THE SEASON is upon us, and the December calendar is filled with music and dance, Santas and celebrations. In a month that is stuffed fuller than a Christmas stocking, some events stand out. They are:

The free concerts at the Kennedy Center (see page 63).

The Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple in Kensington and the Pageant of Peace and the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse (see page 66), both truly spectacular sights.

The many fine festivals in the smaller towns outside the Beltway. Less traffic, more thrills.

Here is Weekend's schedule of Ho-Ho-Hos: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4 "MARCH OF THE TOYS" -- Cheer for Santa and Mother Goose as they defend toyland at the Capital Children's Museum. Performances continue through Jan. 3 at 10:30 Thursdays, Fridays and at 1 and 2:30 Saturdays and Sundays. Additional shows at 10:30 and 1 Dec. 28 through Dec. 31. Tickets are $2.50. No performances Dec. 24, 25 or Jan. 1. The museum is at 800 Third St. NE. 543-8600. THE CHRISTMAS REVELS -- A celebration of the winter soltice with Celtic music, poetry, story and dance. Friday at 8, Saturday at 3 and 8, Sunday at 2 and 7. Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H NW. Tickets are $15 and $9. 657-3285. "A CHRISTMAS CAROL" -- Dickens' classic tale will be performed at Ford's Theatre through Jan. 3. Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30, Thursday at 1, Saturday at 2, Sunday at 3. A special performance on Monday the 21st at 7:30. No show on Christmas Day. Tickets are $18 to $24. 347-4833. "THE NUTCRACKER" -- The Washington Ballet's production of Tchaikovksy's seasonal favorite at the Lyric Opera House, 140 West Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore. Performances at 7 Friday, Saturday and Sunday; 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $10.50 to $25. 800/448-9009 for tickets. A CHRISTMAS HOUSE TOUR -- Five Washington homes, decorated for the holidays by leading area floral designers, will be open for tours in a benefit for the St. Albans School faculty and staff endowment fund. A shuttle bus will carry visitors from St. Albans, Massachusetts and Wisconsin NW, to the houses. The tours run from 10 to 4 Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $12. Luncheon tickets are $7. 229-2033. FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS -- Decorated trees and music at the Mormon Temple in Kensington run through Jan. 3. The celebration includes a live nativity scene, 80,000 lights on the Temple and Visitor's Center grounds, music and movies. The center is open daily at 10, with special evening activities from 6 to 10. 9900 Stoneybrook Dr. For the daily schedule, call 587-0144. WINTER CARNIVAL -- Antique carved animals, 40,000 outdoor lights, 128 organ music sing-alongs and 42 choral concerts are just part of Longwood Garden's annual celebration. The festivities run from 10 to 9 daily through Jan. 3. The Gardens are in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, about two hours north of Washington. 215/388-6741. TOYS FOR TOTS -- A collection of toys for needy tots will be made at the Capital Children's Museum, 800 Third St. NE, through Dec. 24. The toys should be new, unwrapped and valued at between $5 and $15. 675-4126. PLANETARIUM SHOW -- See how the Star of Bethlehem looked in the skies of 2,000 years ago at the Arlington Planetarium's new holiday program. It will be shown Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30 and Sunday at 1:30 and 3 through Dec. 20. Tickets are $2 adults, $1 for children under 12 and senior citizens. The Planetarium is at 1428 N. Quincy St. 558-2868. MOUNT ST. MARY'S COLLEGE SINGERS -- Celebrate a 1930s Christmas with a social hour and dinner with the singers. The social hour begins at 6:30 Friday and Saturday, followed by dinner at 7:30; on Sunday, the social hour is at 1:30 and the meal at 2:30. Mount St. Mary's College is in Emmitsburg, Md. Tickets are $17. 301/447-6122. THE NATIVITY in Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, with works ranging from the 12th to 16th centuries, at the Walters Art Gallery, 600 North Charles St., Baltimore. The show will run through Jan. 17. Admission is $2, $1 for seniors, free for persons 18 and younger. 547-9000. MARYLAND BOY CHOIR will present a program of Christmas music with selections from Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors" as well as traditional carols. The show is at 8 at the Tawes Recital Hall, University of Maryland, College Park. Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens. 454-6669. CHRISTMAS AT OATLANDS -- A Victorian Christmas, with demonstrations and sales, at Oatlands, an 1803 Greek Revival mansion on Rte. 15 six miles south of Leesburg. Open through Dec. 27. Tours 10 to 4:30 Monday through Saturday, 1 to 5 Sunday. Candlelight tours Saturday 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $5 for day tours, $6 for candlelight tours. 703/777-3174. "THE NUTCRACKER" ballet will be performed by the Central Maryland Ballet Theater at 8 Friday at Laurel High in Laurel, at 3 on Sunday at Meade High in Fort Meade and at 2 on Dec. 12 at High Point High in Rockville. Tickets are $8 for adults, $3.50 for children, 12 and under, and senior citizens. 953-3388. LEESBURG OPEN HOUSE -- Morven Park Mansion, a 32-room neo-classicial building, will be open for tours from 12 to 5 through Sunday. $4 adults, $2 for children 6 to 12. Morven Park is off Old Waterford Road on the western side of Leesburg. 703/777-2414. GIFT SHOP -- Strathmore Hall Arts Center will hold an open house in the Pantry Gift Shop from 11 to 3 Friday and Saturday. Free. 10701 Rockville Pike, Rockville. "HERE'S LOVE" -- A musical version of "Miracle on 34th Street" will be presented at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick. The 8 p.m. show will be repeated Dec. 5, 11 and 12. A 2 p.m. matinee will be shown Dec. 6 and 13. Adults $8, students and senior citizens $6. 301/694-8585. A CHRISTMAS WALK -- Festivities in Old Town Alexandria begin Friday and include a crafts show at Christ Church, 118 N. Washington St., an open house at the Alexandria Community Y at 418 S. Washington St., a Christmas Walk Parade at 10 Saturday beginning at 418 S. Washington St., and a Choral Evensong at Christ Church. at 5 on Sunday. 838-4200. A CELTIC CHRISTMAS -- The Dumbarton Concert Series presents Celtic music and verse at 8 Friday, at 3 and 8 Saturday, and at 3 Sunday in Dumbarton Church, 3133 Dumbarton St. NW. Tickets are $10; students $5; children and senior citizens free. 865-2000. THE HOLIDAY PROJECT -- Brighten your holidays by visiting people in nursing homes and hospitals. For more information about how you can help, call 628-5858. TREE LIGHTING and reception at Arlington Hospital, 1701 N. George Mason Dr. Free. 7 p.m. CHRISTMAS WORKSHOP for persons 55 and older at the Culpepper Garden Senior Center, 4435 North Pershing Dr., Arlington. 10. Free. 524-1144. "NOISES OFF" -- A holiday farce presented by the Fairlington Players, at 8 Friday and Saturday at Gunston Theater, 2700 South Lang St., Arlington. $7 adults, $5 students, seniors. 739-2915. SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5 DECEMBERFEST -- Live entertainment, craft workshops, roller skating and more. Thomas Jefferson Center, 3501 S. Second St., Arlington. 10 to 7. Free, although many adult workshops have a materials fee. 553-8522. AUDUBON SOCIETY HOLIDAY FAIR -- Nature-oriented crafts, activities for children, wreath-making workshop, live owls, weaving demonstrations, raffle and a sale of baked goods, plants, birdseed, books and more. 10 to 4 Saturday and Sunday. Free at Society headquarters at Woodend, 8940 Jones Mill Rd., Chevy Chase. 652-9188. OPEN HOUSE at the Delaplane Store with Christmas cookies, spiced cider and numerous handcrafted items. The Virginia store is open 9 to 5 Saturday and 1 to 5 Sunday and is on Route 17 north between I-66 and U.S. 50. PUPPETS AND PICTURES -- Shop at local crafters, have your picture taken with Santa (Saturday 10 to 1) and see a Christmas puppet show (Sunday at 2) at the Child Care and Learning Center in Washington, Va. Hours are 10 to 4 Saturday, 1 to 5 Sunday. 703/675-3237. BRUNCH WITH SANTA -- 11 at Lubber Run Center, 300 N. Park Dr., Arlington. $3; pre-registration required. 558-2671. "A RENAISSANCE CHRISTMAS" -- The Vocal Ensemble Pomerium Musices & Calliope Renaissance Band present a holiday concert at 8 in the Center of Adult Education Auditorium, University of Maryland, College Park. Tickets are $15 and $12.50. 454-6534. "WHO AM I?" -- Premiere performance of a children's opera, presented by the Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, 3 and 5 at the Thomas Jefferson Theater, 125 South Old Glebe Rd., Arlington. $6, $5 senior citizens and students; under 12 free. 739-2918. FAMILY CONCERT featuring the Arlington Metropolitan Chorus. Washington-Lee High, N. Stafford St. at Washington Blvd. 8 p.m. Saturday and at 3 Sunday. $8, $6 students and seniors. 739-2922. A PARTY AT WOODLAWN -- A 19th-century Christmas party is recreated at historic Woodlawn Plantation. Costumed actors, carolers, concerts, refreshments and good cheer from 7 to 10 on Saturday and Dec. 11-12 and from 3 to 6 Sunday and Dec. 13 (with caroling wagon rides). Admission is $5; ages 5 and under free. Woodlawn is at Route 235 and U.S. 1 in Mount Vernon. 780-4000. "THE HALLELUJAH CHORUS" and Christmas songs will be presented by the University of Maryland Chorus at 8 Saturday and at 3 Sunday in the Memorial Chapel of the College Park campus. Tickets $10; $7 for senior citizens, children 12 and under and UM students. 454-4183. TOYS FOR TOTS DANCE with "The Personalities" at the Longwood Recreation Center, 19300 Georgia Ave., Olney, 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Admission: $7.50 plus a new, unwrapped toy. 924-5374. A HOLIDAY CELEBRATION -- The Arlington Metropolitan Chorus sings Respighi's "Laud to the Nativity," Berger's "Brazilian Psalm" and other seasonal songs at 8 and again at 3 Sunday at the Washington-Lee High School auditorium, Stafford Street at Washington Boulevard, Arlington. Tickets are $8, $6 for students and seniors, available at Fox Music in Falls Church or at the door. 739-2922. "THE MESSIAH" -- Handel's masterpiece will be sung by the National Christian Choir at 4 and 8 at the Seneca Valley High School, 12700 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown. $9. Call 938-8587 for information on where to purchase tickets. MANASSAS CHORAL SOCIETY will sing Christmas songs from around the world at 7:30 at the Stonewall Middle School, Lomond Dr., Manassas. Tickets are $3.50, $1.50 for students and seniors. 791-5977. "A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES" -- The Moving Arts Center Inc. presents the play at 8 at the Fauquier High School Auditorium, Warrenton. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 children and senior citizens. 703/349-1726. "ANGELS AWARE" -- A play about how the angels found out about Jesus will be performed at 7 Saturday and Sunday at the Calvary Road Baptist Church, 6811 Buelah St., Alexandria. Free. 922-6700. SANTA COMES TO THE MUSEUM -- Visit with Santa at the Capital Children's Museum auditorium from 10 to 12 and 3:15 to 4:15 every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 20. 800 Third St. NE. 543-8600. HOLIDAYS EXPLAINED -- Learn about holiday customs in other lands and then enjoy a tour of the National Gallery's Christmas paintings. The programs are held every Saturday in December and are for families with children aged 6 to 12. Free. 10 a.m. 842-9249. CHRISTMAS AT ASH LAWN-HIGHLAND -- A holiday flower show at James Monroe's home in Charlottesville. 10 to 8. Admission is $4 adults, $3.50 for senior citizens and $1 for children under 12. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Ash Lawn-Highland will celebrate a Victorian Christmas with caroling, ornament workshops, tree trimming and refreshments. 5:30 and 7:30 both days. Tickets are $5, friends of Ash Lawn $4. On Dec. 12, "Christmas Through the Years" will offer tales of Christmas festivities in America and Europe from Monroe's time to the reign of Queen Victoria. Three shows, 7, 7:45 and 8:30. Tickets are $5, children 2 to 11 are $2. Friends of Ash Lawn $4. For more information about all events, 804/293-9539. CHRISTMAS CONCERTS -- Jean Ritchie performs Elizabethan and Appalachian ballads and carols with Hesperus, an early music ensemble, at 8 in Gaston Hall, 37th and O NW. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students and seniors. 525-7550. The Mormon Choir of Washington, D.C., will present a concert at 7:30 at the Baltimore Stake Center, 1400 Dulaney Valley Rd., Lutherville, Md. Free. 942-0103. The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra will present two holiday concerts on "Christmas Around the World" at 2 and 4 in the Fairfax High auditorium, 3500 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax City. Tickets are $4, $3.50 for groups of 10 or more. The Alexandria Symphony and the Alexandria Choral Society will celebrate the holiday with a concert at 8:30 at T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King St., Alexandria. Tickets are $9, $7.50 for seniors and students. 548-0045. The Mill Run Dulcimer Band will perform at 7 at the Colvin Run Mill just off Route 7 in Fairfax County. Free. The University of Maryland Chorus will present a Christmas concert at 8 Saturday and 3 Sunday in the Memorial Chapel on the College Park campus. Tickets are $10, $7 for seniors, students and children 12 and under. 454-4183. The American University Chorale will perform holiday music at 8 in the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, 1 Westmoreland Circle, Bethesda. Free, but donations appreciated. 885-2787. The Thomas Circle Singers will perform at 8 at the Luther Place Memorial Church, 1226 Vermont Ave. NW, in a benefit for the homeless. An $8 donation is requested. TRAIN, DOLLHOUSE AND TOY SHOW at the Timonium Fairgrounds, Exhibition Hall, from 11 to 5 Saturday and Sunday. Admission, $4; children under 12 free. Take I-83 north to exit 17. CHRISTMAS EXHIBITION -- Area arts organizations will decorate trees at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria. The show will open with a Children's Christmas Party and Ornament-Making Workshop at 10, with a tree-decorating to follow. Register for the workshop by calling 548-0035. The trees, and a show and sale of quilts, will be through Dec. 23. The hours are 10 to 4 Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 4 Sunday. From 12 to 1:30 Monday, the St. Stephen's Boy Choir will entertain lunchtime visitors; bring a brown-bag lunch. Desserts and beverages provided. All events are free. LEESBURG HOMES TOUR -- Three historic buildings and four private homes will be open for tours from 1 to 8, the Wellaert Consort will perform medieval and renaissance music at 2, and horse-drawn carriages will offer rides. Tour tickets are $7 for all buildings, $3 for an individual home. Children under 12 free. 703/777-7427. Market Station will have a clown, mime and choir show from 1 to 4 Saturday and Sunday. SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS -- The Jubilate Ringers and Peter Schmidt on recorder, from the Lutheran Church of St. Andrews, at the Strathmore Hall Arts Center, 10701 Rockville Pike, Rockville. 1 p.m.; free. MIDDLEBURG CHRISTMAS -- Craftsmen will offer their wares, the Royal Pipers of Kena bagpipers and the Scottish Highland Dancers will perform, and more. festivities are 10 to 5, with a parade with Santa at 3. Free. LEXINGTON TOUR -- A walking tour of decorated homes in Lexington, Va. Noon to 5, $8 adults, $3 children. 703/463-4302. AN OLD-FASHIONED CHRISTMAS -- New Market, Md., will celebrate the season with buggy rides and a sale of handcrafted decorations, baked goods, fresh-cut trees and live greens. Musical entertainment includes Christmas carolers, recorder player Dell Freeman, and strolling troubadour John Durant. The festivities run from noon to 8 Saturday and noon to 5 Sunday. At 6 Saturday free hot cider and cookies will be served at the Masonic Lodge. A drawing for gifts donated by the city's antique dealers will be held Sunday afternoon. New Market is 10 miles east of Frederick, north of I-70 at exit 62. 301/865-5055. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA -- Join Santa, the National Aquarium's mascot, "Puffin," and a wizard named Jafa for a breakfast at the aquarium in Baltimore. Two sessions: 9 and 11. Reservations required. Aquarium members, $7 children, $9 adults; nonmembers, $11 and $13. Repeated on December 12 & 19. 501 East Pratt St., Baltimore. 301/727-3474. NAVY BAND CONCERT -- The band's Sea Chanters, accompanied by the Navy Baroque Chamber Players, will perform at 8 at the National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Ave. NW. Free. 433-2525. DECORATIONS WORKSHOP -- The family can join in a workshop on making natural holiday decorations from 1 to 3:30 at Cabell's Mill in the Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Fairfax County. The park is on Walney Road, just off Route 218 south of I-66. 631-0013. AN EVENING AT THE TAVERN -- An evening of dance and music, in 19th-century style, at 7:30 at the Dranesville Tavern. Entertainment includes fiddlers, dancers and vocalists. Tickets are $12.50. The tavern is at 11919 Leesburg Pike in Dranesville. 759-5241. FREDERICK FESTIVITIES -- Walking tours, leaving from the Visitor's Center at 19 East Church St., will begin at 1:30 and will be repeated Dec. 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27. Adults $2.50; children under 12 free. 301/663-8687. Candlelight tours of some of Frederick's historic houses will be held from 6 to 9 Dec. 5 and 1 to 5 Dec. 6. Tickets $10; 301/638-8687. The Barbara Fritchie Christmas Open House will be from 10 to 4 Dec. 5 and 1 to 4 Dec. 6. Free. 154 W. Patrick St. CHRISTMAS CAROLERS -- The Mother Dear's Community Center Christmas Carolers will sing at 2 at the Martin Luther King Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW. Free. SANTA ARRIVES by barge at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston at 1, and will greet his friends until 3. Petting zoos, music and more. Free.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6 TREE LIGHTING FESTIVAL featuring the Old Dominion Cloggers and Santa. Lubber Run Center, 300 North Park Dr., Arlington. Free. 5 to 7. 558-2671. "THE MESSIAH" presented by the Vienna Baptist Church Choir at 7 at the Ravensworth Baptist Church, 5100 Ravensworth Rd., Annandale. Free. Other events at the church include a Dec. 13 Hanging of the Greens at 7, a Children's Nativity at 7 on Dec. 20 and a Christmas Eve service at 7:30. "MESSIAH" SING-ALONG sponsored by the Manassas Choral Society at 3 at the Manassas Baptist Church, 8800 Sudley Rd., Manassas. Free. CHRISTMAS MUSIC at the Sixth Presbyterian Church. At 4, followed by a tea. Free. Other events at the church at 16th and Kennedy NW are a Christmas dinner and pageant, 6 p.m. on Dec. 13 (free, but bring food for six), and a candlelight Christmas Eve service at 7:30. "MUSIC IN THE ROYAL CHAPELS" -- The Continuum Chamber Singers will present a candlelight concert at 4 in the Florence Hollis Hand chapel at Mount Vernon College, 2100 Foxhall Rd. NW. Tickets are $7.50, $5 students and seniors. 331-3467. "SCROOGE'S CHRISTMAS CAROL" -- The play will be presented at 7 at the Cherrydale United Methodist Church, 3701 Lorcom Lane, Arlington. Free. ALEXANDRIA HARMONIZERS will sing Christmas songs at the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St, 1 to 3. Free. Santa will make an appearance. SANTA'S PARTY at the Woman's Club of Chevy Chase, 3 to 5. The party includes games, prizes, clowns, refreshments and a visit with Santa. Wine, cheese and a raffle will be available for adults. Tickets are $7 for your first child, $5 for additional children. The club is at 7931 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase. 588-2515. TOYS FOR TOTS DANCE -- Square and round dancing to raise money to buy toys for needy children. T.C. Williams High School, 3330 King St., Alexandria, 1 to 5. $6 or a new toy. 838-4343. CAROLS AT WOLF TRAP -- The Marine Band and area choirs will join the audience in singing the carols. Free, but bring nonperishable food items for needy children. 4 p.m. Wolf Trap Farm Park, Vienna. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA -- The Cozy Restaurant in Thurmont, Md., will hold a breakfast with Santa Dec. 6 and 13 at 9 a.m. The only cost is for the breakfast. Each child will receive a gift. Route 806, Thurmont. 301/271-4301. CHRISTMAS LIGHTING & CONCERT -- Lee District Park will light the Christmas tree and host a holiday concert at 6:30. Free. 6601 Telegraph Rd. 922-9841. A MERRY OLD CHRISTMAS celebration at the Baltimore City Life Museums, 12 to 6, with tours, refreshments and music. Adults $5.50; children 12 to 18, senior citizens and BCLM members, $2.25 or donation of a toy. Children under 12 free. 800 E. Lombard and Front streets. 301/396-3523. CHRISTMAS CONCERTS -- Mormon Choir of Washington at 7 at the Oakton Stake Center, 2719 Hunter Mill Rd., Oakton. Free. 942-0103. The annual Christmas concert with the Trinity College's Chamber Singers and Chamber Players playing classical music and singing European carols. Free. 4 p.m. O'Connor Art Gallery, Main Building, Trinity College, 125 Michigan Ave. NE. 939-5274. The D.C. Youth orchestra will play and the Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church Choir will sing in a holiday concert at 6 at the Coolidge High School Auditorium, Fifth and Tuckerman streets NW. Tickets are $2.50 adults, $1.25 senior citizens and students. YULE HOMES TOUR -- Visit homes decorated for the holidays in Manassas. 1 to 5. $8. 703/368-5829. CAPITOL HILL CHORAL SOCIETY will present "Christmas Here and Now," with music by contemporary American composers, at 8 at the Riverside Baptist Church, Seventh and Maine Avenue SW and repeat it at 4 on Dec. 13 at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church, Fifth and Seward Square SE. Free. MERRIE RECORDERS CONSORT to play at Sully plantation at 2. Tickets are $3 adults, $1 children, and a tour of the house is included. Sully is on Route 28 in Chantilly, 3/4 mile north of U.S. 50. 437-1794. "THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS" will be acted by the Our Lady of Good Counsel Girl Scout Troop 334, and the Vienna Community Center Pre-schoolers will enact a nativity scene at Vienna's annual christmas program at the Community Center, 120 Cherry St. SE. 4 p.m. Free. WILDLIFE GIFTS -- Enjoy songs and stories about the spirit of giving and make gifts for wildlife. Hidden Oaks Nature Center, 4020 Hummer Rd., Annandale. 1 p.m. Free. 941-1065. WINTER ART SHOW -- The Rockville Art League holds its annual art show in conjunction with the Holiday House Christmas Decorations at the Rockville Civic Center, 608 Edmonston Dr. The show will be open 9 to 4:30 weekdays, 2 to 5 Sundays through Dec. 29. Closed Saturdays. HOLIDAY DECORATIONS -- Learn how to make a paper angel, bow, wreath or other decoration. Smithsonian Resident Associates. The 2 1/2-hour class is offered at 9:30 and 1. Members $28, nonmembers $33, plus a supplies fee of $8. A class on making straw ornaments is also scheduled at 1. Members $20, nonmembers $25, plus a $15 supplies fee. 357-3030.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 7

HOLIDAY TREES FOR WILDLIFE --

HOLIDAY CRAFTS WORKSHOP

at Riverbend Nature Center. The class at 2:30 is for children aged 6 to 8. Reservations due Friday. The second session is at 10 on Dec. 12 for children ages 9 to 12. Reservations due Dec. 6. $2. Riverbend is at 8814 Jeffery Rd. in Great Falls. Take Route 193 west to River Bend Road to Jeffery Road to the park. 759-3211.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8

CRAFT WORKSHOPS --

Learn how to make holiday decorations from herbs and natural materials. Reservations required. 3:30. Free. Locust Grove Nature Center, 7777 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda. 365-2530. Learn to make dried apple wreaths. Adults only. 7:30, at the Langston Brown Center, 4854 Lee Highway, Arlington. $4. Repeated Thursday at Lee Center, 5722 Lee Highway. 284-8405.

"LAUD TO THE NATIVITY"

by Resphigi will be sung by the University of Maryland Chorale at 8 in the Memorial Chapel at the College Park campus. Three choirs from the Eleanor Roosevelt High School will join the audience in a carol sing-along. The University Brass Ensemble also will perform. Free. 454-6669.

OPEN HOUSE

at the Willard Collection Shops and the Occidental, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, from 5 to 8, with decorations, chestnut roasting, refreshments and carolers.

TREE LIGHTING

ceremony at Montgomery General Hospital. Free, but you can "buy" a light. 7 p.m. 18101 Prince Philip Dr., Olney.

HOLIDAY GIFT WORKSHOP --

Learn how to make gifts, decorations and Christmas pastries. Adults only. 10:30 to 12:30. Francis A. Gregory Regional Branch Library, Alabama Avenue and 37th Street SE. Free. 727-1349.

BAND CONCERT --

The Kings Park Concert Band will perform seasonal favorites at 7:30 at Ballston Common, Wilson Boulevard and Glebe Road, Arlington. Free. 941-3019.

WREATH-MAKING CLASS

at the Point of Rocks Community Center, Ballinger Creek Road, Point of Rocks, Md. Cost is $18; supplies extra. 7 p.m.

CAROLING FOR CHARITY --

Join carolers collecting donations for charity outside Petitto's Ristorante d'Italia, 2653 Connecticut Ave. NW. Sign up; official carolers are guests at an Italian dinner after the 5:30 to 8:30 singing. Repeated Wednesday. 667-5350.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9

HO HO HOTLINE --

The residents of the Fairland Nursing Center in Silver Spring are operating a hotline to Santa. To talk to Santa or Mrs. Claus, call 989-HOHO (989-4646) between 2:30 and 7:30 through Dec. 23. Santa will be available on a personal visit Dec. 19 from noon to 4 at the center at 2101 Fairland Rd..

HOLIDAY MELODIES --

The Capital Lutheran High School Hand Bell Ensemble and Chorus will perform at 6:45 at the Spauldings Branch Library, 5811 Silver Hill Rd. Free. 568-9533.

SWEET ADELINES

of Alexandria has its annual open house party at 8 at the Exhibit Hall of the Lee Center, 1108 Jefferson St., Alexandria. Admission is an unwrapped gift for a child or senior citizen or a monetary contribution to the Salvation Army's Christmas Fund. 960-5436.

CAROLS --

Local school groups will sing Christmas carols in the lobby of the Hyatt Arlington, 1325 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, daily through Dec. 17. The singers will carol at 6 Wednesday and Thursday and Dec. 15 and 17, at 7 Dec. 12 and 14, and at 7:30 Dec. 16.

CAMARATA MUSICA

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10

TOYS FOR TOTS CONCERT --

The Hooters and Richard Marx will perform in Q107's annual holiday concert at 8 at Constitution Hall. Admission is $10 and a new toy. 432-0200.

HOLIDAY TALES --

The Holly and the Candles, a tale with riddles, songs and prizes. For school-age children and up. Free. 7:30. Cleveland Park Branch Library, Connecticut and Macomb Street NW. Free. 727-1345.

YULETIDE FEAST --

The Medieval period comes alive as American University's Department of Performing Arts presents the Chamber Singer's Medieval Yuletide Feast, at 7 Thursday, Friday and Saturday, in the University Club of the Mary Graydon Center. Tickets are $16; reservations, 885-2787. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11

"THE NUTCRACKER" --

The ballet will be performed by the Arlington Ballet at 7:30 Friday and Saturday (Dec. 11 & 12) at 7:30 and at 2 Sunday (Dec. 13). Performances will be at the Thomas Jefferson Theater, 125 S. Glebe Rd., Arlington. Advance sale tickets are $8, $7 for seniors, and $4 for children under 12. At-door prices are $10, $7 and $5. Repeated Sunday at 2 and 7:30. 739-2917.

DECORATION WORKSHOPS --

Sully Plantation will offer a decorations workshop from 10 to 2. Cost is $30 and includes supplies. Reservations required. Bring a bag lunch. Sully is on Route 28, 3/4-mile north of U.S. 50. 437-1794. The Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville offers a 10 a.m. workshop on making natural ornaments. Free. Adults only. Call 924-4141 for reservations. 5100 Meadowside Lane. 924-4141.

CHAMPAGNE AND CHOCOLATES --

A blind tasting of champagne and sparkling wines and strawberries and designer chocolates. Tickets are $25; 8 to 10:30. Call First Class, 797-5102.

GAY MEN'S CHORUS --

A concert and sing-along, with music by Bach, Charpentier and Vaughan Williams. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Dec. 11 & 12) at the Church of the Epiphany, 1317 G St. NW. Tickets are $12. 462-6969.

FOLGER CONSORT --

"It Fell Upon a Holly Eve," a show of Christmas songs, hymns and carols, with the Landon Boys Choir. Evenings at 7:30 Dec. 11 through 14 and Dec. 18 through 21 ($14); 3 p.m. matinees on Dec. 13, 19 and 20 ($11.50). Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol St. SE. 544-7077.

OLD TOWN CANDLELIGHT TOUR --

Tour three old Alexandria houses and a tavern, 7 to 9:30. Tour repeated Saturday night (Dec. 12). Tour begins at the Ramsay House Visitors Center, 221 King St. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students aged 6 to 17. 838-4200.

A BAROQUE CHRISTMAS

by the Alexandria Chorale, singing works by Charpentier, Vivaldi and Corelli. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Dec. 11 & 12). Old Presbyterian Meeting House, 321 S. Fairfax St., $8 adults, $6 children and adults. 836-0741.

CHORAL CONCERT

of traditional and contemporary carols, three versions of Ave Maria, and more by the Washington Men's Camerata, at 8 Friday and Saturday (Dec. 11 & 12) at Christ Church Capitol Hill, 620 G St. SE. $6. 726-6189.

VISIT SANTA,

sing songs and make decorations at Colvin Run Mill Historic Site, just off Route 7 in Fairfax County. The festivities are from 7 to 9 Friday (Dec. 11) and 3 to 5 Sunday (Dec. 13), but not Saturday because Santa is scheduled elsewhere. $4 adults, $2 children. 759-5241.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA --

Lee District Park will host a breakfast with Ol' Nick from 8:30 to 10. Cost is $4 and includes a picture with Santa. Reqistration required, and is due Friday (Dec. 11). 6601 Telegraph Rd. 922-9841. The Vista International Hotel will hold a breakfast with Santa at 9:30. The children will get treats from the hotel's bake shop to carry home. Children $5, adults $8. Reservations suggested. 1400 M St. NW. 429-1700. The Choral Department of Fairfax High School will hold a breakfast with Santa and a concert. Tickets are $3. Two performances: 8:30 and 10. 385-6432. The Flower Club of the Allen-Garfield A.M.E. Church will hold a Breakfast with Santa at the church at 2498 Alabama Ave. SE from 8 to noon. Breakfast is $2.75 for children, $3.75 for adults. Pictures with Santa will cost $5. 889-7296. The Good Luck Community Center, 8601 Good Luck Rd., Lanham, will have a meal with Santa from 10 to noon. $2 per child; 1 adult admitted free with each child. For reservations, 552-1093.

LUNCH WITH SANTA --

If you couldn't get up in time for breakfast, Ol' St. Nick will dine with you (if you are a pre-schooler) at noon at Langston-Brown Center, 4854 Lee Highway, Arlington $2.50; advance registration required. 284-8405.

VISIT WITH SANTA --

Not hungry? No problem, just meet with Santa from 10 to noon at the Long Branch Nature Center, 625 South Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington. Free. 845-7640.

SANTA TEA

from 1 to 3:30 at Trinity Episcopal Church, on Church Street in Upper Marlboro. The price includes cider, cookies and a picture with Santa Claus. Adults free; children 12 and under $2.

HOLIDAY FUN FOR KIDS --

aged 6 to 12 years, noon to 4, free, at the Lubber Run Center, 300 North Park Dr., Arlington. 558-2671.

HOLIDAY GREENS SALE

from 10 to 3 at the Friends Community School, 2323 Metzerott Rd., Adelphi, Md. 445-4050.

CANDLELIGHT CELEBRATION

at Woodlawn and Gunston Hall. Music, skits and dinner. 1:15 to 9:45. Smithsonian Associates (including bus), $52 members, $64 nonmembers. 357-3030.

HILLSBORO HOMES TOUR --

Tour six buildings and homes in 250-year-old Hillsboro, Va. from 1 to 7. $8 a ticket, $2 for a single building. Hillsboro is on Route 9, 10 miles west of Leesburg. 703/668-6331.

SANTA & OTHER HEROES --

Seasonal stories and filmstrips for children 5 to 8. 1:30, Georgetown Regional Branch Library, Wisconsin Avenue and R Street NW. Free. 723-1353.

GARDEN SPECTACULAR --

The Conservatory at Brookside Gardens will be decorated in holiday colors and plants. Open 9 to 5 daily through mid-January. Free. 1400 Glenallen Ave., Wheaton. 946-9071.

STATE HOUSE CONCERT --

A Christmas concert by candlelight at the Old State House in Annapolis. Free. 8:15. 942-0103. The Springbroook High School Chamber Choir at 12, the Wooten High School Chorus at 1, and Ann Cockrell on flute and Janet Mangels on piano at 2 at Strathmore Hall Arts Center, 10701 Rockville Pike. Free. A Winter Solstice Concert will be held at 8 at the Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College in Baltimore. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at door. 301/578-1118.

TREE LIGHTING

at the Village of Shirlington will include Santa, carols, cider, treats and music. Children will get two ornaments -- one for the tree, another to take home. 5 p.m. S. Quincy Street and 28th Street South in Arlington. Free.

A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS

at Rose Hill Manor Children's Museum will feature popcorn and cranberry stringing, tree decorating, Santa and other activities. Noon to 4. Free. The museum will hold an open house Dec. 13 from 1 to 4, and another day of children's activities from 9:30 to 1 p.m. Dec. 19. All Free. 1611 N. Market St., Frederick. The Smithsonian Associates are planning a bus trip to the open house. Cost is $20 nonmembers. 357-3030.

PAPER ORNAMENTS

workshop for children ages 4 to 7. 10 a.m. Smithsonian Associates. Nonmembers $14. An adult child workshop is scheduled for 1 Sunday. Same fees. 357-3030.

GINGERBREAD HOUSE

workshop sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates. Two 2 1/2-hour classes, at 1 Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 12 & 13). $13 nonmembers. 357-3030.

TRIM A TREE

for wildlife at the Meadowside Nature Center in Rockville. Two sessions. The 10 a.m. shop is for childen 3 to 5 (with an adult); the 2 p.m. session is for ages 6 to adult. Free. 5100 Meadowside Lane. 924-4141.

LEESBURG FESTIVITIES --

LEVINE SCHOOL'S HOLIDAY CONCERT

with excerpts from "Hansel and Gretel," "The Nutcracker Suite," and traditional holiday songs. Free, but bring donations of non-perishable food for the District's hungry. 2 p.m. at the Duke Ellington School of Arts Theater, 35th Street NW between Reservoir Road and R Street. 337-2227.

"THE JOY OF CHRISTMAS"

will be presented by the Washington Cathedral Choral Society, at 3:45, Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 12 & 13). Order the tickets ($7 to $18) by mail from The Cathedral Choral Society, Washington Cathedral, Mount St. Alban, Washington, DC 20016.

CHRISTMAS IN ST. MICHAELS --

Choristers, musicians and soloists will help visitors to the Eastern Shore village celebrate Christmas. A walking tour of historic homes, entertainment in the churches and more will be presented continuously both Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 12 & 13). Tickets for tours of the homes and public buildings are $12 and can be bought at the Information Center at Green Street behind Christ Church. The music at the churches is free.

CHILDREN'S CHRISTMAS WORKSHOP --

Learn how to make ornaments and gifts. Lee District Park. $2 per person. 10 a.m. The park is at 6601 Telegraph Rd., Rose Hill, in Fairfax County. 922-9841.

LAUREL ORATORIO

Society will present a Christmas concert at 8 at St. Mary's Catholic Church, 114 Eighth St., Laurel. Tickets are $9 in advance, $10 at the door, and $6 for seniors and students. 490-8370.

WINTER WONDERLAND --

Cartoons, games, refreshments, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, the Christmas Mouse and more at the Casey Community Center in Gaithersburg. Two 1 1/2-hour shows: children 3 to 6 at 1 p.m., children 4 to 10 at 3:30. Tickets are $2.50 for Gaithersburg residents, $3 nonresidents -- plus a can of food for donation to a local charity. The center is on Frederick Avenue one block north of Shady Grove Road.

THE HOLLY BALL --

A dance and Christmas concert at the National Presbyterian Church, Nebraska Avenue and Van Ness Street NW. $5.50 per person; 8:30. 649-3079.

"THIS BABE OF BETHLEHEM" --

A holiday concert by the Southern Maryland Choral Society, the Camerata of the Baltimore campus of the University of Maryland, and the D.C. Brass Ensemble. Performances at 5 and 8 at the Bethany Christian Church, 7128 Allentown Rd., Fort Washington. $5 adults, $3 senior citzens and students, $15 for families with children 12 years and under. 868-4006.

ANACOSTIA TREE DEDICATION

at 4:30 at the Community Park, Minnesota Avenue and Good Hope Road SE.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS --

A candlelight concert at Mount St. Mary's College Chapel, Emmitsburg. Admission by offering; 4 p.m. 301/447-6122. The Mormon Choir of Washington will present a concert at 7:30 at the Washington Stake Center, 10000 Stoneybrook Dr., Kensington. Free. 942-0103. The All Saints' choir, a brass ensemble and an organist will play a Christmas concert at 4 at the All Saints' Church, 3 Chevy Chase Circle, Chevy Chase. Free. 654-2488. The Rockville Community Chorus will sing carols from Spain, the Ukraine and other nations. Free, at 7 at the F. Scott Fitzgerald Theater, Baltimore Road and Edmonston Drive, Rockville. 428-800, ext. 357. The Chantilly High Chorus will perform a concert of Christmas carols from the 18th and 19th centuries at Sully Plantation at 2 and 3. Tickets are $3 adults, $1 children and include a tour of the historic mansion. Sully is on Route 28, north of U.S. 50. 437-1794. The annual candlelight service of carols, 5 p.m. at the National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Ave. NW. Free. The Northern Virginia Youth Symphony and String Ensemble play at 3 at the Lake Braddock Secondary School, 9200 Burke Lake Rd., Burke, Va. $4 adults, $2 students and senior citizens. 356-2666.

THE PAUL HILL CHORALE

presents its candlelight concerts at 8 on Sunday (Dec. 13), 3 on Dec. 19 and 7:30 Dec. 21 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are $12.50 to $21. 364-4321.

VISIT WITH SANTA

at Gulf Branch's Log House, 3608 North Military Rd., Arlington; 1 to 2, and 3 to 4. Free. 558-2340.

DUMBARTON TOURS --

Special tours of historic Dumbarton House from 3 to 5 and 6 to 8, including music, hot cider and cookies. Free. The house is at 2715 Q St. NW.

WINCHESTER HOUSE TOUR --

Five historic houses and the Bough and Dough Shop, with entertainment from carolers, in Winchester, Va. Tickets are $7 adults, $3 children, and can be purchased from the Bough and Dough Shop in the Friends Meeting Hall, Washington and Piccadilly Streets. The tour is from 1 to 6.

"A CHILD'S CHRISTMAS IN WALES" --

A musical based on the story by Dylan Thomas will be presented by the Barkdale Theater of Virginia at the Fine Arts Center of the Charles County Community College, La Plata, 3:30. Tickets are $6 adults, $4 students and senior citizens. 870-3008, ext. 328 Tuesdays through Fridays.

CHRISTMAS STORIES, MUSIC

in the African-American tradition at the Bethune Museum & Archives National Historic Site. 3 to 5 $2; refreshments served. The Bethune Museum is at 1318 Vermont Ave. NW. For reservations, 332-1233.

WINTER HOUSE TOUR --

Six houses in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Capitol Hill will be decorated in different ways and will offer visitors food and music. 3 to 7. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 children; proceeds benefit the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 Seventh St. SE. 547-6839.

OPEN HOUSE

at the historic Beall-Dawson House, from 2 to 6. The mansion is decorated for the holidays and the tour is by candlelight. Refreshments and music. Free. 103 West Montgomery Ave., Rockville.

CHRISTMAS AT CALVARY --

A play about how an old scrooge learns the true meaning of Christmas. Free, at 7 at the Calvary Road Baptist Church at 6811 Buelah St., Alexandria.

CITY HOLIDAYS PAST --

Discover the traditions of holidays past with a tour of Baltimore's City Life Museums -- The Carroll Mansion, the 1840 House, the Courtyard Exhibition Center and the Center for Urban Archeology. The 1 to 6 p.m. tour includes a lunch and lecture. Reservations required; tickets are $30 for nonmembers. 301/727-3474.

INNS TOUR FOR CHARITY --

Tour six Frederick County bed & breakfast inns and three country inns, all decorated for the holidays. Tickets $10, to benefit a hospice. 301/865-3318.

LIVE NATIVITY SCENE

with choral ensembles, 6:30 to 8:30 through Christmas Eve. Alfred Street Baptist Church, at Duke and Alfred streets, Alexandria.

CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS --

The Fort Ward Museum in Alexandria will celebrate a Civil War-era Christmas with an open house. Visitors will be greeted by costumed soldiers and ladies; refreshments, music and tours. Free; 1 to 4 p.m. 4301 W. Braddock Rd., Alexandria. 838-4848.

A RUSSIAN CHRISTMAS --

A tree decorated with 200 Faberge'-like eggs, a display of Russian holiday ornaments, an exhibition of works by Russian impressionist Leonid Pasternak and a tea and concert at the Meridian House, 1630 Crescent Pl. NW. The tree and decorations will be unveiled at the tea and concert at 3. Tickets are $25 for the unveiling; from Dec. 14 to Jan. 6, the displays will be open free from 1 to 4 Sundays through Fridays, except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The Pasternak exhibit will be open through Jan. 18. 667-6800.

A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS

at the historic Surratt House and Tavern 9110 Brandyine Rd., Clinton, Md. Candlelight tours will be held from 5 to 9 Sunday (Dec. 13), 6 to 9 Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 14 & 15). Admission is $1 adults, 75 cents for senior citizens, 50 cents for students. 868-1121.

A COLONIAL CHRISTMAS

at Smallwood's Retreat in Smallwood State Park in Marbury, Md. Visit a Tidewater tobacco plantation, enjoy the glow of candles and a fireplace, sample colonial treats and hot cider. From 1 to 7, repeated Dec. 20. Free. 301/743-7613.

A BELTWAY CHORALE --

The combined Chorales of Beltsville and Greenbelt-Lanham will present "Amahl and the Night Visitor" at 7:30 at the Beltsville Presbyterian Church, I-95 and Powder Mill Road, at 7:30 Monday (Dec. 14) at the Good Samaritan Church, 10110 Greenbelt Rd., Lanham. $3, $1.50 for students and senior citizens.

BETHESDA COMMUNITY SING

at the Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, 6601 Bradley Blvd. 4 p.m. Free.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 14

HANNUKAH FAMILY WORKSHOP --

An evening of stories, 7:30 at the White Oak Library, 11701 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring. Free.

18TH-CENTURY PARTY

recreated at the Octagon House. The party will include costumed hosts and 20 actors and dancers who will recreate a masquerade, a popular entertainment of the era. Mince tarts and a punch will be served. Tickets are $7.50 adults, $3 for children under 16. Performances at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30. Reservations, 638-3221.

HOLIDAY WORKSHOP --

Make your own holiday decorations at the Lathrop E. Smith Center adjacent to the Meadowside Nature Center. $10. 5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville. 924-2626.

TREE LIGHTING

and sing-along at Market Square, 301 King St. in Alexandria. 7 p.m. Free.

HANNUKAH AT THE KENNEDY CENTER --

Eight countries will be represented in this program of Jewish songs. 7:30, Kennedy Center Concert Hall. $9. 254-3600.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15

CHRISTMAS MUSIC --

The Choral Arts Society and director Norman Scribner will present a concert of Christmas music at 7:30 Tuesday (Dec. 15), Dec. 20 and Dec. 22 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Tickets are from $4.75 to $22.50. 244-3669.

CRAFTS, STORIES

and poems for the season, for children 5 to 12. 4 p.m., Hillcrest Heights Branch Library, 2398 Iverson St. Free. 630-4900.

MEDIEVAL MUSIC

and renaissance music and dance at 7 at the New Carrollton Branch Library, 7414 Riverdale Rd. Free. 459-6900.

SING-ALONG --

Holiday songfest, 7:15, Takoma Park Branch Library, Fifth and Cedar streets NW. Free. 727-1385.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 16

AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL --

An hour of games, crafts and activities to celebrate the holidays. Free. Ages 3 to 5 (with adult). Reservations required. 3:45. Meadowside Nature Center. 5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville. 921-4141.

TOYS FOR TOTS --

Open House party from 6 to 8 at the Morrison House Hotel, 116 S. Alfred, Alexandria. Bring a gift (and indicate whether it's for a boy or girl). Call Kelly Cunningham, 838-8000.

HOLIDAY CONCERT

by the Levine Chamber Orchestra, at 12:15 in the great hall of the National Building Museum, in the Pension Building on F Street between Fourth and Fifth streets NW. Free.

CRAFT WORKSHOP

for ages 55 and older. Culpepper Garden Center, 4435 N. Pershing Dr., Arlington. 1:30, free. 524-1144.

HOLIDAY COOKING

for children, ages 6 to 12, at 2 at the Fairmount Heights Branch Library, 5904 Kolb St. 925-9700.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17

CANDLELIGHT CONCERT --

The Mount Vernon Brass Players perform at 8 at the National Aquarium. A reception with the musicians follows. $10 members, $15 nonmembers. 501 East Pratt St., Baltimore. 301/727-3474.

MIDDAY MUSE --

Interact's Yuletides of Yore features prose, poetry and music designed for elementary school students. Free. 12:15, Shakespeare Folger Library, 201 E. Capitol St. SE. 544-7077.

CRAFT WORKSHOP --

Make tree ornaments and other crafts from natural materials. Ages 5 to adult. Free. 3 p.m. Maydale Nature Center. 1726 Briggs Chaney Rd., Silver Spring. 384-9447.

PRESCHOOL FESTIVAL

of films about Hanukkah, Kwanza and Christmas, stories and penny theater. Shows at 10 and 11. Free. Southwest Branch Library, Wesley Place and K Street SW. 727-1381 for reservations.

"A CHRISTMAS CAROL" --

The seasonal favorite will be presented by the Prince George's Little Theater at the Prince George's Publick Playhouse in Cheverly. The shows are at 8 Thursday and Friday (Dec. 17 & 18), 2 and 8 Saturday (Dec. 19), and 2 and 7:30 Sunday (Dec. 20). Tickets are $3 adults, $1 under 18. 277-1710.

NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

plays Handel's "Messiah" at 8:30 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Repeated Friday (Dec. 18). Tickets $13 to $29. 254-3600.

HESPERUS --

The early music ensemble, with Interact and soprano Rosa Lamoreaux, 7:30, National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets NW. Tickets $12 ($10 Smithsonian Associates). 357-3030. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18

ALEXANDRIA CHORALE --

The Alexandria Choral Society will perform the "Messiah" at 8 Friday and Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Tickets are $9 and $14; seniors and students pay $2 less, children under 12 free with adult. The concert is at the Virginia Theological Seminary Chapel, Quaker Lane and Seminary Road, Alexandria. 548-2377.

"PETER AND THE WOLF"

by the Northern Virginia Youth Symphony. At 8 at the Fairfax High School, 3500 Old Lee Highway, Fairfax. Tickets are $4 adults, 42 students and senior citizens. 356-2666.

TREES OF CHRISTMAS

exhibit opens at the National Museum of American History. Ten trees will be decorated in ways to reflect different traditions, crafts or styles. The exhibit runs through Jan. 6. Free.

ATHEISTS' SOLSTICE PARTY --

The eighth annual get-together will be at 7 at the Holiday Inn, 550 C St. SW. Free.

YULE DANCE AND PARTY

for ages 55 and older, Culpepper Garden Senior Center Auditorium, 4435 North Pershing Dr., Arlington. 1 p.m., $2. 524-1144.

CANDLELIGHT FESTIVAL --

Frederick City Hall, Courthouse Square. Traditional caroling and candlelight ceremony. Free. 7:30. 301/694-1436.

CHRISTMAS CAROL SPECIAL --

at 8 Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 18, 19 & 20), Archbishop Carroll High School, 4300 Harewood Rd. NE. Tickets are $5.

GINGERBREAD HOUSE --

competition and auction from 10 to 4, Strathmore Hall Arts Center, 10701 Rockville Pike, Rockville. Free.

CORN HUSK ANGELS --

Make a tree decoration. Free. 2. Adults only. Reservations required. Brookside Nature Center, 1400 Glenallen Ave., Wheaton. 946-9071.

CHRISTMAS CAROLS --

The Music Lobby and other singers will sing carols at the Connecticut Connection, 1101 Connecticut Ave. NW, from noon to 1:30. Free, but donations to Children's Hospital are requested.

CHRISTMAS RECEPTION

at the Arlington Historical Museum in the Hume School, 1805 S. Arlington Ridge Rd. The reception is noon to 3. The museum's hours are 11 to 3 Friday and Saturday, 2 to 5 Sunday. Museum will be open through December. Free. 829-4204.

"THE NUTCRACKER" --

The Washington Ballet's production of Tchaikovksy's seasonal favorite opens the first of 17 performances at Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H streets NW. The show runs through Dec. 31. Tickets are $14.50 and $16.50. For information on times and tickets, call 432-2000.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19

ARLINGTON YOUNG REPUBLICANS

"GOD BLESS US, EVERY ONE" --

Holiday readings by WETA's Robert Aubry Davis, to benefit Wordstage Reader's Theater. $10, $8 students and senior citizens. Gunston Arts Center, 2700 South Land St., Arlington. 739-2921.

ANACOSTIA CELEBRATION

Children's party from noon to 1:30 at Ketcham Elementary School, 15th and U streets SE. Open to children to age 12, but children 5 to 6 must be accompanied by adult; admission: a can or non-perishable food item. Free tickets available Dec. 12 noon to 3 at 2028 Martin Luther King Ave. SE. The Christmas parade is from 2 to 4 and begins at Stanton School (Naylor Road and Alabama Avenue SE) and goes down Good Hope to Anacostia Park. After the parade, from 5 to 6:30, there will be a caroling party in the park.

CANDLELIGHT TOURS

of the Christian Heurich Mansion, 1307 New Hampshire Ave. NW. The Close Enough Barbershop Quarter and the Capitol Hill Consort will entertain during the tours, which are from 5 to 7 Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 19 & 20). $2.50; children under 5 free. 785-2068.

CHRISTMAS CARTOONS --

A festival at 2 at the Northeast Branch Library, Seventh Street and Maryland Avenue NE. Free. 727-1365.

LEESBURG FESTIVITIES --

Market Station will have musical and other entertainment from 12 to 4 Saturday (Dec. 19) and from 2 Sunday (Dec. 20).

HOLIDAY DANCE CONCERT --

The Center Dance Company will perform "The Juggler of Notre Dame," an old French story about a traveling acrobat who receives a miracle in return for sharing his gifts. "Seven Songs for the Season," a modern dance set to carols sung by the Vienna Choir Boys, and "La Paysage," will also be presented. Shows are at 7:30 Saturday (Dec. 19) and 2:30 Sunday (Dec. 20) at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center, 3501 S. Second St., Arlington. Tickets are $6 adults, $5 seniors, $3 for children 12 and under. 920-4340.

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA

from 9:30 to 11:30 at the Point of Rocks Community Center, Ballinger Creek Road, Point of Rocks, Md. $2.50 a child, $3 adult.

PICTURES & SANTA --

Take a picture of your child with Santa, at the Gazebo at 124 N. Market St., Frederick. 1 to 5; bring your camera.

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

and carols throughout the day in the historic district of Fairfax. Hayrides, puppet shows and Santa. 7 p.m. Free. 385-7858.

WASHINGTON TOUR --

Lee District Park will sponsor a bus tour of the White House, National Cathedral and a stop on the Ellipse. The tour starts at 9 a.m. and lasts until 2. Tickets are $10; lunch not included. Reservations required. 6601 Telegraph Rd. 922-9841.

CHRISTMAS ORATORIO --

The Montgomery Chamber Orchestra, the Masterworks Chorus and soloists will perform "L'Enfance du Christ" at 8:30. Tickets are $14, $10 for students and senior citizens. The oratorio will be repeated Sunday at 2:30, with a pre-concert lecture on Berlioz's work at 1:30. 762-8580.

STRATHMORE CONCERTS --

The Celebration Singers of St. Paul's United Methodist Church at 12, the Young Americans at 1 and the Carillon Ringers of St. Paul's at 2. Free. Strathmore Hall Arts Center, 10701 Rockville Pike, Rockville.

TRIM A TREE

for wildlife using edible ornaments. Ages 5 to 8. Free. 10. Reservations required. Brookside Nature Center, 1400 Glenallen Ave., Wheaton. 946-9071.

SCOUTS TOUR --

Join the scouts for special holiday tour of historic Sully Plantation and then enjoy hot chocolate and cookies. Hours are 2 to 4; cost is $3 adult, $1 scout. Sully is on Route 28 3/4 mile north of U.S. 50. 437-1794.

"MESSIAH" --

Sing-along with the Arlington Metropolitan Chorus, 5, at the First Presbyterian Church, 601 North Vermont St., Arlington., 739-2921. Free.

CHRISTMAS READINGS

to benefit Wordstage Readers Theater, Gunston Library, 2700 South Lang Street, 8 p.m. Prices to be announced. 739-2921.

CHRISTMAS AROUND LAFAYETTE SQUARE --

A walking tour and discussion of the historic homes on the square, sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates. 10:30 to 4. Members $54, nonmembers $66. 357-3030.

CHESTERTOWN BY CANDLELIGHT --

Tour the historic Eastern Shore town. This bus trip is sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates. Costs is $70 nonmembers. 8:15 to 6:45. 357-3030. SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20

VELVETEEN RABBIT --

Puppet performance at 1 and 3 p.m., National Aquarium, 501 East Pratt St., Baltimore. $5 nonmembers. Reservations required. 301/727-3474.

THE JOFFREY, THE BALLET & A BACKSTAGE TOUR --

See all the magic of the Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker" and tour the stage. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates. 1:30 to 4. Young associates and members $35, nonmembers $45. 357-3030.

HOLIDAY CONCERT

featuring the Old Dominion Cloggers for ages 55 and older. Culpepper Garden Senior Center, 4435 North Pershing Dr., Arlington. 2; free. 524-1144.

"MESSIAH" --

The Washington Cathedral Choir of Boys and Men will perform the "Messiah" at 4 in the nave of the Cathedral. Free. The Cathedral is at Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues NW.

NAVY BAND CONCERT --

The Navy Concert Band and Sea Chanters will perform at Constitution Hall, 18th and D streets NW., at 3 p.m. Free. 433-2525.

ALEXANDRIA HARMONIZERS -

Seasonal favorities by the barbershop quartets. 3 p.m. Free. The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St., Alexandria.

ANDY WILLIAMS

brings his annual Christmas concert show to the Patriot Center. 7:30. Tickets are $17 and $20. 432-2000.

LESSONS & CAROLS

at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, on Cathedral Lane at the intersection of Glebe Road and Arlington Boulevard in Arlington. 7:30. Free.

MESSIAH SING-ALONG --

The Vienna Choral Society will hold the sing-along to benefit the Committee for Helping Others, an organization of churches and individuals that aids people in need. Donation requested at the 3 p.m. performance at St. Mark's Catholic Church, 9970 Vale Rd., Vienna.

SULLY DECORATIONS --

The historic plantation will be decorated for the holidays. Tours from 11 to 4:30. Children will be told tales of Christmases past. $3 adults, $1 children. Sully is on Route 28 just north of U.S. 50. 437-1794.

HOLIDAY NATURE FESTIVAL --

Try our hand at natural holiday crafts, 1 to 4 at the Hidden Pond Nature Center, 8511 Greeley Blvd. Springfield. Free. 451-9588.

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS --

The D.C. Youth Orchestra Program's Preparatory Orchestra and Beginners, 6 p.m. at the Coolidge High School, Fifth and Tuckerman streets NW. $2.50 adults, $1.25 students and senior citizens. 723-1612. The Arlington Symphony, 3 p.m. at the Kenmore Auditorium, 200 South Carlin Springs Rd. Free. pre-concert lecture at 1:45 at the Kenmore School Library.

THE CHORAL ARTS SOCIETY

of Washington presents Christmas music at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. 7:30. Tickets $14.75 to $22.50. Repeated at 7:30 Dec. 22. 254-3600.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22

CHRISTMAS CONCERT --

by the Frederick Symphony Orchestra at the Weinberg Center, 20 W. Patrick St. Adults, $7; students and senior citizens, $6. 8 p.m. 301/694-8585.

CAROLING IN THE STREETS

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23

TWELVE DAYS --

The mountaintop resort Wintergreen will begin celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas with a Santa, a birding hike, an egg basket workshop, a treasure hunt and more. The festivities continue through January 3. Wintergreen is near Charlottesville. Reservations, 800/325-2200.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 24

RINGING BELLS --

the Washington Ringing Society will perform at 2 at the Old Post Office. The public is not invited to the ringing, but is asked to listen. Other ringings at the Old Post Office are scheduled for Dec. 31 at 8 and Midnight and 10 a.m. New Year's Day.

USO HOLIDAYLINK --

The USO of the Washington area will offer free phone calls between U.S. military personnel in Europe and Japan and their families here. 8 to 11 a.m., the Washington Hilton. There is no cost for the calls, but families will be chosen on the basis of length of separation or personal or medical emergencies. The USO is also arranging free hotel rooms to reunite families with military personnel stationed in Washington. For more information, call 433-3416. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 25

RINGING BELLS --

The Washington Ringing Society will perform at noon at the Washington National Cathedral. The public is not invited to the ringing, but is asked to listen.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26

AN EVENING AT SULLY --

A traditional dessert party, featuring costumed characters, food and music from the federal period. 7:30. Reservations required; $10. 759-5241. Sully Plantation is on Route 28 north of U.S. 50.

AFTERGLOW PARTY --

Celebrate the end of the Christmas holiday with a party, 9 p.m. to 1, at the Old Anacostia Museum-Carver Theater, 2405 Martin Luther King Ave. SE. $5. 678-7791. CHESTNUT ROAST --

At Meadowside Nature Center's open house. Free. 10 to 1. 5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville. 924-4141.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 27

CHURCH TOUR --

Candlelight, self-guided tour of Frederick churches. 6:30 to 9:30. Free. 301/663-8703.

CHRISTMAS CONCERT --

The Mormon Choir will sing at 7:30 at the Mt. Vernon Stake Center, 2000 George Washington Memorial Parkway. Free. 942-0103.

SULLY HOLIDAY ILLUMINATION --

Help celebrate the Christmas season with fireworks, the firing of a cannon, storytelling and hot chocolate. 4 to 6:30. $4, $2 children. 759-5241. Sully plantation is on Route 28 north of U.S. 50.

CHINESE OPERA TROUPE --

The Fu Hsing troupe from the Republic of China on Taiwan will present three plays at 7 at Wootton High School, 2100 West Ritchie Parkway, Rockville. Free. 895-1912.

"AFTERNOON OF SONG AND CIDER"

at Ash Lawn-Highland, President Monroe's home near Charlottesville. Traditional carols and madrigals, cider and hospitality at 4 Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 27-30). Tickets $5, $2 for children 2 to 11, and $4 for friends of Ash Lawn. 804/293-9539.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 28

HOLIDAY CAMP --

For ages 12 and under, four days of activities (through Thursday Dec. 31) at the Walter Reed Center, 2909 16th St. South, Arlington. The camp is 10 to 5. Fee for some activities. 553-2389. Another camp, for children 5 to 12, will have four days of activities at the Langston-Brown Center, 4854 Lee Highway, Arlington. The camp runs from 1:30 to 6. 284-8405.

HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS

for ages 55 and older. An auction, bridge party, dancing and more. Culpepper Garden Senior Center, 4435 North Pershing Dr., Arlington. Free. 10 to 3. 558-2672.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 30

COLONIAL CHRISTMAS --

A bonfire, sing-along and cider at the decorated Ball-Sellers House, 5620 Third St. South, Arlington. 6:30-8:30. Free.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31

"FIRST NIGHT"

in Leesburg marks the New Year with children's entertainment, storytellers, magicians, music, singers and dancers. The show is at numerous churches and public buildings in downtown Leesburg and runs from 8 to 1988. Admission is $3, children under 6 are free. 703/777-0574.

VIGIL CONCERT --

A New Year's Eve vigil, with choir, organ and trumpet at St. Thomas More, Cathedral Avenue at the intersection of Glebe Road and Arlington Boulevard, Arlington. Free; 10:30.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 2

NEW YEAR'S HIKE --

Celebrate '88 with a hike at the Meadowside Nature Center. Reservations required. Free. Ages 6 to adult. 5100 Meadowside Lane, Rockville. 1:30 to 3. 924-4141.