A Flashy Start to Baltimore’s Holiday Season

If you put enough effort to it, you could ignore the frigid mornings, Black Friday sales advertisements and Thanksgiving caned food drives . You might even be able to ignore the strings of Christmas lights that have been popping up around the city. But try as you might, one thing will force you to acknowledge that the holiday season that has been speeding towards us has finally arrived:


No need to panic! As it’s barely Thanksgiving, there’s still time to earn your way out of a lump of coal. However, yesterday evening, the Baltimore Office of Promotion and The Arts, along with the It’s a Waterfront Life, kicked off the holiday season in Baltimore with a series of events for all ages.

Children (and the young at heart) made crafts in the tents at West Shore Park adjacent to the Inner Harbor. Live performances, colorful clowns and pony rides entertained the crowd as kids finished up their crafts made for the “parade” (a block-long walk to Santa’s Place at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater).

Still, kids and adults alike were getting restless. The festive music couldn’t drown out the occasional “Where’s Santa?” murmured by anxious attendees.  In anticipation of Santa’s 6:30 arrival, kids lined up behind a large, poodle-shaped float–the start of the parade. 

At the amphitheater ahead  a women’s chorus sang  Christmas carols in the shadow of  the illuminated Santa’s Place. The red, gold, and green miniature palace could have been taken right out of  Polar Express.

On my way back from a break for dinner, I saw the immense line of children and parents waiting to talk with Santa far before I saw Santa himself.  There was also blue and white confetti–LOTS of it.  As I approached Santa’s Place a spontaneous confetti battle erupted and it was a winter wonderland of floating paper.

Kids everywhere were gathering hands full of confetti and thrusting it into anything with a face. I saw countless parents get targeted by their children, kids hitting other kids at point-blank range in a way only 4-year-olds can, one ambitious boy on the ground collecting as much confetti as he could, and a gang of kindergartners attacking a poor clown with a shower of blue and white. Even with the open warfare, it was an atmosphere that only childlike playfulness could create. For a moment, everyone was a kid again.

Now, remember when I said a while back that nothing forces us to acknowledge the holiday season the way Santa does?

Well, I take it back.

The flashy, holiday-themed, laser light and fireworks show at the Barnes & Noble will not only win the hearts of those still too stubborn to accept the jolly “Ho! Ho! Ho!’s” of Saint Nick but have them begging for more. Put on by It’s a Waterfront Life, the Power Plant Holiday Light Show Spectacular was by far the highlight of the evening.

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Lasers, fireworks and fire-blowing torches all in sync to music created an experience that is difficult to describe. Completely embracing all of the physical qualities of the old power plant, multiple projectors made waterfalls flow from the top floors, made rows of bricks wobble and shake and created walls of gingerbread. I highly recommend viewing the light show sometime this holiday season if you have the chance. It will be happening on Friday and Saturday evenings through New Year’s Eve. See the schedule here (trust me, you wont regret it!).

This collaboration of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, It’s a Waterfront Life, and lots of adorable kids resulted in a memorable evening during which even those who cringe at the thought of Christmas music before Thanksgiving could enjoy themselves.

For more holiday events put on by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts, check out their website.


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