Holiday Snow Days
One Legoland Drive, Carlsbad
A 30-foot Christmas tree made of nearly 250,000 legos lights up each night leading to Christmas. It’s part of regular admission to Legoland during the holiday season, which also includes nightly entertainment, Santa visits, and fireworks throughout the month of December. But the theme park’s most thrilling feature throughout these dates must be the piles of snow set up to turn it into a white winter wonderland. That means kids can make snowmen out of real snow, not plastic bricks. Though, realistically, they’ll want to make both.
2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park
A chance to see exotic animals at night makes this annual event worth a look, but from December 12-January 3 the zoo will be decked out with holiday lights and special performances, plus plenty of hot chocolate and cookies. Expect music, animal-themed Christmas tales, and Santa holding court in an igloo while his elves bounce on a trampoline. Tying the wacky vibe together will be the large, tropical toog tree in the zoo’s Front Plaza, outfitted with a musical light display featuring over 1000 bulbs.
Holiday in the Village & Starlight Parade
373 Park Way, Chula Vista
Third Avenue Village becomes a festive place Saturday, December 5. From noon to 4pm, Memorial Park will be the site of a holiday festival featuring food, carolers, and Frosty snow hill, where SoCal kids get a chance to toss snowballs and even go sledding. At 6pm, over 100 groups will parade floats, vintage cars, and marching bands for the Starlight Parade along the west side of Third Avenue between H and E Streets.
2100 Costa del Mar Road, Carlsbad
Gingerbread House Festival
Omni La Costa resort celebrates by sponsoring a gingerbread house contest, with cash and prizes inspiring local bakers and holiday enthusiasts to come up with an inventive batch of decorative cookie and icing structures. Judges include local editors and reporters (not this one) plus an interior designer to show it’s legit. Winners will be announced and there will be carolers and edible treats at the resort’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony December 5 (3pm), but all entries will be on display to the public from 10am-7pm at the resort’s Plaza from December 4-January 4.
1950 N. Harbor Drive, Oceanside
Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights
While the much larger San Diego Harbor event gets most of the attention, the Oceanside Yacht Club also organizes a parade of lights, wherein a couple dozen brightly decorated boats circle the harbor in a display of seagoing holiday festivity. The fun starts at 7pm, December 12, and lasts roughly two hours. It may be viewed from any point around the harbor, whether you prefer to set down lawn chairs or watch comfortably from one of the waterfront restaurants.
Cowles Mountain Winter Solstice Hike
Navajo Road and Golfcrest Drive, San Carlos
At 6am the mornings of December 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, specially permitted guides will lead experienced hikers on a free night hike up Cowles Mountain. Rather than hit the peak, they’ll go off-trail to visit a Kumeyaay solstice observatory. From this vantage point, the tribe would commemorate the shortest day of the year by watching the sun rise over an outcropping of rock that effectively splits the heavenly body in two. The three-mile hike is rated difficult, and it’s requested flashlights have red lenses or covers, as bright lights will prevent other hikers’ eyes from adjusting to the dark.
2640 Historic Decatur Road, Liberty Station
Fantasy on Ice
The old Horton Plaza ice-skating rink has been permanently relocated to a new Liberty Station location. While the place may not be the same, the fun will continue to benefit the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital. And parking is not just easier, but free. Skating commenced November 19th and will continue until January 3rd. Admission ranges from $10-14, operating from 10am-10pm daily, with the pace expected to pick up during night sessions, after the younger children have gone home.
— Ian Anderson
Rustic Holiday Gift Wrap
Make your gifts extra personal by wrapping them in rustic paper of your own design. In this class, you’ll learn to make patterns and designs before producing your own wrapping paper. Cut any holiday image you like (such as snowmen, trees, and stars) into an eraser, sponge, or even potato to form stamps to dip in acrylic paint and ink. Use dried flowers and other found items to make each package so pretty, they won’t care what’s inside.
300 Pepper Drive, El Cajon
Family Christmas Trees
Bring the family to this ten-acre farm for fresh, native-California Monterey pine–scented air, and make a day of choosing your tree. Visit farm animals, take a hay wagon ride, and browse handmade wreaths, cinnamon brooms, and potpourri for sale. Employees of this family-run farm will cut, shake, drill, net, and tie your tree for a small fee. If you want the real do-it-yourself experience, you can cut down your chosen tree yourself with a saw that is provided.
65th Anniversary Las Posadas
2754 Calhoun Street, Old Town
Experience the Mexican tradition of reenacting the biblical story of Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to stay on the day of Jesus’ birth. Join the candlelit procession that begins at 4:45pm, Sunday, December 13. Sing holiday songs in both Spanish and English while actors playing Mary and Joseph roam the town in search of lodging (las posadas). When the procession ends, witness a live nativity scene and choir performance in front of Casa de Estudillo.
Handmade Holidays: Arctic Animals
200 W. Island Avenue, East Village
The New Children’s Museum is like a giant indoor playground, with interactive exhibits that allow kids to explore and discover by touching, climbing, and playing among installations. In this daily Handmade Holidays workshop, kids create their favorite snowy creature using recycled materials, paint, and paper. Younger tots (4 and under) can take part in Toddler Time, where they dance and sing along to festive music.
Lamplighters Community Theater
Journey to Christmas past with the Lamplighters production of Orson Welles Presents: A Christmas Carol Radio Show. Set in 1939, the performance takes you behind the scenes of an old-time radio show, as the great Mr. Welles and his actors perform A Christmas Carol live on air, complete with sound effects and carol-singers. Family-friendly performances Friday and Saturday evenings (8pm) and Sunday afternoons (2pm) through December 20.
— Barbarella Fokos