Top Ten San Diego Holiday Events

Bundle up, gather the family and savor the holiday spirit San Diego-style at these ten can’t-miss winter events.

Holiday Festival at Hotel del Coronado – Dec. 4

The historic Hotel del Coronado is a hub of holiday entertainment in San Diego. From ice-skating by the sea to onsite theater productions, they bring a whirlwind of seasonal activities to the city. Start the season off right during the Del’s Holiday Festival on Wednesday, Dec. 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. This special occasion will illuminate the neighborhood as the resort’s twinkling white lights burn brightly. Children can visit with St. Nick and his elves at Santa’s Village and play at holiday booths featuring games and prizes. Meanwhile, mom and dad can sip festive libations while enjoying a fireworks show.

December Nights in Balboa Park -Dec. 6 & 7

Balboa Park is one of the most iconic attractions in San Diego County, filled with art museums, cultural institutions, manicured gardens and historic architecture. During December Nights, the grounds become even more beautiful when adorned with thousands of dazzling holiday lights.

This two-day free event is expected to attract more than 30,000 visitors during its 35th consecutive year on Friday, Dec. 6 from 3 to 11 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7 from noon to 11 p.m. December Nights prides itself as being a multicultural holiday experience with music, dance performances, museum shopping and diverse food choices.

Holiday in the Heart of Del Mar Village – Dec. 7

Del Mar Village celebrates the holiday season with a free community event filled with family-friendly entertainment right by the sea. The holiday activities kick off at 2 p.m. and include pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday cookie tasting, dance performances, a cake walk, original Dickens carolers, letters to Santa and a seaside sunset tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. The festivities take place at the West corner of Camino Del Mar/15th Street and Del Mar Plaza. Guests can also catch the showing of “Elf” at 5:15 p.m. at the L’Auberge Amphitheater.

Ugly Sweater Holiday Bar Stroll in Pacific Beach – Dec. 7

Because it just wouldn’t be the holiday season without an over-the-top ugly-sweater party, VAVi Sport & Social Club returns with their ultimate Holiday Bar Stroll. Dress up in your most cringe-worthy threads and head to Pacific Beach on Saturday, Dec. 7 at noon for a pub crawl filled with prizes and drink specials, all to benefit of AJ’s Kids. The scramble gets started at Typhoon Saloon; tickets are $20.

Encinitas Holiday Parade - Dec. 7

Head to the coast to celebrate the holiday season, North County-style. The Encinitas Holiday Parade takes place along Coast Highway 101 on Saturday, Dec. 7 starting at 5 p.m. More than 100 floats are expected to reflect this year’s theme of “growing holiday cheer,” celebrating Encinitas’ rich agricultural history. Before the parade, brighten your night at the tree lighting ceremony at the Lumberyard at 5 p.m.

North Park Toyland Parade & Festival – Dec. 7

The 50th annual North Park Toyland Parade & Holiday Fair welcomes all to the cozy neighborhood starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7. Through University Ave. between Utah and Iowa Streets, cheer on the marching bands, dance groups, vintage cars, beauty queens and city officials as they glide by. Make sure you say hello to Santa Claus as he rides his red sleigh through the parade. Join as this historic event celebrates its golden anniversary.

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade -Dec. 8

Who says Halloween is the only holiday for dressing up? The Gaslamp Quarter Association hosts one of the furriest seasonal events – the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade – wagging tails on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. Dress your pooch or feline up in festive gear and enter them in this promenade, which starts on the corner of Fourth Avenue and K Street at the Gaslamp Hilton Park. The event will feature prizes for the best costumes as well as a Pet Expo filled with goodies for four-legged and two-legged creatures alike.

La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival -Dec. 8

Nothing says Christmas in San Diego like a holiday parade with an ocean view. The 56th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival on Sunday, Dec. 8 is a free, family-friendly event showcasing a festive procession along Girard Ave. with holiday floats, complete with antique aircraft flying overhead beginning at 2 p.m. The Holiday Festival at 3:30 p.m. features photo opportunities with Santa Claus, food, music and a ceremonial Christmas tree lighting.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights -Dec. 8 & Dec. 15

Although winter chill freezes lakes and creates natural ice-skating rinks on the East Coast, here on the Best Coast, our waters stay warm enough to experience a bright side of holiday entertainment with the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, back for its 42nd year on two dates, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 starting at 5:30 p.m.

Free for spectators, this annual tradition features a parade of over 80 boats bedazzled in holiday lights cruising through San Diego Bay reflecting the theme “Big Bay Toy Parade.” The parade route takes the boats from Shelter Island past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and the Coronado Ferry Landing.

“So You Wish You Could Skate”at Hotel del Coronado – Dec. 10

This year, Make-A-Wish San Diego brings back the “So You Wish You Could Skate” competition, a playful amateur ice-skating fundraiser to raise money for children’s wishes to come true just in time for the holidays. Many familiar media faces will perform ice-skating choreography before an audience, and a lineup of local celebrity judges will decide who makes the cut. Judging will be based on costumes, music selection and entertainment value, which means we’re in for a great show. Kids in the program get front-row seats and a meet-and-greet with local celebrities. The event takes place at the Hotel del Coronado at 5:30 p.m.

BONUS: Bring the whole family down to The Shout! House's Holiday Special Family Night on Sunday, Dec. 8. This toy and food drive will bring PG live music and endless sing-along fun to the downtown hotspot. A family that shouts together, stays together! $10 reservation fee; $5 cover for walk-ins.

Discover more holiday attractions in our San Diego events calendar



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