For over 70 years, the 700 block of 34th Street in Hampden has celebrated the holiday season with style, with over two dozen rowhouses decked out in elaborate lights and decorations. Known as the “Miracle on 34th Street,” this signature holiday event draws people from around the world to Baltimore each year.
From Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Day, Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th Street wows visitors with its bright and over-the-top holiday displays. Recognized for having the “most outrageous Christmas lights” in Maryland, nearly every home on the block participates, trimming their rowhouses with twinkle lights along the roofs, windows and porch awnings.
But beyond the basics, each home has a unique holiday theme and style, with all sorts of Christmas decorations and Hanukkah menorahs. Alongside the familiar candy canes, inflatables and nativity scenes, you’ll find pink flamingos, Baltimore icons Natty Boh and Utz Girl, a light-up Maryland crab and a 10-foot (three-meter) sculpture made from hubcaps, known as the Hubcap Christmas Tree.
According to Baltimore Magazine, Miracle on 34th Street, also known as the Hampden Christmas Street Holiday Show, “would not be as astonishing if it were all commercial decorations and no original art, nor if it were all original art and no traditional lights and figures. It’s the combination of the two that makes the block so special.”
The tradition began in 1947 to commemorate the premiere of the now-classic film Miracle on 34th Street. But it’s really in the past 30 years, when Bob and Darlene Hosier moved to the block and began hooking up brilliant lights and holiday music to their home, that Hampden’s Miracle on 34th Street grew into what it is today, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
The lights stay on from 6pm to 11pm throughout the season, except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when the homes stay lit all day and night. People are welcome to drive past the lighted houses between Keswick Road and Chestnut Avenue, but most recommend walking, both to take in the decorations up close and to ease up on neighborhood traffic. While the street is vendor free, Jim Pollock, creator of the Hubcap Christmas Tree among others, holds an open house for local artists in his home, which gets plenty of foot traffic throughout the season.
Says Pollock, in a 2008 article for Baltimore Magazine, “We’ve had businesses who wanted to sponsor us, but if you had a sign out front that said, ‘Brought to you by…,’ it would take something away from it. It’s not a business; it’s not a show; it’s not an attraction. It’s a home that’s decorated for the holidays.”
He adds, in a 2018 article, “We do this for the city that we love.”
Still, local Hampden and Baltimore businesses benefit from the influx of visitors each year. Union Craft Brewery even creates a specialty brew each year for the occasion: the Miracle Weizenbock. Plus, as the families who helped the tradition grow move on from 34th Street, new residents are happy to take up the reins, some even moving there just to be in on the celebration.
All in all, Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th Street is perhaps best summed up by the signs in front of one 34th Street rowhouse: “Oh boy – what a block!”
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.