By Kathy Knotts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year and Chesapeake Country is in the mood for some holiday cheer. To help you make the most of this special season, CBM Bay Weekly has compiled this guide to our favorite holiday events, including where to meet Santa, find a holiday train garden or do some festive shopping. For those looking for walk-through and drive-through light displays, check out our guide to Illuminations (PAGE TK? On the next page?).

         To keep us all healthy and safe, some locations require face masks and proof of vaccinations, please check before you attend if you have questions.

         From all of us at Bay Weekly, get out there and make some magic!

On Stage

Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy

Dec. 4 & 5: Spend the afternoon at the Captain Avery Museum for scenes from the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, performed by members of South County’s own National Ballet Company. Tea, hot cocoa, finger foods, and treats will be served. And, kids can expect a visit from Santa, too! SaSu 1pm, Captain Avery Museum, Shady Side, $25 w/discounts, RSVP:

A Broadway Holiday

Dec. 9-26: This original holiday musical sold out the last season it was produced so the Classic Theatre of Maryland has updated their confection of holiday show-stoppers with new song and dance numbers, performed by Broadway performers and a live band. ThSu 7:30pm, F 8pm, plus Dec. 24 6pm, Dec. 26 7:30pm (no show Dec. 23), Classic Theatre of Maryland, Annapolis, $55-$68 w/discounts, RSVP:

A Celebration of Christmas
Dec. 10: This long-running tradition features the Annapolis Chorale and Chamber Chorus performing a sleigh full of holiday musical cheer along with special guests. 8pm, Maryland Hall, Annapolis, $61 w/discounts, RSVP:

St. Mary’s College Chamber Singers

Dec. 11: The St. Mary’s College of Maryland chamber singers with orchestra under the direction of Larry Vote, professor of music, will perform Handel’s Messiah. The concert is an annual event offered by the Department of Music. Messiah is an oratorio composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741. It is Handel’s most famous work and among the most popular works in Western choral literature. 2pm, Auerbach Auditorium, St. Mary’s Hall, 47458 Trinity Church Rd., free, RSVP:

Ballet Theatre of Maryland’s Nutcracker

Dec. 11-19: Discover the wonder of this timeless holiday tradition and allow yourself to be magically swept away by the tale of the young heroine Clara and her adventures to rescue her beloved Nutcracker from the Rat Queen’s evil spell. Travel with Clara through the whirling Kingdoms of Snow and Sweets to the place where the possibility of dreams, the magic of Christmas, and the wonder of the child merge to reveal her destiny. Experience the power and beauty anew as the mysterious Drosselmeier transports you and Clara to capture the spirit of the holiday season through the language of dance and theatre. Sa 7pm, Su 1:30pm & 4:30pm, virtual options available, Maryland Hall, Annapolis, $47 w/discounts, RSVP:

Newtowne Players’ Elf The Musical

Thru Dec. 12: Experience the story of Buddy, the orphan human elf, who travels to New York City to find his birth father. FSa 8pm, SaSu 3:30pm, Three Notch Theatre, Lexington Park, $18 w/discounts, RSVP:

The Colonial Players’ A Christmas Carol

Thru Dec. 12: This production was written for The Colonial Players by local playwright Rick Wade and composer Dick Gessner over 40 years ago and has been a family favorite and Annapolis holiday tradition ever since. This year’s production is directed by Sarah Wade with music direction by Trevor Greenfield; Also available for streaming for the first time ever. ThFSaSu 8pm, Colonial Players Theatre, Annapolis, $10 (both in-person or streaming), RSVP:

Twin Beach Players’ The Ghost Before Christmas

Thru Dec. 12: Twin Beach Players present this play, written by Rick Thompson, based on The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, one of five Christmas novels written by Charles Dickens. FSa 7pm, Su 3pm, North Beach Boys & Girl Club, $15 w/discounts, RSVP:

Annapolis Symphony Orchestra Holiday Pops

Dec. 17: Celebrate the season with an adventurous musical trip around the world. Sultans of String’s Christmas Caravan delivers an exuberant performance featuring originals, world-music inspired classics, and seasonal favorites to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night. 8pm, Maryland Hall, Annapolis, $79-$119 w/discounts, RSVP:

Annapolis Chorale’s Messiah
Dec. 17-19: The Annapolis Chorale performs Handel’s Messiah with the Chamber Orchestra in this beloved holiday tradition. FSa 8pm, Su 3pm, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Church Circle, Annapolis, $40, RSVP:

South River Christmas Play

Dec. 19: Watch a performance of a Christmas play plus a handbell ensemble. 11:45am, South River Bible Church, 744 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville, free:

Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s A Christmas Carol

Thru Dec. 26: Charles Dickens’ story was created to inspire a spirit of charity toward those less fortunate. This Helen Hayes Awards–recommended original production of this classic story has become an annual holiday tradition, delighting patrons of all ages. FSa 8pm, SaSu 2pm, Classic Theatre of Maryland, Annapolis, $68 w/discounts, RSVP:

Photo: Homestead Gardens

Santa Sightings

Deale Christmas Tree Lighting

Dec. 4: Meet at the circle in front of BB&T and Schwartz Realty for caroling, live music, performances by Slater’s Dancers, hot cocoa, coffee, treats and a visit from Santa plus the lighting of the Crab Basket Tree. Sponsored by the Deale Merchants Association. 6pm, Deale, Facebook: Deale Christmas Tree Lighting.

Solomons Christmas Walk

Dec. 4: Stroll along the riverwalk listening to carols, watching live performances and then a parade with the Solomons Volunteer Rescue Fire Dept., then the Solomons gazebo Christmas tree is lit and a boat parade begins (see below). Visit the Calvert Marine Museum (free admission, 6-9pm) to see Santa, the otter mascot, make holiday crafts and enjoy coffee, hot cocoa and cookies.

Dine with Santa

Dec. 14 & 19: Kids enjoy dinner (Dec. 14, 6-8pm) or breakfast (Dec. 10, 10am-noon) with the Jolly Old Elf in an authentic diner setting. Double T Diner, Annapolis: 410-571-9070.

Santa Cruises North Beach

Dec. 18: Santa has traded in his sleigh for a golf cart and he will cruise around the Town of North Beach to visit with all the boys and girls. Santa’s golf cart will visit neighborhoods and children are invited to come outside when he arrives to put their letters in his special mailbox. 1-3pm, North Beach: [email protected].

Santa Comes to Homestead Gardens

Thru Dec. 19: Kids can tell Santa their wishes in a safe, comfortable setting in the greenhouse, where parents can also take photos; no walk-ups. Note: Santa will seat guests next to him, not in his lap. Sa 10am-4pm, Su noon-4pm, Homestead Gardens, Davidsonville & Severna Park, RSVP:

Santa Visits Greenstreet Gardens

Thru Dec. 19: Stroll through the garden center with a cup of hot cider and discover a holiday wonderland filled with fresh greens and décor for every taste. Step into the nursery to find your perfect Christmas tree. Don’t forget to sign up to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus and deliver your letter in person. SaSu 11am-3pm, Lothian, RSVP:

Santa’s Cottage

Thru Dec. 23: Experience the magic and capture the spirit of the holiday season with a visit to Santa’s Cottage to meet Saint Nick and take home a photo. Visit with Santa’s better half, Mrs. Claus, Saturdays (1-3pm) thru Dec. 18, while waiting for your turn with the jolly old elf. Take home a photo of Santa with your pet Tuesdays thru Dec. 21 (5-8pm). 11am-8pm, Annapolis Town Center, RSVP:

Santa at Westfield Annapolis

Thru Dec. 24: Meet with the big guy for a Santa Magic photo experience from Cherry Hill Programs; sessions for pets and Sensory Santa also available. M-Sa 10am-8pm, Su 11am-7pm, Westfield Annapolis Mall, RSVP:

St. Nick at Marley Station

Thru Dec. 24: Take a socially distanced photo with Santa with Cherry Hill Programs. FSa10am-8pm, Su noon-6pm, M-Th 11am-7pm, Marley Station Mall, Glen Burnie, RSVP:

Photo: Visit Annapolis.

Retail Revelry

Midnight Madness

Dec. 2, 9 & 16: Shop ’til you drop at this marathon of Christmas cheer and commerce. Stores stay open until the witching hour on the first of Downtown Annapolis’s three nights of sales, discounts and holiday festivities along Main St., Maryland Ave., West Street, and City Dock. Take the free circulator bus. 4pm-midnight, downtown Annapolis:

Muddy Creek Pop-Up Show

Dec. 2-12: See and shop at this holiday gift show featuring 50 artists working in a variety of mediums, offering original and giclee painting, pottery, fabric art, glass work, photography, woodcraft, sculpture, mixed media and more. Sneak peek Dec. 2, 5:30-8pm; show open FSa 10am-7pm, Su 11am-5pm, 179 Mitchells Chance Rd., Edgewater:

A Vintage Deale Holiday Open House

Dec. 3: Stop in to see the store decked out for the holidays plus shop for antiques and accessories. Wine, cheese and appetizers served. 5-7:30pm, A Vintage Deale, 655 Deale Rd., Deale, Facebook @avintagedeale.

Cocktails and Gowns

Dec. 3: Stop by this new business to find your next holiday party outfit. All dresses will be marked down 40 to 60 percent off during this event. 5-8pm, Stardust Deluxe, Annapolis Town Center:

Mustard Seed Shop

Dec. 4, 11, 18: This unique thrift shop has extended hours for holiday shopping every Saturday until Christmas. 9am-4pm, Faith Assembly of God Impact Center, Lothian: 410-867-0707.

Girls Night Out

Dec. 8: Grab your gal pals and head to Homestead Gardens two locations to sample, shop, sip & stroll thru the showrooms, greenhouses and nursery. Enjoy savory samplings and libations as you stroll through 30 themed Christmas trees, finding inspiration for home decor, gifting and holiday traditions. Photographer Jay Fleming will be at the Davidsonville location signing copies of his new book, Island Life. At the Severna Park store, enjoy light refreshments and a cash bar hosted by Wellness House of Annapolis, an organization that supports cancer patients, survivors, and their families. 6-9pm, Homestead Gardens, Davidsonville & Severna Park:

Outdoor Holiday Bazaar & Open House

Dec. 18: Shop local artists and vendors such as My Fancy Finds, the Nicki Palermo Group, Swamp Witch Metals, Chesapeake Paddle Sports, Kim’s Crystals, Leila’s Treats, Seint Makeup, It’s Essential Candles & Lotion, plus enjoy hot cocoa bombs, holiday tumblers, artwork, jewelry and crafts; plus guest passes to try the gym, membership and personal training specials. 8am-noon, Chesapeake Health & Fitness, Deale:

Small Gems at McBride Gallery

Thru Dec. 31: See and shop this exhibit of small scale artworks by 16 McBride Gallery artists and guests, including Christmas cards by Carol Dyer. Daily thru Dec., McBride Gallery, Annapolis:

Photo: Homestead Gardens.

Sweet Celebrations

Darnall’s Chance Gingerbread House Show

Dec. 3 thru 19: View a village of elaborate constructions made by gingerbread architects of many ages; vote for your favorite in the Viewer’s Choice Awards—but no nibbling! FSaSu Noon-5pm, Darnall’s Chance House Museum, Upper Marlboro, $2: 301-952-8010.

Gingerbread Houses with Nancy Baker

Dec. 5: Nancy Baker is a Maryland based food artist who has appeared on the Food Network’s Halloween Wars. Whether it’s chiseling away at blocks of cheese, or strategically stringing together strips of bacon, Baker is an accomplished and uniquely versatile food artist always starving to learn about and use new mediums. Watch her create a gingerbread house too beautiful to eat. Noon-3pm, Homestead Gardens, Severna Park:

Annapolis Chocolate Binge

Dec. 5: Chocolate lovers rejoice in a day to celebrate the art of chocolate. Buy treats from over two dozen chocolate vendors, shop local artists’ wares, plus live music, performances and games. After the festival the West Street/Annapolis Arts District illuminates the Holiday light Canopy. Noon-5pm, Inner West St., Annapolis, $5:

Photo: Visit Annapolis.

Trees & Trains

Homestead for the Holidays

Thru Dec. 20: The store, nursery, and greenhouse are decorated with dozens of beautiful full-size and tabletop trees and doorways to inspire holiday decorating. For the 31st year, Homestead’s railroad will be on display in the greenhouse, remodeled and enlarged. Watch trains rumble down the track and see animatronics at work in Santa’s workshop. Eight-foot nutcrackers and talking reindeer delight kids of all ages. In the outside nursery, the fire roars and a huge tree lights up the sky. Enjoy holiday music on weekends. M-F 9am-8pm, Sa 8am-8pm, Su 9am-6pm, 743 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville:

B&O Festival of Trains

Dec. 6 thru Jan. 2: See Baltimore’s largest holiday display of model train layouts, plus the new Model Train Gallery featuring a painstakingly crafted HO Scale model layout of Baltimore in 1997. Visit Santa’s Winter Village, take a ride on the Reindeer Railway, and take photos with Santa. Special events every weekend including Polar Express Train Rides. Daily 10am-4pm, B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore, prices vary with activity, RSVP:

St. Clement’s Island Museum Christmas Doll & Train Exhibit

Thru Jan. 3: Enjoy a holiday exhibit of antique and collectible dolls, classic trains and other retro toys in this festive holiday display inside the museum; write a letter to Santa, read a holiday book or try your hand at operating the model trains. Noon-4pm daily (closed Dec. 24 & 25), St. Clement’s Island Museum, 38370 Point Breeze Road, Colton’s Point, $3 w/discounts, Facebook: @SCIMuseum.

Marley Station Train Garden

Thru Jan. 9: Volunteers from the Emmanuel Lutheran Church construct a new, intricate web of train tracks and interactive winter villages for this annual display. Trains are laid out on three 18-foot by 20-foot levels. You’ll find a winter scene, the Orioles and Ravens stadiums, a NASCAR racecar track, an elaborate carnival, a working airport, a house on fire, a town and a beach and, of course, Thomas the Train. Donations accepted for the church food pantry and emergency fund. FSa 10am-9pm, Su noon-6pm, Marley Station Mall between Sears and Macy’s, Glen Burnie:

Photo: Sabrina Redmond for Watermark.

Holiday Tours

Colonial Yuletide in Annapolis

Dec. 4: Celebrate a colonial holiday like it was 1771. Learn about holiday traditions of 18th-century Annapolis and hear stories of Christmas past from living historians who bring historic homes to life. As you stroll through the Georgian mansion’s bedecked hallways, you may encounter William and Mary Paca and their friends filling the home with laughter, gossip and political news. Enjoy music by the Bedlam group as you stroll the grand rooms and learn about 18th-century dining and hospitality. Continue the celebration at Hogshead Tavern where you meet merry craftspeople who with games of chance, drinks and music. 2-6pm, William Paca House & Hogshead, Annapolis, $10 w/discounts, RSVP:

Rising Sun Inn Candlelight Tour

Dec. 4: The Rising Sun Inn, with a history spanning four centuries, has witnessed both public and private Christmas celebrations from the colonial era through today. Learn more about the inn, the Christmas traditions of the region and enjoy a sampling of colonial fare. 6-10pm, Rising Sun Inn, 1090 Generals Hwy, Crownsville, $18 w/discounts, RSVP:

A Dutch American Christmas

Dec. 11: Families are invited to the mansion for a day of holiday stories and crafts; children enjoy storytime amidst the splendor of the ballroom decorated for the season and then create holiday decorations and learn about Dutch Christmas traditions. 10-11am, Hammond Harwood House, Annapolis, $12 w/discounts, RSVP:

Holiday Candlelight Stroll

Thru Dec. 18: Glowing lanterns light your way as you stroll along the centuries-old brick lined streets of Maryland’s capital city adorned for the holidays. A period-attired guide will share holiday traditions of times past against the backdrop of colonial mansions, Victorian homes, and quaint shops. FSa 7-8:30pm, (no tour Dec. 11), Tour departs from Market House Park, Annapolis, $25 w/discounts, RSVP:

Photo: Eastport Yacht Club Light Parade.

Christmas on the Water

Solomons Boat Parade

Dec. 4: Visit the Christmas Walk, now in its 38th year, and stay to watch decorated and lighted boats parade from the Solomons Yachting Center up the Patuxent River to the bridge and back down to the Riverwalk in this annual event coordinated by Solomons Island Yacht Club, Patuxent River Sail and Power Squadron, Solomons Yachting Center, Sail Solomons and Southern Maryland Sailing Association. Parade 6pm, Solomons,

Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade

Dec. 11: Lighting the Annapolis harbor for decades, this glittering parade features several dozen illuminated power and sail boats that travel the waterfront in two fleets: one circles in front of Eastport, City Dock and the Naval Academy seawall; the other cruises the length of Spa Creek. Arrive early for a spot. 6-8pm, from Eastport Yacht Club to Naval Academy seawall:

Deale Parade of Lights

Dec. 15: Watch decorated boats cruise along Rockhold Creek, passing Happy Harbor, Dockside, and Skippers Pier restaurants as they compete for prizes and bragging rights. 5pm, Deale, Facebook @DealeMdParadeofLights.

Jolly Express Cruise
Thru Dec. 31: Hop aboard Miss Anne all decked out for the holidays for a Spa Creek “sleigh ride” on the Jolly Express with Captain Santa at the helm. Miss Anne will be adorned in reindeer spirit for an intimate cruise that includes hot cocoa, holiday music, and good cheer. Bring your own blankets. FSaSu 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, (no cruise Dec. 11, 24 & 25) 45-minute cruise departs from City Dock, Annapolis, $25 w/discounts, RSVP: