Baltimore County

Holiday season is Hampden's time to shine

'Tis holiday season in Baltimore's most holiday-happy neighborhood! Walking the Avenue (West 36th Street) at this time of year is especially magical.

Sidewalks are filled with shoppers who appreciate and value small, locally-owned businesses. Light poles and storefronts are decorated with lights, shiny bulbs and tinsel. Is there really any place better to be than Hampden? Careful how you answer that, because I am fully prepared to debate anyone who answers that question "yes."


The most immediate excuse to come to Hampden is for the 41st Annual Mayor's Christmas Parade, Sunday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m.. If you recently watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV and found it a little too polished, then this is the parade for you. You get Santa – maybe even dozens of Santas, 160 marching units, floats, 100 Harley motorcycles, local radio and TV personalities, a really cool steam calliope, bands, Mummers from Philadelphia, Miss and Junior Miss Yuletide, and so much more.

This parade is a Baltimore gem, and if you haven't come out to watch it before, you're really missing out on an experience.


The next reason to come to Hampden is for the Hampden Family Center 's annual Christmas party, Saturday, Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the center, 1104 W. 36th St. There will be holiday carols, crafts and, of course, Santa! Families with pre-registered children 12 and under will receive a small, wrapped gift. Please RSVP (space is limited) to 410-467-8710.

The third reason to come to Hampden is for the elves. A squad of people dressed as elves will be on The Avenue, posing for pictures and helping direct folks to find what they're looking for, on Friday, Dec. 13 and 20 from 7-10 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14 and 21 from noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15 and 22, also from noon to 6 p.m.

Here are some other upcoming events of note:

On Friday, Dec. 6, The Wine Source, 3601 Elm Ave., will co-host a beer tasting with The Brewer's Art from 5-7 p.m. The tasting will feature 2012 and 2013 vintages of the Baltimore brewery's seasonal ale, St. Festivus, and its Birdhouse Pale Ale.

Later that night, Hampden resident Nolen Strals will celebrate the opening of his new show poster retrospective, Poster Guts, with a reception at 7 p.m. at Atomic Books Eightbar, 3620 Falls Road. His iconic prints on display will also be accompanied by design notes, original sketches, image sources and inspirations and photos from the rock shows the posters were created to promote. Original and newly reprinted posters from 1999-2013 will also be on sale. This show will be on display in Eightbar until the end of December.

It's also First Fridays in Hampden! So come on out, do some holiday shopping and enjoy the seasonal vibe of the Avenue.

Then on Saturday, Dec. 14, the Wine Source will help you get ready for the holidays with a sparkling wine tasting from 1-4 p.m. Do a little research to make sure you choose the right sparkling wines for your Christmas and New Years parties.

And on Tuesday, Dec. 17, photographer Tod Seelie will be at Atomic Books to celebrate the release of his new book of pictures, Bright Nights, from 7-9 p.m. Seelie's photographs have appeared in The New York Times, Time magazine, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vice, Juxtapoz and more!. This book presents a collection of work centered on 15 years in the New York underground scene.