San Diego

Weekend roundup

November 30-December 3


“December Nights” at Balboa Park

Dec. 1-2. 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—from ballet to bands to choirs and chorales to puppetry. The park will be decked out in holiday decor and lights; along with a Family Zone offering 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

Old Town Trolley Holiday Tours

Dec. 1-30. All aboard! Old Town Trolley’s “Holiday Sights & Festive Nights” tours let you explore the seasonal decorations, lights and landmarks of the city—including historical Old Town (the birthplace of California), Balboa Park, Bankers Hill, the downtown embarcadero and Seaport Village, where you’ll stop for some extra holiday entertainment. The 90-minute tours include 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. See website for ticket pricing. 4010 Twiggs St., Old Town, 866.754.0966. More Info

Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

Dec. 2. 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.

Chula Vista Starlight Parade & Festival

Dec. 3. Chula Vista’s Starlight Parade & Festival returns after a three-year hiatus. Festivities include family photo ops with Santa; a ride aboard the Chula Vista Express; the official lighting ceremony of a 25-foot-tall Christmas tree; live music on stage at Memorial Park; plenty of local food, drinks and decorations; and a parade with more than 100 entrants—including floats, classic cars, dance teams and marching bands. Starting at 3 p.m.; tree lighting at 5:45 p.m.; parade begins at 6 p.m. Free entry. Third Avenue (between H and E streets), downtown Chula Vista.

Food + Drink

The Red Chickz Nashville Hot Chicken

Opens Dec. 2. Touted as the “crunchiest hot chicken,” L.A. hotspot The Red Chickz Nashville Hot Chicken opens its first San Diego County location at The Shoppes at Carlsbad. Be one of the first 100 guests to stop by on Saturday and receive a free Honey Butter Chicken Sandwich (the newest menu creation) with the purchase of any full price menu item. In addition to its famous wings, the eatery makes a mean French toast sandwich; plus hot cauliflower bites, cheese curds, wedge fries and more. See website for hours. 2525 El Camino Real, #217, Carlsbad.

Del Mar Winter Taste & Sip

Dec. 3. As part of Del Mar’s “North Pole by the Sea” holiday celebration, the Del Mar Village Association and Del Mar Plaza present a “Winter Taste & Sip.” Take a leisurely stroll through town, stopping for sips and bites at local restaurants and businesses—including Il Fornaio, Monarch Ocean Pub, Pacifica Del Mar and more—plus live music and a commemorative GoVino tasting glass. 1-4 p.m.; holiday tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person ($40 for taste-only tickets and those under age 21). Along Camino del Mar, Del Mar Village. More Info

“Miracle” at Draft at Belmont Park

Through Dec. 31. Belmont Park’s oceanfront restaurant Draft has been transformed into “Miracle,” a Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar. The experience comprises over-the-top holiday decorations and exclusive libations served in collectible mugs like the Santa’s Head and Christmas Carol Barrel (pictured). Try the “Christmapolitan” made with vodka, elderflower, dry vermouth, spiced cranberry sauce, lime, rosemary and absinthe mist; and the Snowball Old-Fashioned with rye whiskey, gingerbread, aromatic bitters and orange essence. 3105 Ocean Front Walk, Suite B, Mission Beach. Reservations

Holiday Tea at The Westgate Hotel

Select Dates. It’s high time for teatime at the Westgate Hotel—offering two fun holiday tea experiences. The kiddos will love “Santa’s Story Time Tea” at Le Fontainebleu & Petit Salon—featuring storytelling by Santa himself, hot chocolate, sandwiches, desserts, holiday music and a keepsake teddy bear for each child. Geared toward adults, “Winter Wonderland Tea” in the beautifully decorated Grand Lobby includes premium teas, a glass of Champagne, tea sandwiches, pastries and music by a live harpist. See website for dates offered and reservations. 1055 Second Ave., downtown, 619.238.1818.

Arts + Culture

Cygnet Theatre’s A Christmas Carol

Dec. 1-30. Step inside a Victorian Christmas card and follow cantankerous banker Ebenezer Scrooge through a ghost-filled night with Cygnet Theatre’s staging of A Christmas Carol—back for its eighth season at Old Town Theatre. Adapted and directed by Sean Murray (pictured)—who also portrays lead role of Scrooge for the second time—the family-friendly show features original music by Billy Thompson, live sound effects and puppetry. See website for showtimes and tickets. (And arrive early for an audience holiday singalong led by cast members.) 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town, 619.337.1525.

San Diego Opera’s El Milagro del Recuerdo

Dec. 1 & 3. Get into the holiday spirit Friday and Sunday, when the San Diego Opera presents El Milagro del Recuerdo (The Miracle of Remembering) at the Civic Theatre. Sung in Spanish, it’s an endearing holiday mariachi opera centered on two women in Michoacán, Mexico, whose husbands work as braceros in the U.S. and work to make it home for Christmas. The opera features music by Javier Martínez; with libretto by Leonard Foglia. Mezzo-soprano Sishel Claverie (pictured) portrays Renata. F 7:30 p.m.; Su 2 p.m. See website for tickets. 1100 Third Ave., downtown.

Photo credits: “December Nights” by Michael Warburton. “Miracle” by Melissa Hom. Cygnet Theatre by Karli Cadel. All other images are courtesy of the venues and businesses featured.

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