San Diego December Events

San Diego December events include the Parade of Lights in the bay and other traditions like December Nights in Balboa Park. 

Whale Watching (December- April)

December and January mark the height of the Whale Watching season in San Diego.  Every year, the Gray Whale migration takes place.  Thousands of whales make the trek from Alaska to the warm waters off Baja California to give birth to their calves. Whale Watching in San Diego can be enjoyed a variety of ways.  You can opt to enjoy Whale Watching from several areas off shore, such as the Birch Aquarium or the Cabrillo National Monument.  If you’d like to get a closer view of these majestic animals, you can book a Whale Watching cruise via several excursion companies.  Whale Watching tours are included with the purchase of a Go San Diego Card.

Half-Price Tickets on December Events

  • Whale-Watching
  • The Nutcracker
  • 2-hour Harbor Cruise
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Holiday Bowl
  • Go Car Tours
  • Kayaking Rentals (San Diego Bay)

Signing up is free and easy.  You'll get access to half-price tickets.

SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off (December 6)

Come by the 4th Annual SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza from 11AM to 5PM. This event brings together North Park and South Park for the holidays. Enjoy good, clean family fun that everyone will enjoy. There will be crafts and gifts from local artists and businesses as well as live music, a beer and wine garden and a kid's activity center.

The chili cook-off will feature great local restaurants from North Park and South Park, as well as chili from local residents. All the chili will be served in handmade ceramic bowls made by San Diego Ceramic Connection.  $20 gets you the bowl and chili tastings from some of the 23 best restaurants in North and South Park plus a few other areas.
The Beer and Wine garden will be open from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM

High Tide Breakfast Buffet at The Marine Room  (December 12, 13 and 27)

This is a unique way to experience one of the finest restaurants in San Diego.  This surfside restaurant offers stunning views.  On high tide days, the tide brings the surf up to the picture window getting diners up close to the crashing waves. The price is $34 per person.  Visit their website for reservations and more information.

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Balboa Park December Nights (December 4 & 5)

This San Diego favorite continues to grow year after year. Originally only held at night, they have expanded to include some daytime hours to accommodate the crowds. Now in it's 36th year, December Nights offers a variety of activities. Included are hourly performances, free admission to the Park museums, food, gift-shopping, and other exhibitions.

Things not to miss are the various food and cultural offerings at the International cottages, the artists at Spanish Village, entrance to various museums and performances by the San Diego Junior Theater and San Diego Civic Youth Ballet.

December Nights takes place on:

December 4, 5:00-10:00 PM

December 5, Noon to 10:00 PM
Museums will be welcome visitor for free from 5:00 to 9:00 PM on both nights.

Go to a complete list of Holiday events in San Diego.

Ray at Night (December 13)

Every second Saturday of the month North Park hosts a night of creativity music and fun. Join artists, musicians and spectators in this event that brings together music, art demonstrations, food and shopping.  This event takes place on Ray Street near 30th and University Ave in North Park.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights (December 13 & 20)

Watch more than 80 boats beautifully decorated in the 41st Annual Parade of Lights on San Diego Bay. This year's theme is USS Santa Claus. One of the most popular of the San Diego December events, the Parade of Lights is a delight for the entire family.

Parade Dates and Times

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is held two consecutive Sundays. The Parade proceeds from Shelter Island past Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and Ferry Landing in Coronado.

Sunday, December13
Sunday, December 20

Approximate Times at Locations Around the Bay
The parade takes about 1 hour to 1 and 1/2 hours to pass any point along the parade route. Below are the approximate arrival times of the parade at various locations:

Shelter Island (start of parade) - 5:30 PM
Harbor Island - 6:00 PM
The Embarcadero - 6:30 PM
Seaport Village - 7:00 PM
Ferry Landing on Coronado - 7:30 PM

Best Viewing Locations

If you plan to watch the parade from land, the best place to watch is the route along Coronado as well as the Embarcadero. Regardless, it's important to arrive early as parking might be difficult to find. You can also get excellent views from the parks along Seaport Village, Harbor Island and Shelter Island.

For those who can watch the parade from the water, a good area for viewing is near the 10th Street Terminal. You may also be able to take a nighttime dinner cruise to enjoy the parade while enjoying a meal.

Best Hotels to Watch the Parade of Lights

Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina
Marriott Coronado Island Resort
Hilton San Diego Bayfront

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (November 16–December 28)

A favorite San Diego event, How the Grinch Stole Christmas is back for its 14th year at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. An amazing cast of characters, including some of the most talented young performers, will sing Christmas Carols, dance and get everyone in the Christmas spirit.

Skating by the Sea  (November 27-January 4)

The Hotel Del Coronado is opening it's annual ice-skating rink.  Take advantage of this unique opportunity to skate while taking in the view of the ocean.  It's worth a trip out to this historic hotel and a great way to take-in a truly San Diego Holiday experience.

Legoland Holiday Snow Days and Winter Nights (November 21- January 3)

Come enjoy Holiday Snow Days at Legoland themepark. Children get to experience a Christmas wonderland made of LEGOs. From the largest LEGO Christmas tree to reindeer. Visitors can build snowmen, play in real snow or throw snowballs at targets made of LEGOs.   Holiday Snow Days also feature a musical, "Let it Snow", including songs and dancing.  Additional Festivities include:

Nightly LEGO Christmas tree lighting ceremony Dec. 1 - 24
Nightly fireworks Dec. 26 - 31

More things to do in San Diego

Old Town Trolley Tour

Whale Watching Tours

San Diego Zoo













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