Guide | 30 Top December Events in San Diego

Top 30 December Events in San Diego

Little Italy Christmas Tree Lighting

Whether your goal is to make it to every neighborhood’s Christmas parade, or if you want to just say “bah humbug” and settle in to watch the game, we’ve rounded up the top 30 December events in San Diego. Consider it an early Christmas gift.


Whale Watching Season
Through April. Each year beginning in December, more than 20,000 gray whales migrate from Alaska to Baja California, where the females give birth to their calves. Witness the migration of these gentle giants aboard Hornblower Cruises, or get up close and personal aboard a kayak at La Jolla Kayak. Hornblower Cruises, 970 N. Harbor Dr., Embarcadero, 619.686.8715. La Jolla Kayak, 2199 Agenda de la Playa, La Jolla, 858.459.1114.

Skating by the Sea at Hotel del Coronado

Skating by the Sea
Through Jan. 3. Hotel del Coronado’s Windsor Lawn transforms into an outdoor ice-skating rink that overlooks the beach and the Pacific Ocean. When else can you get a beachfront view while ice skating? Hotel del Coronado, 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.435.6611.

Fantasy on Ice
Through Jan. 3. Celebrate the holiday season at the historical Liberty Station’s first ever ice rink. 2640 Historic Decatur Rd., Liberty Station, 619.222.1970.

Balboa Park December Nights
Dec. 4-5. Experience this annual two-day holiday blowout featuring carolers, live music, holiday light displays and more. Plus, many museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9 p.m. Balboa Park, 619.239.0512.

Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House
Dec. 4. Get in the holiday spirit with an evening in Coronado as Orange Ave. lights up with the annual Christmas parade. The event includes the lighting of a 50 foot Christmas tree and a live holiday concert. 6 p.m. Coronado, 619.437.8788.

52nd Annual North Park Toyland Parade & Festival
Dec. 5. Head to San Diego’s hippest neighborhood for the 52nd annual North Park Toyland parade with vintage cars, bands, floats, beauty queens, dance groups and a fair behind the historical Observatory North Park. University Ave., North Park, 619.269.7880.

Little Italy’s Christmas Tree Lighting
Dec. 5. Watch as a 25-foot tower of more than 1,100 gorgeous Poinsettias lights up Little Italy with 2,000+ lights. Santa Claus will be making a special appearance and the night will resound with live music and entertainment, holiday beverages, decorations and more. There’s even a rumor of snow in the forecast for Little Italy that evening. 5:30-8 p.m. Piazza Baseline, W. Fir between India St. and Kettner Blvd., Little Italy.

La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival
Dec. 6. Enjoy the holidays in La Jolla glory with vintage automobiles, equestrian units, floats, marching bands and a Santa Claus appearance. 1:30 p.m. Girard Ave. LA Jolla,

2015 SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off
Dec. 6. The festive and fiery SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off promises everything a person could want in a fun day including craft beer, wine, shopping, music and chili! 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Chili bowl and 5 tastings for $20/pp. Thorn & 32nd Streets, North Park,

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
Dec. 12. More than 100 illuminated vessels parade along Mission Bay starting at 6 p.m., followed by a fireworks sow at 9 p.m. above SeaWorld. Best viewing is from Crown Point Park, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island. Mission Bay, 858.488.0501.

Old Town Holiday in the Park
Dec. 12-13. See Old Town decked out for the holidays with extended shopping hours, strolling carolers, and Las Posadas—a centuries old tradition in which actors reenact 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.

Santa Run

San Diego Santa Run 5K and 1 Mile Race
Dec. 12. Come out in your finest (or ugliest) Christmas attire as you take part in the annual San Diego Santa Run, a one-of-a-kind holiday experience. Runners will receive a “sunny Santa suit,” sunglasses and a drink ticket at the finish line. 8:30 a.m. Garnet Ave., Pacific Beach.

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade
Dec. 13. Pooches dress up as Santa, elves, reindeer and everything in between while marching down the festive streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. The parade begins at 12:30 p.m., starting and ending at the Hilton Gaslamp Park. 401 K St., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.233.5227.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Dec. 13 & 20. See San Diego Bay twinkle with more than 100 private boats, decked out with holiday lights for a night on the water. This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World.” Downtown, 619.224.2240.

Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March
Dec. 21. Kick off festivities for the 2015 San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia bowl with the Carrier Johnson + Culture Gaslamp March. Marching bands and spirit squads from the participating universities will parade from each of Fifth Ave, performing holiday classics and meeting up at Market St. for a heart-pounding Battle of the Bands. Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter.

Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 23. Get out your alma mater gear for college football at its finest at the annual Poinsettia Bowl. The US Navy Midshipmen will face the San Diego State Aztecs. 1:30 p.m. Qualcomm Stadium, 9449 Friars Rd.l, Mission Valley,

Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade
Dec. 30. Gaze at the massive displays at the country’s largest balloon parade along the bay, plus floats and marching bands. Grandstands located at intersection of Harbor Dr. and Ash St. Embarcadero, downtown.

Holiday Bowl
Dec. 30. See who wins this epic battle of college football heavyweights. Teams from the Pac-12 conference and the Big 12 conference will square off in the annual National University Ho,day Bowl. Qualcomm Stadium, 9449 Friars Rd., Mission Valley.

San Diego Symphony Holiday Pops

The TEN Tenors: Home for the Holidays
Dec. 3. Join Australia’s rockstars of the opera as they enthrall with their unique selection of traditional and contemporary seasonal favorites. 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido, 800.988.4253.

San Diego Symphony Holiday Pops
Dec. 18-20. San Diego’s most popular downtown holiday concert returns to the Jacobs Music Center, led by Matthew Garbutt. This year’s edition features a ‘Holiday Spectacular’ from popular Summer Pops performers Cirque Musica: favorite holiday hits accompanied by feats of strength, balance, daring and sheer beauty. 750 B St., downtown, 619.235.0804.

The Nutcracker
Dec. 11-13, 18-20, 22-23.(City Ballet) and Dec. 12-13, 16-20 (California Ballet). Channel your inner Sugar Plum Fairy at two stagings of the timeless holiday classic presented by the City Ballet of San Diego at the historical Spreckels Theatre, and by the California Ballet at the Civic Theatre. Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, downtown, 619.235.9500. Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown, 619.570.1100.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Through Dec. 26. Enjoy the classic story for kids young and old and experience the annual holiday production as the Grinch tries to destroy Christmas for all the Whos in Whoville. Shirley Stage at the Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, 619.234.5623.

A Christmas Carol
Through Dec. 27. Expect 19th-century tradition with a 21st century twist in this completely re-imagined Dickens classic—now a musical featuring an original score, puppetry and live foley sound effects. Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town, 619.337.1525.

Festival of Christmas
Through Dec. 27. This year, Lamb’s Players presents All I Want for Christmas, a festive, family-friendly show, featuring dancing and classic holiday songs, set in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood in 1949. Lamb’s Players Theatre, 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.437.6000.

This Wonderful Life
Dec. 8-27. James Leaming returns with his one-man tour-de-force based on the perennial favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life. In a dynamic display of physical and verbal virtuosity, Leaming brings to life over 32 familiar people. North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Solana Beach, 858.481.1055.

A Civil War Christmas
Dec. 10-Jan. 3. This musical pageant demonstrates that hope, humor and peace are innate to being american. Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd., University Heights, 619.220.0097.

Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin
Dec. 16-Jan. 3. Featuring classic songs such as “Always,” “Blue Skies,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “White Christmas,” this one-man show celebrates the life and music of famed composer Irving Berlin. Mandela Weiss Theatre at the La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jola Village Dr., La Jolla, 858.550.1010.

An American Christmas
Dec. 17-26. Plan for a true feast at this delectable four-course holiday meal in a unique setting of festive dance and song presented by Lamb’s Players Theatre. Guests are encouraged to dress up for the occasion. The US Grant, 326 Broadway, downtown, 619.437.6000.
Gingerbread House Contest
Dec. 9. Visit Queenstown Public House, the New Zealand-inspired restaurant and bar in San Diego’s Little Italy, as it transforms into a life-sized gingerbread house just in time for the holidays. On Dec. 9, the restaurant is also hosting a gingerbread house contest and each guest will receive a gingerbread house kit in exchange for a donated, unwrapped gift for Little Italy’s annual Toy Drive. 3-10 p.m. 1557 Columbia St., Little Italy, 619.546.0444.
Movie Nights on the Park at Halcyon
Dec. 8, 22. Dress up warm for an evening movie night under the stars as Halcyon hosts movie nights featuring Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story. Enjoy cocktails, beer, wine and their signature s’mores. 1429 Island Ave., East Village, 619.234.0807.



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