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10 Family-Friendly San Diego Christmas Events (2021)

Home > Destinations > California > 10 Family-Friendly San Diego Christmas Events (2021)

My favorite time of year is…tax season…yeah right! It’s the CHRISTMAS season!!!! Cozying up beside our glowing tree with a cup of steaming peppermint cocoa as I watch White Christmas is the quintessential night for me! 

Do you know what’s even better than a cozy Christmas night IN? A fun night OUT during the holiday season at one of the many San Diego Christmas events! 

Seasonal festivities are happening in every town around the San Diego area, so I’m sure at least one of them will fill you up with Christmas joy! Check out these 10 San Diego Christmas events and make sure to add a few to your schedule this holiday season. 


San Diego Christmas Events

1. Balboa Park December Nights

If you like music, dancing, food, and beautiful lights, then you can’t miss December Nights at Balboa Park. This event typically occurs on the first weekend in December. It’s a free event, but make sure to get there early because its popularity makes the parking lot fill up fast. 

Cost: FREE

Date: 2021 TBD


2. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

This is a parade unlike any other-- it takes place on the WATER! Around 80 boats are decked out in Christmas lights and wildly festive decorations. This fun-filled boat parade cruises all along the San Diego Bay, so people can watch from multiple locations. Grab a jacket and a gingerbread latte, and make your way to the shoreline for a beautiful parade of lights! 

Cost: FREE

Dates: December 12, 2021 and December 19, 2021

The Procession starts at 5:30pm and follows the parade route. 


3. Hotel Del’s Skating by the Sea

Strap on those ice skates and skate around the rink with a view of the historic Hotel Del Coronado on one side and towering palm trees by the beach on the other. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic date night…or a sore booty--you decide! When you combine an ice rink by the sandy beach, you get the epitome of a San Diego Christmas on Coronado Island

Cost: $30-$35

Dates: November 22, 2021 - January 2, 2022 

Check the daily schedules here


4. Julian Country Christmas

Celebrate the season old-fashioned style while perusing boutique shops for one-of-a-kind gifts and indulging in holiday sweets. This San Diego Christmas event is sure to make you feel nostalgic about Christmases gone by. Plus there is a beautiful tree lighting to attend, so it’s one big family-friendly affair! 

Cost: FREE

Dates: Christmas Tree Lighting - November 27, 2021

Country Christmas Light Parade - December 18, 2021


5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Head on over to Balboa Park and visit The Old Globe to see a live theater performance of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! As one of the country’s leading professional regional theaters, it is sure to entertain families young and old. Get your tickets now!

Cost: $19 - $94

Dates: November 10 - December 31, 2021


San Diego Neighborhood Christmas Lights

Looking at neighbors’ houses twinkling with Christmas lights is always a wonderful greeting as we pull into our neighborhood. BUT…there are a handful of neighborhoods in San Diego that take “putting up Christmas lights” to the NEXT LEVEL! Make sure you take one night, bundle up, and walk around a lit-up neighborhood for a spectacular display of color and creativity! Bonus points for buying a kettle corn snack or homemade gift ( from one of the homeowner’s driveway booths. 

Cost: FREE

Dates: Usually weekend evenings from Thanksgiving to Christmas


7. Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

Ring in the holiday season in San Diego’s Little Italy with live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, Christmas carolers, a visit from Santa, and more! A new custom tree will make its debut in Piazza Basilone this year, and the usual tree lighting ceremony will take place in Piazza della Famiglia on a live Christmas tree over 25 feet tall! (Tip - Christmas tree lighting will begin around 6:30pm) 

Cost: FREE

Date: December 4, 2021 from 4:00pm - 8:00pm


8. La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village

Head to La Mesa for a music-filled San Diego Christmas event. Holiday treats, local shopping, and children’s activities make this event perfect for the whole family! Live entertainment occurs on multiple stages with all sorts of Christmas tunes, so grab your dancing shoes and get ready to rock around the Christmas tree! 

Cost: FREE

Date: December 4, 2021 from 12pm - 9pm


SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Events

If you have admission to SeaWorld during the holiday season, you get to see over one million lights sparkle all around the park. Watch incredible live Christmas shows involving ice skating, music, acrobatics, storytelling, and more! Plus, your kids can join in the festive fun at Sesame Street Christmas Village as they sing and dance with Cookie Monster or meet some of Santa’s elves. This Christmas event is one of our personal favorites!

Cost: $60+

Dates: November 12, 2021 - January 2, 2022


10. Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Head downtown to see Santa Paws in a parade with his canine pals at the 13th Annual Just Food For Dogs Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade. This is one of the few San Diego Christmas events where your pets are the stars of the show. Pet owners dress up their beloved companions in festive costumes as they promenade from the Gaslamp Quarter Archway to MLK Promenade Park for the Holiday Pet Market. Dogs, cats, birds, and even fish are welcome to take part in this holly-jolly good time!

Cost: FREE to watch 

Date: December 13, 2021 12pm-8pm


Whatever your budget and availability, there are a number of San Diego Christmas events for you to choose from all season long. Embrace the magic of Christmas as a family and add a couple of these events to your calendar now! Even if it’s only for a couple of hours, these events are sure to be Worth Every Trip!

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