baltimore holiday attractions

Watch the annual lighting of the Washington Monument in Baltimore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tips + Trends

Festive Baltimore: How Charm City Does the Holidays

Charm City sure does live up to its name during the holiday season. Nearly any winter or holiday-themed activity you can think of is here (ice skating, light displays, holiday markets and more), plus a few festive annual events that are distinctly Baltimore.

Here’s how to plan ahead to enjoy them all.

The Washington Monument Lighting (No, Not That One)

Some 10,000 Baltimoreans will head to the city’s Mount Vernon neighborhood to take part in the annual lighting of the Washington Monument, the first monument dedicated to America’s first president.

The family-friendly event in early December hosts performances, live music and winter-inspired art activities before the official lighting ceremony and dazzling fireworks display.

Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th Street

Thanks to a love of Christmas lights and the holiday classic movie of the same name, couple Bob Hosier and Darlene Hughes began a Baltimore Christmas tradition decades ago that still continues today.

What started as one festively decorated home on the 700 block of 34th Street in the Hampden neighborhood grew into Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th Street, now a glowing block of twinkling townhomes, drawing thousands of visitors to stroll down 34th to ring in the season.

Glide Along the Inner Harbor

Ice skating is the quintessential wintertime activity, and Baltimoreans and beyond count down the days until the Ice Rink at the Inner Harbor opens for the season.

From early November until late January, the rink is open daily with fun events like Chanukah on Ice, National Christmas Card Day (where little ones can pen their wishlists to Santa Claus), and skating with Santa every Sunday afternoon in December.

The rink is open late on New Year’s Eve for skaters to enjoy the fireworks from the rink.

Holly Jolly Trolley

Hop on an old-fashioned trolley for a two-hour tour through the neighborhoods of Harbor East, Fells Point and Canton to learn about local history and see Baltimore’s charming holiday sites.

Afterward, the Holly Jolly Trolley heads north to Hampden so riders can enjoy the blocklong spectacle that’s locally called the “Miracle on 34th Street,” a festively decorated neighborhood filled with colorful lights, outdoor train gardens, artwork from local artists and the famous hubcap Christmas tree.

On its way back to the Inner Harbor, the trolley passes the decorated Washington Monument in the Mount Vernon neighborhood.

A Christmas Carol with a Baltimore Twist

Always the hottest ticket in town, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company’s production of “A Christmas Carol” sets the storied Dickens tale in Baltimore. Ebenezer Scrooge lives in Victorian-era Baltimore, and the play infuses the traditional story with local history and Chesapeake culture.

Merry Tuba Christmas

Tuba players rarely get their time to shine, but come holiday season in Baltimore, there’s a day dedicated just to them. Dozens of tuba players don holiday sweaters and host a concert of holiday music specially designed for their instrument.

Carols are sung, tubas are decorated and anyone who plays the tuba, sousaphone, baritone horn or euphonium is invited to join.

Shop at an Authentic German Holiday Market

On November 28, West Shore Park will transform into Christmas Village, a traditional German holiday market comprised of nearly 50 wooden booths surrounding a beautiful Christmas tree, all under a heated festival tent.

Nearly 50 vendors sell arts and crafts from around the world, as well as waffles, gingerbread, Schnitzel, crepes, bratwurst, mulled wine and German beer in the Bavarian Beergarden. Local choirs, bands and other performances happen on the weekends.

Witness the Largest Menorah in Maryland

Home to the largest menorah in Maryland, Baltimore’s Chanukah Festival celebrates the start of the Jewish holiday with games and activities for children, hot beverages and refreshments, live music and, of course, the lighting of the menorah in the Inner Harbor.

On the fourth day of Chanukah, take part in the car parade or watch cars topped with menorahs cruise through northwest Baltimore.

12 Days of Science

Keep those brains buzzing over the holidays during the Maryland Science Center’s 12 Days of Science, which allows visitors to partake in workshops, live demonstrations and hands-on building.

Each day, the center features a different scientific theme; 2018’s event covered topics such as solstice science, engineering techniques for rough winter weather, and exploring favorite seasonal sounds.

All Aboard the Holiday Express!

What is it that links the holidays and train travel? Perhaps it’s the idea of the “Polar Express,” but few things fills both adults and kids with wonder like the annual holiday programming at the B&O Railroad Museum.

From a breakfast buffet and train ride with Santa to an indoor carousel, cookies and story time with Mrs. Claus; model train displays; and one-mile express train rides; December is full of activities to celebrate the holiday spirit at the B&O.

Kwanzaa Celebration at the Lewis Museum

Storytelling, a fashion show, African dancing and drumming are only part of the annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of African American History & Culture, the largest African American museum in the state.

Shop for beautiful crafts at the African Marketplace, enjoy Kwanzaa recipe demos and art activities, and listen to lectures and workshops about economics and financial literacy.

Boat Parade of Lights

Baltimore is no stranger to nautical life, and the waterside takes on a cheery glow during the annual Parade of Lighted Boats in early December. More than 50 vessels aglow with lights and tinsel make their way from the Inner Harbor to Fells Point to cap off the Olde Tyme Christmas day festival in Fells Point.

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