December Nights: What You Need to Know

December Nights shuttles run on Friday from 3:00 to midnight and on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight.

Thousands of San Diegans will gather at Balboa Park this weekend for the annual tradition - December Nights.

Once known as Christmas on the Prado, the large community festival offers everything from live musical performances to carousel rides to festive outdoor caroling.

Sure, everyone knows the museums offer free admission to the December Nights crowds from 5 to 9 p.m. both evenings. But that's not all there is to do. Here's just a sampling of what's offered at the free festival.

  • Enjoy the Japanese Friendship Garden for free Saturday from Noon to 4:00 p.m.
  • Get your gingerbread house fix at The Mingei International Museum.
  • Pick up your roasted chestnuts and cocoa at the San Diego Art Institute.
  • Pose with Santa Claus at the San Diego Automotive Museum for a $2 donation
  • Celebrate with some Holiday Tuba Friday in the Natural History Museum atrium
  • Watch San Diego Civic Youth Ballet perform The Nutcracker at Casa del Prado Theater
  • Visit with Jolly Old St. Nick in the Spanish Village
  • Dance to reggae in the Kwanzaa celebration at the World Beat Center

December Nights 2013 Entertainment Schedule

Among the different snacks available are the Swedish meatballs and the traditional Swedish beverage Glögg at the California Quadrangle. Of course, you can't go wrong looking for food in the International Cottages. France will have crepes, India will serve samosas and Austria will be cooking up bratwurst with sauerkraut. You may want to swing by the Philippines for lumpia or Panama for tamales.

American fare will be offered at a number of other spots including the hamburgers and hot dogs served up at the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum.

Complete listing of food offerings

If you're looking for free parking, it's limited to the San Diego Zoo parking lot. There will also be parking offered at $20 per vehicle at the Natural History Museum, South Carousel and Inspiration Point lots.

Free parking for people with disabilities is available in the Federal and Space Theater lots.

You're best bet may be to park at City College for free or PETCO Park for $3 to $5 per vehicle and hop on the free shuttle.

Shuttles run on Friday from 3:00 to midnight and on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to midnight. You’ll need to get to the shuttle location before 7 p.m. to ensure you’ll catch a shuttle to the event.  All shuttles drop off at 6th Avenue and Laurel Street.

December Nights 2013 Event Parking Map

It's recommended you avoid State Route 163 southbound during the hours of 5 to 8 p.m.

A construction project has closed one lane of Park Boulevard in each direction between University and Polk Avenues.

Prepare ahead of time by downloading a special app designed just for this event. Also, take a moment to see where there will be free WiFi offered and how to access it.

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