40+ Top San Diego Events this December

Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March Battle of the Bands

Enjoy 40+ top San Diego events this December

Edited by Lisa Kelley

While the temperatures probably won’t drop too dramatically, San Diegans still know how to embrace the winter and holiday season with a distinctive Southern California flare. Enjoy ice skating with beach views, concerts, theater, festivals and more.

Skating by the Sea
Through Jan. 2. See historical Hotel del Coronado’s Windsor Lawn transform into an outdoor ice-skating rink that overlooks the beach and Pacific Ocean. Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.435.6611. hoteldel.com

Skating by the Sea at Hotel del Coronado

Fantasy on Ice
Through Jan. 8. Celebrate the holiday season by lacing up your skates and gliding away at this outdoor ice rink located in the historical NTC at Liberty Station. 2640 Historic Decatur Rd., Liberty Station, 619.222.1970. fantasyonicesd.com

Balboa Park December Nights
Dec. 2-3. Experience the annual two-day holiday blowout, which features carolers, live music, holiday light displays and more festivities. Plus, many museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 p.m. Balboa Park, 619.239.0512. balboapark.org

Balboa Park December Nights

Coronado Christmas Parade and Open House
Dec. 2. Be a part of the annual festivities with a parade along Orange Avenue, the lighting of a 50-foot Christmas tree and a holiday concert. Coronado, 619.437.8788. coronadochamber.com

Home Alone with the San Diego Symphony
Dec. 2. The beloved ’90s Christmas film, Home Alone, is part of the San Diego Symphony’s Fox Theater Film Series. Enjoy catching the screening while the the San Diego Symphony orchestra performs the live soundtrack. 8 p.m. Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown. sandiegosymphony.org

Red Nose Run
Dec. 2. This holiday fun run brings some festive cheer to Del Mar Beach as participants enjoy a scenic 5K along the coast. Following the race, enjoy refreshments and a raffle at Poseidon Restaurant. 1 p.m. Powerhouse Park, Del Mar. rednoserun.info

Red Nose Holiday Fun Run

A Snow White Christmas
Dec. 2-24. This updated interactive version of the classic tale—told in the style of a British Panto—features family-friendly magic, comedy, dancing and contemporary pop music. Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown, 619.544.1000. sandiegotheatres.org

53rd Annual North Park Toyland Parade and Festival
Dec. 3. The parade features a slew of celebrations, plus beauty queens, dance groups, vintage cars, bands and floats, as well as a holiday fair behind the historical North Park Theatre. University Ave., North Park, 619.269.7880. toylandparade.com

Carols & Barrels
Dec. 3. Head to the Port Pavilion for this holiday beer and wine festival featuring unlimited beverage samples, holiday treats and small plates from local restaurants and all kinds of holiday cheer. 2-5:30 p.m. 1140 N. Harbor Dr., San Diego Marina. ticketsauce.com

Amy Schumer
Dec. 3. Funny-lady, Amy Schumer takes her comedy tour to the San Diego stage at Valley View Casino Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway District, 619.224.4171. axs.com

Ocean Beach Holiday Parade
Dec. 3. Check out Ocean Beach’s 37th annual holiday parade, as Newport Avenue fills with colorful floats, classic VW Beetles and Woodies, bands, motorcycles and more. In celebration of the O.B. Pier’s 50th anniversary, the theme this year is “The Year of the Pier with Holiday Cheer.” 5-7 p.m., Ocean Beach. obtowncouncil.org

Lightwire Theatre’s A Very Electric Christmas
Dec. 3. Santa’s helpers are putting the final touches on presents as a young bird named Max and his family head south for the winter. When Max gets blown off course during a snowstorm, he ends up alone and lost at the North Pole. As he tries to make his way home, his adventure begins when he encounters friendly caroling worms, dancing poinsettias, Nutcracker soldiers, mischievous mice and an evil rat king. Enjoy this Christmas favorite as the outdoor performance is featured in complete darkness with just the characters’ outlines lit up to see. Moonlight Amphitheatre, 1200 Vale Terrace Dr., Vista. moonlightstage.com

Encinitas Holiday Parade
Dec. 3. Step back in time as you catch the Encinitas holiday parade. This year’s theme “Encinitas86” celebrates 30 years since becoming a city in 1986—the year of Top Gun, mullets and shoulder pads. 5:30 p.m. Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas. ci.encinitas.ca.us

Chula Vista Starlight Parade
Dec. 3. Grab a good viewing spot for Chula Vista’s annual Starlight Parade in the historic Third Avenue Village. In the festival area, kids of all ages will love playing on Frosty’s Snow Hill. Chula Vista. starlightparade.com

Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland Festival
Dec. 3. The North Pole comes to Escondido at the California Center for the Arts, San Diego. Enjoy frolicking in real snow, Christmas cookie decorating, live music and entertainment and even live reindeer. 3-8 p.m. 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido, 800.988.4253. artcenter.org

Little Italy’s Tree Lighting and Christmas Village
Dec. 3. Little Italy hosts a magical evening with its 18th annual Tree Lighting and Christmas Village. Watch as two holidays trees light up the night—one, a 25-foot tower featuring more than 1,000 poinsettias and the other a brand new 25-foot tree—are lit with holiday string lights, then enjoy shopping from local vendors, photo ops with Santa, live music, holiday treats and more. 4-8 p.m. India Street between W. Cedar and Grape St., Little Italy. littleitalysd.com

Garden of Lights
Dec. 3-23, 26-30. After the sun goes down in December, the San Diego Botanic Garden transforms into a dazzling winter wonderland with more than 125,000 sparkling lights. Enjoy wandering through the 37-acre garden while listening to nightly entertainment, sampling delicious foods and taking part in numerous holiday festivities. 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas, 760.436.3036. sdbgarden.org

La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival
Dec. 4. Enjoy the holidays in La Jolla glory, at the 59th annual Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival, with vintage automobiles, equestrian units, floats, marching bands and a Santa Claus appearance. Girard Ave., La Jolla. ljparade.com

La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival

SONO Fest & Chili Cook-Off
Dec. 4. Get ready for the 7th annual SoNo Fest and Chili Cook-Off featuring a fierce chef competition for best chili, hand selected artisan vendors, craft beer garden and live music on two stages. $20/pp. 32nd Street and Thorn, North Park. sonofestchilicookoff.com

North Park After Dark
Dec. 8. Enjoy an evening in San Diego’s trendiest neighborhood with retailers staying open for special late-night hours and many local eateries offering special menus. By completing a progressive stamp card, participants are entered into a free raffle for dozens of fabulous prizes. Various locations, North Park. explorenorthpark.com

The Dybbuk for Hannah and Sam’s Wedding
Through Dec. 18. World-renowned performer Ron Campbell is joined by Klezmer musician Yale Strom in this immersive retelling of the most celebrated play in Yiddish literature, S. Ansky’s The Dybbuk. San Diego Rep, Lyceum Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza, downtown, 619.544.1000. sdrep.org

The Nutcracker
Dec. 9-11, 16-18, 21-23 (City Ballet) and Dec. 10-11, 16-24 (California Ballet). Enjoy two stagings of the timeless holiday classic presented by the City Ballet of San Diego and by the California Ballet. Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway downtown, 619.235.9500. cityballet.org; Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown, 619.570.1100. californiaballet.org

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
Dec. 10. More than 100 illuminated vessels parade along Mission Bay starting at 6 p.m., followed by a fireworks show at 9 p.m. above SeaWorld. Best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island. Mission Bay, 858.488.0501. mbyc.org

Mission Bay Boat Parade of Lights

Pacific Beach Holiday Parade
Dec. 10. There’s nothing quite like parading through Pacific Beach as the route winds just steps from the ocean. Catch marching bands, clubs, music and more. 1 p.m. Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach. pacificbeach.org

Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights
Dec. 10. The Oceanside Yacht Club hosts this annual harbor boat parade of lights with contests for best decorated power, sail and small craft vessels. oceansideyc.net

Ray at Night
Dec. 10. The longest running monthly art walk in San Diego showcases local food, multiple live bands, art galleries and handcrafted artisan works. Experience the local art vibes throughout North Park. Various locations, North Park. rayatnight.com

KSON CountryFest
Dec. 10. Enjoy Christmas with a country music twang at KSON’s third annual CountryFest Christmas, featuring Trace Adkins, LoCash, Trent Harmon and Granger Smith. Del Mar Arena, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar. kson.com

Wrex the Halls
Dec. 11. Featuring two nights of back to back performers, 91X hosts Wrex the Halls, featuring Beck, Band of Horses, Blink-182, Local Natives, Glass Animals, Bishop Briggs, Jimmy Eat World, Pierce the Veil and Kaleo. Valley View Casion Center, 3500 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway District. 91x.com

Holiday in the Park
Dec. 10-11. See Old Town decked out for the holidays with extended shopping hours, strolling carolers and Las Posadas—a centuries old tradition in which actors re-enact the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem. Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego Ave., and Twiggs St., Old Town, 619.220.5422. oldtownsandiegoguide.com

Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play
Through Dec. 24. Experience the heartwarming holiday classic, presented by San Diego Musical Theatre, retold as a live 1940’s-era radio broadcast-with live foley effects and a score of holiday songs. Horton Grand Theatre, 444 Fourth Ave., downtown, 858.560.5740. sdmt.org

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade
Dec. 11. It’s a fabulous holiday fete for the pets! Pooches will dress up as Santa, elves, reindeer and everything in between and march down the festive streets of the Gaslamp Quarter, starting and ending at Hilton Gaslamp Park. Also enjoy a free pet expo. 1-5 p.m. 401 K St., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.233.5227. register.gaslamp.org

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Holiday Nights
Dec. 12-18. For an entire, week, Bernardo Winery stays open late to host holiday fun for the whole family. Visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy sipping wine at the tasting room and outdoor wine bar, eat from local food trucks, shop through the winery village, listen to live music and more. 4-9 p.m. bernardowinery.com

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Dec. 11, 18. See San Diego Bay twinkle with more than 100 private boats decked out with holiday lights for a festive night on the water. This year celebrates the San Diego Zoo’s centennial anniversary with the theme, “It Began with a Roar.” Downtown, 619.224.2240. sdparadeoflights.org

An American Christmas
Dec. 14-24. Step back into 1916 for a memorable feast. Lamb’s Players Theatre presents this delectable four-course holiday meal in a unique setting of festive dance and song for the evening. Guests are encouraged to dress up in festive attire. The US Grant, 326 Broadway, downtown, 619.437.6000. lambsplayers.org

La Valencia’s Gatsby Gala
Dec. 15. In celebration of “The Pink Lady’s” 90th anniversary, the La Jolla hotel invites locals and visitors to a luxurious, Roaring ’20s themed event with live music and dancing, Prohibition era cocktails, lavish buffets, vintage automobiles and more. $290/pp. 1132 Prospect St., La Jolla. lavgatsbygala.bpt.me

La Valencia’s Gatsby Gala

Gaslamp March
Dec. 19. Festivities for the Poinsettia Bowl kick off in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter as marching bands and spirit squads from the participating universities take part in a Battle of the Bands. 6 p.m. Horton Plaza Park Amphitheater. 900 4th Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. sandiegobowlgames.com

Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 21. Get out your alma mater gear for college football at its finest at the 11th annual San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bow. Qualcomm Stadium, 9449 Friars Rd., Mission Valley. sandiegobowlgames.com

Festival of Christmas
Through Dec. 24. This year, Lamb’s Players presents The Angel’s Arms, a festive family-friendly show—featuring dancing and classic holiday songs—set in 1860. Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.437.6000. lambsplayers.org

The Mystery of Love and Sex
Through Dec. 24. Traversing years, shifting relationships and unexpected outcomes, this provocative Southern Gothic romantic comedy peeks behind the curtain of sexuality and race to illuminate secrets of the heart and the fabric of a family. Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd., University Heights, 619.220.0097. diversionary.org

A Christmas Carol
Through Dec. 24. Expect 19th-century tradition with a 21st-century twist in this completely reimagined Dickens classic—now a new musical, featuring an original score, puppetry and live sound effects. Cygnet Theatre at Old Town Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town, 619.337.1525. cygnettheatre.com

Christmas Eve Dinner at The Abbey
Dec. 24. Enjoy feasting without the cooking or dishes at The Abbey. Dinner includes a full buffet with seasonal offerings, decadent dessert, coffee and tea, chilled sparkling wine and entertainment from holiday carolers. $59/pp. 2825 Fifth Ave., Park West. hornblower.com

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Through Dec. 26. For spirited kids young and old, experience this annual holiday production of a Dr. Seuss classic. Shiley Stage at the Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, 619.234.5623. theoldglobe.org

The Old Globe presents Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade
Dec. 27. Gaze at the massive displays at the country’s largest balloon parade along the bay, plus floats and marching bands. Grandstands are located at the intersection of Harbor Dr., and Ash St. Embarcadero, downtown, sandiegobowlgames.com

Holiday Bowl
Dec. 27. See who wins this epic annual battle of college football heavyweights. 4 p.m. Qualcomm Stadium, 9449 Friars Rd., Mission Valley. sandiegobowlgames.com

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Dec. 28. The progressive rock musicians perform modern contemporary interpretations of Yuletide favorites. Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown, 619.570.1100. sandiegocivictheatre.ticketoffices.com

San Diego International Auto Show
Dec. 29-Jan. 2. Check out more than 400 model-year vehicles, plus preview the cars and trucks of tomorrow, at this annual event “where the cars are the stars.” San Diego Convention Ctr., 111 W. Harbor Dr., 619.525.5000. sdautoshow.com



Sign up for FREE to receive our exclusive Weekend Roundup!

Get the best things to do in our favorite SoCal spots delivered to your inbox every week

Los Angeles

Orange County

San Diego