Holiday shows help make the season merry and bright

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The jack-o-lanterns were still glowing when the Christmas trees lit up at Macy’s. My local mall began piping in holiday music before Veterans Day, and Black Friday is beginning on Thanksgiving Thursday this year.  Bah humbug, I say.

But beyond the Christmas creep and the showdown for parking spaces at the mall, the holiday season brings a bounty of plays and concerts that more than make up for commercialization of the season.

Here are a few to consider attending, many with the youngsters in your life. All will make you feel young at heart and are sure to banish Scrooge’s voice in back of your head.

At National Harbor, across from Alexandria on the Maryland side of the Potomac, 2 million pounds of colored ice have been transformed into a walk-through, 9 degree menagerie of characters from the movie Merry Madagascar in ICE!  Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac also includes meet and greet with such DreamWorks characters as Shrek, Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda. The hotel’s indoor and outdoor decorations include 2 million twinkling lights. There are indoor “snowfalls” in the 18-story-high atrium and nightly light shows. Holiday festivities continue until Jan. 8. For more information, see www.christmasonthepotomac.com .

Olney Theatre has two holiday-season productions: A Christmas Carol and Sound of Music, which was just extended a week, through Jan. 8. The theater’s unique, one-man performance of A Christmas Carol is taken entirely from Dickens’ novella using an interactive combination of storytelling and theater and will be onstage from Dec. 14 through Jan. 1. See www.olneytheatre.org for details.

Like Olney Theatre, the Hub Theatre in Fairfax, is offering a pared-down It’s a Wonderful Life, with one actor playing all the roles necessary to bring this Christmas tale to life from Dec. 2 to 27. See www.thehubtheatre.org for more information

The National Menorah Lighting will take place on the Ellipse behind the White House on Dec. 20 at 4 p.m. The event includes musical performances and hot latkes and donuts. This year's celebration will feature the US Air Force Band.  The event is free, but tickets are required. Call (202) 332-5600.

Choral group Pro Cantare will give two classical concerts to celebrate the season. Handel’s Messiah will be performed by the 100-plus choral on Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Jim Rouse Theater in Columbia and the group’s 28-voice chamber singers will present A Christmas Noel on Dec. 11 at 3 p.m. at the Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia. For tickets and reservations, see www.procantare.org.

Baltimore's nautical spirit shines during the annual Parade of Lighted Boats in December. More than 50 boats and pleasure crafts festooned with holiday lights make their way from Baltimore's Inner Harbor to Fell's Point. Find out more at www.fpyc.net.

Also in Baltimore, the Mayor’s Christmas Parade is set for Dec. 4, and features the Baltimore Marching Ravens, Harley Davidson motorcycles, and marching bands. See more at www.mayorschristmasparade.com.