The Best December Holiday Events in San Diego

Hotel Del Coronado Christmas

If you’re looking for the perfect non-snowy locale to celebrate the holiday season, San Diego is the place for you! December Holiday events in San Diego are always some of my favorite traditions. In all honesty, this post has been rewritten 3 times because of the changing plans due to COVID-19 precautions. That being said, to the best of my knowledge, these are the events that are still happening. Consult the added webpages to confirm dates and requirements before attendance.

1. Taste of December Nights (Balboa Park)

Image via San Diego Free Press

One of San Diego’s annual favorite events will be drive-thru this year! Friday – Sunday, December 4th-6th, get your family together and drive over to Balboa Park to experience some holiday joy in the form of Christmas carols, hot cocoa, food trucks, and special giveaways.

The first 500 cars each night will win a commemorative tote bag with bonus items like museum passes and coupons for local businesses. This event is free to attend in your car and donations are encouraged at the food trucks. With over 20 food trucks to choose from, treat yourself to specialties from local bakeries, kettle corn, and even items from the International houses. Check their website for the most up to date information  on times to visit and vendor menus.

2. Holiday Movies at the Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado Christmas

If you missed this event during Halloween, the Hotel Del is bringing it back for Christmas! The Hotel curates cozy movie screenings on the beach for $20 per person. This year’s shows include A Christmas Story (Dec. 12th), Elf (Dec. 19th) and more every Saturday of December! Check their calendar to buy tickets. The events begin at 6:30pm and blankets are strongly encouraged.

At the same location, you can enjoy Hotel Del Coronado’s Winter Wonderland event all month long from 5-9pm each night when the Christmas lights turn on. Enjoy the 35 foot Christmas Tree, socially distant photos with Santa, kid’s crafts, and the Frostbite outdoor Bar.

3. Starlight Circle Holiday Lights (Santee)

Image via The Whissel Way

For the entire month of December from sunset to 10pm, take a drive or socially distanced walk through Glendon Circle in Santee. This East County tradition has been going on for more than 20 years and as it is not city-sponsored, will continue this year. Residents of this street go all out decorating their homes bringing visitors Christmas joy each year. Homeowners ask that you respect county rules for COVID-19 precautions at the time of your visit and respect the resident’s lawn and driveways. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

4. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Parade of Lights
Image via Kevin Key Photography

In light of recent increased COVID restrictions, this city-sponsored holiday event in San Diego is technically cancelled. However, there are rumors that private boat owners will still be decorating their vessels and doing informal parades. Bundle up to watch on Sundays December 13th and 20th beginning at 5:30pm. You can see the boats in the San Diego Bay from downtown buildings, Coronado Island, or Shelter Island in Mission Bay. You can also browse boat decorations at the docks throughout San Diego.

5. Gaslamp Howl-iday Paw-tay

Christmas dog

Saturday, December 13th, bring your furry friends to the Gaslamp District downtown from 12-5pm for the ultimate sidewalk pet parade and costume contest. This free festival for all will begin at the iconic Gaslamp sign and end at MLK Promenade Park. Day-of registration will begin at 11:30am and the parade will start at 2:00pm. Enter your pet in one of the nine costume contest for $15.

6. Enchanted Village at Noah Homes (Spring Valley)

Enchanted Village

Noah Homes is a non-profit in East County that serves adults with developmental disabilities by providing residential assistance and encouraging independent living. Every year, their largest fundraiser is the Enchanted Village where you can enjoy the holiday venue they’ve created with over 100,000 Christmas lights. This year, December 18th – 23rd, 5:00 – 8:00pm pay a visit to Santa, his elves, and a drive-through light tunnel. Tickets for this holiday event in San Diego cost $65 per car and can be purchased on their website. All admission costs go towards supporting their residents and helping Noah Homes expand their future services.

7. Wild Holidays at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Wild Holidays

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is creating a memorable holiday experience from 4-8pm on December 5-6, 12-13, 19-23, 26-31. Find extra holiday cheer at the Enchanted Lagoon, Safari Base Camp, and Nairobi Village. There will be live music, tons of holiday decorations, and unique animal shows with a holiday twist. Purchase tickets online. Read about the best tips for a San Diego Zoo visit here.

If you’re looking for more fun things to do in San Diego, check out the best rooftops, must-do activities, or my TikTok!

Pinterest San Diego December Events

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