‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the town, there were many creatures stirring including a mouse. Get into the holiday spirit this weekend with exciting events all leading up to the big day. See “The Nutcracker” in Balboa Park. Drop the kiddos off Kid Ventures for Kids Night Out: Polar Express night. Celebrate Hanukkah at Pretend City. Learn about Russia at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum. Or check out the all-new Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park. Have a great weekend!

nutcrackerSan Diego

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park
This brand-new holiday tradition is sure to be a hit. The event includes awesome lighting displays, Candyland, Polar Express trains, live reindeers and Santa himself. Fri. – Sun., 5 – 10 p.m., PETCO Park, $10 – $15/person. All ages. Event details.

Dance Away with “The Nutcracker”
Take an extraordinary journey to the magical Land of Sweets with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince. Witness the epic battle between toy soldiers and mice before away to an enchanted land of falling snow, waltzing flowers, and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Sat. and Sun., times vary, Casa del Prado Theatre, $10 – $15/person. All ages. Event details.

Kids Night Out: Polar Express
All Aboard!! Don’t miss the train to the North Pole! Structured play at Kid Ventures, costumes, games, crafts, dinner and a wonderfully fun time will be provided to the kids while parents have a night to themselves. Fri. 6 – 9 p.m. (4S Ranch), 5 – 9 p.m. (Eastlake), Kid Ventures, $40 – $45/person. All ages. Event details.

North County

Gingerbread Competition
Looking for the best gingerbread houses around this holiday season? Omni La Costa challenged local bakers and holiday enthusiasts to create a signature Gingerbread house for chance to win $1,000 in cash & prizes, a $1,000 donation to the Carlsbad Boys & Girls Club in their name.  Come check out all the entries-and the winners at this lovely spa. Fri., 5 – 7 p.m., La Costa Resort, Free. All ages. Event details.

Escondido Roots Celebrates Russia
Join the Children’s Discovery Museum as the Escondido Roots Series celebrates Russia! This event will feature cultural performances and activities that highlight the diverse traditions of Russia. The afternoon will include Russian folk tales told by Marilyn McPhie and the San Diego Ballet performing segments of the Nutcracker, as well as activities focused around Russia. Sat., 2 – 4 p.m., San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Free. All ages. Event details.

East County

Cider Under the Stars
Come to Oakoasis Preserve Campground for a holiday-themed star party featuring a campfire, sweet treats, and live music. Check out the San Diego Astronomy Association’s high powered telescopes for an up-close view of stars and planets. The event is free and fun for the whole family. When you arrive, please park in the designated parking area and walk ¼ mile, following signs, to the event area. Sat., 5 – 8 p.m., Oakoasis Preserve, Free. Ages 5 and up. Event details.

Julian Christmas Train Express
Visit Julian and enjoy a visit to an 1870 gold rush mine and have lots of festive fun. Fri. – Sun., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., Smith Ranch, $12-$15/person (kids 2 and under free). All ages. Event details.

Orange County

Hooray for Hanukkah
Celebrate Hanukkah at Pretend City. Your kiddo will love these rich and diverse activities about the Hanukkah miracle and the importance of many of the traditions of the holiday. We’ll have fun learning about this wonderful holiday through games, finger play rhymes, art projects and activities. Fri. – Sun., 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Pretend City Children’s Museum, $12.50/person. Ages 0 – 6. Event details

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What are you doing this weekend? Tell us in the comments!

– Leah R. Singer

Photo courtesy of San Diego Youth Ballet