By Julekha Dash
When there’s snow on the ground and presents under the tree, there’s no better way to get into the holiday spirit than to see a dazzling display of angels, wreathes, elves and candy canes in one of the area’s light shows. Some shows are in town, others in the suburbs and others are at the beach. We’ve listed some of the most notable ones, along with tips on where to grab a drink or dinner nearby.
Symphony of Lights
5950 Symphony Woods Rd.
Columbia, Md. 21044
Open every day from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. through Jan. 1, 2012
Car or van $20; commercial van $45;
This longstanding tradition in Howard County features more than 70 light displays, including toy soldiers, Mother Goose, elves and a gingerbread house. The drive through these festive light displays will take about 30 minutes. All proceeds go toward Howard County General Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Grab dinner or drinks afterwards at local favorites, Clyde’s of Columbia or Sushi Sono. Both locations feature great drink specials and views of Lake Kittamaqundi.
Miracle on 34th Street, Hampden
700 block of 34th Street
Between Keswick Rd. and Chestnut St.
Starting at dusk every night, now through Jan. 1, 2012
This is the Baltimore you see in John Waters’ movies. So naturally the light display is going to be as kitschy and endearingly tacky as one of his movie characters. Put on by the residents of Hampden, the light display includes giant snow globes, a Christmas tree made of hubcaps and another decorated with crabs and Old Bay seasoning and a snowman made of bicycle wheels. It all culminates with a ball drop on New Year’s Eve.
There are plenty of eating and dining options around in Hampden’s main drag, known as the Avenue. You can grab a glass of Cabernet and a cheese plate at stylish wine bar 13.5 or get some comfort grub in a galactic setting at Rocket to Venus.
Lights on the Bay
Sandy Point State Park
1100 East College Parkway
Annapolis, Md. 21409
Every night from now until Jan. 1, 2012 5 p.m-10 p.m.
$14 per car, $28 for minivans, $50 for commercial vehicles
Reviews, Directions & More Info
Enjoy a two-mile drive through Sandy Point State Park while watching gingerbread men leap into a gingerbread house, Naval Academy midshipmen toss their hats in the air and a juggling snowman. This is all set against the backdrop of the Chesapeake Bay. Proceeds benefit Anne Arundel Medical Center.You can grab dinner at waterfront seafood restaurant Cantler’s Riverside Inn or head to historic downtown Annapolis and stroll through the many bars and restaurants.
Winterfest of Lights
Northside Park at 127th St.
125th St. and Bayside, Ocean City
Open now through Jan. 1, 2012; Sunday-Thursday 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30
$5.00, free for kids 11 and younger
If you’re spending the holidays at the beach, board the Winterfest Express train in Ocean City. It takes you through the Twelve Days of Christmas and other light displays. The Winterfest Village includes a gift shop, hot chocolate and a photo op with Santa.
Afterwards, grab a glass of vino and appetizers from Liquid Assets, a wine store, wine bar and restaurant at 94th & Coastal Highway. The main dining room is designed like a wine cave. If you’re craving seafood, stop at one of the many restaurants in town.
Julekha Dash is the managing editor of BmoreMedia.com, a website that covers innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in Baltimore. She lives in Ellicott City, Md.