Nothing quite sums up the Christmas season more than trees decked out in sparkling lights. Amp up your holiday cheer and get into the spirit with a festive tree lighting ceremony. San Diego has plenty and many of these events also include visits with Santa, parades and lots more holiday cheer. ‘Tis the season!
Photo Credit: Sea World San Diego’s Facebook page
Sea World Nightly Tree Lighting
If you can’t make it to one San Diego tree lightning event, head to the Sea World Christmas every night through Jan. 4. Not only is the park full of holiday cheer with Shamu, Santa Claus and SnowWorld, you’ll also enjoy the nightly lighting of Southern California’s largest Christmas tree, SeaWorld’s breathtaking 320-foot Christmas Tree of Lights. Event details.
Nov. 15 – Jan. 4, Park hours vary by day
500 Sea World Dr.
San Diego, Ca
Santee Holiday Lighting Celebration
Join in the holiday fun at Santee’s 12th Annual Holiday Lighting Celebration. The evening includes live entertainment provided by the Bayou Brothers – Cajun Zydeco music with a holiday twist. The highlight of the event is the ceremonial lighting of a 20-foot artificial tree that takes place at 6:15 p.m. This is a free event, however some activities do require a minimal fee. Free activities include real snow sledding provided by Rise City Church, cookie decorating, marshmallow snowman craft, create your own elf hats, holiday ornament decorating, letters to Santa, holiday tattoos, Chick-fil-A bounce house, HS Salon (crazy hair design), and various games. Event details.
Nov. 21, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. (tree lighting at 6:30 p.m.)
Santee Trolley Square
9884 Mission Gorge Rd
Photo Credit: Fashion Valley Mall
Tree Lighting at Fashion Valley Mall
Fashion Valley mall will host its annual Tree Lighting ceremony to kick off the season in Prada Court. The event will feature kid’s crafts, refreshments, and a festive show by the Salvation Army brass band as they perform popular holiday carols. Event details.
Nov. 29, 6 – 7:30 p.m.
Fashion Valley Mall – Prada Court
7007 Friars Rd.
San Diego, Ca
Chula Vista Tree Lighting and Santa Parade
Otay Ranch Town Center’s annual Tree Lighting and Santa Parade is back for its seventh year and promises to once again get local families in the holiday spirit. The parade features local school bands, performing groups, balloons, community organizations and of course the big man himself — Santa Claus. Kicking off the night’s celebrations is a festive ceremony lighting the 30-foot tree draped in dazzling lights at the start of Main Street, featuring a countdown and the official opening of the mall’s Santa House. Event details.
Nov. 29, 6 – 9 p.m.
Otay Ranch Town Center
Eastlake Parkway and Olympic Parkway
Chula Vista, Ca
Downtown San Diego Tree Lighting
This festive evening includes music, ice skating and the famous faces from Disneyland. Right after the tree is lighted, you can skate beneath the stars at the “Fantasy on Ice” rink from 8 to 10 p.m. Proceeds from Fantasy on Ice benefit the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital. Event details.
Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m.
324 Horton Plaza
San Diego, Ca
Photo Credit: keyseeker via Morguefile
Coronado Holiday Celebration & Parade
Get a big dose of holiday spirit as Santa arrive by ferry and kicks off a Christmas party complete with a parade down Orange Ave., live music, and wait for it…fireworks over Glorietta Bay. Watch the 75-foot tree light up, resplendent in twinkle lights, and ornaments, and visit with Santa. This one will have you humming Christmas carols in no time. Event details.
Dec. 5, 3 – 7:15 p.m.
Coronado Ferry Landing
1201 1st St.
Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village
The Little Italy Association presents the kick-off to its annual holiday shopping, dining and pampering season with the annual Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village held at the Piazza Natale. Come one and all; family, friends and pets are welcome. Jolly Ole Saint Nick will be arriving at 4:30 p.m. on Little Italy Fire Engine 3, to add that additional holiday cheer; while attendees are serenaded to the musical talents of the various musical and dancing groups. The Association will be giving out free Italian cookies, cider and coffee; and don’t forget the Little Italy Mercato vendors will be selling holiday gifts, to get the season started off right. Event details.
Dec. 6, 4 – 8 p.m.
India and W. Date Streets
Little Italy, Ca
La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival
This amazing day begins with a parade of horses, trains and antique fly-overs. The day – themed “Christmas in the Surf and Sand” – includes arts and crafts, entertainment, food, photos with Santa, and holiday cheer. The parade and festival conclude with a giant Christmas tree lighting at 4:30 pm. Event details.
Dec. 7, 1:30 – 5 p.m. (tree lighting at 4:30 p.m.)
Downtown La Jolla
La Jolla, Ca
Are there other spots your family goes to attend Christmas tree lightings? Tell us in the comments.
— Leah R. Singer
Photo courtesy of Otay Ranch Town Center and Coronado Visitors Center