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.

Candice

Top Things to Do in San Diego: Nov. 27 – Dec. 1, 2013

Surfing Santa Seaport Village San Diego holiday event

The holiday season has definitely arrived in San Diego. This weekend, you’ll find lots of festive events, as well as live jazz and and a tasty chili fest to keep things a little spicy.

Here are the top things to do in San Diego, Nov. 27 – Dec. 1 , 2013:

San Diego Jazz Fest

san diego jazz fest

A New Orleans-style street band is just one of the jazz types you’ll find at San Diego Jazz Fest.

Presented by the America’s Finest City Dixieland Jazz Society, this annual festival features all types of jazz, ranging from traditional to ragtime to rockabilly and everything in between. Held every Thanksgiving weekend, the 34th Jazz Fest will offer big dance halls as well as small listening rooms to draw jazz lovers of every taste and style.

Where: Town & Country Hotel and Convention Center, 500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, CA 92108
When: Nov. 27 – Dec. 1, 2013
Time: 7 – 11 p.m. (Wed. and Thurs.), 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Fri.), 9 a.m. – 11 p.m. (Sat.), 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Sun.)
Cost: Varies; single day tickets start at $15 and multi-day tickets start at $95
>Find out more about the San Diego Jazz Fest

Surfin’ Santa’s Arrival at Seaport Village

Surfing Santa Seaport Village San Diego holiday event

Take a picture with surfing Santa!

 

The magic of the sea comes to life at Seaport Village when Santa arrives by jetpack and soars above the ocean surface to greet kids and adults. This family event will include pictures with Santa surfing a giant wave, ornament making, live music and plenty of holiday cheer at this cobblestoned shopping and dining hub located along the Downtown waterfront.

Where:  Seaport Village, 849 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
When:  November 30, 2013
Time:  1 – 5 p.m. (Santa arrives at 1pm in front of the Pier Café)
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Surfin’ Santa at Seaport Village

Jingle Bell Jump at Mission Marketplace in Oceanside

santa parachute jump

Where else can you see Santa arrive by parachute?

Kids and families will witness Santa parachuting from the sky to greet those who attend this fun-filled community event in the city of Oceanside. The festivities include photo opportunities with Santa, a complete snow playground, kids’ crafts, live music and much more!

Where:  Mission Marketplace, 471 College Blvd, Oceanside CA 92057
When:  November 30, 2013
Time:  12 – 3 p.m.
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Jingle Bell Jump

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

SoNo Chili Fest San Diego

Enjoy chili, beer, live music and more at the SoNo Fest.

The neighborhoods of South and North Park come together in a friendly chili competition among 29 top local restaurants competing as guests try out their chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls. The event offers two free live music stages, great holiday gifts and crafts from local artisans, five food trucks, a game truck and a kids’ activity zone with free cookie decorating, and craft beer and wine garden featuring 10 local breweries.

Where: 3216 Thorn Street, San Diego, CA 92104
When: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Time: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: Festival is free; handmade ceramic bowls with chili tastings: $20
>Find out more about the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

Luminaria First Light in South Park

buona forchetta south park san diego

Enjoy some pizza from Buona Forchetta or other tasty treats in South Park.

The historic craftsman neighborhood of South Park kicks off the holiday season with a beautiful display of luminarias presented by local businesses and homeowners. After 5 p.m. tree lighting, stroll the scenic streets to shop local boutiques and enjoy live music and tasty treats from neighborhood eateries.

Where: Beech St., between Fern St. and 30th St., San Diego, CA 92102
When: Sunday, December 1, 2013
Time: 5 – 9 p.m.
Cost: Free
>Find out more about the Luminara First Light in South Park

More Top Things to Do in San Diego

Browse the Event Calendar

What will you be doing this week in San Diego? Let us know in the comments.

Dave

Small Events with Big Charm: Holiday Activities for Kids

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

San Diego’s big attractions go all-out for the holidays, but not all families that want to the hustle and bustle of large events. Families looking for a more intimate holiday experience can enjoy some equally charming activities happening all around town.

Garden of Lights at San Diego Botanic Garden

Garden of Lights San Diego Botanic Garden

Lights, flowers and s’mores – what more could you ask for? (photo by by John Bryant)

Garden of Lights transforms the San Diego Botanic Garden into a dazzling winter wonderland filled with more than 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating the garden for a magical holiday experience that includes snow sledding (bring your own!), live music that includes mariachis and traditional Christmas carolers and get this – even a team of blonde Belgian draft horses ready to take your tykes on a wild wagon ride they won’t soon forget.

The event is a shutterbug’s dream, with Santa Claus posing for pics with young and old in a brightly lit gazebo and a vibrant, festively decorated “Poinsettia Garden” that will certainly make your snapshots sparkle. The social set will appreciate the warm and cozy campfire setup that provides s’mores and marshmallow roasting opportunities; supplies will be available for purchase, including cocoa, hot mulled wine and standard coffee drinks.

There will also be a variety of special holiday crafts that children can take home, a nutcracker exhibit displaying a collection of more 50 nutcrackers and a unique display of gourd figures featuring characters from the original Alice in Wonderland book.

Where:  230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas CA 92024
When:  December 7 – 23, 2013 and December 26 – 30, 2013
Time:  5 – 9 p.m.
Cost:  Adult $14; Child (3-12) $6; Seniors, Military & Students $10; Kids under 3 free
>Find out more about the Garden of Lights

Frosty Farm at Helen Woodward Animal Center

Frosty Farm at Helen Woodward Animal Center San Diego

It doesn’t get much cuter than the Frosty Farm (photo courtesy Helen Woodward Animal Center)

There’s nothing cuter than miniature horses dressed as reindeer, and kids who love animals will agree as they revel in Frosty Farm’s festive four-legged frenzy that takes place at the Helen Woodward Animal Center. The event features hands-on interaction with sheep, bunnies, guinea pigs and reptiles. In addition, kids can frolic in falling snow, navigate a Magical Ice Palace Maze, build a gingerbread house and receive a special gift from Santa.

Where:  Helen Woodward Animal Center 6461 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe CA 92067
When:  December 7-8 & December 14-15
Time:  10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Cost:  $20 Child; $9 Adult (registration required at animalcenter.org/education)
>Find out more about the Frosty Farm

Christmas in the Park at Old Poway Park

Christmas in the Park at Old Poway Park San Diego

Santa welcomes guests to Old Poway Park.

Families looking for a holiday festival that captures that small town charm will want to head to Old Poway Park in the City of Poway. The festival embraces the historic park’s turn-of-the-century heritage with a community Christmas tree lighting, horse drawn hayrides, a live petting zoo, square dancing, children’s theater and piano player sing-a-longs that the whole family will enjoy.

Even Santa and Mrs. Claus add to the nostalgia of these old-fashion traditions when they make a surprise visit rolling into the festival riding on a 1907 Baldwin steam locomotive. Families will also be able to ride the antique train during the festival.

Where:  Old Poway Park, 14134 Midland Rd, Poway CA 92064
When:  December 14, 2013
Time:  3:30pm – 8:30pm
Cost:  Free
>Find out more about Christmas in the Park

Do you know of any fun holiday activities for kids happening around town? Share it with us in the comments below.

Robert Arends

Coronado for the Holidays – There’s Nothing Else Like It!

You’ve got sunny skies, the sparkling sands of Coronado Beach, a big yuletide community celebration (next Friday, December 7th) with Santa’s arrival to the island by ferryboat, Snow Mountain and a colorful parade down Orange Ave., the spectacularly surreal ice Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado, caroling gondoliers and so much more!

Yours truly put together a video of Coronado’s best, most fun  and festive holiday activities. I hope you enjoy it:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YDdNlOG_Rc]

Wishing you and your friends and family a most magical holiday season!

See you in Coronado for the Holidays, Ho ho ho! 🙂

> Discover more of Coronado

> Escape to San Diego for the Holidays

Robert Arends

A Sparkling Coronado Christmas Celebration – December 7, 2012!

Seagulls sing, are you listening?
On the beach, sand is glistening
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight
Walking in Coronado’s winter wonderland!

Charming Coronado, located a bridge away from downtown San Diego, is gearing up for its big island-wide holiday bash, the 37th Annual Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House, on Friday, December 7. The “Crown City” has a stocking full of fun & festive activities that are sure to delight visitors of all ages.

Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House’s Free Festivities

3:30 PM – Santa Claus’ Arrival

Santa Claus’ festive arrival at the Coronado Ferry Landing!

Don’t miss Santa’s arrival by ferry boat at the Coronado Ferry Landing (fantastic photo opp!). Afterward, meet Santa and his elves, and tell jolly ol’ St. Nick everything you wish for!

3:00 to 8:00 PM – Snow Mountain

Children playing on Snow Mountain at the Coronado Ferry Landing

Let it snow! At the Coronado Ferry Landing shops.

No need to head out to the mountains when there’s snow at the Coronado Ferry Landing for sledding, making snow balls and snowmen (yes Virginia, there IS snow in San Diego!)

5:00 to 9:00 PM – Merchants Open House

The Merchants Open House features unique boutique shops and galleries for one-of-kind gifts for everyone on your shopping list!

6:00 to 7:00 PM – Christmas Parade

A Norman Rockwell-esque Christmas Parade down Orange Avenue, featuring floats, classic cars, marching bands and Santa Claus on a fire truck!

7:00 PM – Lighting of a 50-foot Christmas Tree in Rotary Park

More Coronado Christmas and Holiday Fun

Coronado Holiday Guide is chock full of fun holiday events and shopping ideas!

Hot off the presses is the new Coronado Holiday Guide which you can download off the Chamber of Commerce’s homepage or pick up at the Coronado Visitor Center (1100 Orange Avenue).

Skating by the Sea

Skating by the Sea Aerial - Hotel del Coronado

Magical Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado!

In addition to Coronado’s popular Christmas spectacular, visitors are invited to skate figure eights at the beachside ice Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado (open through January 5). A portion of the proceeds benefit Make-a-Wish Foundation! (Click here for more outdoor ice skating opportunities in San Diego)

Buon Natale Gondola Cruises

The Gondola Company’s Buon Natale gondola ride at Loews Coronado Bay Resort!

At Loews Coronado Bay Resort, check out The Gondola Company’s seasonal Buon Natale gondola cruise, featuring a Santa gondolier serenading guests with Christmas carols through waterways of the Coronado Cays. Oh what fun! 😉

Festival of Christmas – Christmas on my Mind

Festival of Christmas - Christmas on my Mind - Lamb's Players Theatre

A group of travelers snuck in a snowstorm create a holiday celebration during the Lamb’s Players Theatre Festival of Christmas.

And a magical escape to Coronado this winter wouldn’t be complete without enjoying Lamb’s Players Theatre‘s annual Festival of Christmas show on their resident stage (1142 Orange Ave.), November 30 through December 30. Every year my family and I attend this joyful musical and I guarantee it’ll have you humming “jingle all the way” through New Year’s! 🙂

> Discover more holiday fun in San Diego

See you in sparkling Coronado!

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.

Suzzanne

25 Free Things to Do This Winter in San Diego

Balboa Park December Nights in San Diego

From traditional holiday parades and festivals to the migration of California gray whales along the Pacific coast, a visit to San Diego during the winter offers a wealth of free, fun and festive experiences.

Balboa Park December Nights in San Diego

Balboa Park December Nights

  1. Join the festivities during Balboa Park December Nights, a two-day holiday celebration of food, entertainment and fun on December 2-3. The numerous museums and cultural institutions in Balboa Park open their doors free of charge, and festivities include carolers, live music, holiday light displays, theater and dance performances.

  2. Whale Watch from the shores and cliffs of Point Loma, as California gray whales migrate south to the warm water breeding grounds off the coast of Baja, California. Spectators can catch a spectacular show during December through April when these majestic mammals pass through the waters off San Diego”s coastline.

  3. Be part of a grand Holiday Celebration on December 2 in Coronado with a festive parade along Orange Avenue, the lighting of a 75-foot Christmas tree, holiday music and a firework show over Glorietta Bay.

  4. Enjoy free organ concerts at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park beginning at 2:00 pm each Sunday. The Organ Pavilion features the world”s largest outdoor pipe organ, where organists resound holiday favorites.

  5. See Old Town State Historic Park decked out for the holidays during Holiday in the Park on December 10 and enjoy holiday treats, activities and extended shopping hours, along with strolling carolers.

  6. Head over to Seaport Village for the festive <a title=”Surfin” Santa Arrival at Seaport Village” href=”http://www.sandiego.org/event/Visitors/9852″ target=”_blank”>Surfing Santa at Seaport Village event on November 26. Hang-ten with Santa and enjoy a lively parade along the Seaport Village boardwalk, music, stilt walkers, and kids” crafts.

  7. Spread some holiday cheer at the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival on December 4 in downtown La Jolla. The event includes marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus.

  8. Drive to the mountain town of Julian for a warm mug of hot apple cider and a delicious slice of Julian”s legendary homemade apple pie. On Saturdays, stroll through the quaint neighborhood streets and enjoy the sounds of wandering Christmas carolers and best online casino a living nativity scene.

  9. Take a walk around Balboa Park and discover its beautiful architecture. Take advantage of the park”s variety of free offerings, including touring its spectacular gardens.

  10. Take a walk along one of San Diego”s 70 miles of beaches, all free and open to the public, and enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

  11. Visit the village of La Mesa on December 9 and 10 for Christmas in the Village. Enjoy street performers, carolers, carriage rides, entertainment for the whole family and more.

  12. Bring the family to the SoNo Park Holiday Fest on December 4 and celebrate with the restaurants and residents of South Park and North Park in a chili cook-off. Visitors can taste chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls, shop for holiday gifts from local artisans and enjoy live music, kid”s activities, gourmet food trucks, a beer garden featuring local and craft beer and more.

  13. Explore the tide pools in Point Loma, Ocean Beach and La Jolla when the tide is low to see some of the magnificent creatures of the sea.

  14. Enjoy the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade on December 11 in downtown San Diego”s historic Gaslamp Quarter. Owners and their dressed-up pets march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood and end at a Pet Expo featuring an awards ceremony for best-dressed pups.

  15. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla for a panoramic view of the city all spruced up in holiday decoration. Along the way, enjoy the beautifully decorated homes in this exclusive neighborhood.

  16. Drive to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego”s East County to marvel at wildlife and a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers amidst the desert warmth.

  17. Gaze up at the massive balloons during the Big Bay Balloon Parade, the country”s largest balloon parade, on December 28.

  18. Enjoy the twinkling waters of San Diego Bay and more than 100 private boats decorated with holiday lights for the 40th Annual Port of San Diego Parade of Lights on December 11 and December 18.

  19. Get in the holiday spirit during Chula Vista”s 50th Annual Starlight Parade on December 3, featuring carolers, holiday cheer, floats, drill teams, marching bands, classic cars, a children”s event and visit from Santa.

  20. Experience a white Christmas in San Diego after making the scenic, one-hour drive to the top of Mount Laguna in San Diego”s rustic East County.

  21. Delight in the festive gatherings of the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on December 10. Over 100 brightly illuminated powerboats and sailboats parade along Mission Bay; the parade ends with a fantastic fireworks show at 9:00 pm above SeaWorld San Diego.

  22. Experience a magical evening of holiday celebrations December 3 at the California Center for the Arts Escondido during the annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland. Enjoy seasonal music and Victorian carolers, a visit from Santa, free art activities and treats, a spectacular light show and real snow!

  23. Celebrate holiday cheer during Poway Winterfest on December 10. The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visits from Santa, train rides, live music, theatre performances, food, treats, crafts and more.

  24. Join the community of Carlsbad for their annual Tree Lighting Festivities, December 4 at the Village Faire Shopping Center. Enjoy children”s crafts, cookies and cider, entertainment and pictures with Santa.

  25. Rock out at the Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March on December 19. Held two days prior to the annual Poinsettia Bowl, bands representing the two Bowl football teams line up at opposite ends of Fifth Avenue in downtown”s Gaslamp Quarter and face-off in an old fashion battle of the bands.

Robert Arends

‘Tis the season: Holiday Festivities in East County!

SoCal's largest ice skating rink at Viejas Outlet Center

San Diego’s bucolic East County always beckons me this time of year. I don’t know if it’s the crispness in the air, change of color in the leaves or subtle scent of pine trees as you drive out into the backcountry that’s so enticing, but it’s absolutely wonderful and welcoming! It’s where locals and visitors alike go to experience winter in San Diego. And yes, we even get snow on occasion in the higher elevations. Our historic mountain town of Julian is particularly nice – like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life when the first snow falls.

With Thanksgiving and the official launch of the holiday season just around the corner, following are some fun and festive activities for folks to enjoy in East County:

El Cajon's Mother Goose Parade!

  • Make some merry at the 65th Annual Mother Goose Parade on Nov. 20. This very popular, local holiday tradition is the largest parade in San Diego County and largest of its type west of the Mississippi, attracting thousands of spectators to the streets of El Cajon. The free fete features marching bands, colorful floats, equestrians and this year’s Grand Marshal, Taylor Guitars.

    Carriage ride through Julian.

  • There’s nothing more charming than a good ol’ fashioned Christmas celebration. Jingle up to Julian on Nov. 26 for the Julian Country Christmas & Tree Lighting, featuring strolling carolers, horse-drawn carriages, the scent of freshly-baked apple pies (yum!) and Santa Claus’ arrival aboard a bright red fire engine for the tree lighting.
  • The delightful downtown of La Mesa is transformed into a Victorian wonderland on Dec. 9 & 10 during their family-friendly Christmas in the Village, featuring horse-drawn carriages, strolling minstrels, carolers, an outdoor market with gift ideas galore and jolly ol’ Saint Nick.

    Ice skating at Viejas Outlet Center

  • The quaint town of Alpine joins in the festivities on Dec. 9 with its 16th Annual Alpine Village Christmas Parade of Lights & Snow Festival, complete with a snow hill for sledding! Just down the road, Viejas Outlet Center (awesome holiday shopping deals!) is home to the largest outdoor ice-skating rink in Southern California – open now through New Year’s.

    Santa on the North Pole Limited train in Campo.

  • All aboard… the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum’s 8th Annual North Pole Limited! This popular Christmas vintage train ride through the backcountry to the “North Pole” takes place on Nov. 25-26, Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17.The one-hour adventure begins at the Campo Depot and features an on-board reading of a famous Christmas train story (hint: see photo above 😉 ), hot cocoa, holiday cookies and an appearance by Santa Claus and his elves. Reservations are required; sure to sell out! 

    Wintertime in Julian.

     Happy Holidays from East County!