Festive Tree Lighting Celebrations Around San Diego

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 indeed.

otay ranch tree lighting

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. 16 – Jan. 4, 10 am – 7:30 pm
Sea World
500 Sea World Dr.
San Diego, Ca

The Old Globe’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting
The eighth annual Old Globe Christmas Tree Lighting will kick off the holiday season in conjunction with San Diego’s favorite holiday musical, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The unique tree will be located in the center of the Globe Plaza and will remain there for the run of the show. This fun family event will feature a special live performance by members of the Grinch cast, Christmas carols and delightful holiday snowfall on the Globe’s Copley Plaza. You MUST reserve free tickets ahead of time. Event details.

Nov. 17, 6 pm
The Globe Theatre
1363 Old Globe Way
San Diego Ca

Santee Holiday Lighting Celebration
Santa’s Holiday Lighting Celebration will feature the lighting of a 20-foot tall tree, Santa’s visit, a snow foam experience (spray times: 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm, 7:30 pm), a live band, caroling, holiday-themed crafts, horse-drawn carriage rides, kids’ activities, and more. Event details.

Nov. 22, 5:30 – 8:30 pm
Santee Trolley Square
9884 Mission Gorge Rd
Santee, 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. 23, 6 pm
Otay Ranch Town Center
Eastlake Parkway and Olympic Parkway
Chula Vista, Ca


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. 6, 3 – 8 pm
Coronado Ferry Landing
Coronado, Ca

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 4:30pm 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. 7, 4 – 8 pm
Piazza Natale
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. 8, 4:30 pm
Downtown La Jolla
Girard Ave.
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