Ready to know more about San Diego?


Your 2020 Guide to the San Diego Holiday Season

19 festive events and pop-ups for your annual dose of holiday cheer

Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! On the Radio

November 26, December 5, 20, 24

Instead of taking the stage, The Old Globe’s annual production of this Christmas classic is going a more traditional route with a special radio streaming of the show. Tune in to 89.5 FM for this exciting audio-only spin on a time-honored tradition.


Holiday Toy Drive at One Paseo

December 1-14

Help spread some holiday cheer this year with One Paseo’s toy drive. In collaboration with local nonprofit Home Start, One Paseo’s trolley is transforming into a bountiful gifting sleigh decked with holiday decor. To participate, drop unwrapped and new gifts into the sleigh December 1-13. Wrapping supplies are also needed, so if you have extra to spare, bring it along with the gifts!

3725 Paseo Place, Del Mar


Drive-Thru Holiday Lights Extravaganza

December 3–23, 26–31

Join Santee’s Lantern Crest Senior Living for their inaugural holiday lights experience, a completely drive-thru event. Guests will drive down a brightly lit path of extravagant holiday displays and lights. Along the way, drive up to Santa’s Workshop to purchase hot cocoa, apple cider, and sweet treats to benefit the Lantern Crest Foundation, which provides care for low-income seniors.

300 Lantern Crest Way, Santee


Holiday Market and Trail at Petco Park

December 3–6, 9–23

Petco Park’s Gallagher Square is being transformed into a festive holiday market this year. Wend your way down a one-way trail through an Old World–inspired market with artisan vendors, grand light displays, crafts, food and beverages, and much more. The trail is divided into holiday themes like Candyland, Home for the Holidays, and Winter Wonderland. There will be DIY crafts and charming gifts you can peruse, ideally with a hot cider or tasty bratwurst in hand. The market is operating on reservations for specific time slots to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

840 K Street, Downtown


Holiday Guide / Taste of December Nights

Chicken and waffle sliders at Taste of December Nights

Taste of December Nights

December 4–6

This annual San Diego tradition is turning one of its most popular hallmarks—the food, obviously—into a drive-thru experience. Guests can attend the three-day event the first weekend of December to enjoy tastings from over 20 food trucks and vendors, including Tarantino’s sausages, chicken and waffles, and chicken tikka masala grilled cheese.

Inspiration Point Way, Balboa Park


Virtual Ornament-Making Workshop

December 5

The Timken Museum of Art’s ornament-making workshop is going virtual this year. Let teaching artist Elizabeth Washburn walk you and the family through the crafting steps, inspired by their Jewels of the Season ornament collection. By purchasing the Family Ornament Kit, you’ll come prepared to decorate with two large ornaments and an assortment of family-friendly materials from the original collection.


Holiday in the Village

December 5

La Mesa’s annual holiday gathering will return with social-distancing guidelines in place. Attendees can visit plenty of photo-op stations, enjoy festive bites at the food court, get into DIY projects at the holiday craft market, and shop giftables from local vendors and artisans. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

8030 La Mesa Boulevard, La Mesa


Holiday Guide / La Valencia

Holiday tea and cocktails at La Valencia Hotel

Holiday Tea and Cocktails at La Valencia Hotel

December 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20

The Pink Lady’s award-winning holiday tea will return this year for select dates in December. Enjoy a menu of select teas, tasty sandwiches, and seasonal homemade sweets in a classic tea time with a holiday twist, hosted on their Patio Sol, where the twinkle lights will provide the ideal ambience to get you into the spirit of the season. Prefer something a little stronger? The hotel is also offering a select menu of special cocktails, including a Holiday Mule and a Figgy Smash.

1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla


Little Italy Holidays

December 5-31

Little Italy is kicking off their holiday happenings with a virtual streaming of their Little Italy Holiday Special, with performances by the Our Lady of the Rosary Choir, a reading of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, and special messages from Little Italy’s business owners before the annual tree lighting ceremony. Throughout the rest of the month, watch for more merry celebrations like their Wednesday Holiday Market (each Wednesday in December excluding December 30), their 10th annual Toy Drive, and the weekly, virtual holiday cocktail classes with some of Little Italy’s most beloved mixologists. As always, little ones can drop off their letters to Santa at the big red mailbox in the Piazza della Famiglia.

523 West Date Street, Little Italy


Holidays in Your Car

December 5–January 2

The Del Mar Fairgrounds’ new drive-in experiences continue in December. Holidays in Your Car will lead merry guests through an immersive drive-thru light show that includes over a million LEDs. Then, enjoy the drive-up Santa Saves Christmas stage show. On December 19, the event will collaborate with City Ballet to host a live two-show performance of The Nutcracker.

2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard, Del Mar

Santa Sundays at Café Coyote

December 6 and 13

Give your curbside pickup the holiday treatment at Café Coyote’s Winter Wonderland drive-thru. On these select dates you can pick up your takeout order from Santa Claus and grab your holiday photo all from your car! Place your order online and write “Santa Sunday” in the comments to guarantee your takeout experience.

2461 San Diego Avenue, Old Town


Holiday Guide / Cesarina

Cesarina holiday patio

Arlene Ibarra

Holidays at Cesarina

December 8–January 1

This Point Loma pasta eatery is giving their three alfresco dining areas the holiday treatment. Dine amid a wintery wonderland scene complete with oversize ornaments, cascading garlands, fleece blankets, sparkling decor, and much more. Cesarina also has two chiminea fireplaces set up to keep guests warm and will have two special à la carte menus for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The big holiday makeover will be revealed on December 8, coinciding with Italy’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception—their official start to the Christmas season.

4161 Voltaire Street, Point Loma


Breakfast with Surfin’ Santa

December 13

Enjoy a festive breakfast reception at Eats by Sam (“Sam the Cooking Guy,” that is), with a special appearance by Surfin’ Santa. The menu will include classic dishes like French toast and breakfast sandwiches, and spiked holiday beverages for the over-21 crowd. After you and the little ones grab photos with Surfin’ Santa, stick around for the interactive magic show, live music, and holiday goodie bags.

807 West Harbor Drive, Seaport Village


Jewels of the Season Virtual Event

December 17

In collaboration with the Timken Museum of Art, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum is hosting a virtual holiday event to celebrate a Timken tradition. Every year, the museum displays the Jewels of the Season, a collection of handcrafted ornaments adorned with gems, sequins, stones, and more from around the globe. The virtual event will showcase these special pieces and offer a history on the ornaments, conducted by Lynne Thompson. This event is part of a greater campaign by the SDMRM to commemorate their 40th anniversary.


Drive-Thru Enchanted Village

December 18–23

Explore the third annual Enchanted Village from the comfort of your car at this year’s drive-thru experience. San Diego–based nonprofit Noah Homes welcomes guests to cruise this immersive holiday display with over 100,000 lights and themed attractions, including a drive-thru light tunnel and towering musical Christmas tree. The nonprofit raises money to provide long-term care and accommodations for those with developmental disabilities.

12526 Campo Road, Spring Valley


Holiday Happenings at Liberty Station

Multiple dates

While the annual tree-lighting ceremony will be skipped this year, visitors can still marvel at and take their picture in front of Liberty Station’s 88-foot twinkling Christmas tree in the North Promenade. The Norfolk pine will debut the day after Thanksgiving and remain throughout the holiday season. Also, the Chabad of Downtown San Diego will host a menorah lighting on the first night of Hanukkah, December 10, at the Central Promenade. In collaboration with San Diego Ballet, Liberty Station is also hosting a drive-in live performance of The Nutcracker.


Holiday Guide / Polite Provisions

Holiday Sips at Polite Provisions

Holiday Sips at Polite Provisions

Multiple dates

Polite Provisions is adapting their annual winter wonderland pop-up to adhere to the latest safety guidelines. Enjoy your seasonal cocktails on their socially distanced outdoor patio (no reservations) with eight craft cocktails, two festive shots, and one punch to choose from. A few highlights? The Hot Buttered Rum with apple butter, the tiki-inspired Zombie, and their classic Holiday Punch.

4696 30th Street, North Park


Holiday Guide / Seaport Village

Seaport Village

Courtesy Seaport Village

Seaport Village’s Holidays by the Bay

Multiple dates

The waterfront village will set the scene for a festive season with lights, decor, and plenty of merry happenings. First, admire the lifesize Surfin’ Santa mural and surfboard tree at Urban Beach. For more photo ops, take a picture with santa himself by the food court—previously Wyland Gallery—now through December 24. There will be social distancing guidelines in place to keep you (and Kris Kringle) safe. Throughout the season, masked carolers and holiday elves will be walking the village to bring that extra touch of holiday cheer.

849 West Harbor Drive, Seaport Village



Holiday Guide / The Grass Skirt

Sippin’ Santa Cocktail Boxes from The Grass Skirt

Sippin’ Santa Cocktail Boxes

Multiple dates

The Grass Skirt is packing their holiday spirit into takeout cocktail kits all season long. Each week, the tiki-chic hangout will release a new box to pick up or be delivered with a mug-of-the-week, a cocktail kit for six, and extra goodies. The lineup kicking off the first week on November 25 includes the “Runaway Sleigh” gin cocktail with cranberry-sage syrup and zesty lime juice.


Neighborhood Lights

Multiple dates and locations

San Diego’s neighborhoods make a statement year-round, but some especially so during the holiday season. You and your loved ones can tour neighborhood blocks that traditionally go all-out on their decorations, like Poway’s Candy Cane Lane, Santee’s Starlight Circle, and Point Loma’s Garrison Street to check out the bright lights and amazing displays. Whether you take your self-guided tour on foot or by car, these free, organic festivities are not to be missed.

Holiday Market and Trail at Petco Park

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA