San Diego Holiday Events - One Paseo
Credit: Enjet Media

13 Fun and Festive Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in San Diego

San Diego Is All Things Merry and Bright This Winter Season!

We’ll be home for Christmas—and if that home is in San Diego, you know very well that the holiday season will bring just as much sunshine as it does shimmering seasonal lights. Snow may not be in the forecast, but you can count on the city to be lit up all season with festive events and limited-time pop-ups in every area of town! We’ll always have our favorite Christmas traditions, but there’s always room for a few more. Ignite all of your senses—whether through music, interactive displays or a sit-down dinner—with these 13 ways to celebrate the holidays in San Diego!

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Holidays at Lakehouse Resort

Dates: Dec. 1-24

Holidays San Diego
Credit: Diana Rose Photography

Trade the bustling San Diego beaches for a bit of a different waterfront experience by treating yourself to a relaxing lakeside getaway at Lakehouse Resort in San Marcos! Make it a couples staycation in a lakefront cottage or a family getaway in a complete family suite as you take advantage of top-tier dining, a coastal foothill golf course, a full-service marina and so much more! Steal some winter San Diego sun with a boat rental or a stand-up paddleboard session before returning to their many seasonal-themed events back at the resort. During the holidays, the lakeside lawn is transformed into a fully decorated winter wonderland, offering train rides through the light tunnel, Saturday photos with Santa and even complimentary candy cane cruises on the lake for guests! Make sure to reserve the popular limited-time holiday igloos as well; it’s a two-hour exclusive winter dining experience right on the lake, complete with two bottles of wine, a hearty charcuterie board, a dessert board and full bar service.

Location: San Marcos



Skating by the Sea at Hotel del Coronado

Dates: Nov. 17-Jan. 7

It’s smooth skating into the season at Hotel del Coronado’s Skating by the Sea event! A local favorite holiday activity year after year, the iconic Coronado hotel sets up an ice rink adjacent to the ocean, complete with holiday lights and music to give us all the festive feels. Stay a while and reserve a seat at Rinkside Lounge, offering holiday-themed bites and beverages, or simply skate to your heart’s content. Tickets include skate rentals and 90 minutes of rink time and must be purchased in advance.

Location: Coronado


Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

Date: Dec. 2, 4-8 p.m.

Holidays San Diego
Credit: Little Italy Association

Welcome the holiday season in the most sparkling way you can think of: with a Christmas tree lighting in one of the most charming neighborhoods of San Diego. The Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village features holiday gift vendors, live music, sweet treats and larger-than-life holiday decor that transforms the streets of Little Italy into a winter wonderland! The official lighting of the 25-foot tree will be happening in the Piazza de la Famiglia at 6:30 p.m.

Location: Little Italy



The 53rd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights 

Dates: Dec. 10 and 17

If you’ve been looking for a way to celebrate the holidays the San Diego way, you’ve found it. Each year, boat captains and Christmas fanatics alike look forward to the nautical nativity that is the annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights! Boats of every size deck out with creative light displays from deck to sail to dazzle those on land. This year’s theme is Christmas traditions around the world—see what the sailors come up with and grab a seat on the bayside anywhere from Shelter Island to the Ferry Landing on Coronado. Check the website to see when the parade will be going by each viewing location!

Location: San Diego Bay 


Lightscape at San Diego Botanic Garden

Dates: Nov. 17.-Jan. 1

Credit: Courtesy of Lightscape

Every winter season, Mother Nature meets the wonder of light at the San Diego Botanic Garden to create a vibrant show of splendor for all the senses. Happening nightly from mid-November through New Year’s Day, experience a 1-mile loop of larger-than-life art installations and beautiful botanics supporting your every step. There’s even concessions located along the trail stocked with food, snacks and alcoholic beverages to satisfy any cravings during your visit. Many nights sell out, and pricing depends on peak dates, so book early to guarantee your evening of grandeur!

Location: Encinitas



Balboa Park December Nights

Dates: Dec. 1 and 2

Credit: Nat Biendara Wilson, BPCP

Possibly the most seasonally awaited event in San Diego is Balboa Park’s annual December Nights! Held for only the first weekend in December, this event allows guests to witness the historical Balboa Park transform into a winter wonderland complete with nativity scene displays, festive lights, magical music performances and delicious food vendors at every turn. Treat yourself to a cup of hot cocoa and a sweet treat while you experience the park’s enchantment. The event is free and takes place from 3 to 11 p.m. on Dec. 1 and 2.

Location: Balboa Park


San Diego Santa Run

Date: ​Dec. 9

Holidays San Diego
Credit: 3pixstudios

Run, run Rudolph! Though it’s clear his trusty reindeer pals do most of the heavy lifting, there’s nothing like seeing sizable amounts of Santa Clauses running through the streets of San Diego. Join in on the 11th annual Santa Run, attracting nearly 25,000 runners in years’ past right by the beach. The 5K begins at 8:30 a.m, with the Pacific Beach holiday parade to follow at noon. All runners receive their very own Sunny Santa suit, Santa Run sunglasses, chip timing, custom bib and complimentary drink ticket!

Location: Pacific Beach


One Paseo Holiday Festivities

Dates: Nov. 17-Dec. 17

Credit: ENJET

Not only is One Paseo in Del Mar your one-stop shop for collecting all of the family’s holiday gifts, but it’s also home to a ton of holiday events happening throughout the season! December Nights will be happening every Friday and Saturday in December from 5  to 7 p.m, transforming the village into a winter wonderland complete with snowfall and twinkling lights. Check the center’s events page for other pop-ups like cocoa with Santa on Dec. 17, a menorah lighting ceremony on Dec. 12 and more.

Location: Del Mar


Noel Noel at The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park 

Dates: Dec. 15 – 17

With arguably the best acoustics any venue has to offer, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is a carefully designed, state-of-the-art venue home to the talents of the San Diego Symphony. Catch Noel Noel happening Dec. 15-17—a magical performance put on by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Master Chorale and the San Diego Children’s Choir. Get in the spirit with an evening of Christmas classics and sing-alongs accompanied by seasonal beverages and treats for purchase.

Location: The Embarcadero


North Pole by the Sea at Del Mar Village

Date: Dec. 3

Holidays San Diego

The North Pole never looked so good. Not that we can say we’ve officially been to the real one, but Del Mar Village sure feels like it transports us there. Happening Dec. 3 at 1 p.m, the shopping space has every holiday must-do of the season: photos with Santa, carolers and characters roaming around, hot chocolate and adult drinks for sale and even a celebratory Christmas tree lighting at 5 p.m. for the final star on top!

Location: Del Mar


Coastal Christmas at Del Mar Fairgrounds 

Dates: Dec. 14-31

Credit: Coastal Christmas Del Mar

‘Tis the city for a holiday by the sea. This December, Del Mar Fairgrounds is transforming its versatile events space into a winter wonderland with attractions for the whole family! Complete with a walk-through light show spectacular, a festive skate rink, photo ops with Santa, a holiday market and a themed play area for the kids, something fun awaits all. Check their site for special events, such as Disney-themed character appearances and ugly sweater nights.

Location: Del Mar


Santa’s Lair Pop-Up Speakeasy

Dates: Thursdays-Sundays from Nov. 22 to Dec. 30 

Holidays San Diego
Credit: Alex Vargas

The guy works hard, so of course he’s got his own little secret hideaway—and this year, St. Nick is giving us a peek into his off-duty life with the Santa’s Lair Pop-Up Speakeasy at Parq Nightclub! Reserve your 90-minute spot ahead of time and head down to the Gaslamp Quarter for a night of holiday immersion and seasonal sips. Decorated from floor-to-ceiling with Christmas lights, disco balls and more, Parq invites guests to get cozy with a Christmas cocktail like the Candy Cane-tini: peppermint patty cold brew, vanilla vodka, chocolate liqueur and cinnamon cream.

Location: Gaslamp Quarter


Maker’s Arcade Holiday Fair

Dates: Dec. 2 and 3

Sure, the elves might consistently make some pretty great toys, but have you seen the innovation and craftsmanship that’s hiding right in your neighborhood? Check out artists of every kind at the Maker’s Arcade Holiday Fair, held at the Broadway Pier and boasting over 120 vendors selling crafts, candles, blankets, plants and more! Enjoy food trucks, craft cocktails, a photo booth and DIY make-and-take stations; it’s truly the best of local shopping you’ll find for the holidays. For only $7 at the door, it’s a steal of a retail event!

Location: Broadway Pier

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Jaclyn is a sunshine chasing San Diego native with an extensive writing background. When she isn’t word-smithing, you can find her playing beach volleyball, skating the boardwalk, or on a rooftop enjoying a drink in the sunshine with her pals.




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