With so many holiday happenings in San Diego, it’s difficult to choose just one – so start planning now and check out as many of these awesome events as possible. Escape some of that holiday stress and enjoy all of the festive activities that San Diego has to offer before the season is over. Most of these events go until January, so don’t panic if you don’t have time to check them out before Christmas!
1. Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
Wintertime brings something special to the San Diego Zoo: the Jungle Bells celebration! During December, lighted sculptures of animals and storybook characters fill the grounds while guests are treated to holiday music and foods, crafts, games, and special presentations. It’s the perfect family outing to join in the spirit of the season! This year, enjoy 4-D movies, ride the Twinkle Light Trolley, journey through the Northern Frontier’s Holiday Forest, check out Santa’s Igloo, and enjoy several different holiday-themed animal experiences. Goes until January 4.
2. Ice Skate Outdoors
San Diego is home to a couple of outdoor ice skating rinks during the holiday season:
– The Hotel Del Coronado: Skate by the sea at this 10,000 square-foot rink on the waterfront. 1500 Orange Ave., Coronado 92118. Hours vary.
– Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice in Horton Square: In downtown San Diego, next to Horton Plaza, you can ice skate and benefit a good cause – all proceeds go to the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. 225 Broadway Circle, San Diego 92101.
– Viejas Outlet Center Ice Rink: Hang out at Southern California’s largest outdoor ice skating rink! 5005 Willows Rd Suite 229, Alpine 91901. Open until 10pm daily.
3. 2014 Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade
On Friday Dec 26 from 3pm to 4:30pm, the scenic streets of downtown San Diego will come alive with the 2014 Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade! The event brings together world-class marching bands, magnificent floats, entertaining drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons- more than any other parade! Over 100,000 street-side spectators will enjoy the parade along with a nationwide television audience. West Cedar St., San Diego 92101
4. See The Nutcracker Downtown
It just isn’t the holidays without The Nutcracker, which comes to magical life this December at the San Diego Civic Theatre with a live orchestra! Audiences of all ages will enjoy the magical story of Clara, who dreams that her new toy nutcracker soldier has come to life. The performance only goes until Dec 21, so hurry and buy tickets at californiaballet.org/nutcracker today. It’s suitable for audiences of all ages and a perfect way to introduce younger children to ballet theater! 3rd Avenue & B Street, San Diego 92101.
5. Tour the City’s Christmas Lights
Check out our ultimate guide to the best Christmas lights in San Diego and pack up the family SUV, some hot chocolate, and make a night of viewing some sparkle in America’s Finest City this week.
6. See How The Grinch Stole Christmas at the Old Globe
The Dr. Seuss classic will be at the Old Globe Theater until December 27 this year. 11am matinee performances are open to all ages, so bring the kids and celebrate the holidays as the Old Globe Theatre is once again transformed into the snow-covered Whoville, right down to the last can of Who-hash!
7. Holiday Snow Days & Winter Nights at LegoLand
Build a snowman with LEGO accessories and throw real snowballs at colorful targets; ride snow tubes down a hill; and brand new this year, go ice skating! Experience the magic of Winter Nights with shows, music, and twinkling lights. There’s even a food truck with yummy treats served by Santa’s Elves. Stay for the nightly fireworks over Miniland USA, from Dec 26 – 30. Plus, receive a FREE ticket to return when you visit Legoland between Nov. 1, 2014 and Jan. 4, 2015! One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad 92008.
8. See Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Old Town
From now until December 28, the Old Town Theatre invites you to start your own family tradition! This season welcomes the return of the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, adapted by Sean Murray from Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of hope and redemption. This re-imagined, fully staged production features original new music, creative stagecraft and puppetry, and live sound effects. Step into a Victorian Christmas card for a unique storytelling experience that is sure to delight the entire family! 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego 92110
9. Visit The Garden of Lights in Encinitas
From now until December 30 (closed the 24th & 25th), the Botanical Gardens in Encinitas are transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland! After dark, over 100,000 sparkling lights illuminate the Garden for a truly magical holiday experience. Join in the fun that includes horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, live music, refreshments and hot mulled wine. Snow also ‘falls’ on select nights! Visit sdbgarden.org for details. 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas 92024.
10. Enjoy Some Holiday Football at Qualcomm
Qualcomm Stadium gears up for another Bowl season this holiday! The Poinsettia Bowl kicks off on Tuesday, Dec 23 at 6:30pm between SDSU and the Navy. The Holiday Bowl kicks off on Saturday Dec 27 at 5pm and will be a showdown between the USC Trojans and Nebraska. Get tickets online or watch from home.
11. Run the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon
On Sunday December 28 at 7:30am, young and old alike will join forces to take on the annual Holiday Half Marathon! If you missed it in 2013 or you’re dying to run it again, the 2nd Annual San Diego Holiday Half Marathon is the same fast 13.1-mile course that starts in Rancho Penasquitos, travels along the 56 bike path and finishes at the beautiful Torrey Pines State Beach. This popular winter half was a hit in 2013 and sure to sell out as it did last year. There are only a few hundred spots left – visit sandiegoholidayhalf.com to register.
[images: daytrippingmom.com, thelog.com, nywaterway.com, utsandiego.com]
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