It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in America's Finest City. From bright lights at Balboa Park to special holiday events at landmarks like the San Diego Zoo and downtown's waterfront, there's whole lot of merrymaking happening in our city now through the end of the 2019.
Here are a few 2019 holiday highlights happening in San Diego this season.
Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Dec. 13 to Jan. 5, 2020), San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo's annual holiday-themed event, Jungle Bells, returns next month. Jungle Bells, presented by California Coast Credit Union, includes live music and entertainment at the zoo, plus animal experiences, seasonal decorations, Santa Claus, and tasty, seasonal food options. New this year is "Aurora," a multisensory, immersive experience blending sound, lights, 3D projection mapping, and live performers as the show takes guests to a glittering wonderland filled with wildlife and winter charm.
The San Diego Zoo is open every day of the year, including all holidays like Christmas and New Year’s Day. It will close a little bit early, at 5 p.m., on Christmas Eve. All Jungle Bells activities are included with admission or member passes. Click here to purchase tickets online.
Holidays at LEGOLAND
Times vary by date (Now through Jan. 5, 2020), California LEGOLAND
LEGOLAND in San Diego's North County sure knows how to build up the holiday cheer. Happening now through Jan. 5 at the amusement park is Holidays at LEGOLAND®, a seasonal event presented by Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas. The holiday-themed happenings include photos with characters, a 30-foot LEGO Christmas Tree and a Holiday Light Show that runs through Dec. 31. For New Year’s Eve, there will be kids’ bands, party favors, fireworks and a 6 p.m. "giant LEGO brick drop." Buy your tickets here.
SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
Times vary by date (Now through Jan. 5, 2020), SeaWorld
This holiday season, SeaWorld will have live shows like the all-new "Winter Wonderland on Ice" and "Cirque Christmas." You can also meet festive friends at Rudolph’s Christmastown and the new Sesame Street Christmas Village. And, don't forget the treats: hot cocoa and warm desserts fill concession stands as you peruse the festivities. Catch the big tree lighting in the heart of the amusement park every evening at 5 p.m. The holiday activities are included with park admission. Buy tickets online here.
Port of San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
5 p.m. on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, San Diego Bay
The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition in America's Finest City. More than 80 lavishly decorated boats will sail along downtown's waterfront as spectators watch the parade from the shoreline. This year's theme is "Comic-Con on the Bay." This free event can be viewed from anywhere along the parade path, including the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Pier at Cesar Chavez Park and the Ferry Landing in Coronado. Get there early, bring a chair or blanket, and enjoy.
San Diego Symphony 'Noel Noel' Holiday Concert
7:30 p.m. and Some Matinees (Dec. 14; Dec. 15; Dec. 20; Dec. 21; Dec. 22), Copley Symphony Hall
The San Diego Symphony presents sounds of the season with its annual and much-beloved "Noel Noel" holiday concert at Copley Symphony Hall. Both old-fashioned and contemporary festive music is showcased in this concert, along with the talents of the San Diego Master Chorale. You really can't help but sing along. There are five showtimes of "Noel Noel" beginning on Dec. 14; on Dec. 15, there's a one-hour, family-friendly afternoon show. Tickets are available here.
Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade
3 p.m. on Dec. 26, Downtown San Diego
America's "largest balloon parade" returns this holiday season as it fills the scenic, bayside streets of downtown San Diego with world-class marching bands, magnificent floats, entertaining drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons. The parade starts in front of the County Administration Building near the waterfront and, as always, proceeds down North Harbor Drive. No tickets are required, and anyone can watch. If you prefer a guaranteed seat, there will be a limited number of grandstand seats are available for $22 or $25 on the day of the parade.
December Nights at Balboa Park
3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Dec. 6; 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Dec. 7, Balboa Park
Balboa Park’s December Nights returns for its 42nd year of festive, family-friendly fun. As usual, it's expected to draw more than 350,000 visitors for live music, arts and crafts, photos with Santa Claus, activities, drinks and food from across the globe and, of course, plenty of twinkling holiday lights. Select Balboa Park museums will offer free admission during December Nights, too, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., on both days. Here's everything you need to know about the big event, in case you're planning to go.