Spending Christmas in San Diego? Well, brace yourself for a different kind of December: one where swimwear is totally acceptable to wear at many holiday events! While much of the rest of the country enjoys (or abhors) their white Christmas, relax, put on some Christmas tunes, and peruse our list of the best Holiday events in San Diego.
December Nights in Balboa Park
The 41st annual Balboa Park 2-day event December Nights is a celebration of fun amid the nation’s largest urban cultural park. Many of the museums open their doors free of charge for the night, and the park is a plethora of food, music, carolers, and light displays.
Near the end of the night, there is a one-night-only Christmas tree lighting, with a countdown, and broadway-type performances and talent acts. The whole event is FREE of charge. Who can beat that?
Polar Express Family Day At San Diego Model Railroad Museum
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum in Balboa Park will be hosting a Polar Express Family Day on Saturday, December 15. For the regular cost of admission, you and your family can experience a day full of holiday spirit.
They start the evening with a cozy screening of The Polar Express and invite families to attend in their pajamas and blankets. After, there is an arts and crafts portion, where kids can craft a special keepsake. Saturday, the Mink Pack from the Choral Club of San Diego will perform. Sunday, they will be giving away pop-up cardboard trains, and a Very Important Person (shhh…) will be arriving at the end of the event to take pictures with the kids.
Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade
Starting under the famous Gaslamp quarter archway, pet owners and their dressed-up pets strut their stuff down the decorated streets of the neighborhood from noon until 5pm on December 16th. You can still register to enter. The participation fee is $15 per pet if paid in advance, and $20 on the day of the parade.
Holiday Festivities and Ice Skating on Coronado Beach
Spend the holiday season at the Hotel Del Coronado. Happenings include Skating by the Sea, an elegant Victorian Tea party, Holiday Ornament and Artwork, the new beachside Jingle Roast of s’mores with Santa hats, and even Sunday Brunch with Santa!
At the hotel, stands a beachfront ice rink, open until 8 or 10 pm—depending on the evening. Create timeless memories with this fun and unique way to spend the evening with your friends, family, or colleagues.This year, you can plan a holiday party at Frostbite rink side lounge with fire pits, plush seating and food and beverage service.
Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo’s annual Jungle Bells celebration is always a fun idea. They don’t call it the “World famous San DIego Zoo” for nothing. The kids can meet Santa claus, watch exciting and colorful light displays all around the zoo, and have 4-D holiday experiences, including a Polar Express train ride, all within eyesight of some amazing animals. The holiday festivities go from November 21 to January 5.
Holidays at Legoland California
See the world’s largest LEGO Christmas tree that stands 30-feet tall and is constructed out of more than 245,000 forest green DUPLO® bricks. As usual, the entire resort will be decked out in holiday décor.
Events include new shows and live entertainment, as well as meet-and-greets with LEGO characters and Santa Claus up until December 31st.
Birch Aquarium’s Seas ‘n’ Greetings
If you love marine life, this is for you. For the whole of December, and all day long., the Birch Aquarium celebrates Seas ‘n’ Greetings. The entire aquarium is transformed into a waterful winter wonderland with crafts, music, fun, and even includes a guest star appearance by scuba Santa!
Breakfast With Santa at Neiman Marcus
Families can enjoy a delicious breakfast at the Zodiac restaurant inside Neiman Marcus San Diego while carolers and Santa roam the room entertaining both kids and parents alike.
After breakfast, everyone will have the opportunity to have their pictures taken with Santa with festive holiday décor as a backdrop. A professional photographer will be on site and pictures will print while you wait. The event will take place on two Saturdays, December 8 and 15 from 8:30 – 10 a.m.
Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
The Old Globe is home to the beloved annual performance of Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The annual whimsical musical is in its 21st season and is a favorite of many San Diegans.
Kids love it, adults love it, and everyone sings along to favorites such as, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and more. This play ends on December 29th.
Liberty Station’s Salute The Season
Liberty Station’s annual Salute To The Season features several events throughout the month of December. The Rady Children’s Ice Rink is open for all, there is a Hanukkah and Menorah Lighting, a Friday Night Liberty Holiday Extravaganza featuring theater and musical performances, a Nutcracker Tea Party With Santa, that will feature an interactive performance of the Nutcracker and an afternoon tea, and even a free day of dance!
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Presented by the Port of San Diego, this year is the 47th Annual San Diego Parade of Lights, and has become a very special holiday tradition for San Diegans and the San Diego boating community. The parade, a procession of approximately 80 lavishly decorated boats, brings more than 100,000 San Diego residents and visitors each year, and is available at no cost.
This year’s theme is Tropical Island Christmas and, for the 3rd time, the parade will proceed to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park before making the turn to Coronado, giving spectators an extra area to view the parade.