We all have our favorite holiday events that we partake in every year such as parades, festivals, shows, community tree lighting events, and caroling, among others. San Diego has no shortage of holiday fun for the family!
Some of my favorite holiday activities are free!
Here are a few events and activities happening this month in San Diego that are totally free or free admission is offered.
Hotel Del Coronado
A favorite family tradition in my house is to head to the Hotel Del before sunset and grab a table on the back deck overlooking the ocean. We order hot drinks and food and watch the sun go down. Afterwards, the Hotel Del lights up gloriously and we stroll around the grounds checking out the lights and the ice skating rink. We then go inside the lobby to look at the Christmas tree. The lobby is full of families taking photos in front of the tree. It’s a magical time. (This one isn’t totally free if you order food and/or drinks!).
Christmas Light Displays
A second favorite holiday activity for my family is perusing neighborhoods and looking at entire streets aglow with decorations. Some of these neighborhoods are amazing. Residences come together for a lighted extravaganza, and you really do feel the love. A holiday hot spot is in El Cajon. Jingle Bell Hills – also known as Pepper Drive Lights – is located off the 67 and Bradley on Solomon Ave./Pegeen Pl. and surrounding area. San Diego Family has posted its 2013 Map of Christmas Lights. Check it out!
Balboa Park December Nights
In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Now in its 36th year, December Nights features features sparkling lights; multicultural music and dance performances; carolers, bell-ringers, choirs and bands; and food throughout the Park.
Winter Wonderland in Escondido
The California Center for the Arts invites everyone from the community to enjoy their free holiday event that features art activities for children, live music, food and real snow! On Saturday, Dec. 7 from 3-8 p.m., families can also enjoy costumed performers, cookies and cocoa, and visits with Santa.
East County Family YMCA Holiday Fair
All three YMCA locations in East County will be celebrating the holiday season on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Locations include La Mesa, Santee, and Spring Valley. There will be holiday arts, crafts, a bounce house, and plenty of holiday-themed treats and games!
Holiday in the Park
Enjoy performances, caroling around the fire, music, dancing, and more at Old Town San Diego on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 5-9 p.m.
Santa by the Sea
Bring your own camera for pictures with Santa & holiday music by the Original Dickens Carolers. Sunday, Dec. 15 and Saturday, Dec. 21 from 2-5 p.m. at L’Auberge Amphitheater in Del Mar.
This centuries-old tradition is being celebrated in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park with the reenactment of the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem. Featuring carolers and children’s choirs. Sunday, Dec. 15 from 2-6 p.m.
Enjoy an evening of caroling and an old-fashioned sing-along! Gina Seashore, known locally as “That Music Lady,” and her musicians will be leading the caroling. Mt. Helix Park in La Mesa. Sunday, Dec. 15 from 6:30-8 p.m.
Free Family Movie
Head to the Kroc Center’s Joan B. Kroc Theatre on Dec. 22 at 12:30 p.m. to watch the family movie, Silver Bells. Here’s the trailer.
Many areas around San Diego celebrate the holidays in the heart of their very own community.
- Downtown Chula Vista: Holiday in the Village – Dec. 7 from 12-5 p.m. Children have the opportunity to visit Santa Claus, take part in cookie decorating, play games, and more.
- Village of Del Mar: Holidays in the Heart of Del Mar Village – Dec. 7 from 2-5 p.m. Bring your own camera for pictures with Santa & Mrs. Claus, tree lighting, carolers, dance performances, and the movie “Elf.”
- Little Italy: Tree Lighting & Christmas Village – Dec. 7 from 4-8 p.m. Jolly Ole Saint Nick will be arriving at 4:30pm on Little Italy Fire Engine 3, plus enjoy live music.
- South Park: Luminaria Walkabout – Dec. 7 from 6-10 p.m. A fun-filled evening festival with entertainment, holiday music, boutiques and galleries open late, and the Luminaria lights.
- Cardiff: Kringle Mingle – Dec. 8 from 1-5 p.m. Featuring musical performances by Ada Harris Wildcat Band, Devine School for Guitar, Bucket Ruckus, and Hullabaloo.
- Solana Beach: Holiday Tree Lighting – Dec. 8 from 5-7 p.m. Enjoy cookies, live music, and a visit from Santa.
- National City: 6th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration – Thursday, Dec. 12 from 5-8 p.m. Featuring live music, museum tours, Ballet Folklorico presentation, arts and crafts, classic car show, and Santa Claus.
- La Mesa: Christmas in the Village – Dec. 13 & 14 from 5-10 p.m. The Village of La Mesa is transformed into a Victorian Wonderland with strolling minstrels, carolers and street entertainers, holiday parade, live music, horse drawn carriages, bonfire, carnival rides, puppet shows, and, of course, Santa!
- Poway: Christmas in the Park – Dec. 14 from 3:30-8:30 p.m. A Poway tradition, Christmas in the Park features many activities including children’s theater, singing and dance performances, Santa and Mrs. Claus, tree lighting, petting zoo, caroling, and much more.
We love parades! There are plenty to choose from this time of the year.
- Coronado Christmas Parade and Open House – Dec. 6, 3 p.m.
- Alpine Parade of Lights & Snow Festival – Dec. 6, 6:30 p.m.
- North Park Toyland Parade & Festival – Dec. 7, 11 a.m.
- Vista Christmas Parade – Dec. 7, 1 p.m.
- Encinitas Holiday Parade – Dec. 7, 5 p.m.
- 34th Annual Ocean Beach Holiday Parade – Dec. 7, 5:05 p.m.
- Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade – Dec. 8, 1 p.m.
- La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival – Dec. 8, 2 p.m.
- San Diego Bay Parade of Lights – Dec. 8 & 15, 5:30 p.m.
All these events and more can be found on the Event Calendar at SoCal Kids San Diego.
Also read this holiday Post: Holiday Events in San Diego.