40+ FREE Christmas Events in Maryland (and DC) For Kids! (updated for 2021)
40+ FREE Christmas Events in Maryland (and DC) For Kids!
Updated for 2021!
Jingle bells and Santa’s elves, and everything is merry and bright. As a parent, you really want to make Christmas magical for your kids. However, the idea of shelling out gobs of money for every magical experience is enough to turn you into a Grinch! Fortunately, there are gobs of FREE Christmas events in Maryland (and DC) that are great for kids!
Oh 2020, you were such a cruel tease… and we are still not out of the woods in 2021 either. So, Christmas events in Maryland for 2021 is a mostly good news story, but things aren’t completely back to normal.
Bad news: Yes, some Christmas events are still cancelled or have gone virtual this year due to COVID precautions. This is not a surprise but I know it doesn’t make it any less sad for you and your family.
Good news: There are loads (and I mean loads) of FREE and fun Holiday events that are back and happening!
Note about this list: These events are FREE, as in there is no cost of admission. However, you might have to pay for parking or public transit and there will likely be an extra cost for food. Also, many of these events are FREE because they are vendor events or charity fundraiser events (so, donate a toy or food for a local cause). There will likely be options to purchase things at the otherwise FREE events (especially if they are located inside a store).
Finally, there are a few events on this list that are FREE but there are very low cost upgrade options for things like train rides or scavenger hunts. Those minimal costs are noted as needed.
Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and feel great about taking your kids to these FREE Christmas events!
1. Snowflake Alley
If you are in Annapolis for the Lighted Boat Parade, or the Chocolate Binge Festival.. or really any reason at all, definitely pay a visit to Snowflake Alley. It is very Instagram-worthy. (note: The Chocolate Binge Festival is not running in 2020)
Santa Claus is coming to Bass Pro Shops at Arundel Mills! November 7th-December 24th: Everything about this event is FREE (of course Bass Pro wants you to shop, but you don’t have to shop). You have to get a Bass Pass (free but limited quantities each day) for a Photo with Santa, but there are also crafts and games each day that are all free. Free activities include crafts, laser or foam toy arcade, write a letter to Santa, Lincoln Log building, and remote control trucks.
The 2nd Saturday of December: This Annapolis tradition was voted the #1 Holiday Parade by USA Today in 2016. Only this parade happens on the water! You can see the parade from various viewing spots along the waterfront.
The Events Committee is busy planning this year’s Christmas in New Market. Join us on December 4th at 3PM for a parade down Main Street, stroll down Candy Cane Alley, free kid’s craft at The Original Playhouse, shop at local vendors, visit with Santa, and enjoy yummy food. See you there!
Please check the Town’s FaceBook page for schedule updates.
The Cambridge ~ Dorchester County Christmas Parade is held annually on the first Saturday in December each year. Once hailed as the ‘largest nighttime parade’, the parade continues each year as a timeless tradition throughout the decades.
The parade is hosted and brought to the community by a small group of community volunteers for their love of community and the Holiday Season. The parade is 100% donor funded by local businesses, charities, and the community at large.
Each year brings something new and exciting, but always present are the glittering lights, sounds of music, Holiday cheer, and laughter. This year’s parade will not disappoint.
Friday, December 3 & Saturday, December 4, 2021 Main Street Chestertown presents “A Dickens of a Christmas” celebration with live outdoor music performances throughout the historic downtown. Please practice social-distancing.
Friday, November 26, 2021 | 6 pm – 8 pm Location: Fountain Park, Chestertown
Welcome Santa back to Chestertown by firetruck to Fountain Park. Kids can meet with Santa at a safe distance and get their picture taken. The Fountain Park Christmas Tree will be lit to pen the holiday season
12. Annual Cecil County Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 4, 2021 @ 11:00 am
The entire County comes together for this day of Christmas celebration. Marching bands, vintage and modified cars, commercial floats, equestrian and animal showcases, firetrucks, motorcycles, and so much more. Come early or stay late and walk around town, merchants and restaurants offer goodies, treats, and specials just for parade day!
13. Bel Air Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting Celebration
Sunday, December 5th, 2021 | Downtown Bel Air
The Downtown Bel Air Christmas Parade is a tradition that has been going on for 30 years! This is a time where our community comes together in historic Downtown Bel Air to celebrate a special time of the year.
This holiday season, visit downtown Bel Air and enjoy its festive Winter Wonderland! Take in beautiful light displays on Main Street, visit with our strolling Santa, plus enjoy horse drawn carriage rides, hot chocolate and live music.
Downtown will be shining bright with special light displays at the Frederick Ward Armory Park, Harford County Courthouse and Harford County Sheriff’s Department. Lights will be on every evening from 5-10pm starting November 27, 2021 and through January 1, 2022. Extended store hours and special events will occur each Saturday, November 27th – December 18th.
Horse drawn carriage rides will be available each Saturday, November 27 – December 18 from the front of the Bel Air Armory. In person reservations are required, space is limited and rides are available on a first come-first served basis. Enjoy shopping in our downtown stores or grab dinner with your family while you wait!
Sponsored through a partnership between the Town of Bel Air and the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation.
The Miracle on Main Street holiday event in Downtown Westminster is on Saturday, November 27th. The Miracle on Main Street event is a series of fun activities for young and old alike to enjoy and get into the holiday spirit. The activities include the Jingle Bell Run, the Holiday Electric Parade, the lighting of the holiday tree, caroling with the Westminster Municipal Band & St. Johns Children’s Choir, Santa’s Treat for Kids and a visit Santa!
The original Show started in 2017 and was 45 minutes long! One show at 7pm and a second showing at 8pm. While this was absolutely beautiful and magical.. 45 Minutes is a long time to have people standing in the cold! In 2018 Jeff switched to a 15 minute run time that starts at 7pm and repeats until 9pm. This helped as 2018 saw over 2000 People come through our neighborhood to experience some Christmas Magic! 2019 was even bigger with a brand new show featuring creations and scenes from Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, Frozen, Rudolph, A Christmas Story and More!
2021 Will not only include a brand new Light Show on the front of the house, it will also include a full blown walk-through Christmas Light Experience! Jeff has already begun work on this project and cannot wait to treat 21090 to something amazing!
18. Sailing Through the Winter Solstice by Color on the Creek
Annually, Sailing Through The Winter Solstice begins in November, when a number of boats, transformed through the creative minds of many Frederick friends, set sail on the Creek. The fleet has grown from one boat the first year to about 25 boats in 2020.
The fleet includes gaff-rigged ketches, yawls, three-masted schooners and pirate ships, moored with their sail outlines, rigging and decks lit up from dusk till dawn. If you can’t imagine it make sure to come by and take a look at the amazing flotilla!
It’s not just fun. We vote for our favorites – $1 per vote. All proceeds raised will flow to Color On The Creek and other participating Frederick County based charities. The event runs from launch week in November through the first weekend in February, when Downtown Frederick celebrates February First Saturday: Fire in Ice. * 2021 update:The fleet will remain sailing an extra month this year! Boats will remain on display through Saturday, March 13.
McCurley Magical Christmas Lights is a block in Manchester, Maryland that has put up Christmas lights and joined forces to make something for a drive-through attraction. People can also give donations to local organizations.
STORYBOOK HOLIDAY is back for 2021! Every year, the city of Frostburg is tranformed into a holiday winter wonderland as local organizations come together to present Frostburg’s Storybook Holiday; a festive community celebration through children’s literature. Join the elves in the Magical World of Winter as you glide through the streets of Frostburg featuring author Marty Rhodes Figley and her book, SANTA’S UNDERWEAR. All the elves will be ready to participate in activities like breakfast with the elves, elf olympics, storybook readings, letters to Santa, the Elves’ Secret Workshop, meeting Santa, and more!
21. Watkin’s Regional Park Winterfest on CHRISTMAS DAY
Bring a little twinkle to your holidays at the Annual Winter Festival of Lights. This spectacular holiday drive-through event features more than one million twinkling lights, wonderful themed displays, and one of the tallest tree displays in the state. Don’t forget to make a difference this season! Please bring canned goods/non-perishable items for donation to local food banks.
301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD 20774
On Christmas Day the festival is FREE.
Also, this lights display is FREE for Prince George’s County residents on a date TBD.
This residence in Ellicott City, MD is amazing. Bryan Bartlett decks out his home and synchronizes the lights to an amazing soundtrack. You will oooh. You will ahhh.. you will want to dance. And you can because a lighted dance floor in part of the lights extravaganza!
Location: Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park
Time: 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Kick off the opening of the retro holiday exhibit inside the museum and keeper’s quarters with family activities, refreshments and more.
This event is a special opening that encourages the public to come experience this unique Christmas Exhibit in the museum setting. Get a jump on your holiday shopping inside the Museum Store, including the special edition Moll Dyer ornament.
24. St. Clement’s Island Museum Holiday Open House
Location: St. Clement’s Island Museum
Time: 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Enjoy the opening of the St. Clement’s Island Christmas Doll & Train Exhibit inside the museum with take-home kids activities, music, take-home refreshments and much more.
Get a jump on your holiday shopping with a wide variety of unique and local items inside the Museum Store.
All guests must always wear masks while in the museum building, and social distancing guidelines are encouraged outside family units. Museum staff will be wearing masks, and frequently cleaning all public contact areas and restrooms.
There will be individually bagged cookies and crafts for the kids to take home.
The holiday exhibit continues all December long until January 2, 2022 (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Great for visiting family and kids.
This holiday season, enjoy train models set up throughout the Baltimore and Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum, including our year-round exhibit in the Freight House. All ages Nov 26-Jan 2 B&O EC Station Museum.
Enjoy holiday fun provided by train enthusiast Dennis Moore. The layout features four continuously operating trains through an 8 x 8’ scenic garden. Visitors of all ages enjoy an interactive exhibit of accessories and sounds. Train garden open during center hours. Info: 410-313-4840. All ages Gary J Arthur Comm Ctr Nov 29-Jan 7
This year, some of the Christmas in St. Michaels festivities are being held and some of them aren’t. They are holding a Light Up The Night Drive-By House Tour and Lighted Boat Parade on December 11th at 6PM.
FREE Music Events:
Mid-Shore Community Band:
Before the parade begins, the Mid-Shore Community Band will present foot-tapping seasonal music at the corner of Railroad Avenue and Talbot Street.
Saturday, December 11, 2021
10am – Noon
Corner of Railroad Avenue and Talbot Street
Jackson Jubilee Singers:
This inspiring local choral group will perform soul-stirring gospel music. The singers represent the combined voices of members from eleven churches, organized and funded by Anthony E. Jackson in 1986.
Saturday, December 11, 2021
Christ Church, 301 S Talbot St
Talbot Street Parade
FREE EVENT Saturday 10:30am
Parade is held RAIN OR SHINE. Only lightning can stop Santa from coming!!
Who doesn’t love a traditional Christmas parade complete with marching bands, antique cars and boats, fire engines, horses, kazoo bands and llamas?! Perhaps you may even see a penny farthing. Leading off the parade will be the always fun one mile Santa Dash. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive to close out the parade. Come early on Saturday morning to get a great spot along the parade route for the largest holiday parade on the Eastern Shore. Bring a lawn chair, your dog, and a funny hat. Join the fun!
The Holiday season is almost here and Ocean City isn’t skipping a beat for 2021. The Ocean City Christmas Parade goes in-house this year to continue the 38 year tradition started by Gold Coast Mall. Mark your calendars for December 4th, bring your chairs, blankets and plan for a day in OC! Arrive early to park and get your viewing spot.
The parade begins promptly at 11:00am with an extended route from Old Landing Road north to 120th Street. The southbound lanes of Coastal highway are closed for the parade in that general area allowing spectators to gather curbside. Following the parade join us at the Carousel for family-friendly fun and the awards presentation! The beach and boardwalk are always available for a leisurely stroll downtown to wrap up a great December day in town.
29. Marley Station Mall Train Garden Grand Opening
Santa arrives at the Marley Station Mall for a FREE Holiday Themed Train Garden Grand Opening in late November! Choo Choo! All Aboard the Marley Station Train Garden for a fun filled morning of FREE fun! Join Macaroni Kid Pasadena-Severna Park for our 4th Annual Grand Opening party! There will be children’s games and activities and of course check out what’s new this year in the Train Garden.
The Train Garden is open until December 31st and is FREE with suggested donations.
30. Christmas in Easton
Discover Easton is planning to hold their Christmas parade and tree lighting on December 4th.
Another fun event that is back in 2021 is the Festival of the Trees on November 27th. Here are more details:
The annual Christmas Festival of Trees raises funds for Friends of Hospice to carry out its mission to benefit Talbot Hospice. Since 1985, Friends of Hospice has donated over 3 million dollars to benefit terminally ill people living in Talbot County. Beautifully decorated Christmas trees with the Theme “A Winter Wonderland” will be displayed in historic downtown Easton’s Tidewater Inn and are either sponsored or are for sale over Thanksgiving Weekend from November 27-30. The Festival will also include a fun outside holiday event on Saturday evening called “Carols by Candlelight.”
If you haven’t paid a visit to 34th St. in Baltimore yet, you are really missing out. This festive street is short and easily walkable, but the residents really go all out to ensure you leave their neighborhood a lot jollier.
Starting with the Grand Illumination celebration on November 20th and then regular holiday hours from November 27th on the weekends. Homestead Gardens decorates what seems like a never ending showroom of Christmas trees with different themes and they are gorgeous. Santa Claus is on hand to meet with kids (also FREE!) and there is a very nice train garden operating during the holiday season!
2021 dates have not been announced yet but typically this classic train garden runs from mid-November-January 1st: A traditional firehouse Christmas train garden at the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department. 5200 Southwestern Blvd. Arbutus, MD 21227.
December 4th starting from 6-9pm. Solomons Christmas Walk is held annually the first weekend in December. It’s a fun-filled time of special children’s activities, a live puppet show, open house at many of our businesses, Santa’s arrival and the Lighted Boat Parade! Stroll through our luminaria streets as you enjoy the sights and the sounds of the season.
December 5th, 1PM: The attendance along the 2.5 mile route reached 25,000 people last year at the Annual Mayor’s Christmas Parade to view Santa Claus and about 160 marching units. The parade will feature floats, local TV and Radio personalities, over 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles, a steam calliope, great bands, Mummers of Philadelphia, Miss Yuletide and Jr. Miss Yuletide and of course Santa!
December 10th, 630PM in Frederick, MD: The procession begins at the corner of South Carroll and West Patrick Streets in Frederick and ends in Baker Park with the lighting of the City Tree. The event reflects the small town charm that makes Frederick so endearing during the holidays. Local children dress as reindeer, snowflakes, angels, elves and frolic through Frederick’s downtown streets.
39. U.S. Air Force Concert Band at Weinberg Center of Arts
Sunday November 7th at 3PM
The United States Air Force Concert Band is the official symphonic wind ensemble of the United States Air Force. Stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., it features 53 active duty Airmen musicians. The Concert Band performs across the United States via biannual tours, engages the local community in our nation’s capital through numerous concert series, and reaches millions globally through live radio, television and internet broadcasts.
December 4th, 530PM with dockside activities from 2-8PM.
At sundown on the day of Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, experience one of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions with the Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights.
Alexandria’s harbor shines as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. Boats will be decked to impress a panel of judges who will award prizes in a dozen categories, including Best in Show, Thinking Outside the Christmas Box, and Hardiest Souls.
December 4th, 11AM, Old Town Alexandria: Enjoy marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and much more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wolfe Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert. The parade will take place rain or shine.
43. White House Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace
Note: Check the website to determine if this event will happen in 2021.
The tradition of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse began with President Calvin Coolidge over 90 years ago. A 48 foot Balsam Fir from Vermont decorated with 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white, and green served as the first National Christmas Tree which was lit by President Coolidge on Christmas Eve 1923. Today the tradition continues and is one of the most beloved holiday events in Washington DC.
What to Expect The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with hand made ornaments that are unique to each tree.
The National Christmas Tree lights turn on at approximately 4:30 pm and turn off promptly at 10:00 pm.
The District’s Holiday Boat Parade will take place at The Wharf on Saturday, December 4th from 6pm – 9pm. It is a sitewide event featuring a 40ft Christmas Tree, live music, a stunning fireworks finale and of course 60 decorated boats passing through The Washington Channel. Santa will be available for photos and kids can decorate their own ornaments. And it’s basically FREE.
Join us for this FREE day of sweet, old-fashioned Christmas fun! It will look a little different this year, being entirely outdoors, but we’ll still have: Pictures with Santa Reindeer Rides Hot Cocoa and Sweet Treats That Green Grump, Mr. You-Know-Who Ornaments & Crafts Festive Musical Performances Fun Door Prizes
We’re SO EXCITED to bring back “Christmas in the Country” for the 4th year! Bundle up and prepare for a wintery good time!
December 11th, 10am-2pm
Damascus Road Community Church
12826 Old National Pike, Mt Airy, MD 21771
These FREE Christmas events in the region are beloved family friendly events. However, due to COVID, they are not happening this year. Don’t worry though! They will be back in 2022!
Christopher’s Train Garden at Broom’s Bloom
Broom’s Bloom hosts an annual train garden in memory of Christopher Cooper, a little boy who loved trains and Christmas. The train garden opens the day after Thanksgiving and runs through the first of January. The garden opens at noon and closes at 8 pm. Free admission, but donations collected go towards improving the garden.
November 29th and December 7th. The Town of North Beach begins the festive holiday season by Lighting Up the Town! Onlookers gather on the pavilion as we flip the switch to light up the town Christmas tree and holiday displays. The following Saturday, the Annual Pat Carpenter Holiday Parade draws spectators from afar! The boardwalk is lined with hundreds of people viewing the parade. The best part is when the jolly-old-fat man arrives by fire truck! Santa and Mrs. Claus visit with children and give them a special treat. Tell the kids to bring their wish list to share with Santa! Warm up around the campfire as you enjoy refreshments!
November 30th, 12PM at the Weinberg Center for the Arts in Frederick, MD: The popular tuba comrades of Frederick return with a variety of brassy Christmas hits, delighting audiences of all ages in an annual Weinberg Center tradition! Join us for an afternoon of holiday fun with as many as 80 regional tuba and euphonium players performing 4-part Christmas carols. This holiday favorite enters its 16th year this season, featuring players ranging from ages 9 to 70!
Admission is free with with any cash or canned food donation; items collected will benefit the Community Action Agency of Frederick City. No ticket required.
Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Mormon Temple
The Festival of Lights is one of the D.C. area’s great community traditions. The Festival features free performances nightly in the comfortable, state-of-the-art theater located in the Visitors’ Center.
A different performing artist or group is showcased each night, including bell ensembles, choirs, orchestras, and more! Each performance is presented twice nightly.
The Visitors’ Center of the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Temple grounds glow with over 650,000 lights, November 30th through December 31st
Nightly performances in indoor theater
Christmas trees decorated in international themes
Exhibit of crèches from around the world
Life-sized outdoor nativity
Everything about this festival is FREE. However, some events are ticketed (still free).
December 7th, 4PM at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center: This musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with local choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area.
Wolf Trap will be participating in Toys for Tots by collecting new, unwrapped toys at the entrance to the Filene Center before the Sing-A-Long. Donations are voluntary and not required. Admission is free and no tickets are necessary. Parking is free but limited. Plan to arrive early.
Bring a candle and join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.” There will also be a ‘Jing-A-Long’ during the singing of Jingle Bells so remember to bring a bell and your holiday cheer!
November 28th to January 5th, 10AM-5PM daily: Join us to explore botanic gardens from Hawaii to Maine in this year’s Season’s Greenings holiday show! Plant based recreations of conservatories, fountains, and sculptures will fill the model train room.
November 29th to January 1st (except 24, 25, 31 December): Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. Also in 2019 More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music!
As a matter of fact, ZooLights is bigger and better than ever this year. Take a peek at this year’s attractions:
and slide down the hill near the lion and tiger exhibits. Apparently you can get super fast on this ZooLights favorite.
Would you like more ideas? Click below for more fun ideas!
[…] to keep tabs on Christmas events in Maryland as well as Christmas events in Texas through the links https://sunshinewhispers.com/40-free-christmas-events-in-maryland-and-dc-for-kids/ and https://www.tripstodiscover.com/best-holiday-events-in-texas/ respectively. Christmas events in […]