Holiday Events Calendar: Your guide to festive fun, jolly jingles and Christmas cheer in San Diego County

November and December are packed with all sorts of traditional and modern holiday happenings and Christmas events, so take out your Day Planner and note the events of your choice!
(Graphic Design by Daniel K. Lew)

November and December 2019 are packed with all sorts of traditional and modern holiday happenings and Christmas events, so take out your Day Planner and note the events of your choice!


Holiday Events in San Diego County

Balboa Park’s Christmas on the Prado: The sixth annual family-oriented and charity toy drive (not affiliated with Balboa Park’s other holiday event, December Nights) will be held 1-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 with a Christmas tree lighting at Spreckels Organ Pavilion, 2125 Pan American Road E., San Diego and from noon-4 p.m. at the International Cottages’ Music Stage, 2191 Pan American Road W., San Diego. Guests are asked to consider bringing an unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots Toy Drive.

City Ballet of San Diego, 121 Broadway, downtown San Diego. — “The Nutcracker,” 2 or 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-22. Awarded “the best Nutcracker ballet in San Diego.” $27-92.

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, 6200 Flying Leo Carrillo Lane in Carlsbad, will host Holiday at the Rancho, an evening of festivities, 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Activities include crafts, snowball fight, entertainment, a holiday movie, and a tree lighting at 5:45 p.m. on the sand near the pool. Food, beverages and souvenir photos are available for an additional cost. Daytime admission to the ranch is free. There will be an additional cost for the holiday event; tickets are available for presale or onsite by calling (760) 476-1042.

LEGOLAND California, 1 LEGOLAND Drive in Carlsbad, holds its Holidays at LEGOLAND through Jan. 5, 2020. The theme park’s Fun Town area features a 30-foot, fully decorated LEGO Christmas tree with more than 400 LEGO ornaments. After sunset, a LEGO tree light show with singers and dancers perform throughout the evening. Photo opportunities include meet-and-greets with human-sized LEGO Santa, toy soldiers and gingerbread people aboard a giant LEGO sled. Throughout its Miniland area with sprawling LEGO replicas of major cities like New Orleans, New York City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., holiday scenes and numerous hidden Santas have been added to the giant dioramas. On Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, Kids’ New Year’s Eve offers live bands, party favors and a 6 p.m. giant LEGO-brick drop countdown, followed by fireworks. Holiday entertainment included with admission, from $90. (760) 918-5346.

Ocean Beach Holiday Parade, hosted by Ocean Beach Town Council, kicks off 5:05 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. This 39th annual parade goes down Newport Avenue and includes the lighting of a community Christmas tree.

Pacific Beach’s Christmas on Crystal Pier takes place from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 with Santa and Mrs. Claus, followed by the lighting of the pier tree at sunset. Pictures are $10, or $5 with a donation of school supplies.

San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, will illuminate 37 acres of flora, including pine trees, Pony Tail palms and aloes, Dragon trees and bamboo, with more than 125,000 sparkling lights during its Botanic Wonderland Holiday Nights in the Garden. There’s nightly entertainment, visits with Santa, holiday crafts, twinkling light tunnel, dazzling 10-foot poinsettia tower, a musical light show and Kids Fun Zone with nightly “snowfall.” There’s a food truck court, a beer, wine and mulled wine garden, hot chocolate, coffee and more. Visitors can stop by from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 3-8, 10-15,17-23 and 26-30. Tickets: $12-$25.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido. (619) 231-1515. — Wild Holidays, select days Nov. 29, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020. Experience seasonal entertainment, holiday decor and special activities in a festive atmosphere. $46-56.

San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Drive in Balboa Park, San Diego. (619) 231-1515, — “Jungle Bells,” 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 13, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020 (no evening event on Dec. 24 when the Zoo closes at 5 p.m.). Twinkling lights, animal-shaped light sculptures, special animal experiences and music, high-flying acrobats, Dr. Zoolittle and the Zoo’s costumed characters. Santa will also be present. $56 adult, $46 ages 3-11.

SeaWorld, 500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego. (619) 222-4732, — SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration runs Nov. 23, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020. Holiday music fills the air, a sea of 1 million lights sparkle, two new shows: Cirque Christmas and Winter Wonderland on Ice, Rudolph’s Christmastown and new Sesame Street Christmas Village. Included with admission, from $73.99.


The Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center

7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. (858) 459-3724.

Holiday Magic with Jackie Foster, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12. “The Voice” semi-finalist joins chamber music ensemble Camarada for an evening of classical and popular music. $53.

The Nutcracker — No Sugar, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. The Ballet Institute of San Diego presents old and new traditions together. $16.50-$43.


Jewish Community Center

4126 Executive Drive, La Jolla, (858) 457-3030.

• 35th annual Hanukkah Happening, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. Celebrate Hanukkah at one of the biggest Hanukkah festivals in San Diego with carnival games, art projects, a bouncy house, games, latke eating contest, crafts, prizes, arcade and silent auction. $5 members, $7 non-members; fees for activities.

Jewish Christmas: Chinese Food and a Movie, 5 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 25. Enjoy Glatt kosher Chinese food and a screening of “Dirty Dancing.” $35 members, $38 non-members.


2019 La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival

“Christmas on the Moon” is the theme of the 61st annual La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival, Sunday, Dec. 8, heading down Girard Avenue (from Torrey Pines Road to Prospect Street.) and Prospect Street in La Jolla. Preceding the parade is a Holiday Festival featuring stage entertainment and photos with Santa Claus from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St. (Contact Ron Jones at if you are interested in having your group perform at the Holiday Festival.) The Christmas Parade begins at 1:30 p.m. (and lasts about 90 minutes) complete with floats, marching bands, beauty queens, equestrian units, and community and civic leaders waving wildly in classic cars. There will also be a fly-by overhead and more surprises. Parade map and more details at

La Jolla Community Center

6811 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla. (858) 459-0831.

Taste of Opera Kick-off, 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Arias from San Diego Opera singers along with puppet shows and gingerbread house kits for the whole family. Adults $25, children $10.

Holiday Celebration, 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 13. Entertainment, dinner, dancing and silent auctions. $15 (free for members).


La Jolla Presbyterian Church

7715 Draper Ave., La Jolla (858) 454-0713.

Handel’s Messiah, 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. A concert featuring the Christmas portions of this renowned classic along with traditional and contemporary carols with the LJPC choir and professional orchestra. Free.

Christmas Eve services, 5, 7, 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24


La Jolla Riford Library

7555 Draper Ave., La Jolla. (858) 552-1567. Schedule of daily events and weekly activities at

Ikebana Holiday Workshop & Party, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Make a beautiful flower arrangement to take home; taught by master artist Jackie Zhang. $19.

Holiday Ornaments, a 3D workshop for all ages, 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17. Design and print your own 3D ornament to take home. Free.


La Jolla Symphony & Chorus

9500 Gilman Drive, on the UC San Diego campus, La Jolla. (858) 534-4637.

December performances, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. Lecture, concert and visual arts performances featuring Schumann and Nee commission winner Oram and others at the UCSD Mandeville Auditorium. $18-39.

Messiah Community Sing, 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. Ruben Venezuela will lead the LJ Symphony chamber orchestra, choir soloists, and audience in the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah” at the St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Carlsbad. $18.


La Jolla United Methodist Church

6063 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla. (858) 454-7108.

Christmas Concert presented by the Church Chancel and Dorian Bell Choirs with orchestral ensemble and percussion, 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. An audience sing-along included, with refreshments following! Complimentary admission/freewill offering.

Christmas Eve services, 5, 7, 11 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24.


La Valencia Hotel

1132 Prospect St., La Jolla. (858) 476-6870.

La Valencia Tree Lighting, 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5. With treats, live music and children’s crafts counting down to the tree lighting. Free.

Holiday Tea at THE MED, 2-4 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14 and 21. Enjoy a variety of teas, delectable sandwiches and homemade sweets set to ocean views and elevate your experience with Champagne selections. Starts at $46.

Storytime Brunch with Santa’s Elf, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. Enjoy brunch at THE MED followed by story time and wish-list writing with Santa’s lead elf.

Storytime Brunch with Santa, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22. Enjoy brunch at THE MED followed by story time with Santa and kids’ activities.

Christmas Movie, “Polar Express,” 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23. Cozy up with hot chocolate and the family to watch this holiday film together.


Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Church

7713 Girard Ave., La Jolla. (858) 454-2631.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish Mass, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12. Celebrate the Catholic holiday with a Spanish mass followed by a dinner and dance at 7:30 p.m. Dinner and Dance $25.

Our Lady’s Guild Christmas Brunch, 8:30 a.m. to noon, Sunday, Dec. 15. Free.

Lessons in Carols, 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16. Nine biblical readings and nine carols followed by blessings and the lighting of the Torrey Pines Christmas tree. Free.

Advent Penance, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 18. Reconciliation service.

Christmas Eve services, 4 and 6 p.m. (Spanish Mass) Tuesday, Dec. 24.

Christmas Day services, 7:30, 9, 10:30 a.m. and noon, Wednesday, Dec. 25.

Biblical scholar, 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. Dr. Scott Hahn will discuss Scripture at the heart of the Church. $20.


Dan McKinney Family YMCA

8355 Cliffridge Ave., La Jolla. (858) 453-3483.

Arts & Crafts with Santa, 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Holiday crafts, music, and Santa! Please bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate. Free.

New Year’s Eve at Noon, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31. Bring the family for activities, refreshments, and a countdown to noon. Free.


North Coast Repertory Theater

987 Loman Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. (858) 481-1055.

Dickens Unscripted, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16-17. An improvised comedy inspired by the works of Dickens. Tickets from $27.

• “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” 10 or 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 20 and 21; 2 p.m. Dec. 22. A production of the beloved television special. $12-$16.


San Diego Symphony

750 B St., downtown San Diego. (619) 235-0804.

Noel Noel Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 20, 21, 22. Featuring Christmas gems and choral favorites. $25-84.

Noel Noel Family Concert, 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15. A one-hour version of the Noel Noel Concert just for families, featuring special visitors. $13-$28.


St. James By-the-Sea Episcopal Church

743 Prospect St., La Jolla (858) 459-3421.

Christmas in Ireland, 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. Famed tenor Emmet Cahill performs. Tickets from $30.

Christmas Eve services, 3, 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 24.

Christmas Day service, 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 25.


Holiday Events in La Jolla

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, 1008 Wall St., La Jolla. (858) 454-5872. — Holiday Bookstore, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; live music 3:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Enjoy live music by bassist Rob Thorsen on the patio and shop gently used books, CDs, vinyl LPs, and sheet music, as well as a gift selection of handmade cards, jewelry and ceramics by local artisans. Sale continues Dec. 21 and 28.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps, 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla. (858) 534-3474. — Seas ‘n’ Greetings, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1-31 (closed Dec. 25). Holiday activities include appearances by Scuba Santa in a Kelp Dive Show, scavenger hunts, close-up animal encounters and live holiday music on weekends; included with admission: $16-$19.50.

Bird Rock Artist Guild will hold Art in the Garden, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 at the Davis-Garitty Garden, 5571 Bellevue Ave., La Jolla. Holiday gifts, handmade products and artwork displays by local residents, with live entertainment and refreshments.,

La Jolla Historical Society, 780 Prospect St., La Jolla. (858) 459-5335. — A shopping fundraiser event, 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 at J.McLaughlin clothiers, 7880 Girard Ave., La Jolla. Enjoy festive food, holiday shopping and historical displays; 15 percent of sales will benefit the La Jolla Historical Society.

La Jolla Open Aire Market, 7335 Girard Ave., La Jolla. (858) 454-1699. — Winter Carnival, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8. This special holiday market will feature Santa, seasonal music, a rock wall, games and kids activities. Free.

La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St., La Jolla. (858) 552-1658. — Lunch with Santa, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. Enjoy a meal with a holiday favorite, arts & crafts for kids. Ages 2.5-10; register in advance. Free.

Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church, 6551 Soledad Mountain Road, La Jolla. (858) 459-3865. — Breakfast with Santa, 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. Pancakes, photos, crafts and more.

Ooh La La Dance Academy, 7467 Cuvier St. (858) 456-4500. — “Aladdindance recital, 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 8 at La Jolla High School Auditorium, 750 Nautilus St., La Jolla. Bring the family to watch the enchanting tale of “Aladdin” through dance. Adults $18-20, children $5-10.


Have a local event to share?

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