Events to kick off the holiday season

Jennifer Manalili

With the semester quickly drawing to a close and finals and tests finally out of the way, many students can now afford some time to take a deep breath and kick the holiday season into full gear. Here are some events sprinkled throughout the city that will undoubtedly help get students into the holiday spirit.

December Nights at Balboa Park

Dec. 5, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Dec. 6, from noon to 11 p.m.

Participating Balboa Park museums will be open and welcome people free of charge from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on both days. Attendees can look forward to a multicultural experience, as the events offers a unique experience full of food, music, and entertainment from different cultures. There will also be musical and dance performances to go with the holiday theme and a new “December Flights” zipline has been added this year. The event draws big numbers, with an expected 350,000 visitors expected this year according to Balboa Park’s website.

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park

5 p.m. to 10 p.m. every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through Dec. 21.

Also open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Dec. 22 through Dec. 24.

For the first time ever, Petco Park will be transformed into a holiday wonderland complete with falling snow, elves working in Santa’s village, and a Polar Express for a 12-day interactive experience that will incorporate light displays, holiday characters, and a candy-themed dance area for visitors. Attendees will also be able to feed live reindeer, taste holiday themed cocktails, and take pictures with Santa.

Admittance ranges between $10 and $15. Free for children age three and younger. For more information call (619) 795-5000.

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

Dec. 13 through Jan. 4

The San Diego Zoo’s annual holiday event returns, and will feature large light displays to represent many of the animals at the zoo. Each part of the park will have a theme including costumed characters, and holiday themed shows like “Dr. Zoolittle’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas'” and movies like “Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas.” Visitors will also be able to ride the Twinkle Light Trolley for a tour of all of the Jungle Bells light scenes and visit Santa for a photo opportunity at Santa’s Igloo. For more information visit

Holiday Snow Day at LEGOLAND California

A massive 30-ft tall Christmas tree composed entirely of LEGOS and LEGO ornaments will be on display at the theme park along with a fireworks show. Visitors can also look forward to a Let It Snow musical and life-size displays of Santa and his reindeer.

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” at the Old Globe Theatre

For the 16th year in a row, visitors to Balboa Park can look forward to this whimsical stage adaptation of a Dr. Seuss classic.

Old Town San Diego Historic Park

Bonfire Nights will take place Dec. 13 and 15 and Dec. 25 through 30th, with carolers and other performers from dusk until 9 p.m. performing and smores sponsored by Fieta de Reyes. Dec. 13 also marks Old Town’s Holiday in the Park, all of the museums, stores, and restaurants in the historic park will be open and richly decorated for the holidays. Visitors can look forward to special holiday treats, activities, and extended shopping hours as well as carolers.

The Nutcracker at the San Diego Civic Theatre

A production of the timeless holiday classic will be presented by the California Ballet Company.

Skating by the Sea at the Hotel del Coronado

The Hotel del Coronado is able to offer visitors a unique SoCal ice skating experience, with an ice skating rink sitting adjacent to Coronado Beach and overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From now until January, the resort’s Windsor Lawn is transformed into a seaside skating rink with three hour long skating sessions available daily.