Top Fun Things to do in San Diego for the Holiday Season


San Diego offers up a dose of cheer this holiday season- discover the must see events from a local

Let's face it, we do things a little different than most of the world's wintery wonder-scape. It can be easy to ask yourself, besides surfing with Santa, where can I get my holiday fix? Whether you're a native, or just visiting, there's plenty to do here in San Diego for the holidays. We're going to give you some of our favorite events San Diego has to offer this winter season, plus some tips from a native to make it an extra special time. So throw on your beanies, and go explore the holidays San Diego style!


     1. December Nights at Balboa Park (December 4th & 5th, 2015)

The historic Balboa Park is one of the most visited attractions in San Diego, and they know how to inject some holiday spirit into the hearts of locals and out of towners alike during the winter season with their park-wide 'December Nights'. This event is full of things to do, including all the entertainment you can find like dance performances, puppet shows, and a handful of live musicians, including some local artists straight from the mothership-GigTown-itself. Check out: Sister Speak, Bandalier, Steven Ybarra, Euphoria Brass Band, Cleopatra Degher, Rhythm and the MethodWhile you're there, be sure to visit the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, where you'll find multi-cultural elements from places all over the world. Among the countries represented are Peru, Turkey, Columbia, Poland, Japan, India, and many many more.

TAKE A TIP FROM A LOCAL: Follow your nose through the International Cottages; my absolute favorite thing to do every year at December Nights is find the fresh cuisines from all over the world and sample as many as I can until I'm stuffed!


     2. San Diego Botanic Garden's Garden of Lights (December 5th-23rd / 26th-30th, 2015)

If you are looking for holiday lights, this is the event in San Diego that you will want to find this year. After the sun sets, you are transported to a world of color, illuminated. What makes this event so much more special, is that the San Diego Botanic Garden is one of the only places in the world where you will find some of Southern California's most native plant species, along with an incredibly vast array of gorgeous botanics that are impeccably cared for year-round, and shown off so well under a sea of rainbow colors during the holidays. This is a very family friendly event, featuring activities all around the Gardens, such as marshmallow roasting, holiday carolers, nutcracker displays, and even horse-drawn carriage rides.

TAKE A TIP FROM A LOCAL: The gardens are only a few miles from the sea, so be sure to bundle up you and your loved ones when you visit for this event; think scarves, mittens, layers, layers and more layers! Once you're there, you can find hot beverage carts scattered throughout, to make sure you stay warmed on the inside, too.

     3. 91X's Lump of Coal at SOMA (December 13th, 2015, Doors- 5:00 PM)

If you're looking for a night of escape from the usual holiday theme, maybe you'd like to throw yourself into the middle of a mosh-pit instead of in front of the fire, this is the event for you. Formally known as Wrex the Hall's, local loved radio station FM91X throws a multi-band mini music festival to celebrate the holidays with some rock n' roll, located at one of San Diego's more well known all-ages venue, SOMA. This years line-up is Foals, Run The Jewels, PVRIS, The Wombats, and Will the People. Tickets are $25.

TAKE A TIP FROM A LOCAL: Our very own music enthusiasts here at GigTown have paired with 91X to score you and 9 of your coolest friends free tickets to Lump of Coal, all you have to do is download the free GigTown app, tap 'my profile', and then 'promotions', then enter promo code 'WREX'. Good luck, and merry rock n' rolling!



     4. Encinitas Holiday Parade (December 5th, 5-7pm)

The Encinitas Holiday Parade is arguably the most traditional of all North County holiday celebrations. Every public school gets involved in one way or another; a lavish float, the entire school band, a choir caroling all huddled up in the back of a pick-up truck, and of course Christmas lights everywhere you look! Aside from being a holiday celebration, the city of Encinitas also decides on a theme for each year. This year the theme is 'This IS Encinitas Life!' Which encourages both those involved in the parade, and those solely there for viewing pleasure to share as much about their life in Encinitas, and any photos and media from the parade on Social Media using hashtags #EncinitasLife and #EncinitasHolidayParade to share the spirit!

TAKE A TIP FROM A LOCAL: When the Parade is over, if you still haven't had your holiday fix and can stand the cold winds from the sea, take a stroll down to Moonlight Beach, where you'll find an Encinitas tradition, the Holiday Pine tree! You don't have to look far, as it soars above almost everything around it, as possibly the tallest tree in Encinitas. Every year the homeowners whose yard hosts the big pine, dress it in a blanket of Christmas lights, and an enormous star to top it off. 

     5. Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park (December 4th-6th / 11th-13th / 18th-23rd)

Just because we're in San Diego doesn't mean we don't have a way to snap our fingers and ask Santa nicely to transport the usual wintery goods we might not see here on the regular; complete with reindeer, Santa's very own elves, and even loads of snow. What's even better, is that you can find all the genuine holiday treats and atmosphere in one place at the Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park. Complete with all the holiday lighting displays you'll ever need, and also a set up of the most iconic holiday scenes to warm your heart.

TAKE A TIP FROM A LOCAL: If you're looking for a family event, look no further! You can bring your little ones to Petco Park for this event, and they can ride the Polar Express, gather around a jumbo 40' tree, and even get their picture taken with Santa!

GigTown Artist, Lele Rose performing at last year's Holiday Wonderland.

Finally, if you've taken all the advice we have to give on these fine holiday events, but you're set on staying in with family or maybe you're hosting the annual holiday gathering, GigTown has your back and can find you the most talented, local live musicians to entertain your guests. Now that you're equipped with the best wintery happenings, and some inside info from a native San Diegan, go set yourself free in Santa's favorite sunny city, Happy Holidays!


Download GigTown Now