San Diego’s premier holiday festival returns for the 41st year this Friday and Saturday in Balboa Park.
December Nights, which began as Christmas on the Prado, is the largest free community festival in San Diego with more than 350,000 people expected. The event features entertainment by the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and more.
Museums throughout the park will offer complimentary admissions from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. New this year, the Museum of Photographic Arts is hosting a photo scavenger hunt. All you need is your phone to participate. Follow @MOPASD on Instagram, post your scavenger hunt photos and tag @MOPASD. Once you completed the challenge, stop by the MOPA gift shop for a prize.
The December Nights goes from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, and from noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Public transportation is recommended because of the large crowds.
Parades of Lights
It’s a San Diego tradition around this time of year. Boats, kayaks and dinghies are decked out in holiday lights and sailing by the shores for all to enjoy. There are a few around the county, so no matter where you are, there’s probably one nearby.
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
The oldest of the bunch, the 47th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights takes place over two weekends. So, you can’t make it out this Sunday, there’s also next Sunday. The parade starts around 5 p.m. at Shelter Island and ends at Ferry Landing in Coronado after making a trip around the bay. The best viewing areas are the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Cesar Chavez Park and Coronado.
Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights
Can’t wait until Sunday? Check out the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on Saturdday. Dozens of vessels take to the water around Mission Bay for the parade, which starts at 6 p.m. from Quivira Basin. The best viewing areas are Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island and the west side of Fiesta Island.
Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights
In North County? Try the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights. The parade features an eclectic mix of fishing boats, yachts, kayaks and dinghies sailing around Oceanside Harbor. The parade starts at 7 p.m. Saturday and the best viewing area is along Oceanside Habor near the fishing dock and police station. From this vantage point, you can see the parade twice.
Holiday in the Village
Come out to the heart of downtown La Mesa and watch as it turns into a Victorian holiday village. The Mesa’s Holiday in the Village features fire pits, caroling, and craft vendors to get everyone in a festive mood.
There are also live music and dance, food, and a kids’ area with holiday movies and activities. The free event goes from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Village in downtown La Mesa.
Coronado Christmas Parade & Open House
Don’t want to head to Balboa Park but don’t want to miss Santa either? Coronado has you cover.
The 43rd annual festivities kick off at 3:20 p.m. Friday with Santa arriving at the Ferry Landing. Afterward, pick out a favorite spot on Orange Avenue for the Christmas Parade starting at 6 p.m.
The annual lighting of the Christmas Tree is at 7 p.m. at the Rotary Plaza, 1100 Orange Ave.
Island Food & Beer Fest
It’s been said before, it’s not a proper San Diego weekend without a beer festival of some sort. This Saturday, the Island Food & Beer Fest takes over Waterfront Park with delicious island food, drinks and live entertainment.
There are games, raffles as well as a Village of Vendors for you to do some holiday shopping. Headlining the festival is the musical act, The Jets.
The second Island Food & Beer Festival goes from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets range from $15 to $75.
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