Garden of Lights at Encinitas Botanic Garden. Photo Credit: Rachel Cobb
An enchanted flora of lights sparkles at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Photo by Rachel Cobb.

Anybody with a pair of ice skates, dance shoes or splendid night vision, can make the most of this Christmas weekend. Whether you’re interested in careening across a sheet of ice, dancing into another era or watching a nostalgic theatre performance, there’s something for you in San Diego.

Check out our handy dandy guide to the most festive holiday happenings.

Fantasy on Ice

Experience the Outdoor Ice Skating Rink at Liberty Station. This brand new rink just opened a month ago. Sink your skates into a fresh sheet of ice while breathing in the city air and marveling at the scenic surroundings.

Enjoy some upbeat background music while you attempt to re-master the unique ability to balance on a pair of skates for this once a year hobby. Don’t be deterred if a few toddlers can out perform your style. Embrace Christmas weekend as a festive time of self acceptance and joy.

Families are welcome to bring their children throughout the day. However, they should be forewarned that the speed of skating picks up in the evenings when the teens show up. Admission is $14 for adults, $10 for military and $12 for children. Stop by 2640 Historic Decatur Rd between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Cash’d Out Christmas

Head down to Belly Up Tavern to rock out to Johnny Cash and Elvis tribute bands on Saturday. Long time Cash fans will appreciate the immortalized discography of tracks like “Ring of Fire.”

The lineup includes Sara Petite, winner of the prestigious 2012 Chris Austin songwriting contest at Merlefest. Cash’d Out Christmas will channel the spirit and legacy of Johnny Cash, as authentically as possible, while the Suspicious Minds band pays tribute to the Vegas style of Elvis Presley. The lead singer Todd N. Torres sounds remarkably like the “King.”

All of the performers are based in San Diego. Only people age 21 and up may attend. Doors open at 9 p.m. and tickets range from $20 to $22. The event is located at 143 S. Cedros Ave in Solana Beach.

The San Diego Botanic Garden is awash in lights at night. Photo by Rachel Cobb

Garden of Lights

Explore the Garden of Lights at San Diego’s Botanic fields the day after Christmas. Over 125,000 glittering lights illuminate an assortment of beautiful trees, flowers and shrubbery. Based in Encinitas, this urban oasis of sparkling flora extends across 37 acres of land.

There’s always perfect weather for a sleigh ride together in an authentic horse-drawn wagon at the Garden of Lights. The evening includes activities for every member of the family, such as holiday crafts, spin art, marshmallow roasting, hot mulled wine and a nutcracker display. Leonard Patton will perform on Saturday evening and the Janet Hammer Trip will play “Rhythm Express – Holiday Fun!” for Sunday evening.

The Botanic Gardens reopen the day after Christmas from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and are located at 230 Quail Gardens Dr in Encinitas. Tickets cost $14 for adults, $10 for students and active military members, and $8 for children between ages of 3 and 12. Children age 2 and below are granted free admission. Parking costs $2. See driving instructions here.

Balboa Park Centennial Vintage Dance

Celebrate Christmas weekend the old-fashioned, post-Victorian era way. Ballroom dance your way through time into 1915 and the subsequent Jazz age with Waltz & Such. This vintage dance group will finish off the centennial celebration with two full days of workshops, that allow you to time travel into another century with social dancing. It all takes place at the Balboa Park Club, still decked out in December lights, on a 100-year-old, wooden dance floor.

The 1915 Ball and the Jazz Age Tea dance will both feature live music which transport the different dance styles into their respective time periods. On Saturday, the Heliotrope Orchestra will play musical segments that encourage guests to Foxtrot, Tango, Waltz and Polka. On Sunday, the Tea Dance will embody the early Jazz age with a Paris bistro flavor. The live music will include rhythms for Blues, Foxtrot, La Java, X-Waltz, Tango, Swing, Samba, Polka and other unique ballroom variations.

Register online by 10 A.M. on Friday to get past the “drop-in” cost of $20. Without lessons, the Saturday Ball costs $35 and the Sunday Tea Dance costs $30. The step-by-step dance lessons tack on an extra $25 to $50. Park by 2150 Panamerican Rd. See the Facebook event for more details.

This Wonderful Life

Immerse yourself in a uniquely altered version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the North Coast Repertory Theatre. The actors evoke the nostalgic black-and-white movie charm of Bedford Falls.

The play encompasses a phenomenal mixture of emotion and human connection in a story that captures the true meaning of Christmas. Actor James Learning uses a Jimmy Stewart-inspired version of the protagonist George Bailey to captivate audiences.

Admission is $35 per a non-member and $30 for members of the theater. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at (858) 481-1055 or visit their website.