Frost greets us each morning, along with a Caramel Brulée Latte at our local coffee shop. It must be the holiday season, and we can’t wait to dive into Christmas lights in Baltimore this holiday season.
Baltimore, Maryland, also known as Charm City, has quietly become a powerhouse of holiday magic in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. While most visitors will stick to the ice rink and German Christmas market near the Inner Harbor, it’s all about the neighborhoods for us.
So, once you’ve had your fill of the harbor, and we’ve got nothing against the Baltimore Inner Harbor, dive into the local scene. Catch one of the best Christmas Streets on the East Coast, learn the history of Baltimore’s neighborhoods, and join in fun as Santa does a little the tap dancing.
BRING ON THE BEST BALTIMORE HOLIDAY EVENTS
Charm City would never dream of letting a holiday go by without giant spectacles and fun activities for everyone in the family. Baltimore, MD turns into a winter wonderland of lights and cheerful carousers, and you definitely don’t want to miss out!
Below are just a few of the special displays and celebrations to check out in and around the city this Christmas season, including where to find the best holiday events and Christmas lights in Baltimore.
I don’t know about you, but I’m constantly on the lookout for drive through Christmas lights near me or the best Christmas lights near me during the holiday season. Lucky for you, we found them!
- Address: The Maryland Zoo, 1 Safari Pl, Baltimore, MD 21217
- Dates: Mid-November through the first weekend in January
Throughout the holiday season, The Maryland Zoo will light up the town with colorful animated displays. Guests will experience twinkling lights and holiday flair in the shapes of zoo animals, with over 50 light displays and 100,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights that transform the zoo into an gorgeous, otherworldly experience.
Guests can walk the event on foot every Saturday evening, or experience Zoo Lights from the comfort of their car Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Miracle on 34th Street
- Address: 700 block of 34th Street, Baltimore, MD 21211
- Dates: November 28 – December 2020
34th Street Annual Christmas Festival of Lights in Baltimore, MD is a magical community event has occurred annually since the original release of the movie of the same name, in 1947!
The Hampden neighborhood likes to really show off by plugging in every strand of lights they can get their hands on up and down, and across, 34th Street. All of the homes on this block come together to put on an amazing light display, which anyone who finds themselves in town should make a point of driving through at least once.
A Musical train, snow globes, blinking angels, bikes, pans and other wonderful lawn ornaments are sure to impress on a chilly date night or family outing.
Some lawns have brilliant animated light shows, others are covered with quirky decorations, while more strings of lights stretch between homes and the whole neighborhood comes out for a Christmas party.
Just make sure you look up where to park ahead of time. This is a street you should plan on strolling, not drive down. Wear layers and bring a latte to stay warm.
Holly Jolly Trolley Lights Tour
- Dates: Select dates in December
Think you know Charm City? If you watched the Wire, you know nothing.
Hop aboard an old trolley to get to know the a few of the real neighborhoods of Baltimore. This Holly Jolly Trolley Lights Tour will take you on a two-hour journey through Harbor East, Fells Point and Canton, sharing a bit of the history and holiday magic in each neighborhood.
You will then drive over to Hampden for the spectacular 34th Street Annual Christmas Festival of Lights. Enjoy the lights and décor of the season, along with an outdoor train garden and original artwork by local artists. And yes, you can get off the trolley to explore for a bit.
As you head back to the Inner Harbor, you will pass the Mount Vernon neighborhood, where the George Washington Monument has been all dressed up for the season. Book tickets ahead of time, as earlier tours do sell out quickly, especially on weekends.
Baltimore Christmas Market
- Address: 501 Light St., Baltimore, MD 21230
- Dates: Online store open through 2020 holiday season; check back in 2021 for in-person dates
West Shore Park in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor turns into an authentic German Christmas Village every Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve. Not everyone can get to the Christkindl Market in Germany, which is why the city wanted to bring a little bit of that European holiday magic right to you.
The Baltimore Christmas Market appears every winter with a variety of vendors selling Christmas decorations, delicious European treats, and unique gifts to finish up your shopping list.
The village combines outdoor and indoor spaces (phew! We all won’t freeze), featuring traditional German-style wooden huts, vendors selling European food and beverages (plus a beer garden!), and unique holiday trinkets and gifts. Festive lights, a big Christmas tree, gingerbread and mulled wine are sure to put any Scrooge in the holiday spirit.
Explore the authentic wooden huts outside filled with the perfect gift, like jewelry, art and artisan crafts. Then go inside the large heated tent with indoor shopping areas for when it gets a bit chilly by the water.
Need more holiday magic? Day trip to Annapolis, Frederick and Washington, D.C.
Four Seasons Winter Village
- Address: 200 International Drive, Baltimore, MD 21202
- Dates: Mid-November through early January
As winter approaches, this upscale hotel’s exclusive fifth-floor terrace becomes a large synthetic skating rink, adorned with beautiful wintry lights and decorations. Enjoy holiday tunes and the sweeping view of the city as you skate, then take a break for sweet Bavarian treats and warm beverages.
Your group can even get your own private cabana, and snuggle up in warm blankets by a fire pit between skating sessions. Reservations are required.
Ice Rink at the Inner Harbor
- Address: 201 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202
- Dates: Mid-November through Mid-January
- Closed until further notice
You can’t celebrate the holidays and NOT go ice skating. Strap on your own skates or pick up some rentals, pay the nominal admission fee and tap your inner Olympian. Who knows, you may be doing triple axels before the end of the season. But please don’t try without supervision (or travel insurance!). Hot beverages are available onsite and pair perfectly with those gorgeous harbor views we know and love.
Holiday Pagoda Lighting in Patterson Park
- Address: Patterson Park, E Lombard St, Baltimore, MD 21224
- Dates: Early December
Enjoy a beloved holiday tradition in Patterson Park that is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Enjoy live music, holiday messages from a few friends, plus a countdown to the lighting. Linger after dark and all season long to see the Pagoda all dolled up for Christmas.
Guinness Holiday Light Walk
- Address: 5001 Washington Blvd, Halethorpe, MD 21227
- Dates: throughout December
Beer lovers rejoice at this fun and festive outdoor display put up each year by Guinness Open Gate Brewery. Stroll along with your beverage in hand (maybe one of the brewery’s special limited-edition holiday brews?) through one-of-a-kind light displays including classic Guinness icons, nods to local Maryland traditions, and winter scenes. Oh, and don’t miss the holiday keg tree!
Breakfast with Santa on the Reindeer Railway
- Address: 901 W Pratt St., Baltimore, MD 21223
- Dates: Weekend after Thanksgiving through the weekend before Christmas
During a hearty buffet breakfast at the B&O Railroad Museum, the big man will be dropping in for Christmas cheer and photo ops; you can also enjoy all the usual fun of the museum, including a holiday train display and indoor carousel.
Then, take a ride on the Reindeer Railway, wearing lighted antlers to help light the way for Santa’s journey!
Head south for more things to do in DC this season!
Washington Monument Lighting
- Address: Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore, MD
- Dates: First week in December (check for specific day each year)
This is an iconic tradition that always kicks off the season for Baltimore: the lighting of the city’s Washington Monument with over 8,000 brilliant LED lights, and other lighting effects. Now, this isn’t the pointy monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; this is a tall column that features a large statue of the first president at the top, surrounded by a fountain and green space.
It’s a great place to gather for this important community event, which is often accompanied by fireworks, live music and other festivities that the town puts together to celebrate its residents.
Parade of Lighted Boats
- Address: begins at 1312 Shore Rd, Middle River, MD 21220 (Visible all along the Middle River)
- Dates: Weekend after Thanksgiving
You can post up at many points along the river to witness this procession of over 100 illuminated boats of all colors and patterns, the largest on the East Coast. Many say that Wilson Point Park provides the best view and space to spread out.
Local boat owners go all-out to display their Christmas spirit, including giant inflatables, Maryland theming, and fully decorated Christmas trees.
A live Parade Tracker online lets spectators know when the boats will reach them.
East Baltimore Polish Christmas Caroling
- Address: Polish Home Club, 512 S Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231
- Dates: night before Christmas Eve
Each year, fans of the festive season and of Polish heritage gather in this warm, decorated hall before venturing out into the streets of Fells Point to sing traditional Christmas tunes, as well as some Polish favorites that might be new to a lot of first-timers!
After this chilly parade, you’ll meet back at the clubhouse for a “warm-up party,” with drinking, sharing more Christmas stories and traditions, and tons of holiday cheer.
For 2020, the procession through the streets will be virtual only; attendees can still follow along the route and hear their favorite carols sung live.
Highlandtown Holiday Train Garden
- Address: Engine House #41, 520 S Conkling St., Baltimore, MD 21224
- Dates: throughout December
This storied Christmas tradition continues with an enormous model train display in a beloved local fire station. Visitors love the intricate scenes and trains that make up the tiny town, and they can take part in a scavenger hunt to find little hidden items.
Enter the raffle to win a prize gift set, perfect for a young train lover in your life (or maybe to keep and play with yourself!).
Mayor’s Annual Christmas Parade
- Address: 4207 Edgehill Ave, Baltimore, MD 21211
- Dates: early December
Watch and enjoy a 2.5-mile parade of over 160 festive marching groups, including local bands, talented young dancers, local celebrities, and even Mr. Claus himself.
Charm City goes all-out for a top-tier spectacle, which also includes classic cars, horses and giant parade balloons! Spectators are encouraged to dress up in their holiday finest (or cheesiest), and bring out friends and family for the big event.
Old Tyme Christmas in Fells Point
- Address: Broadway Square, Baltimore, Maryland, 21231
- Dates: First weekend in December
Eggnog contest– Do we really need to say more? Head to one of Baltimore’s most historic neighborhoods to start off the holiday season as Santa arrives via boat (yes, a boat), to say hello to all the good little boys and girls (don’t worry- he likes the naughty ones too).
Parents will want to pop into the Sagamore Pendry for a cocktail while the kids wait for a photo with Santa. Relax for a moment as you listen to carolers stroll through Broadway Square. End your day with the lighting of the tree and the Parade of Lighted Boats that make two laps around the Inner Harbor.
- Address: Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD 21201
- Dates: Mid-December
Tap-dancing Santas and a Sing-A-Long—what more could you want during the holiday season? Enjoy a date night or bring the whole family to experience classic holiday tunes from A Christmas Carol, Frozen and The Sound of Music with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Choral Arts Society.
Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is transformed into a festive winter wonderland. Shop for ornaments, eat a few holiday cookies and enjoy pre-concert performances you aren’t going to want to miss.
Bingo World New Year’s Eve
- Address: 4901 Belle Grove Rd, Baltimore, MD 21225
- Dates: New Year’s Eve
Stumped for how to spend New Year’s Eve? Why not play the night away at Bingo World? In addition to their regular game, they will have a special night-owl session, with a pause for the countdown and New Year’s goodie bags for everyone.
Seats are limited, so sign up now.
HARBOR POINT ICE FESTIVAL
- Address: Harbor Point Central Plaza, 1310 Point St, Baltimore, MD 21231
- Dates: Mid-January
After you’ve opened the presents and trimmed the tree, bundle up the family and head back out to Harbor Point for some truly chilly art. Stand back as ice sculptures wield chainsaws and chisels to transform that ordinary block of ice into dinosaurs, dragons and princesses to line the walkways. Dance to live music while you munch on a few goodies from the food vendors. Who said nothing fun happens after the holidays? Not when you visit Baltimore!
Photo credits: Christmas Village in Baltimore, Waterfront Partnership and Visit Baltimore