Things to do in San Diego in December

Damon Cuccia, REALTOR®, Associate Broker, ABR, MRP, CA DRE# 01422266
Damon Cuccia, REALTOR®, Associate Broker, ABR, MRP, CA DRE# 01422266
Published on December 10, 2018

Get into the holiday spirit with fun events around San Diego including the Sugar Rush 5K, various parades, December Nights, Holiday Bowl and San Diego International Auto Show. 

Through 1.5.19: Holiday by the Bay

Barrel down a 100-foot ice slide, take a spin on an ice-bound bumper boat, then try your hand at riding a bucking reindeer at this breathtaking winter wonderland.

Hilton San Diego Bayfront, East

Holiday by the Bay

Holiday by the Bay. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.1: 55th annual North Park Toyland Parade

Marching bands, vintage cars, beauty queens and more meander between Utah and Iowa streets during Uptown’s yearly yuletide event.

University Avenue, North Park,

North Park Toyland Parade

North Park Toyland Parade (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.1: 20th annual Little Italy Christmas Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

Take care of some holiday shopping, go for a horse-carriage ride and then stand in awe of a 25-foot-tall poinsettia tower while basking in Little Italy’s abundant charm.

India Street and Piazza della Famiglia, Little Italy,

Little Italy Christmas Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

Little Italy Christmas Tree Lighting & Christmas Village. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.1: Sugar Rush 5K

In this unique exhibit of athleticism, runners consume Krispy Kreme donuts at each mile-marker before attending a finish line celebration that includes cornhole, oversized checkers and ladder ball among other games.

Embarcadero Park North, Marina District,

Sugar Rush 5K

Sugar Rush 5K (Jared Gase)

12.1: Chula Vista Starlight Parade

Bring the whole family to this holiday parade that includes real snow, an elf-yourself station and pictures with St. Nick himself.

Third Avenue, downtown Chula Vista,

Chula Vista Starlight Parade

Chula Vista Starlight Parade. (Chadd Cady)

12.1: 61st annual Encinitas Holiday Parade

Schmooze your way onto any of nearly 100 floats or join the throngs of cheering spectators during this Coast Highway tradition that culminates with a tree-lighting ceremony and a cameo by Kris Kringle.

S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas,

Encinitas Holiday Parade

Encinitas Holiday Parade. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.1: 60th annual Vista Candyland Christmas Parade

See some of Vista’s best and brightest community groups during this parade that commences at the Civic Center and winds down at Wave Waterpark.

Throughout historic downtown Vista,

12.1: Winter Wonderland Festival

Scamper around in real snow, create winter-themed crafts and rub noses with live reindeer as the North Pole takes over the heart of Escondido.

California Center for the Arts, Escondido,

Winter Wonderland Festival

Winter Wonderland Festival. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.1: 39th annual Ocean Beach Holiday Parade

More than 100 groups of Obecians embrace an It’s a Wonderful Life theme as O.B.’s holiday parade returns to bring out the neighborhood’s most curious and creative.

Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach,

12.2: The Local Bazaar @ Liberty Station

Cross off any remaining names from your shopping list at this pop-up holiday market offering a curated selection of local fashion, handmade gifts and vintage treasures from more than 150 vendors.

The Corky McMillin Event Center, Liberty Station,

The Local Bazaar @ Liberty Station

The Local Bazaar @ Liberty Station. (Rachel Smith Photography)

12.2: 61st annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival

Kicking off with an antique-aircraft flyover and sporting a new Sounds of Christmas theme, this holiday parade through downtown La Jolla gives guests of glimpse of the community’s incredible talent.

Girard Avenue & Prospect Street, La Jolla,

La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival

La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.2: WinterFest 2018

Enjoy holiday carolers, a horse-drawn carriage and colorful ballet dancers at this family-friendly fête that also includes a holiday marketplace and a snow-covered-tree lighting.

Vista Village, downtown Vista,

WinterFest 2018

WinterFest 2018. (Courtesy photo)

12.7: 43rd annual Coronado Holiday Parade

Light up your yuletide season at this traditional hometown parade set to a soundtrack of carolers and offering one lucky family the chance to illuminate Star Pine, the community’s enormous holiday tree.

Orange Avenue, Coronado,

Coronado Holiday Parade

Coronado Holiday Parade. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.7-8: 41st annual December Nights

Admission to this iconic two-day extravaganza — the largest free festival in the city — includes access to an endless amount of international food as well as exhibits and entertainers at many of the Park’s museums.

Throughout Balboa Park,

December Nights

The Botanical Garden at Baloba Park lit up for December Nights. (Courtesy photo)

12.7-8: La Mesa Holiday in the Village

Get into the holiday spirit by ambling down the streets of historic downtown La Mesa while enjoying live music, craft merchants and occasional fire pits where you can warm your weary bones.

La Mesa Village, La Mesa,

La Mesa Holiday in the Village

La Mesa Holiday in the Village. (Chadd Cady / San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.8: Poway Christmas in the Park

Travel back to a simpler time this Christmas season with Poway’s steam locomotives, horse-drawn hayrides and live entertainment reminiscent of an earlier era.

Old Poway Park, Poway,

12.8: Fifth annual Makers Holiday Faire

Meet makers, listen to live music and express yourself at the make-and-take craft center during this unique event that includes scrumptious bites, a free photo booth and finely crafted cocktails.

Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier, Marina District,

Makers Holiday Faire

Makers Holiday Faire. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.8: Mission Bay Parade of Lights

In this distinctly Californian celebration, an armada of seaworthy vessels decorated for the season cruises along the waters of Mission Bay.

Santa Clara Point, Mission Bay,

12.8: Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights

Bring a blanket, a jacket and some cocoa to sip on while watching decked-out boats of all shapes and sizes in this seafaring celebration along O’side’s coast.

Oceanside Harbor, Oceanside,

12.8: Warren Miller’s Face of Winter

Warren Miller, who practically invented the modern ski movie, passed earlier this year. This movie screening pays homage to the great filmmaker and showcases some of the world’s greatest skiers and snowboarders carving powder in stunning, remote locations.

La Paloma Theatre, Encinitas,

Warren Miller’s Face of Winter

Warren Miller’s Face of Winter. (Oskar Enander)

12.8: 27th annual Jingle Bell Run

Do your part to help find a cure for arthritis at this holiday-themed 5K that welcomes runners to dress up in their North-Pole best.

Liberty Station, Point Loma,

12.9: Red Nose Run

Choose either a 3K or a 5K on this fundraising, Fido-friendly holiday run followed by drinks and bites at the iconic Poseidon Restaurant.

Del Mar Beach, Del Mar,

12.9: Over the Edge for Brain Cancer

Show your fear of heights who’s boss while rappelling down the tallest building on downtown’s waterfront during this no-experience-necessary event benefiting brain-cancer research.

Manchester Grand Hyatt, downtown,

Over the Edge for Brain Cancer

Over the Edge for Brain Cancer. (Luis Gonzalez)

12.9, 16: 47th annual San Diego Parade of Lights

More than 100,000 locals are expected to attend this bayfront tradition showcasing 80 lavishly decorated boats fitting this year’s theme: Tropical Island Christmas.

Several viewing areas along the San Diego Bay,

San Diego Parade of Lights

San Diego Parade of Lights. (John Gastaldo)

12.12: I Touch My Elf

Part burlesque, part alt-cabaret and all performed in just their underwear, the musical comedy duo the Skivvies brings a little holiday jingle to Hillcrest.

Martinis Above Fourth, Hillcrest,

12.12-16: Fourth annual ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship

Awe-inspiring athletes from far and wide descend upon La Jolla to participate in this remarkable, rapidly growing sporting event that gives surfers with physical challenges an opportunity to compete for the title of World Champion.

La Jolla Shores, La Jolla,

12.14: Love Actually screening at San Diego Symphony

Find the antidote to your inner Grinch at this screening of the 2003 romantic comedy accompanied by a live performance from the San Diego Symphony.

Copley Symphony Hall, downtown,

Love Actually screening at San Diego Symphony

Love Actually screening at San Diego Symphony. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.14-15: Queen Bee Market

The city’s original urban-style, artisan market features more than 100 local and national vendors specializing in handmade and vintage accessories, along with clothing, home décor, furniture and more.

Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar,

Queen Bee Market

Queen Bee Market. (Ivette West Photography)

12.15: 68th annual Old Town Las Posadas

Halls will be decked, fires will be built and songs will be sung during this annual procession inspired by the story of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter in Bethlehem.

Fiesta de Reyes, Old Town,

12.15: Sixth annual San Diego Santa Run

Choose the 5K or one-mile route and race along the streets of P.B. with 3,000 other Santas, then put your free drink ticket to good use at Mavericks Beach Club’s post-race celebration.

Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach,

San Diego Santa Run

San Diego Santa Run. (3PIXstudios /)

12.15: Pacific Beach Holiday Parade

Following the Santa Run, Garnet Avenue will remain closed as numerous community groups and P.B. businesses strut their stuff in one of the city’s oldest holiday parades.

Garnet Avenue, Pacific Beach,

12.15: Sixth annual San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

Burn some of those holiday calories on this fast, 13.1-mile course that travels from Penasquitos Drive to Carmel Mountain Road, then follows the bike path along State Route 56 all the way to Torrey Pines State Beach.

From Rancho Penasquitos to Torrey Pines State Beach,

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.16: 11th annual Vet + Pet West Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Pet owners and their furry, feathered or scaled friends are invited to don costumes and compete in several categories during this romp through the Gaslamp followed by a free pet expo.

MLK Promenade Park, downtown,

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade. (Nancee E. Lewis)

12.27-30: San Diego International Auto Show

Auto aficionados can feast their eyes on more than 400 vehicles from 40 manufacturers at this year-end show that includes many models that haven’t yet hit the road.

San Diego Convention Center, downtown,

San Diego International Auto Show

James Cox, right, of Aston Martin San Diego, carefully polishes an Aston Martin DB11, around $250,000, in preparation for the opening of the 2017 San Diego International Auto Show. (Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.31: Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade

Amid a sea of gargantuan floats and inflatables, this annual balloon parade begins on downtown’s bayside streets and brings together world-class marching bands and entertaining drill teams.

Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive, downtown,

holiday bowl parade

The Betty Boop balloon at the 40th annual Holiday Bowl Parade. (John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

12.31: San Diego Holiday Bowl

Two Division I football teams face off after a heart-pounding pregame featuring marching bands, parachute jumpers and a football-field-sized American flag.

SDCCU Stadium, downtown,

Holiday Bowl

San Diego Holiday Bowl. (John Howard)

12.31: New Year’s Eve

Check out our roundup of parties to watch the ball drop and ring in 2019, here.

San Diego Gulls home games

12.5 vs Tucson Roadrunners

12.15, 19 vs San Jose Barracuda

12.21 vs Ontario Reign

12.27 vs Bakersfield Condors

San Diego Sockers home games

12.16 vs Rio Grande Valley Barracudas

12.22 vs Tacoma Stars 

San Diego Sockers

San Diego Sockers. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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