You’ve got your copy of Season’s Bounty, so which of the hundreds of listings will you pick to attend? I’m offering you some help. This week, we highlight a dozen or so Christmas classics that check my boxes: accessibility, affordability, ambience and amazement. Keep an eye out for our reviews of several holiday theatre productions in upcoming issues.
What: Lights on the Bay
Cool Factor: An annual Chesapeake favorite, Lights on the Bay is now under the helm of the Anne Arundel County SPCA. “This event is a tradition for generations of families. Children who once went with their grandparents, now go with their own kids,” says Anne Arundel County SPCA president Kelly Brown. See Sandy Point State Park transformed into a drive-thru holiday experience. New displays are added every year and many marriage proposals also happen here. Check the website for special discount nights, such as Military and First Responder Night, Ugly Sweater Night and more.
See It: Nightly 5-10pm rain or shine thru Jan. 1: Sandy Point State Park, $20/car, $30/van or mini-bus, $50/bus (find coupon in Bay Weekly): www.lightsonthebay.org.
What: Living Christmas Tree
Cool Factor: For more than 30 years, Riverdale Baptist Church has celebrated the season with a 30-foot-tall living Christmas tree decorated with thousands of synchronized lights plus 70-some human ornaments: choir, orchestra and a heart-warming play, all rising 10 levels on a wooden platform to spread the good news. Come early to see the live nativity.
See It: Dec. 14 & 15: Sa 1:30pm & 6:30pm, Su 1:30pm, Riverdale Baptist Church, Upper Marlboro, $12 w/discounts, rsvp: www.livingtreetickets.com.
What: Ring in the Holiday 2019
Cool Factor: Kids and teens steal the show with musical numbers and special guests in The Talent Machine’s annual holiday production, featuring special guests Santa, Rudolph, the elves and Frosty.
See It: Dec. 19-22: ThFSa 7:30pm, SaSu 2pm, Su 6:30pm, Key Auditorium, St. John’s College, Annapolis, $15 w/discounts, rsvp: www.talentmachine.com.
What: Lighted Boat Parades
Cool Factor: Chesapeake Country loves showing off our boats, and decorating them for the holidays is a good excuse to get back on the water, even if it is a little chilly. See boats of all sizes and shapes festively decorated at boat parades in Eastport, Deale and Solomons. The Eastport parade has been consistently nominated USA Today 10 Best Readers Choice Holiday Parades in America.
See It: Deale Parade of Lights: Th., Dec. 5, 6-10pm, staging at Hidden Harbor Marina and Happy Harbor; Solomons Boat Parade: Sa., Dec. 7, 6:30pm, visible from Back Creek to the Patuxent River walk: www.solomonsmaryland.com; Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade: Sa., Dec. 14, 6-8pm, from Eastport Yacht Club to Naval Academy seawall: www.eyclightsparade.org.
What: Pat Carpenter Holiday Parade
Cool Factor: An old-fashioned holiday parade is just the icing on the Christmas cookie. “My favorite part of the parade is seeing the kids get excited for candy and to see Santa,” says Bob Carpenter. “For seven blocks along Bay Avenue, you see hundreds, if not thousands, of kids anticipating the arrival of the big guy.”
See It: Sa., Dec. 7, noon, North Beach, free: www.northbeachmd.org.
What: Tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy
Cool Factor: Perhaps you need a shorter and more casual experience for your little dancers? Enjoy a 30-minute mini-Nutcracker ballet with costumed dancers followed by tea, cocoa, treats and a visit from Santa. Ballerinas from the National Ballet Company in Edgewater join the Captain Avery Museum to bring the story to life.
See It: Dec. 14 & 15, 1-3:30pm, Shady Side Community Center, $25, rsvp: www.captainaverymuseum.org.
What: Darnall’s Chance Gingerbread House Show
Cool Factor: Edible architecture has been a local holiday favorite at Darnall’s Chance for 20 years. Creations range from quaint and traditional houses and cottages to elaborate spectacles of cake, icing and gumdrops in the form of RVs and castles. While you can’t taste them, you can vote for your favorites and join in special events during the show.
See It: Nov. 29-Dec. 15, FSaSu noon-5pm, Darnall’s Chance House Museum, Upper Marlboro, $2: 301-952-8010.
What: Annmarie Garden in Lights
Cool Factor: One of the few illuminations you can see on foot, Annmarie’s holiday light show invites you out of the car and onto a wooded path glittering with twinkling displays. In the decorated Murray Arts building, find live entertainment, café, exhibits and shopping at the Ornament Show & Sale, gift shop, Holiday Maker’s Market and Pop-Up Shops.
See It: Nov. 29-Jan. 1 (Closed Dec. 2,3,9,10,24,25): 6-9pm, Annmarie Garden, Solomons, Fast Pass gets you to the front of the line $8.50, $7 regular admission. Check online for discounts: www.annmariegarden.org
What: Watkins Festival of Lights
Cool Factor: Bring some twinkle to your holidays with a nighttime cruise thru a 2.5-mile loop with 2.5 million lights in dazzling displays of archways, fairytale characters and holiday scenes. You can even take a hayride thru the festival with refreshments by the fire, every FSaSu in December, 7-8:30pm (rsvp: Old Maryland Farm, 301-218-6770).
See It: Nightly, 5-9:30pm, Nov. 29-Jan. 1: Watkins Park, Upper Marlboro, $10/car w/discounts: www.pgparks.com.