The holiday season has arrived, heralding a plethora of festive events from concerts, to tree lightings, to parades. This season also features some quirkier events, including a concert of “ghosts of Christmas Brassed," a solstice concert and a creepy little Christmas presentation.
So whether you are looking for something traditional, or not, Howard County has got you covered.
Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods is hosting Fire and Ice: A Winter Wonderland every Saturday and Sunday now through Dec. 22. Not to be confused with Symphony of Lights, a drive-through light display open now through Jan. 1 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Fire and Ice: A Winter Wonderland takes place on the grounds of Symphony Woods.
Expanding on last year’s Celebration in the Woods, this year’s event steps off the Chrysalis stage onto the Symphony Woods’ grounds for a light maze, holiday light displays and a 30-foot tree of light.
“It’s a little bit bigger than last year’s,” said Becky Hawk, event coordinator for Inner Arbor Trust Inc. “There will be a living snow globe, a walking Christmas tree and a light and sound show.”
Santa Claus will also be present to hear children’s wishes and for photos on the Chrysalis stage. Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Ice Fairy will also be making the rounds.
“There will be a 200-foot lighted tunnel when you first come in,” Hawk said. “It is really cool.”
A concession stand will sell hot cocoa, hot cider, popcorn, hot pretzels and more. S’more kits will be sold, too, to make around the fire pit.
Proceeds from the event will help fund Inner Arbor Trust’s free community arts programs as well Community Action Council of Howard County and additional nonprofits.
Ice and Fire Festival: A Winter Wonderland, takes place Saturdays and Sundays, from 5 to 8 p.m., now through Dec. 22 at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods, 10431 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Ticket prices vary. 443-832-3223
Christmas in the Park at Centennial Park will feature Howard County’s tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 14. Caroling by local groups and light refreshments will be part of the festivities and Santa Claus and friends are expected to attend, too.
Christmas in the Park at Centennial Park will be Saturday, Dec. 14, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., Centennial Park South Entrance, 10000 Route 108, Columbia. 410-313-7275.
The Great Lisbon Farmers Feed the Hungry Christmas Parade has been held annually since 2011 and will take place this year on Saturday, Dec. 14. Featuring tractors, horses and carriages, the parade travels down Frederick Road to raise money for The Howard County Food Bank, Carroll County Food Sunday, Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry and Lisbon Volunteer Fire Company.
“Last year, we raised almost $18,000,” said Howie Feaga, president of Howard County Farm Bureau, organizer of the event. “Everything we take in, we’ve been able to donate. All of our costs to put on a the parade are handled by donations specifically for the parade.”
The parade was canceled once due to weather, but it will take place during snow or rain unless it is a major storm, Feaga said.
“One year, we had light snow and it was magical to see everybody go through,” Feaga said. “It looks like we could have some rain this year. Maybe it will hold off. ”
While the date to register horse participants has passed, Feaga said anyone who wants to participate on a tractor can sign up on the day of the parade.
“This year the Howard County Farm Bureau challenged the Carroll County Farm Bureau to have more tractors in it than we do,” Feaga said. “We wanted to drive up a little competition. We’re anxious to see how many come over.”
After the parade, Lisbon Fire hall will host a chicken dinner, and shops in the area will be open.
"Lisbon is a quiet little town in Western Howard County, " Feaga said. “Everybody knows [the parade] is coming and look forward to it.”
Great Lisbon Farmers Feed the Hungry Christmas Parade will be Saturday, Dec. 14, noon. It will travel down Route 144 (Frederick Road) from Daisy Road to the Lisbon Circle.
Maryland History Tours will present “A Creepy Little Christmas” on Sunday, Dec. 15, at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company.
“The Victorian and Edwardian ages had a very warped sense of humor,” said Ed Lilley, founder of the Maryland History Tours. “This is brand new for us. We’re branching out this year.”
Rissa Miller, a tour guide for Maryland History Tours, started several new tours for the company this year, including a Full Moon Lore tour, a Haunts and Hounds tour and a Witchy History Pub Crawl.
She noticed Krampus, a half-goat, half-demon figure in European folklore who punishes misbehaving children during the Christmas season, was becoming more popular in the public eye (there was a Krampus tour in Baltimore) and decided to look into other “dark Christmas” tales.
“There is a big history of spooky dark Christmas stuff,” Miller said. “It’s been such an education. This is so fascinating.”
She learned about yule goblins, Italian Christmas witches, goblins who ate children and Mari Lwyd, a horse skull wrapped in a shroud that demands entry into homes and food.
“Folklore is folklore,” Miler said. “A lot of this folklore was developed for practical reasons. It was a much darker time of year, the winter solstice. It’s all about dark creatures coming out.”
“She has found a lot of weird stuff related to Christmas,” Lilley said. “I had a year-round Christmas store for many years in Ellicott City and I never knew. Every country has these characters to teach their children there are good and bad, and you’re punished if you’re bad.
“Apparently, it took a lot to bring the kids under control,” Lilley added. “Some are truly terrifying. You just can’t make this stuff up.”
Creepy Christmas at the Brewery will take place Sunday, Dec. 15, 7 p.m. at Ellicott Mills Brewing Company, 8308 Main St., Ellicott City. Tickets are $22.50. 410-303-2959
The Museum of Howard County will be the venue for two “unique holiday experiences,” according to Shawn Gladden, executive director of Howard County Historical Society.
Centennial Brass Midwinter Revels will perform “Ghosts of Christmas Brassed” on Dec. 20 and the band Fablelore, with singer Eli August, will perform a Winter Solstice Celebration on Dec. 21.
“We have such a unique space,” Gladden said. “We wanted to bring unique artistic experiences to the museum. It’s a great way to show off the museum.”
Centennial Brass Midwinter Revels will perform for the society members’ annual holiday concert on Dec. 20. For years, the Columbia Jazz Band has performed at the event, which is free to society members though the public can purchase tickets. Due to rearranging the museum’s exhibits, the museum no longer has the space available to accommodate the group, Gladden said, and was looking for a new attraction when members of Centennial Brass approached them.
“From my understanding, these guys are a brass quartet and are very theatrical,” Gladden said. “They will dress in Renaissance-looking garb and will try to get the crowd to participate. I understand it will be very lively.”
On Dec. 21, August’s new band Fablelore have booked the museum for a Winter Solstice Celebration.
A friend of the society for several years, August has performed his “dark American folk music” numerous times at the museum, Gladden said.
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“Eli has a strong Steampunk following and used to do Steampunk parties at the museum," Gladden said. “There were jugglers, puppeteers, marionettes and all kinds of interesting sideshow elements. This will be somewhat like that but not so sideshowy."
Guest artists will provide music from the Middle East and readings about the season of Winter. Waylon K. Smith, a folk artist from Baltimore, will release his newest CD at the event.
“Both events have somewhat of an historical thing,” Gladden said. “The more audiences you attract, the more visitors you bring to the museum. More visitors are always a good thing.”
The Centennial Brass Midwinter Revels: “Ghosts of Christmas Brassed” with Wendy Baird, soprano, will perform Friday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m., Museum of Howard County History, 8328 Court Ave., Ellicott City. Free for members. $12. 410-480-3250.
Solstice Celebration w/Fablelore, Waylon K. Smith & Brinjal will perform Saturday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. Museum of Howard County History, 8328 Court Ave., Ellicott City. Tickets are $12-$18. 410-480-3250.