December Nights returns to full glory: What to know

Balboa Park’s biggest event of the year is back in its original form on Friday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 3

December Nights SD

The local tradition that truly sleighs.

Table of Contents

December Nights — the city’s biggest holiday celebration — is coming back to Balboa Park this weekend. 🎄

After pandemic-era modified versions for the past two years, this year’s festivities will return in their full glory — with twinkling lights, live performances, deals and activities at select museums, and so much food. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

December Night SD

The holiday tradition is back — for real — San Diego.

🗓️ The basics

  • The free, 2-day, multicultural festival runs 3-11 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3.
  • It’s been a minute since the traditional December Nights, so use this map to visualize the layout.
December Nights SD

The holiday tradition in the heart of San Diego has been around for 45 years.

🚗 Parking + transportation

  • San Diegans know parking lots fill up quickly, so plan ahead. Limited free parking is available at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego City College. Paid parking is available at Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point lot ($30), the Natural History Museum lot ($45), the South Carousel lot ($45), or some nearby Ace Parking lots ($15).
  • You can rideshare and get dropped off at a designated zone along Sixth Avenue.
  • You can park downtown and take a free shuttle to and from the event at Ash Street between Fifth + Sixth avenues.
  • The Metropolitan Transit System is offering service to December Nights via Trolley to the Fifth Avenue Station. From there, transfer to bus Route 3 or 120 to Fifth Avenue and Laurel Street, and walk about two blocks east to Balboa Park.
December Nights SD

Don’t miss the action at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

🎶 Entertainment + activities

December Nights SD

Bring your appetite — there are food vendors at every turn.

🍔 Food

🌆 History

December Nights is always held on the first Friday and Saturday of December and signals the start of the holiday season in San Diego.

The event was founded 45 years ago, when 10 cultural organizations in Balboa Park came together to host a celebration originally dubbed Christmas on the Prado. That first year, ~3,000 attended the event. Today — as a city-run event and the landmark’s biggest of the year — it has ballooned to ~350,000 attendees over the span of two days.

December Nights SD

Nothing kicks off the holidays in SD quite like this event.

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