Robert Arends

Holiday Cheer and Lights on San Diego’s Big Bay!

San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights
San Diego Big Bay Holiday of Lights

From boats decorated with lights to a Big Balloon Parade, there plenty of Holiday Fun on San Diego’s Big Bay. Photo courtesy of Cook & Schmidt

For those of you making holiday plans to visit San Diego, following are a few fun and festive ways to make some merry on San Diego’s sparkling Big Bay.

43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

View more than 80 decorated boats at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights!

What’s better than a cool holiday boat parade? Two holiday boat parades! Yep, the 43rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights takes place on two Sundays next month. More than 80 boats lavishly decorated from bow to keel with colorful twinkling lights and decorations will glide the waters of San Diego Bay.

It’s quite a spectacle and best part, it’s free! This year’s theme is “Children’s Stories” which is sure to be a hit with the kids. Check out the route map here. The procession starts at 5:30 PM, but head to the Bay early for prime viewing spots including the Embarcadero and Embarcadero Park (North & South), Seaport Village, Coronado Ferry Landing, Harbor Island and Shelter Island.

When: December 14 & 21, 2014
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Giant inflatable characters at Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade

Check out the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade, “America’s Largest Balloon Parade” floating down Harbor Drive along the Embarcadero. And who knows, you might be on TV! The parade is televised nationally and on local Channel 4. You’ll see world-class marching bands, colorful floats, drill teams and of course, a procession of enormous balloons of familiar cartoon and pop culture characters. Over 100,000 spectators are expected!

The parade is part of our big annual National University Holiday Bowl festivities when the eyes of the nation are on San Diego for exciting gridiron action between two Pac-10 and Big 12 Conference teams.

Where: San Diego Embarcadero – W Cedar Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 26, 2014
Time: Parade starts at 3:00 PM
Cost: Free. Grandstand Seats – $20
> Find out more about the Port of San Diego’s Big Bay Balloon Parade

Whale Watching

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

California gray whale breaching off the San Diego coast

December is the launch of San Diego’s exciting whale watching season, when hundreds of majestic California gray whales are spotted of the coast making their annual migration from the Arctic to the warm lagoons of Baja California. These “peaceful giants of the sea” can be seen swimming our local waters through April. Hop aboard the HornblowerFlagship Cruises or one of the many other whale watching cruises departing daily from the Embarcadero on San Diego. The whales can also be seen from high atop Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma – bring your binoculars, though! 🙂

> Find out more about Whale Watching in San Diego

> Discover More Holiday Happenings in San Diego

Make some waves on San Diego Bay this holiday season!

Alison

A San Diego Holiday Tradition: Balboa Park December Nights

balboa park lily pond botanical building december nights san diego holiday celebration

Balboa Park December Nights is as close as San Diego gets to becoming a winter wonderland, and this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever. San Diego’s largest free festival, which is designed to be the city’s holiday gift to the community, is expected to draw at least 300,000 in this its 35th year.

The two-day celebration of entertainment, food and fun, takes place Friday, Dec. 6, from 3–11 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 7, from noon–11 p.m. Balboa Park is decked in twinkling lights and silvery garlands. Fanciful Christmas trees abound, and the aromas of multi-cultural holiday treats waft through the air.

balboa park lily pond botanical building december nights san diego holiday celebration

The Lily Pond and Botanical Building decked out for December Nights. (Photo by Manny Cencieros)

In the spirit of the season, participating park museums open their doors to the public free of charge from 5–9 p.m. both evenings. Many present special holiday programs. Kids will be awed by the elaborate gingerbread constructions at the Mingei International Museum and can join in holiday-inspired craft projects at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. All ages will be enthralled by the amazing handbell ringers who perform at the San Diego History Center, and don’t miss the San Diego Floral Association’s exhibit at the House of Hospitality of 30 beautifully decorated holiday trees.

balboa park organ pavilion san diego december nights holiday event

Festive performances take place on the beautiful stage of the Organ Pavilion.

Festivities are family friendly, multi-cultural and staged throughout the park.  The San Diego Civic Youth Ballet will perform excerpts from “The Nutcracker” on the Casa del Prado Stage. Steps away on the California Quadrangle near the San Diego Museum of Man, revelers can see the Santa Lucia Procession and children’s choir performances. The San Diego Civic Dance Company will present Rockettes-style routines, while a puppet version of “The Christmas Carol” will be presented at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater. African drumming and dance performances and Reggae music performances are planned at the WorldBeat Center. Dozens of singers, dancers and musicians will take to the stage at the Organ Pavilion.

Dr. Seuss' how the Grinch Stole Christmas Old Globe Theater San Diego Balboa Park December Nights holiday event

Kids can get their photo taken with the Grinch at the Old Globe.

Youngsters will have the opportunity to visit with Santa as he strolls the park, and they can pose for a photo in the Old Globe courtyard with Dr. Seuss’s Grinch who stole Christmas. Kids of all ages can join with Junior Theatre students singing holiday songs. A series of children’s holiday movies will run nonstop both evenings in the theater at the Hall of Champions. There also are plenty of carnival rides to keep the younger set entertained.

Hungry? December Nights is known for its mouth-watering range of food and drink offerings. The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages offer traditional holiday foods from a smorgasbord of nations: think empanadas, egg rolls, shepherd’s pie, pasties, pancit, samosas, plantains, pierogi, bourekas, baklava, paella, and even blueberry soup. Many museums offer tasty treats as well. You’ll find roasted chestnuts at the San Diego Art Institute, yakisoba at the Japanese Friendship Garden and hot toddies at the Hall of Champions. In addition, numerous food vendors sell an array of yummy holiday delights, from melted Swiss raclette to fresh-baked gingerbread cookies.  The 21+ set can sip a locally crafted brew at one of several beer gardens.

House of China Food International Cottages San Diego Balboa Park December Nights holiday event

Ethnic food specialties are part of the delicious fun at December Nights.

December Nights are prime time for holiday shopping.  Find great gifts at museum stores, from Spanish Village artisans and at a wide range of arts and crafts booths.  For $300 or less, buy a piece of original art right off the walls at the San Diego Art Institute. And don’t forget to buy a sprig of locally sourced mistletoe from San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers.

With so many attending December Nights, parking can be tougher than fitting down a chimney. Your best bet is to take public transportation or park for $5 at Petco Park or for free at City College. Free shuttles will ferry celebrants to and from 6th & Laurel from 3 p.m.–midnight on Friday and from 11:30 a.m.–midnight on Saturday.

Finally, be sure to bundle up!  While San Diego may better known for sandmen than snowmen, it can get downright chilly here on December nights.

What’s your favorite part of December Nights in Balboa Park? Let us know in the comments.

 

Robert Arends

Find a Unique Holiday Gift While Shopping in Charming Coronado!

Orange Avenue on Coronado
Orange Avenue on Coronado

Coronado’s Orange Avenue, a shopper’s delight!

What, you haven’t finished your holiday shopping?! No worries…Santa’s elves in Coronado, across the bridge from downtown San Diego, have a stocking full of gift ideas you won’t find anywhere else.

Skip the crowded malls and head to Coronado’s charming Christmas tree-lined main street, Orange Avenue, to discover delightful boutique shops and galleries selling all sorts of unique gifts. Following are some of my favorites:

Shorelines Gallery

Shorelines Gallery on Coronado

Shorelines’ one-of-a-kind gifts include colorful Spiritiles.

The new Shorelines Gallery sells handcrafted jewelry, glass art, chic home decor and exclusive art collectibles like the colorfully playful Spiritiles (as in “Spirit” – “tiles”).

Location: 918 Orange Ave (map)
Website: www.slsdgallery.com

Art and Frames by Wood Gallery

Populous Hotel Del by Craig Alan

Craig Alan’s people-pleasing Hotel del Coronado painting.

Art and Frames by Wood Gallery features paintings and sculptures by local and world-renowned artists. I especially love Craig Alan’s fantastical people paintings. His depiction of The Del (see above) is brilliant!

Location: 936 Orange Avenue (map)
Website: www.artcoronado.com

Coronado Taste of Oils

Coronado Taste of Oils

Coronado Taste of Oils – yum!

For the foodie, Coronado Taste of Oils sells delicious gourmet olive oils and fine aged vinegars. Tastings are Free. The Red Apple Balsamic is off the charts!

Location: 954 Orange Avenue (map)
Website: www.coronadotasteofoils.com

Emerald City

Hang ten at Emerald City surf shop. Next Monday, Dec. 17 through Friday, Dec. 21, the entire store is 20% off. Cowabunga!

Location: 1118 Orange Avenue (map)
Website: www.emeraldcitysurf.com

The Latests in Fashion

La Mer Boutique

Lovely La Mer for women’s fashions.

For fashionistas, there’s the hip new Studio 12-20, Pretty Please Fashion and upscale women’s boutique, La Mer.

Jackrabbits

Hop to the new Jackrabbits for home & garden décor, vintage handbags, antique toys and beach-themed items.

Location: 1017 Isabella Avenue (map)
Website: www.coronadofurnitureconsignments.com

Coronado Holiday Guide

2012 Coronado Holiday Guide

While shopping, be sure to pick up the new Coronado Holiday Guide, chock full of gift ideas, holiday happenings, happy hours and more. You can also download it off the Chamber of Commerce’s homepage.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the greatest gift of all: free two-hour metered parking through Dec. 28!

Now that’s the holiday spirit!

Robert Arends

Mother Goose Parade Kicks off San Diego for the Holidays!

Horse Drawn Carriage - Mother Goose Parade

Giant Mother Goose balloon!

There’s no better way to make some merry this holiday season than to head to San Diego’s East County for the 66th Annual Mother Goose Parade this Sunday, November 18 in El Cajon.

Since 1947, the Mother Goose Parade has delighted families with its whimsical floats, marching bands, drill units, clowns, equestrians (including miniature horses!), giant helium balloons, dancers, classic cars and of course, Mother Goose!

Giddyup to the Mother Goose Parade!

Two miles long, and with an estimate attendance of over 250,000 people, it’s the largest parade in San Diego County! Festivities begin at 10:00 AM with the parade route going from Magnolia and Main Streets in downtown El Cajon, ending at Madison.

In celebration of El Cajon’s big Centennial bash, this year’s Grand Marshal is the city’s Mayor Mark Lewis.

Goose Float at the Mother Goose Parade in San Diego's East County

El Cajon’s Mother Goose Parade!

Afterward, kids can get their play on at Mother Goose Village (located at the Prescott Promenade; open until 3:00 PM), featuring a rock wall for climbing, bounce house and yummy food vendors!

Mother Goose Parade Information

Location: Begin at Magnolia and Main, head down Main St. to N. Second Street, turn North then end at Madison.
Date: November 18, 2012
Time: 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Parade starts at 10:00 AM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 66th Annual Mother Goose Parade

Mother Goose Parade Trivia Time…

For decades, celebrities have joined in the fun of the Mother Goose Parade as Grand Marshals.

Which ONE of the following was NOT a Grand Marshal:

  • Erik Estrada (“Chips”)
  • Bugs Bunny
  • John Schneider (“Dukes of Hazard” and “Smallville”)
  • Mario Lopez (“Saved by the Bell” and “Extra” TV)
  • Katharine McPhee (“Smash” and “American Idol”)
  • George Takei (“Star Trek”)
  • Mickey Mouse

{Drum roll}… the answer is George Takei. This original Trekkie was never a Grand Marshal at the Mother Goose Parade. But there’s always next year! 😉

Happy holidays everyone!