The holiday season is a great time to explore Frederick, Maryland, which is only about an hour's drive from Baltimore. Strolling through the historic downtown area, shopping for unique gifts, touring the old homes, and enjoying a holiday concert will get you into the Christmas spirit. This charming city, steeped in Civil War history, is brimming with lights and decor at which to marvel, and in December has a bounty of festivals and events to attend.
Keep in mind that many events have been canceled or altered during 2020. Check the websites of organizers for updated information.
Maryland Christmas Show
The Maryland Christmas Show occurs over two weekends at the Frederick County Fairgrounds. It fills seven buildings with the works of 500 artists and craftsmen. If you haven't bought your presents yet or your Christmas decor could use a refresh, this is where to find fine art, pottery, furniture, quilts, jewelry, clothing, decorations, toys, and ornaments. In 2020, the 36th annual event will take place from November 20 to 22 and 27 to 29.
Walkersville Southern Railroad Santa Trains
On Saturdays and Sundays throughout December, you can take a scenic train ride with Santa on the Walkersville Southern Railroad. The man in red brings gifts for each child and roams the train car for photo ops during the ride. Reservations are required and should be made early as the event sells out far in advance. The train can get cold, so be sure to bundle up before boarding. In 2020, Santa Trains will run at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. on November 28 and 29 and December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, and 20.
Frederick Museums by Candlelight
The self-guided Museums by Candlelight event features free holiday-themed programs at more than 20 museums and historic sites in Frederick County. Enjoy period demonstrations, living history vignettes, hands-on crafts, refreshments, tours, music, and holiday decorations at the Brunswick Heritage Museum, Catocin Furnace Historical Society, C. Burr Artz Public Library, Creeger House, Delaplaine Arts Center, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Thomas House at Monocacy National Battlefield, Hood College, and more. In 2020, Frederick Museums by Candlelight will take place virtually from December 1 to 13.
Kris Kringle Procession
Rolling through Baker Park, South Carroll, and West Patrick Streets, the Kris Kringle Procession is one of Frederick's most beloved holiday events. The town radiates holiday spirit as local groups march alongside German and English characters of yesteryear and modern favorites like Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Jack Frost. The parade usually ends with the lighting of the City Tree, but in 2020, the procession and tree lighting ceremony have been canceled.
Frederick Festival of Lights
Holiday greetings, a candle lighting ceremony, and carolers are all part of the Festival of Lights that takes place in the courtyard of City Hall annually. In past years, the event has included musical performances by the Frederick Children’s Chorus and inspirational speeches by Rev. Dr. Barbara Kershner Daniel. The mayor makes an appearance and guests bring donations for the annual school supply drive at this festival, which in 2020 has been canceled.
A Christmas Carol
The cast of dozens, the two-story set, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, and, of course, Tiny Tim transport audiences to Victorian England in this annual presentation of "A Christmas Carol." A longstanding tradition of the Carroll County Arts Center, the play typically takes the stage over one weekend in mid-December; however, it's been canceled in 2020.
The Frederick Children's Chorus performs an annual Messiah Sing-Along with a full professional orchestra and several soloists at the Weinberg Center for the Arts. This rendition of G.F. Handel's Christmas masterpiece is typically held on the day before Christmas Eve but has been canceled in 2020.
Candlelight House Tour
This self-guided walking tour takes visitors inside private homes throughout downtown Frederick, all elaborately decorated for the holidays. The homes usually have distinct architectural styles, some having been built more than 200 years ago. In 2020, the Candlelight House Tour has been canceled.