Celebrate the Holidays in Baltimore
There’s nothing more magical than Charm City during the holiday season. We have plenty of ways to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and more. Whether you’re looking for festive light displays, winter activities, special events or decked-out restaurants, there is something in Baltimore for you to enjoy.
Baltimore Holiday Traditions
Miracle on 34th Street
The holiday cheer in Baltimore spreads throughout neighborhoods like Hampden where you can experience the “Miracle on 34th Street” lights and decorations that pop up starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving and stay on until New Year’s Eve. The displays are so bright they get national attention from outlets such as NBC News and Business Insider year after year! Learn more about the history of the display here, which was started by a local couple over 70 years ago. During your visit, try to spot the crowd favorites such as the hubcap tree or the bicycle wheel snowman.
Grab a bite at: Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, a cozy seafood spot located just two blocks north of 34th Street. In addition to a robust list of fresh oysters that rotates daily, Dylan’s serves up coddies, halibut, rainbow trout and sea beam. Grab a quaint window seat to observe the always-bustling Avenue, another name for Hampden’s 36th Street, or grab a seat at the full-service bar.
German Christmas Village
Enjoy an authentic German Christmas market right here in Charm City! From Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve each year, the Christmas Village returns to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to transform West Shore Park into European wonderland. A huge heated festival tent and outdoor wooden booths harbor dozens of vendors and their high quality arts and crafts from all over the world. Don’t miss famous German vendor Kathe Wohlfahrt which offers genuine handmade German Schwibbbogen, pyramids and glass ornaments. Once you’re done with Christmas shopping, head to the Winter Wundergarden and enjoy German delicacies such as brautwurst, pretzels, Lebkuchen (gingerbread), mulled wine or a good German beer. Daily performances of local choirs, bands and performers and special themed weekend events will sweeten your visit at the Christmas Village in Baltimore, open Nov. 18-Dec. 24.
Grab a bite at: The Outpost American Tavern, a homey pub in Federal Hill whose American fare is worth saving room for. The appetizers alone form a formidable feast, from baked brie to nachos with house-made tortilla chips and wings served with The Outpost’s signature sauces. Or, come for brunch to sample sweet French toast sticks and zeppoles or savory eggs Benedict and breakfast sandwiches.
Highlandtown Train Garden
This holiday tradition started in 2009 by a team of hardworking volunteers who dedicate months to building the train garden as a way to celebrate the community and history of Highlandtown. The massive display is housed in Engine House #41 at 520 S. Conkling Street, and features vignettes of past and present Highlandtown memorials including the Natty Boh tower, Creative Alliance and Patterson Park. It’s free to view and open to the public starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving and running through New Year’s Day. Check the train garden website for specific hours.
Grab a bite at: Sally O’s, a vibrant neighborhood eatery from “Top Chef” alum and Baltimore native Jesse Sandlin. The menu appeals to more sophisticated palates and late-night diners alike with elevated comfort foods such as the “crabonara,” a crustacean-infused take on a classic carbonara, and the Highlandtown smashburger. Don’t miss the creative cocktails; try Sally’s Old Fashioned with marshmallow syrup, brown butter apple cider or hot mulled wine.
Inner Harbor Ice Rink
Grab your ice skates (or a rental) and practice your triple axel at the outdoor ice rink in the Inner Harbor. Throughout the season check the calendar for special appearances and celebrations. The ice rink is located at the top of the Amphitheater in between the Harborplace Pavilions, overlooking the water. This year, the Inner Harbor ice rink runs from Nov. 11 to Jan. 15, and is open day and night with special hours around the holidays.
Grab a bite at: Explorers American Gastropub inside the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court. The hotel is also the pick-up point for the Holly Jolly Trolley Tour, a 90-minute journey through Baltimore’s most festive neighborhoods. You can also feed your adventurous spirit at Explorers, whose globally inspired menu includes African lamb kofta, South American quinoa croquettes, Asian dumplings, European flatbread and more.
Holly-Days at the Maryland Zoo
Celebrate the season’s magic with your favorite animals during Holly-Days at the Maryland Zoo in Druid Hill Park, held on the weekends in November and December. Get to know the species that call Baltimore home while enjoying holiday crafts, delightful carolers, photo ops, special appearances from the Grinch of Zooville, Elsa and Anna, and many more!
Grab a bite at: Woodberry Tavern, an intimate farm-to-table concept in a repurposed mill building. At the helm is Spike Gjerde, a James Beard Award-winning chef. Start with the tavern board, a hearty mix of crackers, cheese, micro-vegetables and cured meats, or one of the artful salads before feasting on your main course, which change regularly depending on what’s in season. With only 28 seats, Woodberry Tavern books up quickly, but Gjerde’s creations are always worth the wait.
Holiday Remix at the Baltimore Peninsula
Skate your way into the holiday season at the Baltimore Peninsula, which is serving up festive fun every weekend from November 24 to January 28. Practice your spins at the Roller Wave skating rink, shop local makers and artisans and enjoy the festive display at Sagamore Spirit. At the BLK ASS Kwanzaa Market on Dec. 16, enjoy educational programming about Kwanzaa and discover products from more than 30 Black-owned businesses.
Grab a bite at: Nick’s Fish House, a scenic seafood restaurant boasting unparalleled views of the Patapsco River. While it may be too chilly to enjoy the patio, Nick’s has an indoor area where you can warm up with steamed crabs, lobster mac and cheese, crab soup and jumbo seafood platters.
B&O Railroad Museum’s Holiday Festival of Trains
As the home to the first mile and a half stretch of train track laid in America, the B&O Railroad Museum knows a thing or two about tradition. For the month of December, the B&O transforms into the winter wonderland of your sugarplum dreams. During the Holiday Festival of Trains, view splendid train displays, snap a picture with Santa, ride the Reindeer Railway or embark on a magical journey to the North Pole with the Polar Express Train Ride. Along the way, sip on spiced cider, indulge in some sugar cookies and prepare to present your wish list to Mr. Claus.
Grab a bite to eat at: Swill Apothecafe, not-your-average brunch spot at the end of Washington Boulevard, Pigtown’s main shopping street. A sweet standout is the brown sugar French toast, which consists of thick brioche dipped in vanilla custard, while the savory sensation is the shrimp and grits. Wash it down with a fresh-pressed juice—the “Better Than OJ” contains orange, pineapple and mint while the “House Punch” blends carrots, pineapple and ginger.
Four Seasons Winter Village
The Four Seasons Hotel’s exclusive fifth floor terrace will transform back into a 1,800 square foot “Winter Village” featuring a synthetic skating rink boasting expansive views of the harbor. The outdoor rooftop experience will be filled with holiday sights, private cabanas with a fire pit for rent, festive holiday decor and lively music. You can also warm up with holiday food and beverage favorites, including rich, decadent European-style hot chocolate topped with house-made flavored marshmallows, hot apple cider, handcrafted cocktails, sweet and savory crepes station, and so much more.
Grab a bite at: The Bygone, a swanky setting on the top of the Four Seasons boasting a panoramic view of downtown Baltimore and the Patapsco River. Chef Matthew Oetting took inspiration from the glamorous ’20s and ’30s, then blended it with nouvelle cuisine of the post-World War II era and today’s trends to establish his French-inspired menu consisting of foie gras, filet mignon, 36-hour short rib and more.
Miracle Pop-Up Bar
Step into a Hallmark movie at Leinie’s Lodge & Beer Garden in Power Plant Live!, which from Nov. 24 to Dec. 30 transforms into a glittering holiday wonderland complete with floor-to-ceiling decorations and seasonal cocktails. Miracle also presents many opportunities to check items off your holiday bucket list, from gingerbread making classes and trivia nights to tableside s’mores. The pop-up is open Wednesday-Saturday and reservations are recommended.
Grab a bite at: Underground Pizza Company, a wildly popular Detroit-style pizza company located across the street from Lennie’s. Signature menu items include The Woodlands, which features Hen of the Woods and oyster mushrooms, gruyere cheese and thyme, and the half red sauce, half pesto Funfetti pizza topped with peppers, onions and spicy Italian sausage.
Local Gift Shopping
Find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list at Baltimore’s small businesses. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Baltimore-made beauty products, home goods, art, experiences and more. Find them at brick-and-mortar locations and pop-up holiday markets around Charm City.