State's historic homes are decked out in holiday splendor, waiting for visitors


November 28, 1993|By Dorothy Fleetwood | Dorothy Fleetwood,Contributing Writer

Christmas preparations have been under way for weeks in Maryland's famous houses and historic sites. And now, dressed in their holiday best, they stand ready and waiting to welcome visitors to seasonal celebrations.

Events with a Colonial flavor will lure visitors to mansions like the William Paca and Hammond-Harwood houses in Annapolis, Mount Clare in Baltimore, the Teakle Mansion in Princess Anne and Hampton Mansion in Towson. But there's much more to Christmas in Maryland than elegant mansions and lavish decorations. Many sites offer period music, dancing, cooking demonstrations and refreshments.

In Fells Point, every weekend until Christmas is busy with holiday activities, concerts, performances, even a scavenger hunt. Weekends in the waterfront towns of Solomons on Dec. 3-4 and St. Michaels Dec. 11-12 offer amusements for all ages. Drive through an illuminated battlefield, ride the B&O train to the celebration at Mount Clare, attend the nighttime spectacle of a lighted boat parade or visit the Drum Point Lighthouse trimmed from top to bottom for a 19th-century Christmas.

These are but a few of the many holiday offerings in Maryland, so check out the following calendar and pick a date.

Weekends now through Dec. 19

* Olde Fashioned Candlelight Christmas in Fells Point, Baltimore: Shops and homes in this waterfront community are decorated for an old-fashioned Christmas. A town crier announces the events of the evening, including fireside readings of Dickens at the Admiral Fell Inn, a lamplighter's tour, Christmas activities at the Robert Long House, holiday scavenger hunt, horse-drawn carriage rides (small fee), "The Gift of the Magi" performed by the Vagabond Theatre Players, children's breakfast with Old St. Nick and mini-performances of " 'Twas The Night Before Christmas" at the Inn at Henderson's Wharf.

Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; noon to 9 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Special events: parade of lighted boats along the Fells Point waterfront from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4; musical performances by concert bands, brass quintets, carolers and string quartets. All activities are free unless otherwise stated. (410) 327-8360.

Today and Dec. 4-5

* Holiday Visits at Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster: "A Gathering of Greens" is the theme of the holiday celebration at this 1800s farmhouse. Costumed guides welcome guests into rooms decked with greenery and featuring Old World customs. Musicians play holiday music; the summer kitchen is the site of open-hearth cooking and gingerbread making; woodcarvers and other craftsmen demonstrate in the museum outbuildings. Also offered: wagon rides (small fee) and holiday foods; and Santa pays daily visits from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $1 for adults; those under 12 free. (410) 876-2667.

Dec. 1 to Jan. 2

* Historic Annapolis Foundation Christmas Celebration, 186 Prince George St., Annapolis: "A Holiday Visit to William and Molly Paca's Colonial Home." Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission: $4 for garden tour; $6 house and garden tour; half price for children.

Events include Colonial food demonstrations with open-hearth cooking, recipes and food sampling, noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 5; instructions on making holiday decorations, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 12; holiday stories for children of all ages, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Dec. 19. Admission for special events: $4 for adults; $2 for children. (410) 269-0432.

Dec. 2-5 and Dec. 9-12

* Christmas Madrigal Evenings, St. Mary's City: There's a series of candlelight dinners in the reconstructed State House of 1676. Dine with the lord and lady of the manor as madrigals and motets are sung by costumed entertainers. Evenings begin with wassail hour at 6:30 p.m. Admission: $40. (800) SMC-1634 or (301) 862-0981.

Dec. 3-4

* Solomons Christmas Walk, Solomons: This Chesapeake Bay village has 3,000 luminaria, carolers, bell ringers and madrigal singers, a holiday treasure hunt, breakfast with Santa, medieval entertainment, a children's art contest and visits with Santa at Calvert Marine Museum and a lighted boat parade Saturday evening. Hours: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. (410) 326-2549 or (800) 356-2009.

* State House by Candlelight, Annapolis: Visitors are invited to an open-house celebration with candlelight and holiday music. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free. (410) 974-3400.

* Ballestone Manor Holly Tour, Rocky Point Golf Course, Back River Neck Road, Essex: Costumed guides lead candlelight tours through the manor house to visit rooms decorated in period styles. See Santa's workshop, enjoy musical entertainment, talk with Civil War soldiers encamped on the lawn. Tour concludes with homemade cookies and hot cider by the fireside in the 1840s kitchen. Also available: handcrafted gifts and surprise visits by Santa. Also Dec. 5 and Dec. 10-12.

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