A white Christmas in San Diego is … well … just a tad different than those I’ve enjoyed through the years with family and friends in Colorado. Let’s face it – the white sand on southern California’s beaches is just no match for glistening white snowflakes gracefully accumulating on evergreen trees and capping Colorado’s magnificent Rocky Mountains! But nevertheless, holiday seasons in San Diego are unquestionably jubilant and festive. The spirit of Christmas can be found in local parks, gardens, villages, churches, homes and the joyful people living in America’s Finest City.
Each year Balboa Park is magically transformed with twinkling lights, Christmas trees, holiday entertainment and whimsical decor. The park’s annual December Nights festival (held December 6th-7th, 2013) hosts over 350,000 visitors. From mid-November through December, the Old Globe Theatre is jam-packed like Santa’s sleigh with “kids of all ages” delighting in a musical production of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. If the cast performing this incredible rendition of Dr. Seuss’ classic Christmas story fails to inspire that holiday spirit in you, well then you’re a grinch indeed! http://www.balboapark.org
From December 7th-23rd and 26th-30th The Garden of Lights at San Diego Botanic Gardens in Encinitas is illuminated with over 100,000 lights (sponsored by Shea Homes), several themed holiday displays and … yes … SNOW! Visitors to the Gardens can bring their own discs or sleds for a ride or two (weather permitting). Santa greets park guests, who keep warm and cozy with cocoa, hot mulled wine and s’mores roasting by the campfire. And on specified days, a team of Clydesdale horses offers wagon rides through the lower Garden. The Botanic Gardens is an ideal getaway from the frenzy of shopping and holiday planning, and well worth a visit! http://www.sdbgarden.org/lights.htm
Where on earth can one ice skate outdoors while overlooking those white sandy beaches I mentioned earlier? I’m happy to tell you that the Windsor Lawn at the Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island is suitably transformed into an ice rink offering skating daily until January 5th. Each year, the Hotel Del, currently celebrating its 125 year anniversary, presents a theater production of “An American Christmas”. Coronado’s own Lamb’s Players Theater performs at the hotel this year from December 16th-24th. Tickets are available on the Hotel Del’s website. Ice skating combined with festive holiday lighting and decor throughout the property, Christmas theater productions, shopping in the hotel’s fantastic boutiques, special Holiday room packages, Sunday brunches with Santa, Christmas Eve dining, and a Holiday Buffet on Christmas Day all combine to make the classic Hotel Del Coronado a resplendent destination to enjoy Christmas “San Diego style”. http://www.hoteldel.com
Join in the merriment at the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival! Held this year on Sunday December 8th, the parade begins at 2:00pm in downtown La Jolla, followed by the Holiday Festival at 3:30 and tree lighting at 4:30. The parade, complete with an antique plane flyover, winds through the streets of this enchanting village. With the La Jolla cove as scenic backdrop, this event is a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon in early December! http://ljparade.com
Mission Bay and Encinitas also celebrate Christmas with holiday parades. On Saturday December 14th, some 60,000 people will fill Mission Bay Park for a Holiday parade starting at 7:00pm and a spectacular fireworks display following at 9:00pm. In downtown Encinitas on December 7th, the annual tree lighting ceremony takes place at 5:00pm in the Lumberyard Center Courtyard on Highway 101 with a parade along the Highway following at 5:30. After enjoying the merriment along Highway 101, head over to the Botanic Gardens for more Christmas cheer! http://encinitasparksandrec.com
But of all the delightful San Diego Holiday traditions, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is my absolute favorite! The 2013 “Big Bay Toy Parade” will be held on Sunday December 8th and December 15th at 5:30pm. Some 80 extravagantly decorated boats parade San Diego Bay from Shelter Island to Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and Coronado. The time-honored tradition is celebrating its 42nd year, and as a spectator in past years, I am certain this holiday boat festival will be absolutely enchanting yet again! From the Naval presence here to recreation, competitive sailing and the fishing and tourism industries, San Diego’s boating community is a vibrant, economic and integral part of this city. With that being said, I am convinced that the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, presented by the Unified Port of San Diego, is the pinnacle event of the Holiday season in America’s Finest City! http://sdparadeoflights.org/
I’m wishing you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a joyous and prosperous 2014!!!