It's here! I know we've all been listening to Burl Ives singing "Holly Jolly Christmas" in the grocery store for weeks now, but we historic district lovers know the holiday season doesn't really start until we enjoy our beloved Midnight Madness, a holiday tradition for decades.
This year it's Friday, Dec. 6. Most shops will be open until midnight, the tree in front of the Welcome Center will be lit, music will be playing, elves' hats will be worn, and a good time will be had by all. Shop local this year.
Before you go to the historic district, you might want to swing by the Howard County Center for the Arts, which is having its annual holiday sale and open house on Dec. 6 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. featuring many hand-crafted items.
And, speaking of hand-crafted, Ellicott City artist Wiley Purkey is selling his wares from a pop-up gallery on the second floor of Shoemaker Country, 8095 Main St., until the end of December. In addition to his original artwork, he will have prints, greeting cards, post cards, pillows, and coffee mugs all with images of Ellicott City. What great gift ideas.
Another unique gift idea I just heard about is at Sweet Cascades at 8167Main St. They take a wine bottle and cover it in chocolate for you. The result is wrapped in cellophane and decked with a festive bow and really looks amazing. You can actually order your wine from the Wine Bin and the two shops will collaborate and do the rest. If you don't drink wine, I understand that they will just as happily coat a Yoo Hoo bottle for you, which I think is great fun. Contact Sweet Cascades at 410-750-8422 for more information.
The Wine Bin has scheduled two scotch-tasting events at Fireside Stone and Patio on Frederick Road across from the mill. One is scheduled for Dec. 5. The second is Dec/ 18, both at 7 p.m. The cost is $30 each, which includes the tastings, appetizers and a $10 gift certificate towards scotch purchases. Call 410-465-7802 for reservations.
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The Ellicott City Historic District Partnership has announced the annual holiday window decorating contest. All businesses in the historic district are eligible to participate and all visitors are eligible to vote for the winner.
Actually there will be two winners — the Judge's Choice, to be announced the week of Dec. 9, and the People's Choice, to be announced Jan. 3. Ballots are available around town and at the Visitor's Center. Your ballot also serves as an entry form to win a $75 gift certificate for the historic district shop or restaurant of your choice, courtesy of the Partnership. So, come down, enjoy the marvelous decorations, and vote for your choice.
The Howard County Historical Society is presenting the latest in its concert series on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Museum on Court Avenue. This holiday show is a performance by Ocean, a Celtic fusion band, with a special appearance by Father Christmas. Tickets are free to Society members (but registration is required) and $20 for non-members. Also, don't forget about the Society's Holiday House Tour, scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 15. And, it's time for you to participate in the 50th anniversary community cookbook project, with submissions due by Dec. 31. For more information about these events, call 410-480-3250 or go to the website at http://www.hchsmd.org.
Martha Anne Clark and I will sign our book, "The Enchanted Forest," at the Holiday Mart at the Gary Arthur Community Center in Glenwood on Saturday, Dec. 7, starting at 10 a.m. I will also be signing copies of "Remembering Ellicott City" with Vickie Goeller there. On Sunday, Dec. 8, Martha Anne and I will be signing at the Barnes & Noble at Long Gate Shopping Center from 1 to 3 p.m. Hope to see you at these events.