The Mall in Columbia Santa has already arrived at the mall, but here are some other events and activities:

* Santa and Me Photos, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 2:30-6 p.m. and 6:30-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 2:30-6 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 24. Lower level, outside Lord & Taylor. Prices range from $10.99 to $24.99.

* Adopt an angel from the Salvation Army Angel Tree and fulfill a child's wish for Christmas. Lower level, Center Court.

* Pet night with Santa, when owners may have their pets photographed with Santa, 6-9 p.m. Monday. Lower Level, Center Court.

Historic Ellicott City

* "Dickens of a Tour," enhanced ghost-tour followed by dinner, treats and a visit from Scrooge, 5-8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday starting from the Howard County Visitor Information Center, 8267 Main St., Ellicott City. Reservations required. $30. 410-313-1900 or 800-288-8742.

* Midnight Madness, tomorrow, with businesses along Main Street staying open until midnight, often serving holiday treats to shoppers. 410-480-9805.

* Holiday model train displays featuring 24 trains and a detailed multilevel 360-degree panoramic viewing area, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, noon-5 p.m. Sundays, through Jan. 26; open daily 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 23-Jan. 3 except Christmas and New Year's day. B&O Railroad Museum, 2711 Maryland Ave., Ellicott City. $4; $3 for seniors and students; $2 for children younger than 12; free for children younger than 2. 410-461-1944.

Historic Sykesville

* Christmas Open House, 6-9 p.m. tomorrow on Main Street in Sykesville. Includes a visit from Santa Claus, train rides, children's arts and crafts, musical entertainment and refreshments. 410-795-1819.

* Christmas Historic House Tour, 1-6 p.m. Sunday, starting from the Sykesville Town House at 7547 Main St. and the Gate House Museum of History, 7283 Cooper Dr. Tour historic houses that date to 1720 and reflect Sykesville's railroad heritage. Tickets are $15 and benefit the Sykesville Historic Commission. 410-795-3818.

* Winter Midnight Madness, Jan. 4. Merchants along Main Street in Sykesville will be open until midnight.

Symphony of Lights

* A 20-minute drive-through display of more than 70 animated and stationary holiday light creations will run through Jan. 5, sponsored by Howard County General Hospital, 6-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 6-11 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays; and 6-11 p.m. nightly Dec. 13-Jan. 5. at Symphony Woods. Use the Merriweather Post Pavilion entrance on Broken Land Parkway. Vehicle with up to 11 passengers, $12; commercial vans and minibuses seating 12 to 24 people, $25; buses exceeding 25 passengers, $25. Tickets available at the front gate. 410-740-7666.

Historic Savage Mill

* Musical entertainment will be provided every weekend throughout the holidays. The mill is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

Holiday Mart

* Seasonal merchandise from more than 120 artisans at this 30th annual event, 1-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Centennial High School, 4300 Centennial Lane, Ellicott City. Admission is $4 for adults, $1 for children 3-12. 410-313-7275.

Holiday Parade

* Laurel's historic Main Street Holiday parade, tree-lighting and children's party, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, C and Main streets. 301-725-7539.

"Messiah" Concert

* The Columbia Pro Cantare chorus will perform the Christmas portion and selections from Parts II and III of Handel's "Messiah," accompanied by orchestra and organ, 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the James Rouse Theatre, Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Rd., Columbia. Tickets are $23 for adults, $20 for students and seniors in advance. Ticket prices increase by $2 at the door. 410-465-5744.

Bilingual Social

* The Columbia Association's Sister Cities Program will host "Tertulia," a cultural exchange and afternoon of holiday season programming, music, dance and refreshments, 3:30-6:30 p.m. Sunday, Kahler Hall in the Harper's Choice Village Center, 5440 Old Tucker Row, Columbia. 410-715-3162 or 410-997-7702.

Mansion Tours

* Victorian Holiday Open House, 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park, 3691 Sarah's Lane, Ellicott City. Visit the 1828 Victorian mansion and Mount Ida Visitor Center decorated for the season. Members of Almira's Polite Society, dressed in period attire, will share early Maryland holiday traditions and serve refreshments. $3. 410-465-8500.

* Candlelight tour of Waverly Mansion, 10 a.m.-noon and 6:30-9 p.m. Monday. Visit the 18th-century home of Gov. George Howard, dressed in its holiday best, sponsored by the Howard County Council of Garden Clubs. Refreshments and entertainment included. $3 for adults, $2 for seniors, $1 for children 12 and younger. 410-313-5400.

Parade of Lighted Boats

* Decorated yachts will tour past the waterfront neighborhoods of Baltimore, including the Inner Harbor, Fells Point and Canton, 6 p.m. Saturday. 410-321-0409.

Holiday Tea

At Historic Oakland

* Afternoon tea will be served 4:30-6 p.m. today, Tuesday and next Thursday at Historic Oakland, 5430 Vantage Point Rd. in Columbia. Scones, savory sandwiches, dessert and fresh fruit will also be served. Tickets are $12.60 per person, and reservations are required. 410-730-4801.

Howard County Aglow

* A traditional, old-fashioned tree-lighting festival that includes musical entertainment, a bonfire, lights and luminaries, ice sculpture display and train rides, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 13. Centennial Park South, Route 108 entrance. Admission, free; train rides, 50 cents; $1 donation is requested. 410-313-7275.

Columbia Kwanzaa Celebration

* The 10 village associations will join together for festivities with crafts, entertainment and a food tasting, 6:30-8 p.m. Dec. 19 at Kahler Hall in Harper's Choice. The event is for Columbia residents only. A donation of a nonperishable item for Harvest for the Hungry is requested. Advance registration is required. 410-730-3888.

"What the Dickens"

* The Patapsco Valley Chapter of the Barbershop Society presents a musical spoof of Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol" to benefit local nonprofit organizations, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Atholton High School, 6520 Freetown Rd., Columbia. Tickets are $10. 410-788-4595.

"The Nutcracker"

* Performed by the Howard County Ballet with music by the Howard County Orchestra, 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 22 at the James Rouse Theatre, Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Rd., Columbia. Tickets are $20; $13 for students and seniors. 410-465-8233.

"Nutcracker on Ice"

* Performed by more than 100 members of the Columbia Figure Skating Club, 4:45 and 6 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 15 at the Columbia Ice Rink in the Oakland Mills Village Center, 5876 Thunder Hill Rd., and at 3 and 4:30 p.m. Dec. 21 at the Gardens Ice House, 13800 Old Gunpowder Rd., in Laurel. $8; children younger than 3, free. 410-813-4026.

New Year's Eve Events

* Port Discovery's Noon-Time New Year Celebration, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 31, Port Discovery Museum in Baltimore. Decorate noisemakers and join in a celebration of the New Year. Admission to the museum is $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $8.50 for children younger than 12, free for children younger than 3.

* First Night Annapolis, a family-friendly New Year's Eve event showcasing hundreds of performers in music, dance, theater and comedy. Events held throughout the Annapolis waterfront area. Box office is at 100 Cathedral St. $15 in advance, $20 at the door, $10 for children ages 6-10, free for children younger than 6. 410-268-8553 or www.firstnight annapolis.org.

* Baltimore's New Year's Eve Extravaganza, 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31, Inner Harbor. Live music and a countdown to 2003, with fireworks. 410-837-4636.

* Ring in the New Year on board the USS Constellation, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Dec. 31, Pier 1, Inner Harbor. Ticket price includes champagne, desserts and a space to watch the fireworks. $50. Reservations required. 410-539-1797, Ext. 422, or www.constellation.org.

-- Compiled by Alicia Cypress

Shoppers scurry from store to store at the Mall in Columbia in an annual ritual looking to satisfy their gift lists with bargains early in the shopping season.Families filled with the holiday spirit are in abundance Nov. 24 as the Symphony of Lights gets underway in Columbia with a 5K run/walk.Thirteen-month-old Elanor Curtin takes it all in as her 5-year-old brother, Sam, recites his wish list.The aura of the holidays is reflected in many seasonal scenes from years past, ranging from carolers in Ellicott City to figurines on display at the Bearing Gifts store to the IHS Brass Ensemble performing inside Savage Mill.