The different ways we celebrate the holidays are rooted in family traditions, religious customs—and history. Every single day in the Annapolis area, we are treated to a wonderful mix of modern times and history, so it’s no surprise the holiday season gives us a chance to experience the same interesting balance. Family traditions like hopping in the car and driving through a holiday light display are wonderful and can become nostalgic after some time. But this year, you may consider stepping back in time for the holidays.

Many historic properties in Annapolis open their doors for the season and inside you’ll find carefully chosen decor like boxwood and fruit displays that match the festivity of December and the property’s time period. You may also glimpse a caroler or two! Take a break from the gift giving and enjoy carolers, candlelight and treasured homes with the following holiday home tours:

Illuminated London Town

London Town and Gardens in Edgewater turns into a lighted winter wonderland on select Fridays in December. The historic property features light displays, fire performers, fire pits and, of course, s’mores! Hot cider is served from a colonial kitchen. Don’t miss the Chesapeake Revelers perform inside the William Brown House. Their Colonial carols will enthrall listeners of all ages -- my young nieces gave them their full attention when we attended. Imagine yourself as a guest of the Brown family during the holidays for a memorable evening out. Dress warm and bring a flashlight (a smartphone does the trick too).

Friday, December 9 & 16, 6-9 pm. $15/car for members or $17/car for non-members.

William Paca House & Hogshead

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On December 17th, Historic Annapolis will host an Open House at the William Paca House and Hogshead. Living Historians will celebrate the holidays with games, music, hot cider and treats. At Hogshead, greenery will be available to make and share. And at the Paca House, the year is 1772 and Mrs. Paca is ready to welcome you and introduce you to her guests. It’s an afternoon of celebrating preservation, historical interpretation and chocolate...what could be better?!

Saturday, December 17th, 4-7 pm. $10/person.

James Brice House

Santa will visit the James Brice House this weekend but sadly, his visit is sold out! Adults may prefer the Brice’s other holiday event anyway—dramatic readings of A Christmas Carol. A trip inside the Brice House is a treat in itself; it’s an architectural treasure, beautifully preserved and rarely open to the public. Add in a holiday treasure, the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the Cratchit family, and a new holiday tradition is formed. Light holiday refreshments will be served.

Saturday, December 17th, 1 & 4 pm. $12/person.

Hammond-Harwood House

The Hammond-Harwood House is a five-part mansion begun in 1774 and designed by architect William Buckland. It maintains a kind of symmetry and system of proportions rarely seen in buildings of this period. Inside you find a beautiful museum filled with a collection of colonial furniture with an emphasis on cabinetmaker John Shaw and art by Charles Willson Peale. As is the tradition here, garden clubs from around the region decorate rooms in the home for the holidays. This year’s decorative theme is “At Home with the Harwoods: An 1835 Christmas.” Imagine it’s the early 19th century and the Harwoods are home hosting you for the holidays!

Now through December 31 - Tours given during regular admission hours with museum admission. Open Tuesday - Sunday 12-5 pm. Adults $10, Children $5.

Holiday Candlelight Stroll

Spice up your Hammond-Harwood House tour with Annapolis Tours by Watermark. A period- dressed guide will lead you by candlelight through the historic district while sharing the origins of holiday traditions. After you stroll through town, enjoying the city’s decorations and learning some history behind the holidays, step inside the Hammond-Harwood House and end the evening with a guided tour inside the decorated mansion.

December 9, 16 & 17, 7 pm. Adults $21, Children 3-11 $12, Free 2 & Under.


Photo credits - Illuminated London Town photos by Bob Peterson. Hammond Harwood House photo featuring Watermark tour guides by Sabrina Raymond. Annapolis during the holidays photos by Katie Redmiles.