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Local Holiday Events in San Diego

Author 11-04-2016

With mild, balmy temperatures that you won’t find anywhere else during this time of year, San Diego, California makes for the perfect holiday season destination. Even better than the weather, there are a ton of exciting upcoming events that are sure to get you into the holiday spirit!

From November through January, San Diego celebrates the holidays with parades, Santa appearances, Christmas shows, and a multitude of lights. However, there are a number of other cool events in between as well, perfectly-timed for the holiday season. Below, we’ve put together a brief list of a few of our favorite events going on over the next several months. We hope that you enjoy these events as much as we do! Happy holidays!


The revelry begins in San Diego with San Diego Beer Week, which will occur from November 4th through November 13th. During Beer Week, the San Diego Brewers Guild Festival will be held in Downtown San Diego on November 5th. Immediately after Beer Week, San Diego hosts the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival in the downtown area as well, from November 14th through November 20th.

While the celebrations listed above are more geared towards adults, children are sure to love the historical street fair for kids known as the Fall Back Festival, which will be hosted in Downtown San Diego at the Gaslamp Museum’s Davis-Horton House on November 6th. The Annual Mother Goose Parade (a massive holiday celebration in El Cajon) on November 20th and Santa’s arrival on surfboard at the Seaport Village on November 26th are also guaranteed crowd-pleasers, in the unique tradition of San Diego.

San Diego also commemorates the sacrifices of our country’s veterans on November 11th (Veterans Day) with the Veterans Day Celebration at the USS Midway Museum, which gives free admission for veterans and families, and the Veterans Day Parade hosted by the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center in Downtown San Diego.

You can round off the month of November with the dulcet tunes of the San Diego Jazz Fest, held in Mission Valley and Old Town San Diego from November 23rd through November 27th, or with the lively entertainment of A Drag Queen Christmas at the Historic Balboa Theatre in Downtown San Diego on November 29th.


One of San Diego’s most famous celebrations is December Nights at Balboa Park—a two-day holiday annual event that takes place on December 2nd and 3rd this year and features delicious food and drinks, plentiful musical and theatrical entertainment, and a multitude of holiday lights. You can also take the Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights and Sights Tour from December 2nd through December 30th for an exquisite tour experience of the San Diego festivities, or visit the Old Town State Historic Park for its Twelve Days of Christmas celebrations on December 10th and 11th.

Performances of the classic ballet show The Nutcracker will be put on by City Ballet from December 9th through December 23rd and by the California Ballet Company from December 10th through December 24th.

The month of December also brings on a myriad of light displays and other festive parades, including the drive-thru light display at the Del Mar Fairgrounds Racetrack open all season long, the Holiday Pet Parade in the Gaslamp Quarter on December 11th, and the Parade of Lights on San Diego Bay, which can be seen from Downtown San Diego, Coronado, and Point Loma starting December 11th through December 18th.

For a change of pace, you can finish off the year at the San Diego International Auto Show from December 29th through January 2nd, and live it up on New Year’s Eve in the Gaslamp Quarter’s many bars and clubs.


From November 5th through December 26th, the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park will be showing live performances of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Fantasty On Ice performances at Liberty Station’s outdoor ice skating rink will take place from November 17th through January 3rd, and you can ice skate on the beach yourself at Hotel Del Coronado’s Skating by the Sea event, which begins November 23rd and ends during the first week of January. The San Diego Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland during Jungle Bells, an event that begins December 9th and lasts until January 2nd.

This is also the season in which the annual migration of California Gray Whales to Baja California takes place, making December and January two of the most ideal months for whale watching cruises or watching whales from Point Loma.

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