Christmas in California


San Diego, California Free Things to Do this Christmas

  • Balboa Park December Nights, a two-day holiday celebration of food, entertainment and fun. The numerous museums and cultural institutions in Balboa Park, the nation's largest urban cultural park, open their doors free of charge from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Festivities in the park include carolers, live music, holiday light displays, theater and dance performances and delicious foods from around the world.
  • Mother Goose Parade  in the East County city of El Cajon. The largest parade in San Diego County, the event features floats, clowns, Santa Claus, marching bands, equestrian teams and celebrity appearances.
  • Whale watch from the shores and cliffs of Point Loma.
  • Holiday Celebration on December 7 in Coronado with a festive parade along Orange Avenue, the lighting of a 75-foot Christmas tree, holiday music and a fireworks show over Glorietta Bay.
  • Free organ concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park beginning at 2 p.m. each Sunday in November. The Organ Pavilion features the world's largest outdoor pipe organ, where organists play holiday favorites, waltzes and show tunes from the organ's monstrous 32-foot lead alloy pipes.
  • Old Town State Historic Park  Holiday in the Park. Enjoy holiday treats, activities and extended shopping hours, along with strolling carolers.
  • Las Posadas, a centuries-old tradition in which actors reenact the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph through the town of Bethlehem.
  • Seaport Village Surfing Santa. Hang-ten with Santa and enjoy a lively parade down the Seaport Village boardwalk, along with music, stilt walkers, kid's crafts and photo opportunities of family and friends surfing with Santa.
  • La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival in downtown La Jolla. The event includes marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus.
  • Drive to the mountain town of Julian in San Diego's rural East County for a warm mug of hot apple cider and a delicious slice of Julian's legendary homemade apple pie. On Saturdays, stroll through the quaint neighborhood streets and enjoy the sounds of wandering Christmas carolers and a living nativity scene.
  • North Park Toyland Parade. Enjoy marching bands, floats, vintage cars, dance groups, beauty queens, city officials and Santa in this popular community celebration. The parade is followed by a holiday fair behind the historic North Park Theatre.
  • 70 miles of coastline, home to 33 unique beaches, all free and open to the public.
  • Explore the tide pools in Point Loma, Ocean Beach and La Jolla when the tide is low to see some of the magnificent creatures of the sea.
  • La Mesa Christmas in the Village. Enjoy street performers, carolers, carriage rides, entertainment for the whole family and more.
  • SoNo Park Holiday Fest holidays with the residents and restaurants of South Park and North Park in a chili cook-off. Sample chili in hand-spun ceramic bowls, shop for holiday gifts from local artisans and enjoy free live music, kids' activities, gourmet food trucks, a beer garden featuring local craft beers and more.
  • Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade in downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. Owners and their dressed-up pets march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood and end at a Pet Expo featuring an awards ceremony for best-dressed pups and more.
  • Drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla for a panoramic view of the city all spruced up in holiday decoration. Along the way, enjoy all the beautifully decorated homes in this exclusive community.
  • Drive to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego's East County located just two hours from San Diego via Highway 78 and Interstate 8.
  • Gaze up at the massive balloons during the Big Bay Balloon Parade, the country's largest balloon parade. Floats, balloons and marching bands are just some of the offerings in this colorful holiday parade that takes place along San Diego Bay in downtown San Diego.
  • Port of San Diego Parade of Lights. Great views are available on land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Marina Park and Coronado's Ferry Landing.
  • Chula Vista's Annual Starlight Parade features carolers, holiday cheer, floats, drill teams, marching bands, classic cars, a children's event and visit from Santa.
  • One-hour drive to the top of Mount Laguna in San Diego's rustic East County. Sled down mountain slopes, build snowmen and have snowball fights (weather conditions permitting).
  • Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights.  Over 100 brightly illuminated powerboats and sailboats parade along Mission Bay; the parade ends with a fantastic fireworks show at 9 p.m. above SeaWorld San Diego.
  • Escondido California Center for the Arts the annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland. Enjoy seasonal music and Victorian carolers, a visit from Santa, free art activities and treats, a spectacular light show and real snow!
  •  Annual Christmas Parade in the city of Escondido.
  • Poway  Christmas in the Park - Poway. The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visit from Santa, train rides, live music, theatre performances, food, treats, crafts and more.
  • Carlsbad  Holiday Tree Lighting Festivities.   Santa Claus will light the Christmas tree at the Forum shopping center in Carlsbad. Santa returns to the Village Faire Shopping Center for photos, coffee, cookies, entertainment, followed by tree lighting ceremony.
  • Poinsettia Bowl Battle of the Bands in the Gaslamp Quarter.

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

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