San Diego

Weekend roundup

December 1-4


“December Nights” at Balboa Park

Dec. 2-3. Ring in the season with the city’s largest free holiday festival, with an average of 350,000 attendees annually. Balboa Park hosts two days of family-friendly festivities, including live entertainment and concerts across four stages—from ballet to bands to choirs and chorales to puppetry. The park will be decked out in holiday decor and lights; along with photo ops with Santa and holiday-themed bites and beverages. See website for full details and helpful transportation and parking tips. F 3-11 p.m.; Sa 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 1549 El Prado, Balboa Park. More Info

Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village

Dec. 3. The Little Italy Association officially kicks off the holiday season with its annual family-friendly celebration. The ‘hood will be transformed into a winter wonderland, outfitted with 10-foot-tall gold nutcrackers, glimmering kinetic spiral trees, the lighting of the permanent 25-foot-tall live tree in Piazza della Famiglia, and the return of the Aurora Tree—a Venetian-inspired tree designed by artist Joshua Hubert, located in the Piazza Basilone. The fun also includes holiday treats, seasonal vendors, live music and a special appearance by Santa. 4-8 p.m. Free. 523 W. Date St., Little Italy, 619.233.3898.

The Red Nose Run

Dec. 3. “Run, run, Rudolph!” This 30th annual run/walk on the beach is a family-friendly (and dog-friendly) tradition, where participants can choose their own pace and distance (3K or 5K). Proceeds from the event benefit two local nonprofits: Semper Fi & America’s Fund and San Dieguito River Park. Over-the-top holiday costumes are encouraged, and stick around after crossing the finish line for some more fun in the sand—with appetizers and a cash bar provided by Poseidon Restaurant. See website for all details and to register. Race starts at 12:45 p.m. 17th Street Lifeguard Tower, Del Mar Beach.

Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Tours

Through Dec. 30. All aboard! Old Town Trolley’s “Holiday Sights & Festive Nights” tours let you explore seasonal lights and landmarks of the city—including historical Old Town (aka the birthplace of California), Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, the downtown embarcadero and Seaport Village, where you’ll stop for some extra holiday entertainment. The 75-minute tour includes a seat aboard an old-fashioned Old Town trolley, complete with carol singalongs and elf conductors who double as tour guides full of fun facts. $30 adults; $25 kids ages 4-12; free ages 3 and under. 4010 Twiggs St., Old Town, 866.754.0966.

“Wild Holidays” at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Through Jan. 1. See Safari Park aglow with family-friendly holiday fun (on select dates)—including festive lights, music, treats and experiences. The entertainment includes “Light Up the Holidays,” an area of trees that illuminate in a choreographed show set to a holiday soundtrack; visits and photos with Santa at Village Market; firefly stilt walkers (pictured) around the lagoon; the Turtle Doves violin duo; a holiday troubadour; the Bridge of Lights lighted archway; and much more. See website for hours and admission info. 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, 619.231.1515.

Winter Wonder at Belmont Park

Through Jan. 1. Celebrate by the beach! The oceanfront amusement park is offering myriad festivities—including towering holiday sculptures, a million holiday lights, seasonal treats and beverages (including a hot cocoa bar), balloon animals created by Buddy the Elf, face painting and live music. Most of the park’s usual attractions and rides are also open and decorated for the holidays, including the historical Giant Dipper roller coaster; along with restaurants such as Cannonball, Draft and Beach House. Open daily (see website for hours). Free general admission. 3146 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach.

Food + Drink

Holiday Happenings at La Valencia Hotel

Begins Dec. 1. La Jolla’s “Pink Lady” is offering an array of holiday fun. Experiences include its annual tree lighting on Thursday, with holiday treats and beverages, carolers and crafts (free entry and open to the public); “Holiday Tea at Mediterranean Room” Dec. 1-2 and select dates throughout the month—featuring exclusive French teas, scones, pastries and sandwiches; “Storytime Brunch with Santa” on select dates beginning Dec. 3; and gingerbread-house decorating with executive pastry chef Kari Cota on Dec. 19. See website for details and reservations. 1132 Prospect St., La Jolla, 855.476.6870.

Friday Lunch and Sunday Brunch at Mister A’s

Now Available. Popular as a finer-dining destination for dinner, the recently remodeled restaurant now also offers Friday lunch and Sunday brunch. End the work week with a fabulous lunch with a view, choosing from dishes such as wild-caught salmon “Wellington” and Mister A’s famous mac ‘n’ cheese. Come back for Sunday brunch and indulge in exquisite creations by pastry chef Amy Simpson (try the European bread board); and offerings like the Croque Madame sandwich and Cajun shrimp with heirloom grits. F 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Su 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 2550 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill, 619.233.1377.

Arts + Culture

The Mystery of Irma Vep at Diversionary

Dec. 1-24. Take a break from traditional holiday productions with Diversionary Theatre’s presentation of The Mystery of Irma Vep. Set in the dark moors of the English countryside, the campy comedy (billed as “a queer comic masterpiece”) melds classic B-movies with gothic horror and Victorian romance—with two performers bringing myriad colorful characters to life. Written by Charles Ludlam and co-directed by Matt M. Morrow and Allison Spratt Pearce, the show returns to Diversionary Theatre for the first time in 20 years. See website for showtimes and tickets. 4545 Park Blvd., University Heights, 619.220.0097.

2 Pianos 4 Hands at North Coast Rep

Upcoming | Dec. 7-Jan. 1. Relieve some holiday stress with a good laugh and some great music. Hilarious duo Jefferson McDonald and Matthew McGloin visit North Coast Repertory Theatre to perform their musical comedy show: 2 Pianos 4 Hands. Written by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt and directed by Tom Frey, the show centers on the two gentlemen as they share stories and tickle the ivories—remarking on their would-be careers as concert pianists; while playing everything from Billy Joel to Bach. See website for showtimes and tickets. 987 Lomas Santa Fe, Suite D, Solana Beach, 858.481.1055.

Photo credits: December Nights by Michael Warburton. Mister A’s by Kimberly Motos. 2 Pianos 4 Hands by Mikki Schaffner. All other images are courtesy of the venues and businesses featured.

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