San Diego’s largest free event attracted about 140,000 people in its first night Friday – which, with the exception a few parking glitches, kicked off a jubilant holiday season.
The annual holiday tradition December Nights began Friday evening at 5 p.m. and featured a number of events, including a tree lighting ceremony with Mayor Jerry Sanders at the Organ Pavilion.
Saturday, the event will get an early start at noon and continue until 10 p.m. It will feature a variety of music and artistic exhibitions, including dance performances from countries around the world.
On Friday night, while there were fewer police reports than usual, there was a much bigger crowd than expected, which impacted parking, a spokesperson said. The zoo parking lot filled up before 6 p.m., and crowds were stuck waiting for shuttle pickups in the remote locations.
Saturday, more shuttles were arranged to pick up the crowds at Petco Park and other remote locations like the County Administration building and City College, the spokesperson said.
The International Cottages will also be opening their doors for December Nights to offer food from around the world including empanadas, egg rolls, fried plantains, pierogi, baklava, paella and more.
Balboa Park museums will be open free of charge from 5 to 9 p.m.
About San Diego's Ken Kramer will once again serve as emcee of the main event Saturday evening. Look for him at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion from 5 to 9 p.m.
Parking is available at City College, at the San Diego County Admin Building and at PETCO Park with free shuttle service to and from the park. Shuttles run from 4:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday. PETCO Park charges $3 at Park Boulevard and Imperial Avenue.
For those wanting to park at the San Diego Zoo and Inspiration Point, the cost is $10 and both locations offer no shuttle service.
Bus route #7 will stop along Park Boulevard.
There is a December Nights mobile app available for those interested in having food listings and activity guide on their phone or mobile device. Search for "Meridian" in the App Store or Android Market to download the free December Nights guide.
There will also be free WiFi at the following locations: House of Hospitality, Mingei International Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Hall of Champions, San Diego History Center, San Diego Museum of Art and Timken Museum of Art.
To access, click on the network titled "Balboa Park."