Holidays are nostalgic, and nostalgia often takes the form of small towns that continue to charm. One favorite holiday destination is Bel Air, Md., county seat of bucolic Harford County, which still has a thriving Main Street chock-full of restaurants and decked out for the holidays.
Take a pause from the hustle and bustle and make a visit. Consider going during the holiday kickoff: the 29th annual Town of Bel Air Christmas Celebration occurs Sunday, Dec. 2, in historic downtown Bel Air.
Events begins with a concert on Main Street in front of the courthouse at 2:30 p.m. Next, a parade beginning at 3:30 p.m. runs down Main Street to the end of Lee Street and is complete with bands, floats, stilt-walkers and acrobats, performers, costumed characters, costumed Scout troops, animals, and more, all decked out in holiday season spirit (even the miniature horses are costumed as reindeer). This leads up to the official entrance of Santa and Mrs. Santa in Bel Air. Follow up with holiday music in Shamrock Park, with free cookies and hot chocolate and a bonfire at 4:15 p.m., and culminate the day with a tree lighting at 5 p.m.
Don’t miss Christopher's Train Garden at the Broom’s Bloom Dairy Farm in Bel Air. Broom’s Bloom is known for its homemade old-fashioned ice cream, homemade lunches, and artisan cheese, pork sausage, locally produced lamb, beef, free-range eggs, and seasonal vegetables. The train garden opens the day after Thanksgiving and runs through Jan. 1 in memory of Christopher Cooper, a little boy who loved trains and Christmas. The display is open noon–8 p.m. with free admission, however donations collected go toward improving the garden.
Havre de Grace is another Harford County gem, maintaining its quaint town charm, after having missed becoming the nation’s capital by a single vote. Get into the season by seeing “A Christmas Story: The Musical” at The Tidewater Players. Head there Dec. 7 for the Holly Jolly First Friday “Light Up Night” Tree Lighting and Christmas Parade. Make it a weekend getaway and enjoy nine other events on Dec. 8. Learn more at explorehavredegrace.com.
Also in Harford County, Aberdeen, the “All American City” as awarded by the National Civic League, has its Christmas Street Celebration on Dec. 1. What’s more all-American than a holiday in baseball legend Cal Ripken’s hometown?
All-in-all, it’s hard to beat Harford County for holiday cheer and events. There are literally hundreds of events, including concerts, movies, parades, tree lightings, holiday open houses, and classic performances such as “The Nutcracker” and “A Christmas Carol.” There are interesting event, such as “Skate with Santa” and hands-on events such as wreath-making, plus more.