Holiday celebrations are back in person in many communities throughout San Diego County. Here’s a guide to parades, light shows, Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, community holiday shows and festivals to celebrate the season — many are free. Check the venues’ websites for health protocol updates.
Tree lighting: Children’s Nature Retreat Foundation will host its annual lighting of the Christmas tree at 4 p.m. Dec. 12 at 5178 Japatul Spur, free with admission. Have hot chocolate and cookies and celebrate the season with Louie the mini horse, Dollie the Nigerian dwarf goat and Oink the Julianna pig. Visit camels, a zebra, bison, birds, bunnies and more than 140 domesticated and exotic animals. For reservations, call (619) 320-4942. Visit childrensnatureretreat.org.
Winter Wonders tour: Wild Wonders hosts a Winter Wonders and Holiday Lights tour of its Bonsall wild animal refuge, which will showcase its nocturnal animals. Visitors meet several animal ambassadors while strolling the 5-acre facility that has been decorated for the season. Each family will be led one at a time by a keeper. Tours are at 4:30 or 5 p.m. Dec. 17 – Jan. 2, excluding Dec. 25. Cost is $250 for a family of up to four people. Cost for additional members ages 12 and older is $30, and $20 for additional children ages 5-11. Visit wildwonders.org/winter-wonders-and-holiday-lights.
Kringle Mingle and Taste of Cardiff: The annual Kringle Mingle starts at noon Dec. 5 with live music, children’s crafts and holiday treats, hot coffee and hot chocolate hosted by Cardiff 101 Main Street and makers’ booths for holiday shopping until 5 p.m. in downtown Cardiff along South Coast Highway 101. Santa and his vintage Camera Camper sleigh will be ready for photos from 1 to 4 p.m. Taste of Cardiff with samplings from local restaurants, sip stops and live music is from 3 to 6 p.m. Folks can nominate restaurants for the Taste of Cardiff Golden Fork Award. Taste tickets are $30; Taste & Sip, $40. Kringle Mingle is free. Visit cardiff101.com/events.
Drive-thru live Nativity scene at church: Christ Presbyterian Church hosts a free drive-thru live Nativity scene from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at 7807 Centella St. Highlights include a Bethlehem scene and costumed actors portraying biblical characters, such as Emperor Augustus, Joseph and Mary, who interact with people in their cars at each stop. There will be singing angels, a live mini donkey for the “Road to Bethlehem” and two live sheep with shepherds. The church campus will be lit with white lights in trees, and there will be a live Christmas tree and garland. Visit cpclacosta.org.
Lighting of The Forum: Santa’s arrival at The Forum Carlsbad mall on Nov. 27 will be led by the La Costa Canyon High School Marching Band. Highlights include lighting of the Christmas tree along with a light show, snowfall and visit with Santa from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Forum Carlsbad, 1923 Calle Barcelona. Visit eventsforumcarlsbad.com.
Hanukkah celebration: Chabad La Costa hosts a lighting of the menorah from 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 30 with live music, kids’ games and free refreshments at The Forum Carlsbad, 1923 Calle Barcelona, in the courtyard between Chico’s and White House Black Market. Visit eventsforumcarlsbad.com.
Holiday Fest with Santa: The Rotary Club of Carlsbad’s annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony is from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5 in the south parking lot of Carlsbad Village Faire shopping center, 300 Carlsbad Village Drive. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at 2:15 p.m. in an antique fire engine, followed by Mayor Matt Hall. Highlights include free photos with Santa, and entertainment by Renaissance Institute of Music Orchestra, Carlsbad High School Band and Lancer Dancers and XCalibur dance teams. There will be free cookies, cider and coffee along with storytelling and crafts. Visit carlsbadrotary.com.
Holidays at Carrillo Ranch: Holiday at the Rancho is from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, 6200 Flying L.C. Lane. The event features a tree lighting at 5:45 p.m., visit from Santa, a plush snowball arena, crafts, face painting, cookie decorating, photos and a classic holiday movie on the outdoor screen at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10; free for ages 3 and younger. Visit carlsbadca.gov.
Holidays at Legoland: Live entertainment, twinkling lights, holiday treats and some snowfall through Jan. 2 at Legoland California, One Legoland Drive. Nightly tree lightings at the park’s 30-foot-tall Lego tree decked with lights and Lego ornaments. Photos can be taken with life-size Lego models of Santa and his reindeer in Fun Town or costumed characters such as Lego Santa, toy soldier and gingerbread man. The annual Kids’ New Year’s Eve Party is Dec. 31. Activities inside the park are included with regular park admission. Visit legoland.com or call (760) 918-LEGO (5346).
Holiday movie: A holiday drive-in movie fundraiser featuring the holiday comedy “The Elf” is at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3 on a 40-foot screen at the Shoppes at Carlsbad behind the Sears building, with sound to each car radio. The parking lot opens at 5:45 pm. There will be a popcorn cart and food vendors. Suggested donation is $25 per car, benefiting the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation. Space is limited to the first 200 cars that RSVP at [email protected]
Sensitive surroundings: The Shoppes at Carlsbad offer children with special needs a chance to visit Santa during one of two “Santa Cares” days before the mall opens from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Dec. 5 and 12. This will be a sensory-friendly, less hectic event so these children can experience the time-honored tradition of a visit and photos with Santa. Go to the lower level, near Macy’s. Reservations are encouraged at https://bit.ly/3nMuXdd. The Shoppes at Carlsbad is at 2525 El Camino Real. Call (760) 444-0620.
Winter WonderLights: Holiday light show from 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 3-11, at the The Forum Carlsbad, 1923 Calle Barcelona. The light show will be choreographed to holiday music and there will be a “magical snowfall” throughout the mall. Visit eventsforumcarlsbad.com.
Kids’ “Toy Story” Scavenger Hunt: A free scavenger hunt for “Toy Story” friends is from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 5 outside on the patio of Saddleback Church at Canyon Crest Academy, 5951 Village Center Loop Road. After finishing, participants receive a Christmas stocking with candy and prizes. There will be arts and crafts and games. Visit saddleback.com/events?campus=56.
Santa visits shopping center: Santa will be stopping for meet and greets in front of Tilly’s at Del Mar Highlands Town Center, 12925 El Camino Real. The mall is decked with ’Tis the Sea Sun-themed holiday decorations, including a 36-foot Christmas tree made of 44 surfboards with inlaid LED lights and music with a 15-foot surfing Santa pulled by four reindeer on top of the Sky Deck roof. Meet “Delmer” the talking penguin, tour a gigantic igloo, snap a selfie with huge starfish, send letters to Santa and drive through lighted candy canes with sparkling stars. Take photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 28 and Dec. 2, 5, 8, 12, 19, 22 and 23. Visit delmarhighlandstowncenter.com.
Christmas caroling and crafts: Free traditional caroling performed by the King’s Carolers will be from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 12 after services on the patio of Saddleback Church at Canyon Crest Academy, 5951 Village Center Loop Road. There will be arts and crafts for kids along with free 12 Days of Christmas coloring books. Gift wrapping is offered. Visit saddleback.com/events?campus=56.
Holiday festivities: The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch hosts a tree lighting ceremony and holiday festivities from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Village Square, 13490 Pacific Highlands Ranch Parkway. Highlights include live music, photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and hot cocoa and cookies. Free photos with Santa and live music will also be offered from 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 12 and free train rides will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 5 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 11-12. Visit phrvillage.com.
Pony rides, petting zoo: A family-oriented Christmas celebration with pony rides, a petting zoo and other surprises is from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 19 in the parking lot of Saddleback Church at Canyon Crest Academy, 5951 Village Center Loop Road. There will be arts and crafts for kids along with free 12 Days of Christmas coloring books. Gift wrapping is offered. On Dec. 24 from 5 to 6 p.m., after the 4 p.m. service, the Polar Express Christmas Train will be running in the church parking lot. Visit saddleback.com/events?campus=56.
Holiday Parade: The annual Holiday Parade on Dec. 3 features floats, marching bands and snow-sprinkled cars. The procession starts at 6 p.m. on Eighth Street and proceeds along Orange Avenue. This special tradition culminates with carol singing and a 7 p.m. Tree & Menorah Lighting Ceremony at Rotary Park. Visit coronadochamber.com.
North Pole by the Sea: Family-friendly festivities from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 5 throughout the Del Mar Village “North Pole Loop,” including letters to Santa from 3 to 5 p.m. and story time (4 p.m.) at Sandcastle Tales, holiday music, drink specials for adults at L’Auberge Del Mar, Camino Del Mar and 15th Street, and holiday characters. Tree lighting at 5 p.m. with hot chocolate for kids and a special appearance by Santa himself in the Jim Watkins Amphitheater at L’Auberge. Visit visitdelmarvillage.com.
Snow N Glow: The Del Mar Fairgrounds hosts a Snow N Glow Holiday Festival with three holiday attractions from 4 to 9 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, Dec. 4 through Jan. 2, and daily Dec. 20-23 at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Holidays in your Car features a 1.5-mile drive through a display of a million holiday-themed LED lights accompanied by music, holograms and lasers. Drivers can get out of their cars and enter a walk-thru Snow N Glow display of lights, sipping hot cocoa. In addition, there will be a Snow Tubing & Play Area where kids and adults can snow-tube down a snowy hill and play in the snow, made daily. S’mores kits, food and drinks will be sold, and private igloos will be rented out. Tickets to the walk-thru Snow N Glow path are $17.99 for adults and $12.99 for ages 3 to 10. Tickets to both Snow N Glow and the snow activities are $34.99 for adults and children. Admission is free for ages 2 and younger. Holidays in Your Car tickets are $45 per carload. COVID-19 guidelines are observed. Visit snownglow.com.
Santa’s on the job: Parkway Plaza hosts hours with Santa from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. Make reservations at visitparkwayplaza.com/holiday. Photos with Santa are also available (see schedule online). Santa Paws pet photos start from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 29 through Dec. 20. Parkway Plaza is at 415 Fletcher Parkway. Call (619) 579-9932.
Music and tree lighting: The annual Holiday Lights on Main Street will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Nov. 27 at Prescott Promenade, where the Original Starfires Band performs at 2 p.m. followed by the Siers Brothers Band at 4:45. A special tree lighting ceremony takes place at 6 p.m. at the corner of Main Street and Magnolia Avenue, and youngsters can enjoy ice skating, carnival rides, holiday music and Santa Claus at Santa Village. Visit downtownelcajon.com.
Parade and tree lighting: Encinitas’ annual holiday parade kicks off with a tree lighting and appearance from Santa at 5 p.m. Dec. 4 in The Lumberyard shops courtyard, (between H and I streets) followed by the parade at 5:30 p.m. featuring floats, marching bands and decorated cars along Coast Highway. The theme is “Encinitas Rocks!” with Grand Marshal Earl Flores. Free parade shuttles will run from 4 to 8:30 p.m. from the San Dieguito Academy High School parking lot at Melba Road and Nardo Road and the YMCA/Ecke Sports Park parking lot on Saxony Road to the North County Transit District bus station on Vulcan Avenue a half-block from the parade route. ADA-accessible buses run from San Dieguito Academy. Wear face covering. Visit encinitasparksandrec.com.
Botanic Garden Wonderland: Holiday nights at the San Diego Botanical Garden features a more than one-mile path decorated with holiday lights that winds through the garden with seasonal carolers and Santa from from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Dec. 4-5, 10-23 and 26-30 at 300 Quail Gardens Drive. There will be seating on the Gazebo Lawn near food trucks and Letters to Santa and other activities offered for children. Some nights the San Diego Woodturners will give a demonstration and will sell wood items to benefit Turn Around for Veterans (see schedule at sdwt.org/wood). Reservations are required and tickets range from $10 to $22; free for kids 2 and younger. Visit sdbgarden.org/botanic-wonderland.htm.
Annual Northern Lights: The California Center for the Arts, Escondido features a light show designed by the Peace Family from 5 to 9 p.m. Nov. 27 to Jan. 3. Visitors can walk around the center’s 12-acre campus through tunnels of twinkling lights, by giant LED Christmas trees and themed light displays at the historical train depot. Light shows with synchronized music will be in the Lyric Courtyard and Center Theater Courtyard. A countdown lighting ceremony will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 27 in the Lyric Courtyard, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. Hot beverages and cookies will be sold Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is free. Visit artcenter.org.
Winter Wonderland: Visitors to the California Center for the Arts, Escondido can play in snow, join holiday crafting activities led by artists, browse for gifts made by local artisans and buy holiday-themed drinks and treats at Santa’s Corner Café from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4, 11 and 18 at 340 N. Escondido Blvd. Free crafting workshops include Winter Woodland Wildlife on Dec. 4, creating a menagerie out of chenille stems; Festive Winter Trees on Dec. 11, making holiday decorations out of recycled materials; and Upcycled Paper Stars on Dec. 18, creating decorative paper stars. Admission is free. Visit artcenter.org.
Safari Park features Wild Holidays: The San Diego Zoo Safari Park celebrates the “wild holidays” with an expedition of light and travel through places that twinkle, holiday tunes and seasonal foods from 4 to 8 p.m. Nov. 26-28, Dec. 4-5, 11-12, 18-23, 26-31 and Jan. 1-2 at the park, 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road. Entertainment includes Light Up the Holidays choreographed lighted tree show with holiday music at Safari Base Camp, Santa at Village Market, Holiday Troubadour, Bridge of Lights, Firefly Stilt Walkers and Journey of Light decorated pathways and Nairobi Lantern Walk, among other attractions. Tickets or membership to the Safari Park are required for entry to Wild Holidays; prices vary. Visit sdzsafaripark.org/wild-holidays.
Concert of Christmas and Hanukkah music: A concert of joyous music of the season will be presented at 3 p.m. Dec. 5 by the Center Chorale with the San Diego Jewish Men’s Choir at Trinity Episcopal Church, 845 Chestnut St. Tickets are $10-$25. Visit escondidochoralarts.com.
No Christmas parade: The Jaycees’ annual Christmas parade is not planned this year. Visit facebook.com/escondidojaycees.
Carols by Candlelight: This Christmas concert was created in 1990 by now-Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and Wayne Nelson to help make a difference in the lives of children. American Country Music award winner Mark Wills is among the performers at this year’s event, which takes place at 8 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Proceeds benefit Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Tickets range from $9 to $94 and are available at https://sforce.co/3DIIE2i.
Community in Unity: This event hosted by the Escondido Chamber of Commerce and multiple sponsors combines fine wining and dining with a holiday toy and PJs drive. Community in Unity takes place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 9 under the City Hall dome at Broadway and Valley Parkway. Enjoy foods from local restaurants, wineries and craft breweries. Musical groups representing Escondido communities will provide entertainment. Guests are encouraged to bring new, unused pajamas of all sizes to benefit the Friends of Scott organization and the Ronald McDonald House, and new, unwrapped toys for boys and girls ages 4-12 to benefit the Escondido Police Athletic League. Tickets start at $30 and are available at https://bit.ly/3cHqGl0.
Christmas parade: Fallbrook’s 40th annual Christmas parade, themed “Miracle on Main,” starts at 5 p.m. Dec. 4 on Main Street in downtown Fallbrook, hosted by the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce. The parade features Santa, lighted floats, music, marching bands and dancers along with classic cars, led by Grand Marshal Vince Ross. Visit fallbrookchamberofcommerce.org.
Holiday lights: The Imperial Beach Parks & Recreation Department invites the community to the 2021 Holiday Light Festival at 2 p.m. Dec. 4 in Pier Plaza, held with the IB Business Association and the Port of San Diego. Enjoy children’s crafts and photos with Santa, and the holiday lighting ceremony will be at 5:15 p.m. Visit facebook.com/cityofIB.
Tree lighting: The mountain community’s annual Country Christmas Tree Lighting begins the holiday season at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at Pioneer Park, 2811 Washington St. Call (760) 765-1857 or visitjulian.com.
Spirit of Christmas: The Lakeside Chamber of Commerce hosts its annual Spirit of Christmas event from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4 on Maine Avenue in historic downtown Lakeside. This free community event is supported by the Barona Band of Mission Indians, Barona Resort & Casino, and Skyline Church. The evening will feature Santa and his friends from the North Pole (including some special snow princesses), live performances from the Lakeside Union School District, a tree lighting at 5 p.m., food and hot beverages, shopping from local vendors, and children’s activities. Youngsters are encouraged to drop off letters to Santa in the special North Pole mailbox (remember to enclose a self-addressed stamped return envelope). The North Pole mailbox will be in the Lakeside Historical Society courtyard on Maine Avenue until Dec. 24. Visit www.LakesideChamber.org or call (619) 561-1031.
Tree lighting: Gather friends and family to see the giant Christmas tree lighting in Center Court, 5500 Grossmont Center Drive, at 6 p.m. Nov. 27. Youngsters can get a photo with St. Nick at Santa’s Hut from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 26 to Dec. 24. Visit grossmontcenter.com.
“Holiday in the Village”: The La Mesa Village Association hosts its sixth annual “Holiday in the Village” from noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 4 on La Mesa Boulevard, between Spring and Fourth streets. Tune up your holiday spirit at this free celebration while enjoying carnival games, carolers, craft vendor stands and food and drinks from local favorites. Relax by the fire pits with live entertainment on the La Mesa Lumber Stage. Visit http://www.lamesavillageassociation.org/events/holiday-in-the-village.aspx.
Makers and more: Grossmont Center teams with San Diego Made for a Holiday Fest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 27 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 28 at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive. Visit more than 70 local maker shops and vendors while enjoying family-friendly activities. Kriss Kringle and friends will be on hand. Visitors can take photos at seasonal holiday photo backdrops and enjoy vegan and non-vegan foods. Also, Santa arrives for photos on Nov. 26. Photo hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. Book appointments at grossmontcenter.com/santa-photo-booth. Other special activities include the tree lighting at 6 p.m. Nov. 27. Call (619) 465-2900.
Bonfire event: The annual Community Bonfire will be held Dec. 3 at Civic Center Park, 3200 Main St. Event attractions from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. include live music, food trucks, vendors, a Kids Zone and free hot chocolate and cookies. Call (619) 825-3815 or visit lemongrove.ca.gov.
Tree lighting and celebration: The annual community celebration will be held from 2 to 9 p.m. Dec. 11 at Kimball Park, E. 12th St., where families can enjoy sledding, train rides, food trucks, entertainment, a Ferris wheel, and a 6:30 p.m. tree lighting. Call (619) 336-4290 or visit nationalcityca.gov.
Parachuting Santa Claus: St. Nick will make a parachute landing at noon Nov. 27 at Mission Marketplace, 471 College Blvd., for the free family-oriented Jingle Bell Jump event from noon to 3 p.m. Highlights include visits with Santa, carnival games and rides, holiday crafts and cookie decorating, Bingo for prizes, free churros and cotton candy along with a petting zoo, pony rides, carolers and balloon art. Visit missionmarketplaceoceanside.com.
Santa and tree lighting: Santa arrives by firetruck for the annual Holiday Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at Regal Cinema Plaza, 401 Mission Ave. Kids activities are from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Highlights include holiday music, carolers, cookies and milk, jump houses, bungee run, kids zip line and giant slides. From 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays in December, the Sunset Market becomes the Holiday Gift Market downtown with 200 artisans and merchants, an international food court, live music and children’s activities at Pier View Way and Coast Highway. Visits with Santa are from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 9 and 16. Visit mainstreetoceanside.com or sunsetmarket.com.
Annual Holiday Express: North County Transit District’s annual Holiday Express runs at 10:15 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 11-12, featuring Santa Claus, carolers and holiday characters for an hour of songs and tales from the North Pole. Arrive at the Oceanside Transit Center, 205 S. Tremont St. Follow the signs to Platform 2. After boarding, the train will take an approximately 65-minute trip to the Solana Beach Station and back, as carolers and holiday characters visit the train cars to perform and hand out toys and wish lists for Santa. Finally, Santa will meet with the children and take pictures. Back at the Oceanside Transit Center, children can deposit their wish lists for Santa in the official Holiday Express Mailbox on the platform. Tickets are $20 for all ages. Register at gonctd.com/holidayexpress.
Christmas in the Park: The annual old-fashioned holiday celebration from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 11 includes caroling, a craft boutique, holiday sweets and warm dinner foods, visits with Santa, horse-drawn hayrides and steam locomotive rides around Old Poway Park, 14134 Midland Road. Christmas tree lighting is at 5:15 p.m. with arrival of Santa at 5:30 p.m. Admission and rides are free. Free shuttles from 3 to 9 p.m. from two Poway City Hall parking lot, 13325 Civic Center Drive and Poway Adult School parking lot, 13626 Twin Peaks Road. Visit poway.org.
Christmas tree lighting: The 29th annual Christmas Tree Lighting is at 6 p.m. Dec. 4 outside the Guy B. Woodward Museum, 645 Main St., with activities from 5 to 8 p.m. Highlights include carolers, sleigh rides, vendors and pictures with Santa along with music performed by the Gin ‘N Tonix band at the Town Hall stage. Visit ramonachamber.com.
Drive-thru Nativity scene: A drive-thru Nativity scene with angels, kings and a stable full of live animals, including camels, hosted by Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church is set for 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 19 in the upper parking lot at 17010 Pomerado Road. Listen to the Nativity narrative in your car by tuning into the sound via phone. There will be directions on how to access the YouTube playlist at the event. Drive through the upper church parking lot any time between 5 and 9 p.m. and tune in to the sound via your phone and enjoy being transported into another time courtesy of the Rancho Bernardo Community Family. Visit rbcommunity.org.
RANCHO SANTA FE
A Village Family Christmas: The free communitywide event for families is at 4 p.m. Nov. 28 on the Village Church’s patio lit up for the Advent season at 6225 Paseo Delicias. Highlights include Christmas cookies, cocoa and coffee along with traditional carols and jingle bell pop songs performed by soloists. Make Christmas ornaments and wreaths to decorate for the holidays. Reservations are required at villagechurch.org/a-village-family-christmas.
Breakfast in Bethlehem: The Village Church’s annual Breakfast in Bethlehem for families is at 9 a.m. Dec. 4, with the Christmas story read by Senior Pastor Jack Baca and several Bible character friends. Children can make ornaments and Christmas crafts, and there will be a picnic-style breakfast. Admission is free; reservations are required at villagechurch.org/breakfast-in-bethlehem.
Jungle Bells at the zoo: The annual Jungle Bells celebration at the San Diego Zoo is a wild wonderland of twinkling lights, holiday music and displays that interweave 3-D projections, music and light. Find Santa at Gingerbread Landing. The seasonal event is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Dec. 10-23, Dec. 25-31 and Jan. 1-2. On Dec. 24, the zoo closes at 5 p.m. Free with park admission. 2920 Zoo Drive. Visit sandiegozoowildlifealliance.org.
Celebrate at SeaWorld San Diego: New holiday attractions on select nights through Jan. 2 this year include Santa’s Circus, an interactive family-friendly show with stunts, illusion and comedy and Elmo’s Christmas Wish, starring the Sesame Street characters. Attend the tree lighting ceremony with snowfall at sunset in Jingle Bell Square, when thousands of lights on the new, 30-foot Christmas tree are programmed to twinkle to holiday songs. SeaWorld also will be celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa with a traditional menorah lighting from Nov. 28 to Dec. 6 and a nightly lighting of the kinara from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1. Holiday festivities are included with park admission. SeaWorld is at 500 Sea World Drive. Call (619) 222-4732 or visit seaworldsandiego.com
Holiday events at Liberty Station: The Salute the Season theme at Liberty Station includes a variety of holiday events from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 26. The lighting of the 88-foot Norfolk pine tree is from 6:15 to 6:30 p.m. in the North Promenade, followed by a performance by the Rock Church Children’s Choir. Festivities include firetruck rides, pictures with Santa, food vendors, an outdoor screening of “The Grinch” and ice skating at Rady Children’s Ice Rink in Central Promenade. Celebrate Hanukkah and the Menorah Lighting at 5 p.m. Nov. 28. Liberty Station, North Promenade, is at 2848 Dewey Road, Point Loma. Visit libertystation.com.
Parade of Lights: The boating community continues its annual tradition with the 50th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 12 and 19. More than 50 sparkling and decorated boats will celebrate the 12 Twelve Days of Christmas and proceed to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park before making the turn to Coronado. Visit sdparadeoflights.org.
Ocean Beach Christmas parade: The 42nd annual OB Holiday Parade returns to Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach this year after holding a “reverse” parade with stationary floats during the pandemic in 2020. This year’s parade kicks off at 5:05 p.m. Dec. 4. Visit obtowncouncil.org/holiday-parade.
La Jolla parade: The 65th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival is back Dec. 5 in La Jolla Village after organizers held a “reverse” parade with stationary floats last year. This year’s parade, themed “Spirit of La Jolla — Celebrating Hometown Heroes,” kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on Girard Avenue. The Holiday Festival will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. along Wall Street between Girard and Herschel avenues. Visit ljparade.com.
Hanukkah and Christmas celebrations: The Valencia Hotel’s special events are free and open to the public. Chabad of La Jolla presents its annual Hanukkah Celebration on Nov. 29 with live music, menorah kits, latkes, dreidels and more starting at 5:30 p.m. on Patio Sol. And from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 2, there is the annual holiday tree lighting countdown at 5:45 in the La Sala Lounge along with children’s crafts and live music from Roman Palacios and carolers. The hotel is at 1132 Prospect St., La Jolla. Call (858) 424-0771 or visit lavalencia.com.
Tree lighting in Hillcrest: Mama’s Kitchen and Village Hillcrest host its annual Tree of Life Tree Lighting Ceremony to honor World AIDS Day at 6 p.m. Dec. 1 at 3955 Fifth Ave. The event includes a candlelight vigil and holiday music by the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. Reservations are required. Call (619) 233-6262 or visit mamaskitchen.org.
Christmas in Little Italy: There’s not one but two holiday trees to see in this urban neighborhood, decorated with nutcrackers and kinetic, seasonal displays. Check out Joshua Hubert’s Aurora tree at Piazza Basilone and at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4., attend the traditional Italian tree lighting ceremony in front of the 25-foot tree at Piazza della Famiglia. Find creative gifts from 4 to 8 p.m. at Christmas Village along India Street. Visit littleitalysd.com.
Tree lighting in Pacific Beach: The Crystal Pier tree lighting takes place at sunset Dec. 11 and the decorations can be seen through Dec. 25. Visit pacificbeach.org.
Lights in Bankers Hill: The 24th annual Holiday Lighting Display at The Forward House (Bankers Hill mansion built in 1905 for San Diego Mayor John Forward Sr.), 108 Ivy St., is synchronized to music and begins at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Santa will make a socially distant stop from his sleigh on the rooftop from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 18 and all visitors will receive a wrapped candy cane. Walk or drive by the mansion on the corner of Ivy Street and First Avenue from 5 to 10 p.m. nightly through New Year’s Eve. Call (619) 533-7900 or visit americansecuritymortgage.net.
Tree lighting and vendor market: The family event with dance performances, school choirs, crafts and vendors is set for 1 to 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at the San Marcos Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Drive. After Santa lights the tree at 5:35 p.m., there will be “snowfall.” Admission is free. Visit san-marcos.net/treelighting.
Tree lighting and Santa: The annual free Holiday Tree Lighting at Fletcher Cove Park, 111 S Sierra Ave., is from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Dec. 5 with sweets, treats, cider and hot cocoa, hosted by the city of Solana Beach’s Parks and Recreation Commission. There will be live music by pianist Robert Parker, children’s band Hullabaloo and the youth choir of Saint James Academy. Santa is slated to arrive by a firetruck escort, 5:20 p.m. Visit ci.solana-beach.ca.us.
Santa’s Sleigh Run: Santa will be riding through Solana Beach with firefighters, sheriff’s and marine safety personnel from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Dec. 17, starting and ending at the Solana Beach Fire Station, 500 Lomas Santa Fe Drive. Attendees should stay on the sidewalk when Santa passes by, and kids are encouraged to make posters thanking first responders. Check the city website to find out the estimated time when Santa will be in your neighborhood. Visit ci.solana-beach.ca.us.
Christmas parade: Vista Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas parade is back from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 in downtown Vista. This year’s theme is “Come Together,” celebrating the Vista community coming back together for the family-friendly event. The parade starts at 1 p.m. on Civic Center and Alta Vista and will end on Main Street at the Wave Water Park. There will be floats, music and marching bands along with Santa. Visit vistachamber.org/2021-vista-christmas-parade.
Jingle Terrace Park: The free holiday-themed drive-thru light show is from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 26 to Dec. 23 with light displays showing many of Vista’s unique amenities, along a driving loop in Brengle Terrace Park, 1200 Vale Terrace Drive. Volunteers from the San Diego Food Bank will accept donations from your car. Visit cityofvista.com/departments/recreation-comm-services/jingle-terrace-park.
Holiday Homes Tour: Vista Community Clinic hosts its 35th annual Holiday Homes Tour to be held virtually Dec. 12-19. The online event will feature five homes across North County decorated by professional designers for the holidays. Attendees can take a narrated journey through each house alongside the designer responsible for the décor. The tour will also feature a silent auction with holiday baskets and one-of-a-kind items. Proceeds support the clinic’s services for all community member. Tickets are $25 at supportvcc.org.
“Miracle on 34th Street”: Moonlight Stage Productions stages “Miracle on 34th Street: A Musical Radio Play,” adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio broadcast, Dec. 3-23 at the AVO Playhouse, 303 Main St. The classic play features the story of a department store Santa who says he’s the real Kriss Kringle. Tickets are $47; $45 for students and seniors; $43 for military and $37 for ages 12 and younger for matinee and evening performances. Proceeds benefit the nonprofit Moonlight Cultural Foundation. Visit moonlightstage.com/shows-tickets/miracle-on-34th-street-a-musical-radio-play.