The holiday season is rife with tradition. Not all of them are worth the effort, though. Eschew the annual regifting of rum cake and cheese baskets for more pleasant reminders of the season with these holiday events.
Bazaart: The free, annual holiday shopping bazaar at the American Visionary Art Museum, 800 Key Highway, offers such a wide range of eclectic arts and crafts that shoppers are torn between purchasing gifts for loved ones and purchasing gifts for themselves. Tour ongoing exhibits at the Jim Rouse Visionary Center while browsing merchandise during the Nov. 28 sale, which lasts from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 410-244-1900 or go to avam.org.
A Monumental Occasion: The holiday season arrives with a bang at the Washington Monument lighting in Mount Vernon on Dec. 3. This year, the free event's strolling entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m., and the lighting ceremony begins at 7 p.m. at the 600 block of N. Charles St. Go to promotionandarts.com.
"The Santaland Diaries": David Sedaris turns a scathing eye toward the holidays in the hilarious "The Santaland Diaries." In this stage adaptation, Robert Dorfman takes the lead as caustic Christmas elf Crumpet, whose stint at Macy's is anything but comfortable and joyous. The Centerstage, 700 N. Calvert St., production runs Dec. 8-20. Tickets cost $25-$35. Call 410-332-0033 or go to centerstage.org.
"A Christmas Carol": Only a true Scrooge could bah humbug the Charles Dickens classic. See the timeless holiday tale at The Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., Dec. 8-13. Tickets cost $17.50-$57.50. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra Winter Tour 2009: Classic holiday carols. Rock 'n' roll. Pyrotechnics. In its 14 years, TSO has transformed holiday cheer into a fist-pumping frenzy, and on Dec. 10, the tradition continues at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St. Tickets cost $25-$59. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.
The Stoop Extreme Holiday Show: Stoop's heartfelt storytelling series continues to sell out Centerstage, 700 N. Calvert St. For its Dec. 14 holiday production, expect tales of cheer, jeer and everything in between. In addition, there will be live music from Caleb Stine and the Brakemen, ellen cherry, Arty Hill and the Baltimore City College Choir. Tickets cost $20. Call 410-332-0033 or go to stoopstorytelling.com.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular Tour: The Rockettes highkick their way across the country for the Christmas Spectacular Tour, which stops at 1st Mariner Arena, 201 W. Baltimore St., on Dec. 17. Wooden soldiers, rag dolls and even Santa Claus make an appearance at this exhilarating show. Tickets cost $25-$99. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.
Holiday Spectacular with the BSO: The Holiday Spectacular features more than 100 singers, dancers and musicians, including tap dancing Santas. The festive event takes place at The Meyerhoff, 1212 Cathedral St., and features special guests Capitol Quartet. The show runs Dec. 18-23, and tickets cost $16-$80. Call 410-783-8000 or go to bsomusic.org.
Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker: Starring Cristina Terentieva, The Moscow Ballet's whimsical holiday fairy tale has become a holiday staple. The tour pirouettes through The Lyric, 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., on Dec. 19 and 20. Tickets cost $24.50-$84.50. Call 410-547-SEAT or go to ticketmaster.com.