Towson’s annual Winterfest shifts into high gear this week with the lighting of a community Christmas tree downtown on Friday.
The annual Towson Chamber of Commerce celebration began with Black Friday, Nov. 24, and runs through the weekend before Christmas as a way to draw visitors to downtown Towson.
Baltimore County marks the start of the holiday season with an annual tree lighting, which this year occurs Dec. 1 from 6 to 8 p.m., at Olympic Park, 1 W. Joppa Road, near Towson Circle.
The night’s festivities include remarks from County Executive Kevin Kamenetz ahead of a tree lighting ceremony.
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fire truck; the event also will feature music and dance performances, hot chocolate and cookies, according to Towson Chamber of Commerce director Nancy Hafford.
Dozens of trees will also be decorated by local business owners during next week’s Fire & Ice Family Night. The night’s events are good for all ages and bring thousands of people to the urban core of Towson, Hafford said.
Visitors can stop downtown from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 8 to view nine sculptures carved from ice, make free s’mores over four fire pits set up in front of participating businesses and check out more than 25 decorated Christmas trees throughout downtown Towson.
Brad Mitchell, Nacho Mama’s general manager, said the Towson Tex-Mex restaurant participated in the event last year just a couple of weeks after opening at 2 W. Pennsylvania Ave.
The restaurant will participate again this year by hosting a fire pit for s’mores. Employees will also decorate a three-foot tree with Natty Boh ornaments and other trinkets found around the restaurant.
“We were so new that it’s a bit of a blur, but it’s a fun vibe in Towson,” Mitchell said. “It’s a lot of fun and a really good night for families.”
The night concludes with the judging of the annual tree decorating contest by Winterfest chairman Colin Exelby and Towson representatives, Baltimore County Councilman David Marks and state Del. Steve Lafferty.
Other events planned throughout the month include holiday happy hours, a special men’s shopping night and breakfasts with Santa.
Participating Towson bars and restaurants will offer food and drink specials from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 7, 14 and 21.
Men’s Shopping Night is set for Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. with specials and promotions planned for downtown Towson business and free gift wrapping available at Souris Saloon, at 537 York Road.
Those with kiddos in tow can also stop by Souris Saloon Dec. 2 for Breakfast with characters from the movie, Frozen — Anna, Elsa and Olaf. The cost is $6.99 for kids ages 2 to 9 and $13.99 for those 10 and older.
Another holiday kids’ breakfast is set for Dec. 9 at Charles Village Pub, 19 W. Pennsylvania Ave. Pricing is the same for breakfast with the Grinch and Buddy the Elf from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Free parking is available at the Allegheny Plaza garage throughout December after 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.towsonchamber.com.