San Diego Holiday Events 2018

A comprehensive list of all of the Holiday events, festivals, parades and festivities taking place during the 2018 holiday season in San Diego, California.  Sunny San Diego may not have the frosty fun of cities in the north and east, but we still know how to make the holidays bright and festive, so start planning your holiday fun now. Events are listed in order of start date.


  • Viejas Casino & Resort Outdoor Ice Skating Rink  
  • Now – January 31, 2019

Celebrate the sights and sounds of the holidays. We deck our halls (and grounds) with holiday lights, entertainment, and a seasonal water show. Enjoy Southern California’s largest outdoor ice rink throughout the season!

  • Salute the Season – Rady Children’s Ice Rink at Liberty Station  
  • November 17, 2018 – January 6, 2019

Rady Children's Ice Rink at Liberty Station is part of Salute the Season!  Tickets are good for in-and-out access throughout the day they are purchased for and include a pair of skates and an optional helmet. All proceeds from the ice rink benefit the Rady Children's Hospital's Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.   

  • Holidays at Legoland  
  • November 17, 2018 – January 1, 2019

Experience the magic of the Holidays at LEGOLAND with music and twinkling lights and the world’s largest LEGO® Christmas Tree. Enjoy live entertainment with LEGO Friends Live in Heartlake City, Santa’s elves singing in Fun Town and a life-sized LEGO Brick Santa and Reindeer that make for a perfect family photo.

  • SeaWorld Christmas Celebration  
  • November 17, 2018 – January 6, 2019

SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is a holiday waiting to be made, with seasonal shopping, festive food and drinks, and stunning live shows.  As holiday music fills the air, a sea of lighted trees sparkles, transforming the park into a wintery, watery wonderland. Celebrate the reason for the season during our mesmerizing nativity show, O Wondrous Night, inspired by the original story of Christmas. Visit Santa's Christmas Village to see Santa himself, meet Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™ and friends, and savor holiday flavors as you shop for unique gifts and decorations.

  • Holidays by the Bay at Hilton San Diego Bayfront  
  • November 21, 2018 – January 5, 2019

Slide into the season at San Diego’s exclusive holiday adventure park. Create a new family tradition with an exhilarating ride down a two-story 100-foot ice slide and take a spin in an ice bumper car. Toast s’mores, sip festive cocktails, and marvel at a spectacular interactive light show. Gather loved ones for sweet and savory fare and delight in activities of the season from stocking trimming to cookie decorating.  Re-discover the magic of your youth at Holiday by the Bay.  Check here for days of operation.

  • Holidays at the Hotel Del Coronado  
  • November 22, 2018 – January 1, 2019

Celebrate 130 years of A Christmas Legend at Hotel del Coronado! With the return of Skating by the Sea®, thousands of twinkling lights adorning our iconic red turrets, a nostalgic two-story lobby tree and legendary holiday events and activities, family and friends will create #delmemories all season long.

  • Let It Glow at Birch Aquarium  
  • November 29 – December 13, 2018

Light up the Holiday Season with creatures that glow! Bioluminescence is more than beautiful, it also helps creatures survive. Get hands on with glowing activities, meet scientists who study illuminating creatures, celebrate the season with living light! All ages welcome.

  • Salute the Season – Tree Lighting & Holiday Festivities  
  • November 30, 2018

Salute the Season’s main event, the Liberty Station Tree Lighting & Holiday Festivities will take place from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. Gather your loved ones in Liberty Station’s North Promenade for live entertainment and gaze upon the 88-foot Norfolk Pine Tree as it is lit up by a patient family of Rady Children’s Hospital at 6:15pm. Throughout the evening there will be entertainment, shopping and more throughout the neighborhood.  After the lighting, grab a quick snack or bite from the surrounding restaurants or food vendors, spread a cozy picnic blanket out on the lawn, and enjoy an outdoor viewing of a holiday movie, which will be projected onto a custom-made sail by a local craftsman.

  • Santa Train North Pole Limited  
  • November 30 – December 22, 2018 (Fridays & Saturdays)

The famous North Pole Limited returns to celebrate the holiday season. The fun begins at the lighted Campo Depot. Pick up your tickets from the Ticket Agent in our restored passenger waiting room. We recommend you plan on arriving at the Campo Depot at least 45 minutes before your train departs to allow ample time to park, get your tickets, and pass through our gift shop. Don’t forget to stop by the Hobo Camp next to the Depot to hear tales from railroading’s past. 

  • Channel 933’s FREEcember Holiday Concert Presented By SDCCU.com  
  • December 1, 2018

Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Boys & Girls club for free admission into the concert at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, for FREEcember featuring: Logan Henderson, Madison Beer, and Jack & Jack. As always, admission is free when you bring a new, unwrapped toy for the San Diego Boys & Girls Clubs.  Starts at 10am.

  • North Park Toyland Parade  
  • December 1, 2018

Enjoy melodious marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens, city officials and more. Santa will also make an appearance on a red fire engine. All-day parking available at the North Park garage for 41. The North Park Toyland Parade is Saturday (12/1) from 11am-1pm.

  • Ocean Beach Holiday Parade  
  • December 1, 2018

Head to the beach for a unique parade featuring marching bands, motorcycles, gorgeous floats, the VW Beetle club, classic Woodies and more as they cruise down Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach.  Saturday (12/1) from 5-7pm.

  • USS Midway Party on the Pier Toy Drive  
  • December 1, 2018

Kick off the holiday season with a family fun event loaded with activities, give-a-ways, booths and the opportunity to give back!  This annual toy drive in partnership with U.S. Marine Corps and Toys for Tots is a way to get the whole family involved in the season of giving. We need your help to reach our goal of filling a 7-Ton US Marine Corps truck with toys!  Donate a minimum of 2 new, unwrapped toys to receive a free pass to visit the USS Midway.  One pass per person while supplies last.  Saturday (12/1) from 10am – 2pm.

  • Winter Nights at Westfield UTC  
  • December 1, 8 and 15, 2018 (Saturdays from 5-8pm)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Celebrate the holiday season with family and friends at our 5th annual Winter Nights series. Beginning December 1, Westfield UTC will be transformed into a magical winter wonderland the first three Saturday’s in December. Each evening will feature festive holiday entertainment, including live musical performances by local choirs and headlining acts, holiday carolers, sweet eats, along with crafts and fun for the whole family.

  • Garden of Lights at the San Diego Botanic Garden
  • December 1 – 3 and 26 – 30, 2018

The San Diego Botanic Garden lights up for the holidays after dusk complete with, horse-drawn wagon rides, holiday crafts, visits with Santa, snow for sledding (on selected evenings), marshmallow roasting, mulled wine, and so much more. The nonmember cost is $18 for adults and $5 for children 3—12.

  • La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival  
  • December 2, 2018

The parade marches down Girard Avenue to Prospect Street, ending at the La Jolla Recreation Center for a giant festival including pony rides, live entertainment, photos with Santa, tree lighting and much more. Parking information is on the website. Sunday (12/2) at 1:30pm.

  • Alpine Village Christmas Parade & Snow Festival  
  • December 7, 2018

The village of Alpine celebrates the season with their 23rd annual Christmas Parade of Lights and Snow Festival, featuring a popular parade, a visit from Santa and his helpers, Christmas caroling and a snow mountain for sledding. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m. sharp with Santa riding down Alpine Blvd.

  • Balboa Park December Nights
  •  December 7 – 8, 2018

Millions of twinkling lights, dozens of musical performances, over 150 food vendors, and holiday festivities for all ages! Join us December 7-8 when Balboa Park’s historic background is transformed into a holiday wonderland for December Nights 2018!  Friday (12/7) 3-11pm & Saturday (12/8) 12Noon-11pm.

  • La Mesa Holiday in the Village
  • December 7 – 8, 2018

The La Mesa Village Association's "Holiday in the Village" returns to downtown La Mesa December 7 & 8, 2018! This family friendly event will feature a wonderland of festive holiday music and dance, food, kids activities, shopping and more!  Friday (12/7) 4 - 9 pm and Saturday (12/8) 10am - 9 pm.

  • Oceanside Parade of Lights 
  • December 8, 2018

Fishing boats, sailboats, yachts, kayaks, and dingys will dress up for the holidays and circle the Oceanside Harbor at the Oceanside Parade of Lights from 7-9pm. The best viewing point is along the side of the Oceanside Harbor near the fishing dock and police station.

  • Poway’s Christmas in the Park  
  • December 8, 2018

Join us at Old Poway Park for an old-fashioned holiday tradition that will take you back in time with caroling, live music, a visit with Santa, free children’s crafts, model train displays, and so much more! Purchase tasty holiday treats, finish your Christmas shopping at the craft boutique, or board the Poway Midland Railroad for a night-time ride around the park.  Christmas tree lighting at 5:15 PM, followed by the arrival of Santa at 5:30 PM. Horse-drawn hay and pony rides, petting zoo, and face painting. Steam locomotive train rides, model trains, and live entertainment. Holiday sweets and warm dinner foods.

  • San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
  • December 9 & 16, 2018

A time-honored holiday tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community. Continuing its long-standing San Diego tradition, the 47th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights promises to dazzle and entertain bayfront crowds during the evenings of December 9 and 16, 2018 starting a 5pm both nights. Participants in this year’s highly anticipated holiday boat parade will decorate their boats to fit this year’s theme, Tropical Island Christmas.

  • Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
  • December 14, 2018 – January 1, 2019

The jubilant festivities will treat guests to seasonal decorations, animal experiences, costumed characters, lighted displays and live entertainment—including our zany Dr. Zoolittle and the jolly elf himself—Santa. Jungle Bells activities and attractions are free with Zoo admission or membership. Parking is free.

  • Las Posadas an Old Town Celebration
  • December 15, 2018

Fiesta de Reyes invites you to enjoy the holiday spirit with festive decorations throughout the park, entertainment, and holiday experiences for the whole family during the day. At 5:00 PM, the procession will begin. Based on the story of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem, this even has been part of Old Town San Diego's celebration of Christmas for 68 years. The day's festivities will wrap up with a campfire and s'mores in the Plaza.

  • Polar Express Family Day at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • December 15, 2018

The evening will start the event with a cozy screening of The Polar Express. We invite you to attend in pajamas and enjoy the movie snuggled in your favorite blanket. After the movie, kids will craft a special keepsake and we will close the event with a visit from a very important friend of the San Diego Model Railroad Museum!  Event is included with the museum’s regular admission price.  Saturday (12/15) from 11am – 3pm.

  • Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade
  • December 16, 2018

Deck those paws with bells so jolly and jingle all the way through the Gaslamp Quarter for The Vet + Pet West Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade. Pet owners and their furry, feathered, and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes for this jolly promenade and Holiday Pet Market on Sunday (12/16) from 12Noon-5pm, at MLK Promenade Park, adjacent to the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter (401 K Street, San Diego, CA 92101).

  • Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade
  • December 31, 2018

America’s largest balloon parade with floats, balloons, and marching bands parading along San Diego’s beautiful bay.  Monday (12/31) at 10am. 

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December Nights 2018 at Balboa Park, San Diego
December Nights 2018 at Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa Park's historic background is transformed into a holiday wonderland with twinkling lights, musical performances, 150+ food vendors, and holiday festivities for...

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