Lighting the way A regional guide to the colors, flavors and traditions of the holiday season

November 30, 1997|By Randi Kest | Randi Kest,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Nearly half a million twinkling lights are still to be hung, and 20 naked rooms await lavish Victorian trimmings. Wheelbarrows full poinsettias will arrive for arranging, and wicker baskets have to be filled with bundles of frosted sugar cookies. Lace-trimmed velvet costumes need cleaning, and hundreds of candlesticks must be polished.

Luckily this isn't your "to do" list for the holidays, which means you can enjoy the results all the more. Instead, all this hard work is being done in towns around the region as they primp and prepare for the season.

From Easton to Cumberland and Philadelphia to Virginia Beach, from 17th-century to modern day and first time to 62nd annual, events in the surrounding counties and states are helping create the holiday spirit for your enjoyment. So don't get bogged down with your own holiday preparations. Take some time to enjoy everyone else's.


* In the Alleghenies of Western Maryland, Cumberland celebrates with the "Angels on High" Victorian Christmas, open until Dec. 30. An 18-room period townhouse, 218 Washington St., features a Victorian Christmas tree, handmade ornaments and floral arrangements. The display is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and general tours are available on the hour. Candlelight tours will be led Dec. 12, Dec. 16 and Dec. 19 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission, candlelight or general tour: $2 for adults, $1 for children over 12 and free to those under 12.

A children's tea tour is scheduled Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. and includes a children's angel tea, a puppet show and a house tour. Admission: $5 a child. Reservations for the tea tour are required. Call 301-777-8678 for information.

* Beginning this weekend, Frederick County provides a range of activities geared to the family.

Inveterate shoppers can explore the Maryland Christmas Show Dec. 5-7 at the Frederick Fairgrounds. The annual event displays work by more than 500 artisans and craftsmen. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Also on the fairgrounds, the Holiday Food Pavilion offers freshly made breads, strudel and candy. Admission: $5 for adults, $2.50 for children 12 and younger. Call 301-898-5466 for information.

Next Friday, an Old-World festival spotlights Frederick's heritage. At 6: 30 p.m. a traditional German holiday procession will begin at Everedy Square and conclude at Baker Park with the arrival of Kris Kringle. Free admission. Call 800-999-3613 for information.

Rediscover a majestic old-fashioned Christmas during Frederick County's self-guided "Museums by Candlelight" tour, Dec. 13 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. More than a dozen museums will have hands-on holiday activities, such as cookie baking and card making, for parents and children.

A brochure listing the museums and their events is available at the Frederick Visitor's Center, 19 E. Church St., as well as at other area visitor centers and participating museums. Museum admission will be waived at most locations. Call 301-663-8687.

* In Annapolis, a candlelight pub crawl winds from the Governor Calvert House (for fruits, cheeses and wassail) to either Griffin's Upstairs or Middleton Tavern (for a Christmas supper) and finally to the Maryland Inn (for yuletide dessert). Between stops, revelers follow a costumed guide through the city as he tells of long-ago Christmases and strolls past Colonial mansions, Victorian townhouses and quaint shops decorated for the season.

Pub crawls are slated for Dec. 7, Dec. 11, Dec. 14, Dec. 18 and Dec. 21. Cost is $73 a person; reservations are required. Call 410-263-5401.

From the Annapolis city dock, more than three dozen powerboats and sailboats decorated for the holidays will head for Spa Creek during the 15th annual Eastport Yacht Club's Lights Parade. This year's free event is Dec. 13 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Call 410-263-0415.

* The lights are already up on the Eastern Shore. More than 800,000 of them are aglow until Jan. 31 for Ocean City's "Winterfest of Lights." This townwide event also features animated characters and ornaments, and a light-seeing "train" ride around the festival. Open 5: 30 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Free. Winterfest Express train ride $2 a person. Call 410-250-0215.

On Dec. 6, Ocean City will hold its annual Christmas parade. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., floats, horses, motorcycles, bands, clowns and the Clauses will wind along Coastal Highway between 100th and 115th streets. Free. Call 410-524-9000.

* It's going to be a Dickens of a Christmas in Easton this year as the historical town re-creates Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 4-13. Boughs of pine will line doorways, while white lights shimmer through windows, casting shadows on the cold ground outside.

The holiday festival -- Easton's third annual -- was chosen by Victoria magazine as one of the nation's top small-town celebrations.

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