San Diego’s Top Things to Do, Dec. 5 – 17, 2023

San Diego’s Top Things to Do, Dec. 5 - 17, 2023

Experience the magic of the holiday season in San Diego, where winter wonderland meets heartwarming charm. Indulge in a getaway filled with festive fun, enchanting decorative displays, lively holiday happenings and top things to do listed below.

When: Dec. 7, 2023
Immerse yourself in the enchanting holiday spirit at Liberty Station’s Hanukkah & Menorah Lighting event, a dazzling highlight of the Salute the Season festivities. Join the joyous celebration, where the air will be filled with the sounds of music and the warmth of tradition as the menorah is illuminated. This free event promises a magical experience for families, blending the spirit of Hanukkah with the vibrant atmosphere of Liberty Station. 

When: Dec. 8 – 23, 2023 
The Moonlight Amphitheatre presents the dazzling holiday extravaganza “Jingle Terrace Live”. Be enchanted by nightly holiday light shows, meet Santa Claus and revel in live entertainment by a holiday brass band. With free admission, activities for all ages and special surprises like live reindeer and Maker’s Markets, this event promises a joyous celebration for the whole family. 

When: Dec. 8 – 9, 2023 
Step into the enchanting past at Poway’s Christmas in the Park, held at Old Poway Park, where timeless holiday traditions come to life! Immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere with live music, a visit from Santa and delightful holiday treats. Experience the magic of the season as you embark on a nighttime ride around the park aboard the Poway Midland Railroad — a perfect blend of nostalgia and merriment awaits you in this old-fashioned celebration! 

When: Dec. 8, 2023 
Organized by the Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce, Old Town Trolley Tours and the Mormon Battalion Historic Site, Las Posadas in Old Town invites you to relive the centuries-old Mexican traditions and festive spirit of the holidays. Join Mary and Joseph on a captivating narrative pilgrimage, immerse yourself in a community service project and conclude the evening with refreshments and live music. A unique celebration weaving together history, tradition and the joyous unity of the season awaits in the picturesque Heritage County Park. 

When: Dec. 9, 2023 
Experience the exhilarating Red Nose Run, a family- and dog-friendly fun run and walk along the stunning Del Mar beach. With flexible 3K and 5K distances, the event promises a memorable day filled with holiday costumes, beachfront festivities and a spirited after-run celebration in its remarkable 30th year.  

When: Dec. 9, 2023 – Jan. 1, 2024 
Get ready for a wild holiday adventure with Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo, proudly supported by California Coast Credit Union. Immerse yourself in the festive magic as the zoo comes alive with dazzling lights, joyful entertainers and special holiday treats, with the spectacular show “Aurora” lighting up the night until 8 p.m. This enchanting experience is included with all admission tickets and memberships, making it a must-attend celebration for families seeking the warmth and wonder of the holidays in a unique setting. 

When: Dec. 9, 2023 
Dive into the holiday spirit at the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, promising boatloads of family fun on the picturesque Mission Bay. Kick off the festivities with SeaWorld’s dazzling fireworks, followed by a magical boat parade. Enjoy prime viewing areas along the route, complete with holiday hospitality, food, beverages and entertainment for kids, including appearances by Princess Elsa and Buddy the Elf.  

When: Dec 10 – 17, 2023 
Set against the stunning backdrop of San Diego Bay, this year’s parade — with the theme “Christmas Traditions around the World” — promises a dazzling spectacle. Join over 100,000 residents and visitors along the bayfront to witness approximately 80 lavishly decorated boats, transforming the waters into a twinkling procession of holiday magic. Experience the joy of the season as the parade weaves its way from Shelter Island to Coronado, providing multiple viewing areas, all at no cost. Don’t miss this iconic event that brings together tradition, community and the spirit of Christmas in one unforgettable spectacle on the shores of San Diego Bay. 

When: Dec. 14 – 31, 2023 
Leap into a magical winter wonderland by the sea at the Coastal Christmas Holiday Lights Spectacular in Del Mar! Experience the holiday spirit like never before as this iconic venue transforms with twinkling lights, festive cheer and delectable snacks and drinks. Don’t miss the chance to make Coastal Christmas your new favorite holiday tradition, where the warmth of the season, the joy of community and the breathtaking beauty of the coast come together in an enchanting festival that promises unforgettable moments. 

When: Dec. 15 – 21, 2023 
An enchanting experience beckons visitors from San Diego and beyond. For the cost of a movie ticket, dive into acres of dazzlingly lit trees, magical cottages, light tunnels and over a million lights, creating a breathtaking spectacle. With live entertainers, giant candy canes and interactive displays, the Enchanted Village promises an unforgettable journey through a festive wonderland, making it a must-attend attraction for a joyful and luminous holiday experience. 

When: Dec. 16, 2023 
Run an exhilarating 13.1-mile course that starts in Rancho Penasquitos and culminates at the stunning Torrey Pines State Beach. Brace yourself for a fast and picturesque route, featuring only one challenging hill at mile 1.5, followed by a 711-foot net elevation drop along the rolling downhill bike path  —a perfect setup for achieving a personal best. Join this sellout event, guaranteed to make your winter memorable, and seize the opportunity for an end-of-the-year personal record in a race celebrated for its breathtaking course and coastal finish. 

When: Dec. 16, 2023 
Unleash the holiday spirit with your furry friends at the Gaslamp Pet Parade, Expo & Pups in the Pub Party in the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter! The festivities kick off with the Gaslamp Holiday Expo, featuring festive photo ops, Santa Claus, pet treats and a showcase of the latest pet products. Witness the best parade ever along the route, with free viewing from the patios, and after the parade, join the Pups in the Pub Party at the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter for craft beers, holiday tunes, a costume contest, games and a paw-sitively delightful time in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter.  

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