The Ultimate Guide to the Holidays in San Diego

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Our Ultimate Guide to the Holidays in San Diego has you covered on family-friendly holiday-themed events, where to see the best Christmas lights with thanks to San Diego Family Magazine, Santa Photos and so much more!

Be sure to check out our Holiday Gift Guide. 

Tag us in your instagram pics this holiday season. #SDMoms

Use the buttons below to navigate to that section of the guide.

Holiday Festivals (Multi-Day Experiences)

seaworld christmas san diego

Celebrate Christmas at SeaWorld
Now – January 4th

There’s no hold on holiday cheer this year! SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration brings families together with priceless traditions and fun-filled surprises, with enhanced safety measures in place – because Christmas is meant to be merry and bright.

Location: 500 Sea World Dr., San Diego, CA 92109

santa during holidays

Skypark at Santa’s Village
Now– January 8th

Hundreds of years ago, Santa Claus crash-landed in the NorthWoods when his magic key was stolen by the trickster Jack Frost. Fortunately, Santa was found by Arrow, the guardian of the NorthWoods, and together they recovered the lost key. Check the Entertainment Schedule when you arrive for showtimes, character meet-and-greets, and special events.

Location: 28950 California 18, Skyforest, CA 92385

snow and glow

Snow N Glow Holiday Festival
December 8th – January 1st | Del Mar Fairgrounds

Gather your family and friends and get ready to make some Holiday memories at the Snow N Glow Holiday Festival in Del Mar! This winter, the Del Mar Fairgrounds will be transformed into San Diego’s holiday headquarters at the Snow N Glow Holiday Festival, featuring major attractions designed to make your holiday spirits BRIGHT! Roast s’mores, rent a private igloo, snow tubing and holiday lights create the ultimate winter wonderland.

SNOW • Snow Tubing & Fresh made snow daily
Kids (and adults who are kids-at-heart) can snow tube down the 100ft Snow Hill, made with real snow! ; fresh snow is made daily.

GLOW • 1 Million Glowing Lights
Sip on hot cocoa while you stroll through a million festive lights! Or, take a ride on the century wheel to view the lights from above. This winter wonderland of glowing lights are here to make your holidays bright.

PRIVATE IGLOO RENTAL
Rent an igloo for a private party, perfect to create your perfect holiday experience! Wanna get even swankier? The Holiday Magic Igloo includes fresh snow delivered direct to your Igloo, perfect to build your own snowman, make snow angels, or create your Instagram-worthy family photos.

FREE VISITS WITH SANTA AND FRIENDS DAILY
Naughty or Nice? Mail a letter to Santa or visit with Santa and his friends daily!

Location: Del Mar Fairgrounds – 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Del Mar, 92014

Holiday

Tree Lighting Events & Holiday Parades
Saturday, December 3rd

Tree Lighting in San Marcos
Crafts, activities and more. 1–7 pm. Tree lighting, 5:35 pm. Address: San Marcos Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Dr. 
 

Fallbrook Christmas Parade

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” theme with lighted floats, Santa Claus and more. 5–8 pm. Address: Downtown Fallbrook. 

Ramona Christmas Tree Lighting
Carolers, kids crafts and more. 5–9 pm. Tree lighting, 7 pm. Address: 645 Main St. 
Ocean Beach Holiday Parade

Newport Avenue is lined with colorful OBceans and visitors all eagerly awaiting the commencement of the 43nd Annual OB Holiday Parade at 5:05pm. Address: Newport Ave. 

Winter Wonder at Belmont Park
Now through January 1st

Immerse yourself in the ultimate beachside Winter Wonderland from November 11th through January 1st. Belmont Park is bringing families and friends together for the holiday season with its fourth annual Winter Wonder holiday spectacular. Enjoy festive rides and attractions including the iconic Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, your favorite oversized sculptures or sip on holiday-inspired drinks while you stroll through the Midway under a million lights!

december nights balboa san diego

December Nights at Balboa Park
Friday, December 2nd – Saturday, December 3rd

For more than 40 years, the San Diego community has celebrated the annual December Nights at Balboa Park. The family friendly event brings San Diegans together to enjoy the lights, the sounds, the attractions and of course, the amazing food.

Hours:

  • Friday, December 2nd from 3pm-11pm
  • Saturday, December 3rd from 11am-11pm
igloo for rent in san diego

Share a unique Beachside Igloo featuring a cozy living room comfortably accommodating up to 6 guests. The experience also includes a roaring fire pit, the makings for premium s’mores, plus two Hotel del Coronado blankets. Each private Beachside Igloo reservation is 2 hours long and seats up to 6 guests. Outside food is not permitted.

Beachside Igloo Pricing: $400 – Monday – Thursday & $500 – Friday – Sunday
Location: 1500 Orange Ave.Coronado, CA 92118

Holidays in San Diego SD Botanic Lights

Lightscape at the San Diego Botanic Garden
November 18th – January 1st

Lightscape illuminates evenings at San Diego Botanic Garden with more than one million holiday lights, tunnels, fire, sculptures and artistic installations. Set along a beautifully illuminated, one-mile walking trail custom-designed for SDBG. Reserve your tickets and parking today to celebrate the holidays with SDBG! The six week run starts the weekend before Thanksgiving and continues through New Year’s Day.

November 18-20, 23, 25-27
December 1-4, 8-11, 14-23, 26-31
January 1

san diego trolley during holidays

Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights and Sights Tour
Dec. 3rd-24th and Dec. 26th-30th, 2022.

When it comes to the holiday season, San Diegans do it better than most. Whether with holiday tamales and margaritas, watching the parade of lights on San Diego Bay, or seeking out local holiday traditions, a San Diego Feliz Navidad day is in order. Because of our year-round picture-perfect weather here, sometimes we need reminding when the holidays are approaching. But when they do, we go all out! For a full-on, unique experience in ‘America’s Finest City,’ take an Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Sights & Festive Nights Tour and ride a wave of holiday cheer!

nutcracker

The Nutcracker 2022
December 8th – 18th

Celebrate the holiday season at the ballet in Balboa Park by taking an extraordinary journey to the magical Land of the Sweets with brave young Clara and her Nutcracker Prince in San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s beloved annual production of The Nutcracker. 

Witness an epic battle between toy soldiers and mice before being whisked away to an enchanting land of falling snow, waltzing flowers, and the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy! This classic holiday production is a cherished San Diego tradition at the historic Casa del Prado Theater. All tickets are just $25. 

grinch holiday play san diego

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a wonderful, whimsical musical based upon the classic Dr. Seuss book. Back for another incredible year, the family favorite features the songs “Santa for a Day,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and “Welcome, Christmas (Fah Who Doraze),” the delightful carol from the popular animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Celebrate the holidays as the Old Globe Theatre is once again transformed into the snow-covered Who-ville, right down to the last can of Who-hash.

holiday market san diego flyer

Holiday Market & Trail At Petco Park
 December 1st – December 23rd

The Holiday Market at Petco Park is returning for a third year at Petco Park! The popular market will be bigger and better this year with even more food, beverage and artisan vendors. This year’s market will feature local artisan shops, magical Christmas lighting displays, seasonal food and beverage, Santa and other holiday characters! Holiday festivities will run for (18) nights between December 1 – December 23, 2022.

holiday skating by hotel del san diego

Skating by the Sea® at Hotel del Coronado will returning for the 2022 holiday season. This spectacular beachfront ice rink features stunning views of the Pacific and benefits Make-A-Wish® San Diego. Guests can also reserve the rink-side or ocean-side Frostbite Lounge with plush seating, roaring fire pits, holiday-themed libations, and delectable bites. 

Location: 1500 Orange Ave.Coronado, CA 92118

jungle bells at zoo - holidays in san diego

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
December 9th – January 1st

Ring in the holiday season with the Zoo’s annual celebration, Jungle Bells proudly supported by California Coast Credit Union. The festivities include lighted displays, musical performances, animal views, and fun, safe, socially-distanced entertainment. ‘Tis the Season to celebrate—join us for holiday cheer! Jungle Bells is included with all admission tickets and memberships.
Location: 100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101

legoland holiday in san diego

Holidays at LEGOLAND
November 19th-27th, December 3rd-4th, 10th-11th, 17th-30th, and January 1st, 7th-8th

It’s time for Holidays at LEGOLAND®, where the Resort is bursting with holiday cheer and festive décor! Your favorite holiday characters Santa, the Toy Solider and Gingerbread Man are back and ready for socially distanced meet-and-greets. Head over to Fun Town where there’s a 30-foot, fully decorated LEGO® Christmas tree with over 400 LEGO ornaments. Need more pictures? Witness our life-size model of LEGO Santa on his sleigh that’s pulled by his trusted reindeer. 

holiday lights in san diego

At First Light” Lightshow Spectacular at the Hotel Del
November 17th – January 1st from 5-9pm

Enhanced for 2022, the grove of towering Norfolk Island Pines on the Founders Lawn is the scene of an even more dynamic light show orchestrated to music, a brilliant ethereal experience that captivates guests with a finale of snow flurries. The complimentary 11-minute show takes place every 30 minutes from 5-9pm nightly.

Location: 1500 Orange Ave.Coronado, CA 92118

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
December 11th & 18th at 5:30pm

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community. This year, for the 6th time, the parade will proceed to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park before making the turn to Coronado, giving spectators another area to view the parade. Location: Port of San Diego, 1449 Cesar E. Chavez Pkwy, San Diego, CA 92101

Holiday Special Events

San Diego Outdoor Ice Rinks

November 17, 2022 - January 8, 2023
While we may not have snow in the city of San Diego, we do have plenty of outdoor ice rinks with bea...

Marche de Noel / Winter Fair

December 9 @ 2:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Join us for annual Marche de Noel / Winter Fair! You will enjoy a fun afternoon of holiday shopping,...

Wild Winter at Helen Woodward Animal Center

December 10 @ 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Wild Winter 2022 Perfect for families with toddlers through elementary aged children, our animals am...

Holiday Moonlight Cinema: “The Grinch”

December 10 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
FREE Holiday Moonlight Cinema: “The Grinch.” Santa will be available for pictures. Bring blanket...

Photos with Santa

Holidays in San Diego Photo with Santa

Photos with Santa at Seaport Village
November 5th – December 30th (Check times)

Capture the magic of the holiday season in a photo with Seaport’s resident Santa Claus in a delightful San Diego waterfront setting on the harbor. No appointment necessary. 

Seaport Village: 849 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Jamul

Santa’s Treehouse Jamul
Reservations Required 

The Annual ‘Portraits with Santa’ Fundraising Event at Santa’s Treehouse Jamul is back! Get your Professional Family Portraits and help us sponsor families in need this Holiday Season.  $60 Per Family

Location: Jamul, CA

westfield

Westfield Mall UTC
November 17th – December 24th (Times Vary)

The most wonderful time of year — Santa’s here! ‘Tis the season for pics with St. Nick. Don’t miss out capturing merry pics with Santa. Make your reservations here. We encourage pre-booking your Santa Magic photo experience. Walk-up visits are available as space permits.

Location: Westfield UTC, near Tesla: 

Christmas Trees

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Ready to find your perfect Christmas Tree? 

Visit ItsChristmasKeepitReal.com, they have made it so simple to find the perfect Christmas tree for your family. Simply enter your zip code and they will find local farms and retailers near you.

Or if you don’t want to go out to shop? Some locations even offer real Christmas trees in online sales with home delivery!  

Use #KeepItRealWithSDM and show us your beautiful trees.

Want to add your holiday themed event to the calendar? Complete the form below and someone will reach out within 24 hours. 

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