Start the car, fill up a thermos of hot chocolate and grab some cookies so the whole family can enjoy an evening of twinkling christmas light displays in San Diego.
Please note, some light displays are weather dependent.
Here are just a few highlights:
Holiday of Lights
With more than 400 twinkling light displays, the Holiday of Lights is the largest animated drive-through light show on the west coast! For a more “traditional” experience, park the car and take one of the Holiday Hayrides complete with holiday music, carolers, fire pits for roasting marshmallows, hot chocolate or cider, a great big Christmas cookie, and plenty of hay.
Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014 (map)
Dates: November 22, 2012 – January 1, 2013
- Sunday-Thursday: 5:30 to 10:00 PM
- Friday-Saturday: 5:30 to 10:30 PM
- $15 per car, up to 5 people
- $20 per vehicle, 6 or more people
- $50 per bus
- $10 per person for the Holiday Hayride
> Get Holiday Hayride Tickets
> Save $2 per Car (PDF)
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Over 80 lavishly decorated boats will sail over the calm waters of the Big Bay during the 41st Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. The parade starts at Shelter Island and makes it way down to the Ferry Landing on Coronado. Make sure to arrive early at one of the viewing spots that include: Harbor Island, Shelter Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and along the pathway on Coronado.
Dates: Sundays, December 9 and 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
Over 100 vessels will take to the waters of Mission Bay with decorations and lights aboard. Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot on Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island. Once comfortably seated, enjoy the parade, the finale of fireworks, and the lighting of the SeaWorld Skytower Tree.
Date: December 8, 2012
Time: 7:00 to 9:00 PM
> Find out more about Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta
A labor of love by two parents for their two sons with autism, the Schimka family has been lighting up Belardo Drive for the past seven years while raising money for the National Foundation for Autism Research. The display, which is synchronized to the music on 89.7 FM, has grown tremendously over the years and this year will include a new animated snowman and an improved spiral mega tree!
Location: 5306 Belardo Drive, San Diego, CA 92124 (map)
Dates: November 24 – December 26, 2012
Time: 6:00 to 10:00 PM
Cost: Free, please consider making a donation
> Find out more about Belardo Lights in Tierrasanta
Curtis Muller’s Bright Christmas
Curtis Muller may only be in his early 20s, but he puts on an incredible “symphony of light” as he likes to call it. The 15 minute shows feature lights, lasers, and fog machines synchronized to classic holiday music.
Location: 3757 South Mission Road, Fallbrook, CA 92028 (map)
Dates: December 20, 21, 22, 23 and 25
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: $3 per person
> Find out more about Curtis Muller’s Bright Christmas
Garden of Lights
At night, the San Diego Botanic Garden is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 100,000 lights, live music, horse drawn wagon rides, warm beverages and snow (on certain days, make sure to check in advance). Just make sure to bring a sled (no metal runners please).
Popular San Diego Neighborhoods’ Christmas Light Displays
There are also plenty of San Diego neighborhoods who collectively get into the holiday spirit with entire blocks lit up with lights. Below are a few of the more popular neighborhoods that have had diplays in the past:
- Chula Vista’s Christmas Circle
Located along the loop of Whitney Street and Mankato Street in San Diego’s South Bay, this neighborhood display usually runs from 5:00 to 10:00 PM through December 26.
- Rancho Penasquitos’ Christmas Card Lane
Located in Rancho Penasquitos at Oviedo Street – off Black Mtn. Rd. includes Twin Trails, Carmel Mtn. Rd., Ellingham St., Renato St., Oviedo St., Twin Trails Dr., Barrymore St., Totherham Ave., Talca Ave., Talca Ct., Allenbrook Way, Davenport Ave., Amber Sky Ln.
- La Mesa’s Jingle Bell Hill
Also known as Pepper Drive lights, Jingle Bell Hill is located on Solomon Avenue and Pegeen Place.
- Garrison Street in Point Loma
Start at Garrison Street and Chatsworth Boulevard and take your time enjoying the display.
- Poway’s Candy Cane Lane
Make your way down Poway’s Candy Cane Lane (more like a cul-de-sac) by starting at Hickory Street and Saddlewood Drive.
Know of any other great Christmas light displays in San Diego or have any updates to the ones listed above? Let us and others know in the comments below.