It’s a Winter Wonderland Life!
by Laurel Abell, HH Staff Columnist
Remember that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life when George Bailey returns to himself and finally sees his hometown in all its warmth and glorious light? The moment captures the essence of our many holidays: joy, generous loving-kindness, a celebration of life – like the whole world is pulling together for every one of us. Because are we not all a little bit George Bailey?
Fast forward to 2021, and here we are – post-pandemic world – hoping to return to ourselves and all that we hold dear. Thankfully, we have our very own Bedford Falls right in the heart of Harford County – Downtown Bel Air. And with the third annual Winter Wonderland occurring every Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas, local residents will have many opportunities to rekindle nostalgic holiday sentiments.
While the parade will formally usher in the season on December 5 at 3:30pm as it marches down Main Street, the evening festivities begin the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 27, and run until the weekend before Christmas, December 18. Here come four weekends of holiday fun! Bundle up and head into town as the lights flicker on at 5pm. Sign up for a unique view of Downtown Bel Air either while riding in a horse-drawn carriage or from a reindeer eye view atop a 60-foot Ferris wheel! After you make your reservations in person, enjoy the many charming shops and photo-ops until your ride.
Of course, Santa Claus will be in town! Old Kris Kringle will arrive by horse-drawn carriage each Saturday and be available in front of the courthouse for Christmas wishes and photos between 5pm-8pm. Make sure you also look for the Snow Sisters, and snap a photo with your favorite princess! It might even snow!
For more old-fashioned Bedford Falls-style nostalgia, pack up the kids and some snacks and drive to the Mary Risteau Parking Lot for a Christmas Drive-in Movie. On December 11, watch The Santa Clause and on the 18th, A Christmas Story. The lot opens at 6pm, and the movies begin at 6:45pm. Tickets are available for purchase ahead of time through a link on the website. On the final weekend, just as the hustle and bustle are about to burst, the Winter Wonderland Market will open in the Armory for two days of shopping. This holiday market will be a shopping event to guarantee you will find that special last-minute gift. Local artisans will be selling handmade crafts and treats on Saturday, December 18, 2pm-8pm, and Sunday, December 19, noon-4pm.
And once the holidays settle into memories and your heart grows ready to sing, Auld Lang Syne, it will be time to ring in a brand-new year at the Armory. Check the website after Thanksgiving for details and purchase tickets for Bel Air’s hottest New Year’s Eve party. Celebrate the exit of 2021 at a black-tie preferred celebration for guests over 21 that will be unlike any seen in Harford County.
Just as our old friend George is surprised and delighted to find ZuZu’s petals tucked inside his pocket, event coordinator Patti Parker is certain visitors will delight in their own “pockets of happiness in every joyful and bright moment.” Share in the holidays with your family, neighbors, and friends with everything from live music to special pet events to sweet and savory treats. There is something for everyone at Bel Air’s Winter Wonderland.
For a full calendar of events, Patti says to check out the website ChristmasInBelAir.com and click the Winter Wonderland tab. Let’s light up the town with warmth and wonder as we experience how much it is a wonderful life this holiday season!