Free Holiday Events in San Diego - View the Full PDF here: Holiday Events San Diego
From traditional holiday parades and festivals to the migration of California gray whales along the Pacific coast, a visit to San Diego during the winter offers an enormous amount of free, entertaining and joyful experiences. Escape overcast skies and the wintry cold for San Diego's bright sunshine and ideal weather. The following suggestions for free San Diego activities and events are sure to capture your imagination and lift your spirits during the holiday season (organized roughly by occurrence).
1. Balboa Park December Nights - Dec 1-21. Balboa Park December Nights - Dec 1-2
Balboa Park December Nights, a two-day holiday celebration of food, entertainment and fun The sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season fill the air as the museums and cultural institutions in Balboa Park, the nation's largest urban cultural park,This event includes carolers, live music, light displays, performances, and delicious foods
2. Coronado Holiday Parade & Open House - Dec 1
Santa arrives at the Coronado Ferry Landing, a festive parade follows down Orange Avenue and Santa lights the Christmas Tree in Rotary Plaza.
3. Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park - Ongoing
Enjoy free pipe organ concerts beginning at 2 00 PM each Sunday. Features the world's largest outdoor pipe organ, a San Diego landmark for over 90 years, where organists resound holiday favorites, waltzes and show tunes.
4. Holiday Tree Lighting & Winter Wonderland - Dec 2
Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland Festival at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. Children will have the chance to frolic in real snow, decorate their very own Christmas cookies, and create fun, hand-made gifts for their loved ones. At dusk, the Winter Wonderland Forest comes alive with twinkling lights, and no one will be able to resist the holiday spirit!
5. North Park Toyland Parade - Dec 2
Experience the unique sights and sounds of the annual North Park Toyland Parade. Enjoy marching bands, floats, vintage cars, dance groups, beauty queens and more.
6. Little Italy's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony- Dec 2
Celebrate the season during Little Italy's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and see the unique Christmas Tree - a 25-foot tower of 1,000+ gorgeous Poinsettias. Enjoy the community's festive decorations, live music and entertainment, snacks, holiday beverages and more
7. Starlight Parade - Dec 27. Starlight Parade - Dec 2
Celebrate the Season in Downtown Chula Vistal The Chula Vista Starlight Parade is a great way to kick-off the holiday season and get in the festive spirit!
8. Encinitas Holiday Parade- Dec 2
Thousands of people will be on floats and in bands with tens of thousands more cheering them on as the Encinitas Holiday Parade rolls along Coast Highway 101
9. Ocean Beach Holiday Parade - Dec 2
Come find out what the locals have known for 30+ years - Santa would rather be in the quaint little surfing village of OB at the Ocean Beach Holiday Parade.
10. Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas - Dec 2-17
Decked out for the season during Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas. On Saturdays and Sundays, learn how residents celebrated the holidays in the 1800s with candlelight tours, holiday singers, live performances and complimentary refreshments Las Posadas procession begins at 445 PM.
11. SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off - Dec 3
Bring the whole family to a unique neighborhood event featuring a chili cook-off between more than 40 of the celebrated restaurants of South and North Park. You can pick out your own hand-spun ceramic bowls then sample chili from the local restaurants. You can also shop for holiday gifts from local artisans and enjoy free live music, kids' games and activities, gourmet food trucks, a beer garden featuring local craft beers and more.
12. La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival - Dec 3
Spread some holiday cheer at the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival in December in downtown La Jolla. The event includes marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus.
13. La Mesa's Christmas in the Village Dec 9 & 10
The Village is transformed into a Victorian Wonderland during La Mesa's Christmas in the Village with carolers, snow, a 15' Christmas tree, Santa and more.
14. Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Nov 4-Dec 24
Take a walk around Balboa Park and discover its beautiful architecture. Be sure not to miss the "Whoville" decorations in the plaza outside the Old Globe Theatre, which are on display to coincide with the theatre's annual holiday production of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas I
15. Poway's Christmas in the Park - Dec 9
Celebrate holiday cheer with Poway's Christmas in the Park. The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visits from Santa, train rides, live music, theatre performances, food, treats, crafts and more.
16. Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights - Dec 9
Watch the season sail by at the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights. The popular parade circles the harbor and features a wide variety of boats, brightly decorated for the holiday season.
17. Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights - Dec 9
Delight in the festive gatherings along the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights. Dozens of brightly illuminated powerboats and sailboats parade along Mission Bay.
18. Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade - Dec 1 018. Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade - Dec 1 0
Enjoy the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade in downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter Owners and their dressed-up pets march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood, ending at a Pet Expo featuring an award-ceremony for best-dressed pups.
19. Port of San Diego Bay Parade of Lights - Dec 1 0 & 17
Enjoy the twinkling waters of the San Diego Bay and more than 100 private boats decorated with holiday lights for the annual Port of San Diego Bay Parade of Lights over two weekends in December. Great views are available on dry land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Marina Park and Coronado's Ferry Landing.
20. Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade - Dec 28
Gaze up at the massive balloons during the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade, the country's largest balloon parade. Floats, balloons and marching bands are just some of the offerings in this colorful holiday parade along San Diego Bay in downtown San Diego.