Get your fuzzy socks and hot cocoa ready, San Diego. From light displays to holiday performances and festive events, winter in America’s Finest City is truly magical.
Gather the family and friends and celebrate what makes the holiday season special with this guide featuring 60 winter events.
Holiday Market at Petco Park | Thursday, Dec. 1-Friday, Dec. 23 (select nights) | 4-10 p.m. | Gallagher Square at Petco Park | $16+ | Browse goodies made by local artisans while enjoying magical light displays, seasonal food vendors + visits with Santa.
December Nights | Friday, Dec. 2 + Saturday, Dec. 3 | 3-11 p.m. + 11 a.m.-11 p.m. | Balboa Park | Free | The city’s largest holiday festival returns to its original form — in-person, taking over the landmark for two days with lights, sounds, food, and seasonal activities.
Holiday in the Village | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 12-9 p.m. | Downtown La Mesa | Free | Live music, craft vendors, food, holiday photo opportunities, and a zone for the kids “bigger than Santa’s Toy Shop” will line La Mesa Boulevard between Spring + Fourth streets for this community fest.
Little Italy Tree Lighting + Christmas Village | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 4-8 p.m. | Piazza della Famiglia | Free | Ring in the season with an Italian-inspired lighting of the 25-ft tree, live music, seasonal vendors, holiday treats + a visit from the jolly guy himself.
La Jolla Christmas Parade and Festival | Sunday, Dec. 4 | 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.| Wall Street, near Girard Avenue | Free | Enjoy live entertainment + seasonal activities, followed by the 66th annual parade at 1:30 p.m. along this route.
Unleash the Holiday Cheer | Sunday, Dec. 4 | 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | 2455 Cushing Rd., Liberty Station | $10 | This military appreciation event features a pet parade + costume contest, crafts, a holiday vendor village, and photos with Santa — for little ones and pups alike. Military service members get in free.
North City Holiday Market | Sunday, Dec. 4 | 10 a.m.-4 p.m. | 251 North City Dr. (near Cal State San Marcos) | Free | Live music, festive decór, seasonal food vendors, and 100+ artisans and crafters selling their locally-made treasures.
Snow N Glow Holiday Festival | Thursday, Dec. 8-Sunday, Jan. 1 (select nights) | 4-9 p.m. | Del Mar Fairgrounds | $20+ | Enjoy 1 million dazzling lights, visits with Santa + live entertainment — upgrade to a $40 ticket to add unlimited snow tubing + rides on the Ferris wheel.
SnowSide Winter Festival | Friday, Dec. 9-Sunday, Dec. 11 | 5-9 p.m. | Emerald Isle Golf Course, Oceanside | $25-60 | Get a one-day pass or splurge for all three days of this family-friendly fest featuring sledding, bouncy houses, glow putt-putt golf, a silent disco, Santa Claus, food + drinks.
Christmas in the Park | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 3:30-8:30 p.m. | Old Poway Park | Free | Step back in time for this annual old-fashioned holiday tradition complete with caroling, model train displays, crafts for kids + visits with Santa. Pro tip: Park at Poway City Hall on Civic Center Drive or Poway Adult School on Twin Peaks Road and take a free shuttle to and from the event.
North Park’s Winter Wonderland | Sunday, Dec. 11 | North Park Mini Park | 11 a.m.-8 p.m. | Free | The hip neighborhood’s inaugural festival will feature a light show, live entertainment, activities for the kiddos + lots of chances to shop small.
Festivalito Sin Nombre | Saturday, Dec. 31-Monday, Jan. 2 | Times vary | La Vie Dance and Culture | Tango your way out of 2022 and into 2023 at this three-day dancing fest.
Winter Festival | Friday, Jan. 13 + Saturday, Jan. 14 | 5-9 p.m. + 3:30-8:30 p.m. | Poway Community Park | Free | A family-friendly weekend of seasonal activities like sledding + ice skating, plus speciality and food vendors.
SeaWorld Christmas Celebration | Through Sunday, Jan. 8 | Times vary | SeaWorld San Diego | Included with admission | Meet Santa + Rudolph, enjoy festive entertainment, feel the “snow” falling, walk down a music-activated tunnel of lights, and watch holiday fireworks.
A Very Furry Christmas | Through Sunday, Jan. 8 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Sesame Place San Diego | Included with admission | The “Sesame Street”-themed attraction in Chula Vista transforms into a winter wonderland for the holidays — with a Christmas parade, dance party + other seasonal surprises.
Holidays at LEGOLAND | Through Sunday, Jan. 8 | Select days, times vary | Included with admission | Meet + greet opportunities with holiday characters and a 30-ft Christmas tree made entirely of LEGOs — with 400+ LEGO ornaments and lights — are a must-see.
Winter Wonder | Through Sunday, Jan. 1 | Opens daily at 11 a.m. | Belmont Park | Free | The Mission Beach landmark goes festive with holiday sculptures, elf face painting, special entertainment, seasonal treats, a hot cocoa bar and one million holiday lights.
Surfin’ Santa | Saturday, Nov. 26 | 1-5 p.m. | Seaport Village | Free | Decked out in boardshorts + a Hawaiian shirt, this SoCal-style Santa will arrive by watercraft — no less — to kick off the holiday season at the landmark. Don’t miss the Santa Parade down the boardwalk at 1 p.m.
Holiday Market | Saturday, Nov. 26-Sunday, Dec. 18 (weekends only) | 12-7 p.m. | Fairmont Grand Del Mar | Free | The resort teams up with San Diego Made for four weekends of shopping small at this festive market featuring locally-made goods. There’s a free wreath-making workshop on two of the weekends, too.
South Park Winter Walkabout | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 6-10 p.m. | 30th Street | Free | Stroll through the heart of South Park while shopping small + enjoying live music, deals, fun activities, and lots of holiday cheer.
OB Holiday Parade | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 5 p.m. | Ocean Beach | Free | Celebrate the season in the eclectic beach community — including the famous “Crooked Tree” at the end of Newport Avenue.
San Marcos Tree Lighting | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 1-7 p.m. | San Marcos Civic Center | Free | This North County celebration will feature festive crafts, family-friendly activities + vendors selling handmade goodies and snacks. The tree lighting is at 5:35 p.m., sharp.
Holiday on Crystal Pier | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 8 a.m.-5 p.m. | Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach | Free | The beachfront tradition returns to the tip of the pier; don’t miss the wreaths along the way, too.
Taste ‘N’ Tinis | Thursday, Dec. 8 | 5:30-9 p.m. | Hillcrest | $30 | Explore local shopping and seasonal sips + food at this festive, self-guided tour — you even get to keep a commemorative mini martini cup.
Jungle Bells | Friday, Dec. 9-Sunday, Jan. 1 | 3:30-8 p.m. | San Diego Zoo | Included with zoo admission or membership | Enjoy festive entertainment, glimmering lights, games + festive treats at the zoo’s annual holiday event.
Holiday Kick-Off | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 5-8 p.m. | Westfield Plaza Bonita (in front of AMC) | Free | Traditional Filipino performances, Christmas carolers, and crafting for kids.
Ugly Sweater Holiday Pawty | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 5-10 p.m. | 1201 Hotel Circle South, Mission Valley | The Animal Pad dog rescue will host this free all ages, pup-friendly party with prizes for dogs + their humans.
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights | Sunday, Dec. 11 + Sunday, Dec. 18 | 5:30 p.m. | San Diego Bay | Free | This local holiday tradition — sailing along for the past 52 years — features a procession of lavishly decorated boats lighting up San Diego Bay.
Gaslamp Pet Parade + Pups in the Pub Party | Saturday, Dec. 17 | 1-5 p.m. | Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter | Free | Watch costumed pets strut down the Gaslamp Quarter, or spend $25 to enter your pet as a parade participant. There’s a pawty at the Hilton afterwards — 2-5 p.m. — with craft beer, live music, a costume contest + games.
Ales N’ Rails | Saturday, Dec. 17 | 6-9:30 p.m. | San Diego Model Railroad Museum | $35+ | a 21+ shindig that brings together local breweries + train-loving revelers for an evening of craft beer, ugly sweaters, live music + train exhibits.
Hanukkah + Menorah Lighting | Sunday, Dec. 18 | 5 p.m. | Liberty Station | Free | Celebrate the start of Hanukkah at this dazzling lighting ceremony.
Menorah Lighting Ceremony | Thursday, Dec. 22 | 6-8 p.m. | One Paseo (near Pigment + North Italia) | Free | The Chabad Jewish Center of Rancho Santa Fe + Rabbi Levi Raskin lead the celebration that also includes live music and kosher bites.
🎻 Holiday performances
Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show | Through Saturday, Dec. 24 | Times vary | The Old Globe | $45+ | A reimagining of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with a comic local twist set in “wintery” San Diego.
Plaid Tidings | Friday, Nov. 25-Saturday, Dec. 24 | Times vary | San Diego Musical Theatre Stage | $40+ | Lots of yuletide joy packed into this show of holiday standards.
Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis | Thursday, Dec. 1 | 7:30 .p.m. | California Center for the Arts, Escondido | $57+ | The program celebrates its 35th anniversary with its iconic sounds + dazzling multimedia effects.
A Christmas Carol | Thursday, Dec. 1-Saturday, Dec. 24 | Times vary | Lamb’s Players Theatre | $22 | Kerry Meads’ adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, wrapped in music of the season.
Mariachi Sol De Mexico: A Merry-achi Christmas | Friday, Dec. 2 | 8 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $37+ | The 13-piece ensemble performs its festive celebration of both Mexican + American Christmas carols.
A Drag Queen Christmas | Wednesday, Dec. 7 | 8 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $35+ | Nina West hosts this performance of queens getting all sorts of festive for the season.
Noel Noel | Friday, Dec.9-Sunday, Dec. 11 | 7 p.m. + 5 p.m. | The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park | $40+ | You have three chances to enjoy the cozy holiday vibes + jolly tunes at the San Diego Symphony’s holiday concert tradition at the bayfront venue this season.
Jingle | Saturday, Dec. 10 + Sunday, Dec. 11 | 8 p.m. + 3 p.m. | Balboa Theatre | $26.50+ | The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus opens its 38th season with the music of Prince Royce, James Taylor, The Temptations, and more.
Golden State Ballet Presents The Nutcracker | Friday, Dec. 16-Friday, Dec. 23 | Times vary | San Diego Civic Theatre | $28.50+ | Clara, her Nutcracker Prince + the company dance into the Land of Sweets as the San Diego Symphony performs Tchaikovsky’s score.
San Diego Ballet Presents The Nutcracker | Saturday, Dec. 17 | 1 + 5 p.m. | The Magnolia | $45+ | The company’s annual production of the holiday classic featuring 100+ costumed dancers — from sugar plum fairies to snowflakes — performing to Tchaikovsky’s epic score.
Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats — The Holiday Variant | Monday, Dec. 19 | 6 p.m. | The Magnolia | $45+ | The TV personality brings a blend of cooking, comedy, music + more via this holiday edition of his live stage show.
Love Actually: San Diego Symphony | Wednesday, Dec. 21 | 7 p.m. | The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park | $20+ | Watch the holiday rom-com on the big screen as the Symphony plays the soundtrack.
A Big Band Christmas: CCAE Theatricals | Thursday, Dec. 22 | 7:30 p.m. | California Center for the Arts, Escondido | $35+ | A swingin’ jazz show featuring vocalists, dancers + new arrangements of Christmas classics by Duane Benjamin.
✨ Light displays
Lightscape | Through Sunday, Jan. 1 | 5-10 p.m. | San Diego Botanic Garden | $16+ | This traveling, glimmering attraction features illuminated tunnels, festive art installations + one million lights set to sound along a 1-mile trail.
Holiday Nights | Wednesday, Dec. 14-Sunday, Dec. 18 | 5-9 p.m. | Bernardo Winery | Free | The winery village twinkles with lights, carolers + holiday vendors.
Starlight Circle | After Thanksgiving-Christmas Day | Starts at dusk | East + West Glendon Circles, Santee | Free | Dozens of homes decked out in lights + themes — and on weekends, some residents set up stands with hot cocoa, cookies, and kettle corn for sale. You walk through the neighborhood or drive slowly.
Christmas Card Lane | After Thanksgiving-Christmas Day | Starts at dusk | Ellingham, Oviedo + Renato streets, Rancho Peñasquitos | Free | This RPQ neighborhood is famous for its detailed, dazzling displays — also enjoyed by car or foot.
Christmas on Knob Hill | After Thanksgiving-Christmas Day | Starts at dusk | 1639 Knob Hill Rd., San Marcos | Free | Powering up for the holidays since 1988, this North County display features 85,000+ lights, dozens of festive figurines and, sometimes, a visit from Santa Claus.
Christmas Circle | After Thanksgiving-Christmas Day | Starts at dusk | Whitney + Mankato streets, south of H Street, Chula Vista | Free | This South Bay neighborhood has been decking itself out in holiday lights for the past six decades.
Candy Cane Lane | After Thanksgiving-Christmas Day | Starts at dusk | Hickory Street, Poway | The ultimate place to see holiday lights + get into the spirit in Poway.
Big Night San Diego | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9 p.m. | Hilton Bayfront San Diego | $115+ | This long-running NYE bash features eight party zones, bands, DJs, open bars + a champagne midnight countdown. Oh, and actor + Chula Vista native Mario Lopez is co-hosting the countdown this year.
NYE Extravaganza 2023 | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9 p.m.-2 a.m. | Onyx Room Nightclub | $40+ | Three rooms, two floors, one big party — with a flurry of confetti + midnight countdown, too.
New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. | San Diego Bay | $150+ | Cruise into 2023 with spectacular views of the city’s skyline.
20th Annual New Years Eve Yacht Party | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. | San Diego Bay | $159+ | Spirit of San Diego Yacht leads this cruise through the harbor, complete with DJs, two dance floors, an open bar + party favors.
New Year’s Eve Masquerade Gala | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 7:45 p.m. | Hotel Del Coronado | $390+ | Ring in 2023 in Victorian style at the landmark hotel with a nine-piece band, dancing, food stations, fireworks + more.
Gatsby’s House NYE Party 2023 | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9 p.m.-2 a.m. | Hotel Republic San Diego | $79+ | Celebrate the Roaring ‘20s with this upscale, “Great Gatsby”-themed party.
NYE 2023 Bar Crawl | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 8 p.m. | The Smoking Gun | $19 | Make your way through 10+ bars in downtown San Diego.
OMFG! NYE 2022 | Friday, Dec. 30 + Saturday, Dec. 31 | 7 p.m. | Pechanga Arena | $100+ | Dance into the New Year with tunes from this lineup: RL GRIMES, Porter Robinson, Autograf, Gryffin, ISOxo, Jessica Audiffred, JSTJR, Nurko, Said The Sky, Ship Wrek, TSU NAMI + San Holo.