Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to Do in San Diego – December 6-8, 2013

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

It’s already December! When did that happen?! Well, might as well embrace the cooler weather and dive into a ton of festive fun with these top things to do in San Diego this weekend:

38th Annual Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House

Santa Claus' festive arrival at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

Santa Claus’ festive arrival at the Coronado Ferry Landing kicks off the Coronado Christmas Parade!

Festivities kick off at the Coronado Ferry Landing as Santa arrives at 3:20 PM, with carolers and snow fun at snow mountain. Also, at the Hotel del, experience ice skating like no other – you can ice skate on the beach! Find your way to Orange Ave and select a good spot to take in the Coronado Christmas Parade.

When: December 6, 2013
Time: 3:20 to 9:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 38th Annual Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House

Balboa Park December Nights

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)

Get into the holiday spirit with two magical nights of lights, free live entertainment, free entrance to many museums, foods from around the world, shopping and more.

Please Note: Getting to and from the park will require patience and time. Please consider carpooling and/or alternative forms of transportation.
> Read the transportation information for getting to December Nights

Where: Balboa Park – El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
When: December 6-7, 2013
Times: Friday: 3:00 to 11:00 PM. Saturday: 12:00 to 11:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Balboa Park December Nights

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Holiday Float - San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Lights on the water at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Put on a warm jacket, pack a few blankets along with some hot chocolate and head to San Diego Bay with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated to a new theme each year. The parade proceeds from Shelter Island past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and the Ferry Landing in Coronado. The Parade of Lights is a festive and delightful experience for all!

Where: San Diego Bay
When: Sundays – December 8 and 15, 2013
Time: 5:30 to 8:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

2013 North Park Toyland Parade & Festival

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

Get swept up in the holiday spirit during the North Park Toyland Parade and Festival

The historic neighborhood of North Park warmly welcomes friends and family to bundle up and delight in a joyful San Diego parade. This cheerful pageant will feel like a Winter Wonderland, as melodious marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens and city officials (and more!) warm your spirits. Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red sleigh and bells will be ringing as loved ones snuggle up in the bright, frosty air.

Where: University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Street, San Diego, CA 92104
When: December 7, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about the 2013 North Park Toyland Parade & Festival

Fort Rosecrans Goes to War! and
Cabrillo National Monument Centennial Celebration

Old Point Loma Lighthouse at the Cabrillo National Monument

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

The postponed Centennial Celebration will take place along with the annual Fort Rosecrans Goes to War! event. In addition to all the 100 birthday festivities, Fort Rosecrans will travel back in time to the 1940s with an amazing World War II Living History experience including a re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United State’s entry into the Second World War, plus its impact on San Diego.

Where: Cabrillo National Monument – 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106 
When:
December 7-8, 2013
Time: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM
Cost: Vehicles – $5. Walk-ins, bicyclists and motorcyclists – $3
> Find out more about Fort Rosecrans Goes to War
> Find out more about the Cabrillo National Monument Centennial Celebration

Holiday in the Village

Holiday in the Village Carolers - Top Things to Do in San Diego

Join in the festive fun with a South Bay holiday party

Get in the spirit with the second annual Holiday in the Village celebration. Festivities include Santa Claus, a North Pole-themed kid’s area, caroling, community performances, local artisans, the return of the Ugliest Sweater Contest and more.

Where: Third Avenue from E to G Street, Chula Vista, CA 91910
When: December 7, 2013
Time: 12:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Holiday in the Village

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Everyone with 2 to 4 Legs will have fun at the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade!

Can you say awwww? San Diego’s furriest festive parade returns to downtown as the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade presented by Downtown Ace Hardware takes over the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. Furry, featured and scaled companions will don their favorite costumes and put their best paw, wing and fin forward.

When: December 8, 2013
Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM
Cost: Free to view. $15-$20 to participate
> Find out more about the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

> Browse the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of some other top things to do this weekend in San Diego? Let everyone know in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Top Things to do in San Diego: December 13-16, 2012

Jungle Bells Celebration at the San Diego Zoo

It’s never to early to start making your weekend plans. Here are top things to do this weekend in San Diego.

1. Hillcrest Taste n’ Tinis

Hillcrest Taste n' Tinis - Things to Do in San Diego

Start off the weekend with a walking tour through Hillcrest including delightful drinks, scrumptious eats and fabulous holiday shopping. Local chefs will be serving up scrumptious appetizers and sweet treats while boutiques along the tour will warm you up a holiday inspired martini. Event is 21 and up.

Date: December 13, 2012
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
Cost: In Advance – $20. Day Of – $25
> Find out more about Hillcrest Taste n’ Tinis

2. Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells Celebration at the San Diego Zoo

Elves celebrating Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Starting this Saturday, the San Diego Zoo is transformed into a magical winter wonderland. Enjoy a nightly tree-lighting ceremony, lighted animal displays throughout the park, live animal shows, storytelling, bell ringers and, of course, Santa Claus.

> Find more Holiday fun at San Diego attractions

Location: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)
Dates: December 15, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Cost: Included with admission
> Find out more about Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

3. Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas

Las Posadas - Old Town State Historic Park

Take part in a traditional Las Posadas in Old Town State Historic Park

Celebrate the holidays over the weekend in the Old Town State Historic Park. Enjoy period decorations, carolers, warm beverages, holiday treats, activities, and extended shopping hours. Arrive early on Sunday for festivities at 2:00 PM and a traditional Las Posadas starting at 5:00 PM followed by a piñata party for the kids.

> Discover holiday excitement in San Diego

Location: 4002 Wallace Street, San Diego, CA (map)
Dates: December 15-16, 2012
Times: 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Las Posadas Parade starts at 5:00 PM on Sunday.
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas

4. The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker - Holiday Things to Do in San Diego

Catch a performance of the Nutcracker throughout San Diego.

Starting this weekend, there will be a myriad of Nutcracker princes dancing throughout San Diego County. Below is a list of performances:

California Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dates: December 15-23, 2012
Cost: $25-$90
Location: San Diego Civic Theater – 1100 Third Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)

City Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dates: December 14-24, 2012
Cost: $29-$69
Location: Spreckels Theatre – 121 Broadway #600, San Diego, CA 92101 (map)

San Diego Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dates: December 16-21, 2012
Cost: $20-$50
Location: Mandeville Center, UCSD – 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093 (map)

> More Holiday Theatre in San Diego

5. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Holiday Float - San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Lights on the water at the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

This is the last Sunday to marvel at the spectacular Boat Parade of Lights featuring individually holiday decorated private crafts. The parade starts at the southwest end of Shelter Island, travels past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the Convention Center, the Coronado Ferry Landing Marketplace and ends at the Navy Carrier turning basin.

> Find more Christmas light displays in San Diego

Dates: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 to 7:30 PM
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

> Browse more great things to do on the San Diego Event Calendar

Know of any other great events going on in San Diego this weekend? Let us and others know in the comments below.

Brent Bernasconi

Christmas Light Displays – Where to See Them in San Diego – Updated with More Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

> Check out the 2015 List of Christmas Lights in San Diego

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
Times:
– Sunday-Thursday: 5:30 to 10:00 PM
– Friday-Saturday: 5:30 to 10:30 PM
Cost:
– $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

Holiday Float - San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Lights on the water at the 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
Cost: Free
> Find out more about San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Mission Bay Parade of Lights

Mission Bay lights up during the holiday season

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
Cost: Free
> 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's Bright Christmas Light Display

Curtis Muller knows how to light up the holiday nights

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).

Location: 230 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA 92024 (map)
Dates: December 12-23, 2012 (Closed December 24-25)
Time: 5:00 to 9:00 PM
> Find out more about Garden of Lights

Popular San Diego Neighborhoods’ Christmas Light Displays

Christmas Light Display - Rancho Penasquitos Christmas Card Lane

San Diego neighborhoods light up during the holidays

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.

> Discover even more holiday excitement in San Diego

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.

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

1. California Ballet’s The Nutcracker with the San Diego Symphony: The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a performance of The Nutcracker. A wonderful ballet for the entire family, The Nutcracker is the perfect way to introduce young children to the power and beauty of classical dance. Tchaikovsky’s magical score and Maxine Mahon’s dazzling theatrical staging combine to create a memorable event. Plays at the Civic Theatre through December 23, 2011.

2. Parade of Lights: This Sunday, December 18 will be your last chance to catch the 40th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. This colorfully unique San Diego holiday tradition features more than 100 private boats decorated with holiday lights, sailing along the waters of San Diego Bay.

3. Taste ‘n Tinis: On Thursday, December 15 from 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm be sure to hit up the Hillcrest Taste ‘n Tinis celebration. Embark on a winter evening of house specialties from hors d’oeuvres and entrees to delightfully sweet treats. But it’s really about the peppermint martinis and candy cane cosmos that will get everyone in the holiday spirit. Revelers will enjoy the sampling, the shopping, and finding the perfect gift all in Hillcrest. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the event.

4. Chula Vista Nature Center: It’s a great time of year to head over to the Chula Vista Nature Center. The Chula Vista Nature Center is an internationally recognized zoo/aquarium exhibiting native plants and animals. Visitors can see an up-close and personal visit with endangered Green Sea Turtles, shorebirds, hawks, sharks, stingrays, and jellyfish, to name a few!

5. Holiday Nights at the Bernardo Winery: From December 15-18th, the Bernardo Winery hosts its annual Holiday Nights. Step back in time and celebrate the joy of the holiday season with festivities for the whole family among the old world style buildings, olive trees and old fashioned hospitality of the Bernardo Winery.

 

 

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

1. San Diego Parade of Lights: Head over to San Diego Bay on December 11th and 18th for the 40th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights where hundreds of boats will be decorated for this dazzling holiday boat parade of lights.

2. La Mesa Christmas in the Village: This popular holiday event features horse-drawn carriages, carolers, marching bands and entertainers, all lined up along La Mesa Boulevard. Guests can also enjoy an outdoor market, food and special appearances by Santa Claus.

3. Holiday LEGO Train Exhibit: Through January 12, 2012, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum features its annual Holiday LEGO Train Exhibit. For any train and/or LEGO enthusiasts, this exhibit is not to be missed. Be sure to be on the lookout for Santa scaling one of the buildings!

4. Garden of Lights: From December 8 through the 30th, head up to the San Diego Botanical Garden for the Garden of Lights. The Garden is transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating the Garden for a magical holiday experience. Many of these lights are LED, which are much brighter than regular lights. Numerous activities include horse-drawn-wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, live music, hot mulled wine and refreshments.

Photo: TJ Shimabukuro

5. Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade: If you own a pet, the Gaslamp Quarter on December 11th is the place to be. Once a year San Diego pets and owners are invited to dress up in their favorite costumes for a special promenade throughout the Gaslamp Quarter to celebrate the holiday season. You can only imagine the fun and excitement as downtown becomes filled with costumed pets & their handlers all vying for prizes and bragging rights including Best Costumed Duo, Cutest Critter, Best Pet Costume & Best of Show!

Suzzanne

5 to Try This Weekend in San Diego

1. Balboa Park December Nights: This annual celebration on December 2nd and 3rd is the largest free community festival in San Diego, featuring foods and crafts from around the world, music and events at Balboa Park’s divers museums.

2. La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival: On December 4, marching bands, floats, equestrians, vintage automobiles and more parade down the streets of La Jolla. The parade ends with a holiday festival featuring craft booths, carnival rides, food, entertainment and a tree lighting ceremony.

3. 36th Annual Coronado Christmas Open House & Parade: Get in the holiday spirit on December 2nd as Santa Claus will be arriving by ferry across the San Diego Bay and a Snow Mountain play area will be at the Coronado Ferry Landing. Afterwards, a colorful holiday parade and Merchants Open House takes place along Orange Avenue, followed by the traditional tree lighting of a 50-foot Christams tree and free community concert in Rotary Park.

4. Canine Cocktails: Head to the Hotel Indigo with your four-legged best friend for Canine Cocktails. Canine Cocktails happens monthly, on their Level 9 Rooftop Bar and offer Happy Hour drink specials and complimentary treats for your dog!

5. Amtrak 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train: On December 2nd and 3rd, come and experience Amtrak’s new exhibit train, which is traveling throughout the USA. The special train depicts Amtrak’s 40 year history, celebrating the past, present and future of Amtrak. Bring the kids to visit the special “Chugginton’s Depot” play area for story reading, coloring, hands on play with toy train sets and Chugginton episodes on continuous loop for viewing.

Stephenie

New Holiday Fun at SeaWorld

the tree of lights will rock 'n' roll this seasonAs if SeaWorld couldn’t get any cooler… check out what they’ve got in store for us this winter:

A new ice skating rink: From Nov. 21 – Jan. 3, lace up some skates and glide beneath SeaWorld’s Tree of Lights to celebrate the season. In addition to a 5,000 sq. ft. ice rink, there will also be a special toddler rink  for kids 3 and under… the kiddies can also get special double-edged ice skates for extra balance.  Skate rentals will be an additional cost to park admission; price TBA.

“The Polar Express 4-D Experience”: Take an epic 4-D journey to the North Pole aboard the Polar Express but bundle up, becuase you’ll experience aamazing multi-sensory effects including snow, fog and gusts of wind.  The movie will only be available Nov. 21–Dec. 31 so don’t be late for the train…All aboard!

Tree of Lights with a Twist: Every night at 6 p.m. from Nov. 24 – Dec. 25, SeaWorld light up it’s 320-foot (skytower) Tree of Lights and cue it to a musical broadcast courtesy of KyXy 96.5. The skytower tree lights will dance, flash, swirl and glow to holiday music broadcasted throughout San Diego.