San Diego

From Jungle Bells to the Holiday Bowl, Celebrate the Season With These Events

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so grab the family and explore what our beautiful city has to offer

NBC Universal, Inc.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in San Diego.

From food trucks in Balboa Park to dogs dressed as reindeer in the Gaslamp Quarter, America’s Finest City has everything you need to have a merry and bright holiday season.

Holidays at Legoland

Nov. 20 to Jan. 9

The Legoland Resort is overflowing with festive decor and holiday cheer for builders of all ages.

Holiday Lego characters like Santa, a toy soldier and gingerbread man are returning this season for socially distanced meet-and-greets.

Looking for more family photo opportunities? You can hop on a sleigh with a life-size LEGO Santa, which is pulled by his trusted Lego reindeer.

Fun Town is also showcasing a 30-foot, fully decorated Lego Christmas tree with over 400 Lego ornaments. At night, the tree lights up to holiday tunes at the Holiday Light Show. Visitors can also enjoy falling “snow” during the show.

Winter Wonder at Belmont Park

Nov. 26 to Jan. 2

Belmont Park is celebrating their third annual Winter Wonder holiday spectacular.

The park has day-and-night experiences, including 15-foot-tall holiday-themed sculptures, a Christmas tree farm, seasonal character appearances, holiday cinema nights, face painting and balloon art.

Tickets for the park are available for purchase online.

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration

Dec. 1 to Jan. 2

SeaWorld’s annual Christmas Celebration is back with a special cirque show and twinkly lights to match the sparkle in visitors’ eyes. The little ones can enjoy a Sesame Street show full of songs and dancing with its popular characters.

The park also boasts a 30-foot Christmas tree decked in lights that are synchronized to eight holiday songs for visitors to observe.

SeaWorld will also celebrate Hanukkah through Dec. 6 with the nightly lighting of a menorah.

Tickets are available for purchase online.

Several seasonal festivities are being held at SeaWorld San Diego for a limited time through the holidays. NBC 7’s Audra Stafford has more from Santa’s village at the park.

December Nights in Balboa Park

Dec. 3 to 5 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Ring in the holiday season with one of San Diego's biggest community festivals. The annual December Nights in Balboa Park will be a drive-thru event again this year due to COVID-19.

Festivities at the three-day event include carolers, live music and theatrical performances, light displays and food from around the world.

Little Italy's Tree Lighting Ceremony and Christmas Village

Dec. 4 from 4 to 8 p.m.

Little Italy is transforming into a winter wonderland with twinkle lights, 10-foot tall nutcrackers and kinetic tree holiday displays lining the streets. Carolers will gather at street corners to sing your favorite holiday tunes.

The Christmas Village, located on India Street between W. Cedar and W. Grape Streets, offers stocking stuffers and other holiday goodies from seasonal vendors.

The 25-foot tree in the Piazza della Famiglia will light the night sky at 6:30 p.m.

Botanic Wonderland at San Diego Botanic Garden

Dec 4 to 5, Dec. 10 to 23 and Dec. 26-30

San Diego Botanic Garden is transforming into a twinkling, holiday oasis as Botanic Wonderland returns.

Take the family on a mile-long stroll illuminated with holiday lights and meander through the garden’s waterfall, gazebo lawn, children’s garden, and other specially lit areas.

Professional carolers will perform live throughout the garden, and photos with Santa Claus will be available throughout the evening. Tune in with a seasonal dish and drink on the gazebo lawn from the different food vendors featured each night.

SDBG will open to visitors from 5:30 to 9 p.m., with the last entry at 8 p.m.

Tickets are available for purchase online.

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off

Dec. 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off is back in person this year, featuring a restaurant chili cook-off, a craft beer & beverage garden, local handmade crafts and food trucks.

The volunteer-run, locally-focused street festival has something for everyone with live music on three stages all day and fun activities for the kiddos.

Organizers say 100% of the money raised at the event goes directly to McKinley Elementary School. The school uses the proceeds to fund creative learning, art programs, teacher support and more.

You can catch the fest at the intersection of 32nd & Thorn Streets in North Park.

Beat the crowds day of; tickets for the chili tasting are available online.

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Dec. 10 to Jan. 2

The San Diego Zoo will light up the night sky with holiday lights, decor and cheer.

This year, the zoo is welcoming the return of Aurora, a magical light experience with 3D projections and accompanying music.

Live music and roaming performers will add even more entertainment to your zoo experience. Special food items and sweets will also be available for visitors of all ages.

A full list of performances and activities is available on the San Diego Zoo website.

During Jungle Bells festivities, the Zoo will close at 8 p.m.

NBC 7's Audra Stafford has a behind-the-scenes look at the San Diego Zoo's Jungle Bells.

Poway’s Christmas in the Park

Dec. 11 from 3:30-8:30 p.m.

Travel back in time for Poway’s old-fashioned holiday tradition: Christmas in the Park. The free event offers caroling, live music, horse-drawn hayrides and more.

You can purchase holiday treats and even finish your holiday shopping at local boutiques. Children of all ages can take a trip aboard the Poway Midland Railroad for a nighttime ride around the park.

The annual community Christmas tree lighting will take place at 5:15 p.m., followed by Santa’s arrival to town.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Dec. 12 and Dec. 19; Procession starts at 5:30 p.m.

The San Diego Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition, celebrating its 50th year.

Over 100 participants in this year’s highly anticipated holiday boat parade will decorate their boats with holiday lights fitting the Twelve Days of Christmas theme.

You can view the parade from the Coronado Ferry Landing, Seaport Village and the Embarcadero. Be sure to arrive early for the perfect spot!

NBC 7's Erika Cervantes met with a family preparing their boat for their 14th parade.

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Dec. 19 at 1 p.m.

Time to deck the paws with boughs of holly... well maybe not holly, but definitely holiday attire.

Dress your pup in their holiday best and head to the Gaslamp Quarter for the annual Holiday Pet Parade. The parade features San Diego pets and their owners decked out in colorful fashion as they promenade through the heart of the Gaslamp for onlookers.

Don’t want to partake in the parade? You can watch from outside any of the shops and restaurants in the quarter.

After the parade, you can head to the first-ever Pups at the Pub Paw-ty. Enjoy craft beer tastings, live music and a holiday costume contest. The party will run from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. on 4th Avenue and Island.

Holiday Bowl Parade

Dec. 28 at 10 a.m.

The Holiday Bowl Parade is an annual family event bringing together world-class marching bands, floats, drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons. It is deemed America’s Largest Balloon Parade... located right here in San Diego!

The parade will start in the Grandstand Area by the Maritime Museum and run down San Diego’s waterfront to Ruocco Park. Street side viewing of the parade is free.

Be sure to grab a spot along the parade route if you plan to attend in person. You can also watch the parade on TV along with a nationwide television audience.

The parade launches the Holiday Bowl gameday celebration. This year, the college football bowl game will take place in Petco Park with kickoff scheduled for 5 p.m. on Dec. 28.

NBC 7's Alex Presha spoke to visitors excited to enjoy the festivities despite the rain threat.
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