Happy Thanksgiving, and welcome to the holiday season!

Sykesville Main Street will lead off with a holiday shopping extravaganza, 12 Hours of Christmas, on Friday, Dec. 6, from noon until midnight. Stores will offer special sales during this extended opening, with plenty of live seasonal music, wine and refreshments to delight shoppers.


Make sure to return to with the kiddos On Saturday, Dec. 7, 2-9 p.m., for a free and fun-filled Christmas celebration. The indoor events will run 2- 5 p.m. at the Sykesville Townhouse, 7547 Main St., and will include children's crafts, live music by String Echoes, and appearances by favorite holiday characters like Rudolph, Frosty and the Grinch.

After 5 p.m., the festivities will move outside, with carolers performing in the gazebo, and, of course, Santa's big arrival at 6 p.m. to light the town Christmas tree. The big fellow will hang around for photos until 8 p.m. while the merriment continues with a live brass band, refreshments and an outdoor showing of "Frosty the Snowman." Model trains will be on display all day, and shops will remain open until 9 p.m.

I must apologize that I missed a new activity on Main Street this year. The area celebrated the first night of Hanukah by lighting a giant menorah on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 27. I will make sure to keep my eyes peeled for this event next year.

For more information about Sykesville Main Street, go to http://www.sykesvillemainstreet.com or http://www.facebook.com/sykesville. Still have questions? Contact Main Street Manager Ivy Wells at Ivy@sykesville.net or 410-795-8959.

Chapelgate Presbyterian Church will host a Christmas Jazz Coffeehouse three nights running: Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 8, 7-9 p.m., at Einstein Bagels in the Chatham Station Shopping Center of Ellicott City. Come out for some free holiday music and coffee, tea or cocoa; specialty drinks and food will be available for purchase. Go to http://www.chapelgate.org to learn more.

On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Howard County Conservancy will host its Natural Holiday Sale and Crafts from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 10520 Old Frederick Road (Route 99), in Woodstock. This free, family-friendly event will feature local vendors selling pottery, handcrafted soaps and beeswax candles, jewelry, nature books and photography items, kid's books, puppets and more.

Additionally, children and adults can craft whimsical creatures out of natural materials like pine cones and seed pods. For more details, go to http://www.hcconservancy.org, or call 410-465-8877.

The Garden Clubs of Howard County will present Historic Waverly Mansion Holiday Tours on Sunday, Dec. 8 ,from 1 to 4 p.m., and on Monday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m. to noon and 6:30 to 9 p.m. The Marriotts Ridge High School Madrigals will provide live music during the Monday candlelight tour.

Entry costs $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for children, with complimentary hot cider and cookies available after the tour. Handcrafted holiday items and greenery will be available for purchase.

Finally, students at West Friendship Elementary School will present a winter choral concert on Monday, Dec. 9, at 2:30 p.m. for teachers and peers, and Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m., for parents and other supporters. For more information, call the school at 410-313-5512.