Annapolis gets in full holiday swing starting Thursday night with the first of three Midnight Madness holiday shopping events this month.
This is the 30th year shops, restaurants and watering holes across the city will welcome hundreds of shoppers seeking special deals, festive ambiance and holiday cheer.
The events are on three Thursdays this month — this week, Dec. 13 and the night of Dec. 20.
Stores will stay open from 6 p.m. to midnight the first two Thursdays and until 11 p.m Dec. 20.
Entering its third decade, merchants said the event that seems to be gaining favor every year.
“It seems to be more and more popular in the internet age. We have noticed in the last couple of years that more young people are coming out to shop, they want that experience,” said Erik Evans executive director of event sponsor, the Downtown Annapolis Partnership.
“You get to meet the owners of the store that’s not something you get online or in the express line at the big box store.”
Many people make an evening of it.
“They can start at happy hour, then go shopping — meet the owners, enjoy some music — then get dinner and more shopping,” Evans said. “It’s entertainment retail.”
Some start with the happy hour and stick with it. “Oh, there’s shopping?” some at the bar have been heard to say, tongue firmly in cheek.
The main shopping areas in the city are all aglow for the event. Main Street, Maryland Avenue, West Street, Dock Street and State Circle are dressed up to create a winter wonderland.
There will be music and other attractions scattered about from the band Cousin Eddie to the Salvation Army Band, choral groups, llamas and Santa Claus himself.
The night provides both a yuletide shopping opportunity and a boost for local merchants.
“For merchants, the three Midnight Madness nights can provide 20 (percent) to 30 percent of their December,” Evans said.
Margaret McLemore, who owns Irish Traditions on Main Street, concurs. “It is a very significant business wise. It is an important event for us.”
She said it is a bit weather dependent. McLemore is all for nippy December weather to add to the ambience, but is hoping bad weather stays away.
“If it must snow in December, let it be on a Tuesday.”
She’s ready for the event. For the first Midnight Madness, she’ll have traditional Irish music and refreshments. “And we’ll have some specials in the store to entice folks.”
Joanna Young has her Evergreen Antiques and True Vintage shop on Maryland Avenue all twinkly for the event, with more lights to come.
She first touted Maryland Avenue’s attractions for the first night: From Santa Claus arriving for free pictures from 6 to 8 p.m. to a belly dancer and the Chesapeake Revellers, singing Christmas songs adorned in Dickensian garb.
Her shop is full of Christmas trinkets from holiday brooches and earrings to vintage mercury glass ornaments, two vintage holiday punch bowl sets, on depression glass and the other milkware. There are other gift ideas like vintage men’s tie and a Valentino ladies mink coat.
And all sorts of jewelry, costume and otherwise.
“Yes, you can add some sparkle to your holiday twinkle,” Young said.
The Calvert Street garage, located at 19 St Johns St., is free between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
If you use the Park & Shop program, you can earn up to four hours of free parking at Hillman, Gott's Court and Knighton garages. See more information at www.downtownannapolispartnership.org/park-n-shop.
The Whitmore garage, located at 25 Clay St., is $2 from 4 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Parking at the Gott’s Court and Knighton garages is $5 when you prepay at www.annapolisparking.com.
Free circulator buses run along West Street, Calvert Street, State Circle and Main Street.
- Alpaca International — clothing boutique
- The Annapolis Pottery — pottery store and studio
- Back Creek Books — specialty book shop
- Blanca Flor Silver Jewelry — sterling silver jewelry and gifts
- Graul's Market — grocery store
- HERE. a pop-up shop — pop-up gift boutique
- Irish Traditions — Irish clothing and gift boutique
- Lilac Bijoux — clothing boutique
- The Lucky Knot — clothing boutique
- Maria's Picture Place & Gift Shop — gallery, picture framing and gift shop
- Maryland Federation of Art — gallery
- Mr. Scherfel — men's clothing boutique
- The Pink Crab — clothing boutique
- Mission Escape Rooms — interactive escape room experience
- RASA juice shop — vegan, gluten-free food and juice shop
- Sheehy Lexus — car dealership
- The Spice & Tea Exchange — seasoning and tea shop
- TTR Sotheby's International Realty — real estate services
- Tyler Bo — clothing boutique
- Woodcraft Artisans — home decor
- Zachary's Jewelers — fine and custom jewelry
- Buddy's Crabs & Ribs — seafood and ribs
- Caliente Grill — Latino cuisine
- Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen — Italian cuisine
- Chick and Ruth's Delly — deli and bakery
- Federal House Bar & Grille — bar and grille
- Galway Bay Irish Restaurant — Irish pub
- Kilwins — ice cream and chocolate shop
- Level A Small Plates Lounge — cocktails and tapas style cuisine
- Light House Bistro — social enterprise restaurant
- Middleton Tavern — Chesapeake cuisine
- Miss Shirley's Cafe — Southern-style breakfast and lunch
- Mission BBQ — barbecue restaurant
- O’Brien’s Steakhouse — Chesapeake cuisine
- Rams Head Tavern — American tavern fare
- Reynolds Tavern — teahouse and pub
- Stan and Joe's Saloon — American pub fare
- Starbucks — coffeehouse
For more information, visit www.downtownannapolispartnership.org/midnight-madness.