Mark your calendar for December 7 and 8 to attend the 41st annual holiday festival at Balboa Park in San Diego. December Nights has it all…from classic Christmas music and delicious holiday treats to dancers and magnificent holiday lights, this is an event you won't want to miss.
This annual two-day celebration marks the beginning of the holiday season in San Diego. Every year it draws over 35,000 guests and families from all over Southern California to the heart of San Diego. Set among the historic buildings and elaborate gardens all decked out for the season, visitors will enjoy over 150 family-friendly musical, dance and theatrical performances, representing a wide variety of cultural traditions, and more than 90 food and retail vendors.
It began in 1978 as part of "Christmas on the Prado" in Balboa Park as a small holiday celebration put together by a dozen institutions along El Prado. The event and crowds have continued to grow over the decades into a treasured family tradition and in 2002, it was renamed December Nights.
When you arrive in the park, there's so much to do that you'll definitely want to plan your visit in advance. The international houses are each serving up traditional holiday food from their regions. The Festival of Trees, located near the Museum of Natural History, is always a favorite and be sure to stop by the Midway, where you can ride rides, play carnival games and indulge in deep-fried state fair food. Also…with over ten museums on the property, there are tons of exhibits to fit into a only a few hours.
Admission to the event is free and runs from December 7 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and December 8 from noon to 11 p.m. The museums are offering free admission as well from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
If you're planning to drive in, be sure to arrive early to find parking. The only free parking is at the San Diego Zoo, and the lot fills up quickly. Paid parking options are also available for $25 at the Natural History Museum and the South Carousel lot. Free shuttles are offered, but my favorite thing to do is park several miles away and bike in.