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Performances

These events for children and families are free unless a fee is noted.

"SEASONS OF LIGHT" -- Winter Solstice customs from around the world, through Dec. 21. Friday and Tuesday-Thursday at 10 and 11:30. $6, children $4. Reservations recommended. By Discovery Theatre in the Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW. 202-357-1500 or 202-357-3030.

"TINY TOTS" CONCERTS by the James Madison High School Wind Symphony and Color Guard, Friday at 10 and 1. $4. James Madison High School, 2500 James Madison Dr., Vienna. 703-938-0350 or 703-620-5974.

"THE NUTCRACKER" -- through Dec. 31. Friday at 10 and 11:30, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 and 1, Wednesday-Thursday at 10 and 11:30. $7. Reservations recommended. The Puppet Co. Playhouse, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-320-6668.

WASHINGTON BALLET -- "The Nutcracker," through Dec. 24. Friday at 7, Saturday at 2 and 7, Sunday at 1. $29 to $87. Warner Theatre, 13th and E NW. 202-397-7328 or 202-783-4000.

METROPOLITAN BALLET THEATRE -- "The Nutcracker," through Sunday. Friday at 7, Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 5. $18 in advance, $20 at door. Parilla Performing Arts Center, Montgomery College, 51 Mannakee St., Rockville. 301-279-5301.

"CHARLOTTE'S WEB" by Kensington Arts Theatre, through Dec. 18. Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 11 and 3. $10. Arts Barn, 311 Kent Square Rd., Gaithersburg. 301-258-6394.

"JINGLE BELL ROCK" -- through Dec. 30. Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 2 and 7, Sunday at 2. $8. Reservations required. Young Artists Theater, Cherry Tree Center, Route 29 and Route 216, West Laurel. 301-604-2844.

ROUND HOUSE/BETHESDA -- "A Year With Frog and Toad," adapted from the books by Arnold Lobel, through Dec. 18. Friday at 8, Saturday at 3 and 8, Sunday at 3, Wednesday at 7:30, Thursday at 8. $25 to $50, ages 18 and younger $15. 4545 East West Hwy., Bethesda. 240-644-1100.

"HANSEL & GRETEL" by Theatre IV, Saturday at 9:30 and 11. Helen Hayes Gallery, National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-783-3372.

ALEXANDRIA BALLET -- "Highlights of the Nutcracker," through Jan. 1. Saturday and Sunday at noon, 1:30, 3 and 4:30. $15, children $10. The Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria. 703-548-0035.

"WONDROUS WHITE WINTER" -- puppet show, through Feb. 5. Saturday and Sunday at noon. $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Classika Theatre, 4041 S. 28th St. Arlington. 703-824-0660.

"THE EMPEROR'S NIGHTINGALE" -- through Dec. 18. Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 and 3:30. $7. Adventure Theatre, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 301-320-5331.

"EN BUSCA DE LA SONRISA PERDIDA" ("In Search of the Lost Smile"), by GALA Hispanic Theatre in Spanish. Saturday at 2. $15, ages 2 to 10 $5. Tivoli Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW. 202-234-7174.

OLNEY BALLET THEATER -- Saturday and Sunday at 2, Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 at 2 and 6, "The Nutcracker." $15, students and ages 18 and younger $9.50 in advance, $3 more at door. Tawes Theater, University of Maryland, College Park. 301-774-9850.

ROCKVILLE CIVIC BALLET -- Saturday at 2 and 7:30, Sunday at 2, Dec. 10 at 2 and 7:30, and Dec. 11 at 2, "The Nutcracker." $12, seniors and ages 12 and younger $8. F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Dr., Rockville. 240-314-8690.

"BABES IN TOYLAND" by the Baltimore Actors' Theatre, Saturday at 2 and 7:30, Sunday at 2. Matinees $24, ages 12 and younger $15; evening $19, children $15. Kraushaar Auditorium, Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd., Towson. 410-771-8427.

"MONDO RONDO" -- 20th-century music from around the world by the New Zealand String Quartet, Saturday at 3 and 4:30. $9. Smith Theater, Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. 410-480-9950.

"ALICE IN WONDERLAND" -- through Feb. 5. Saturday at 3 and 7, Sunday at 3. $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Classika Theatre, 4041 S. 28th St. Arlington. 703-824-0660.

"SEUSSICAL" -- through Jan. 15. Saturday at 3:30, Sunday at 12:30 and 3:30. $10 to $15. Reservations recommended. Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. 301-280-1660.

AMERICAN DANCE INSTITUTE -- Saturday at 4 and 6:30, Sunday at 2, "The Nutcracker" (Act 2). $15, ages 12 and younger $10. 1570 E. Jefferson St., Rockville. 301-984-3003.

"EAST MEETS WEST" -- Chinese puppetry by Hua Hua Zhang, Sunday at 1 and 2:15 for ages 6 to 12. National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW. 202-783-7370.

AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE -- "The Nutcracker," through Dec. 11. Wednesday-Thursday at 7:30. $47 to $112. Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600 or 800-444-1324 (TDD: 202-416-8524).

Special Events

MODEL TRAIN DISPLAY -- Saturday 10 to 5 and Sunday noon to 4. Different gauges on operating layouts. $4, children $1. Fairfax Station Railroad Museum, 11200 Fairfax Station Rd, Fairfax Station. 703-425-9225.

MUSEUM FAMILY DAY -- Saturday noon to 4, storytelling, music and hands-on crafts in conjunction with the exhibition "Retratos: 2,000 Years of Latin American Portraits." S. Dillon Ripley Center, 100 Jefferson Dr. SW. 202-357-3030.

"IMAGINASIA" -- Saturday and Sunday at 2. Art tour and workshop for ages 6 to 14. Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Ave. SW. 202-357-2700 (TDD: 202-357-1729).

Nature

NATIONAL ZOO -- Grounds open daily 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; most animal buildings and Amazonia open 10 to 4:30 (exceptions are posted). Seal and sea lion training at 11:30, elephant care sessions at 11 most days. 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-633-4800.

NATIONAL AQUARIUM -- More than 1,000 specimens of aquatic life, including an alligator exhibit. Open daily 9 to 5 (last admission 4:30). Adults $5, seniors $4, ages 2 to 10 $2, younger free. Department of Commerce Building, 14th and Constitution NW. 202-482-2825.

BALTIMORE AQUARIUM -- The National Aquarium in Baltimore features a marine mammal pavilion, an Atlantic coral reef exhibit and a South American rain forest. Timed-entry tickets required. Open Friday 9 to 8, Saturday-Thursday 9 to 5. Admission $17.50; seniors $14.50; ages 3 to 11 $9.50 (under 3 free). Pier 3, 501 E. Pratt St., Baltimore. For information, 410-576-3800; for advance tickets, Ticketmaster, 202-397-7328 or 410-481-7328 (service charges added).

NATIONAL WILDLIFE VISITOR Center -- Interior Department science and environmental education center offers interactive exhibits and films. Open daily 10 to 5:30. Patuxent Research Refuge, 10901 Scarlet Tanager Loop, Laurel. 301-497-5760.

ROCK CREEK NATURE CENTER -- Planetarium shows: "The Night Sky," Saturday and Sunday at 1 for ages 4 and up; "Exploring the Universe," Saturday and Sunday at 4 for ages 7 and up; planetarium show for younger children, Wednesday at 4 for ages 2 to 10. Free planetarium tickets distributed 30 minutes before each show. 5200 Glover Rd. NW. 202-895-6070.

ARLINGTON PLANETARIUM -- " 'Tis the Season," through Dec. 18. Friday and Saturday at 7:30, Sunday at 1:30 and 3. $3, seniors and ages 12 and younger $2. 1426 N. Quincy St., Arlington. 703-228-6070.

Places to Visit

MARYLAND SCIENCE CENTER -- Exhibits: "Circus! Science Under the Big Top," through Jan. 1; "Dino Digs," about dinosaurs native to Maryland; "Chesapeake Bay"; "Outer Space Place," indefinitely. Hands-on exhibits and demonstrations of scientific principles. Imax films screened hourly. Planetarium show, hourly. Admission, depending on options selected, $14-$19.50, ages 4 to 12 $9.50-$13.50. Open Friday 10 to 5, Saturday 10 to 6, Sunday 11 to 5, Tuesday-Thursday 10 to 5. 601 Light St., Baltimore. 410-685-5225.

PORT DISCOVERY -- Interactive fantasy structures, mechanical sculptures and related activities. Open Tuesday-Friday 9:30 to 4:30, Saturday 10 to 5, Sunday noon to 5. $11, ages 3 to 12 $8.50, under 3 free. 35 Market Pl., Baltimore. 410-727-8120.

DISCOVERY CREEK CHILDREN'S Museum -- Drop-in programs, Saturday and Sunday 10 to 3. $5. Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 202-337-5111.

GARGOYLE'S DEN -- Saturday 10 to 2, for ages 6 to 12. Explore stone carving, mosaics, stained glass and other crafts. $5 per group of up to 4; each additional person $1. Washington National Cathedral, Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues NW. 202-537-2934.

CLAUDE MOORE COLONIAL FARM -- Visit a re-creation of an 18th-century family farm, open Friday-Sunday and Wednesday-Thursday from 10 to 4:30. $3, seniors and ages 3 to 12 $2. 6310 Georgetown Pike, McLean. 703-847-0710.

NATIONAL COLONIAL FARM -- The mid-18th-century tobacco plantation is open Friday-Sunday and Tuesday-Thursday from 10 to 5. Adults $2, under 12 50 cents; $5 maximum per family. 3400 Bryan Point Rd., Accokeek. 301-283-2113.

OXON HILL FARM -- The working farm is open daily from 9 to 4:30, with farm demonstrations and tours. Oxon Cove Park, 6411 Oxon Hill Rd., Oxon Hill. 301-839-1176 (TDD: 301-839-1783).

COLVIN RUN MILL -- Tour the 19th-century gristmill 11 to 5 daily except Tuesday. Adults $5, children $3. 10017 Colvin Run Rd., Great Falls. 703-759-2771.

OLD STONE HOUSE -- Tour the 1765 structure Friday-Sunday and Wednesday-Thursday noon to 5. 3051 M St. NW. 202-426-6851.

SULLY HISTORIC SITE -- The restored 1794 mansion, furnished with Federal-period antiques, is open from 11 to 4 daily except Tuesday. Hourly guided tours $5, students $4, seniors and ages 5 to 15 $3. 3601 Sully Rd., Chantilly. 703-437-1794.

TROLLEY MUSEUM -- "Holly Trolleyfest," holiday displays and toy trains, through Dec. 18. Ride European and American trolleys, Saturday and Sunday 5 to 9. Exhibits free; rides $3, seniors and ages 2 through 17 $2. Northwest Branch Park, 1313 Bonifant Rd., Silver Spring. 301-384-6088.

B&O RAILROAD STATION MUSEUM -- Permanent exhibits include a diorama depicting the trip of Tom Thumb, America's first scheduled passenger train. Adults $5, seniors and students $4, under 13 $2. Open Friday-Saturday 11 to 4, Sunday noon to 5. 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City. 410-461-1944.

TOP OF THE WORLD -- Presentation about Baltimore and a view of the city from the 27th floor observation level. Open Wednesday-Sunday 10 to 6. $5, seniors $4, ages 3 to 16 $3. World Trade Center, 401 E. Pratt St., Baltimore. 410-837-8439.

Library Programs

ACCOKEEK -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Tuesday at 10:30, and for ages 3 to 6, Wednesday at 7:30. 16200 Livingston Rd. 301-283-2521.

ARLINGTON CENTRAL -- Family stories, Thursday at 7. 1015 N. Quincy St. 703-228-5946.

AURORA HILLS -- Stories for ages 4 and older, Thursday at 4. 735 S. 18th St., Arlington. 703-228-5715.

BELTSVILLE -- Stories for ages 4 to 7, Tuesday at 7. 4319 Sellman Rd. 301-937-0294.

BOWIE -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Saturday at 10:30, Monday at 1 and Thursday at 10:30. Stories for ages 4 to 6, Tuesday at 7. 15210 Annapolis Rd. 301-262-7000.

CENTREVILLE -- Stories for ages 2 to 5, Monday at 10:30. 14200 St. Germaine Dr., Centreville. 703-830-2223.

CHERRYDALE -- Stories for all ages, Wednesday at 7. Stories and activities for ages 3 to 4, Thursday at 11:15. 2190 Military Rd., Arlington. 703-228-6330.

DOLLEY MADISON -- Stories for ages 2 to 5, Wednesday at 10:30. 1244 Oak Ridge Ave., McLean. 703-356-0771.

FAIRMOUNT HEIGHTS -- Storytime for ages 3 to 5, Wednesday at 10:30. 5904 Kolb St. 301-883-2700.

GEORGE MASON -- "Nutcracker Fantasy" by Bob Brown Puppets, Saturday at 3. 7001 Little River Tnpk., Annandale. 703-256-3800.

GLENARDEN -- Stories for ages 2 to 5, Thursday at 10:30. 8724 Glenarden Pkwy. 301-772-5477.

GREAT FALLS -- Stories and activities for ages 1 to 5, Monday at 10:30. 9830 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls. 703-757-8560.

GREENBELT -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Thursday at 10:30. 11 Crescent Rd. 301-345-5800.

HILLCREST HEIGHTS -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30. 2398 Iverson St. 301-630-4900.

HYATTSVILLE -- Stories in English and Spanish for ages 3 to 6, Saturday at 10:30. Stories for ages 3 to 5, Tuesday at 11, and for ages 3 to 6, Wednesday at 7. 6530 Adelphi Rd. 301-985-4690.

LARGO-KETTERING -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Thursday at 11. 9601 Capital Lane, Upper Marlboro. 301-336-4044.

MARTHA WASHINGTON -- Stories for ages 5 to 8, Tuesday at 7. 6614 Fort Hunt Rd., Alexandria. 703-768-6700.

MOUNT RAINIER -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Wednesday at 11. 3409 Rhode Island Ave., Mount Rainier. 301-864-8937.

NEW CARROLLTON -- Stories for ages 3 to 7, Saturday at 10:30 and Tuesday at 7, and for ages 3 to 5, Thursday at 10:15. 7414 Riverdale Rd. 301-459-6900.

OXON HILL -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Saturday at 11 and Thursday at 10:30 and 11:15. Stories for ages 3 to 6, Tuesday at 7. Family storytime, Thursday at 7. 6200 Oxon Hill Rd. 301-839-2400.

RESTON -- Holiday open house, Sunday 1 to 3. 11925 Bowman Towne Dr. 703-689-2700.

SPAULDINGS -- Stories for ages 2 to 6, Monday at 7, and for ages 3 to 5, Thursday at 10:30. 5811 Old Silver Hill Rd., District Heights. 301-817-3750.

SURRATTS-CLINTON -- Stories for ages 3 to 5, Tuesday at 10:15, 11 and 11:45, and for ages 3 to 7, Wednesday at 7. 9400 Piscataway Rd., Clinton. 301-868-9200.

UPPER MARLBORO -- Stories and activities for ages 3 to 5, Tuesday at 11. 14730 Main St. 301-629-9330.