Your Guide to San Diego During the Holidays

November 2, 2022

America’s Finest City is an unbeatable place to spend the holidays, especially if you like sunny skies and breathtaking beaches along with your long-held traditions and festive décor. The entire month of December is packed with fun things to do, ensuring the holidays in San Diego are anything but ordinary. Read on to discover a few of our favorite local happenings to enjoy that will make your San Diego Christmas the best ever.

The 52nd Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

One of the most anticipated holiday events, The San Diego Parade of Lights is the biggest boating extravaganza of the year. Gather near the bayfront on the night of December 11 or December 18 to see a regatta of dazzling vessels decked out in holiday lights. More than 100,000 people attend this exciting event, where around 80 boats form an eye-catching parade. This year, the theme is “FantaSEA on the Bay.” The procession starts on both evenings at 5:30 at Shelter Island and will make several stops on its way to Coronado. This event is completely free!

December Nights at Balboa Park

A San Diego Christmas invariably means time spent at Balboa Park, the setting for December Nights in Balboa, a two-day holiday celebration featuring twinkling lights, delicious food, entertainment, and more. This free holiday festival takes place this year on December 2 from 3 pm to 11 pm and on December 3 from 11 am to 11 pm. Stay for a while to enjoy the holiday hustle and bustle, then pop into one of the dozens of museums that call Balboa Park home.

The Sound of Christmas Sing-Along

Attention, Christmas music fans: There’s a way to not only hear your favorite tunes performed live, but to sing along with them as well! At the Sound of Christmas Sing-Along on Sunday, December 18, you’ll join a crowd of crooners of all ages in belting out classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and more. You’ll be accompanied by Sound of Christmas Chamber Players and Choir, led by Emmy-nominated conductor Charles Fernandez. The event takes place at Balboa Theatre at 2:30 pm; tickets start at $33.50.

Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade

No San Diego Christmas is complete without a holiday parade. Get your fill of whimsical floats and rousing music on December 28 at the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade, known as America’s largest balloon parade. Watch as giant balloons make their way down the bayside streets of San Diego, accompanied by floats, marching bands, and drill teams. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend this San Diego Christmas parade, which starts at Waterfront Park at 10 am. Grand stand seats are $22; street-side viewing is free.


The San Diego Botanic Garden is the setting for this luminous event, which has been sweeping through cities across the nation and even the world. Running from November 18 through January 1, Lightscape features more than one million holiday lights strung through this lush 37-acre garden. You’ll follow a one-mile walking trail that features artist installations, unique sounds, and intriguing tunnels. Tickets range from $13 to $26—allow about an hour and a half to make your way through the display. Advanced parking is $10 per vehicle.




Looking for a clean, affordable place to spend the holidays in San Diego? Sunrise Inn San Diego boasts nice rooms and convenient amenities like free parking and complimentary WiFi. We’re located in beautiful Point Loma Village near some of the city’s top attractions. Book your stay today!

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