If you’re looking for something fun to do before you start trimming the Thanksgiving turkey (or tofurkey) and making mashed potatoes, check out some of the great events Southern California has to offer this weekend. Head to East County for the annual Mother Goose Parade. Get into the Christmas spirit with tree lightning ceremonies, visits with Santa, and even a gingerbread man puppet show. Celebrate Hanukkah at a Jewish art and music festival. Or your kiddos can get crafty making pine cone table decorations for the Thanksgiving buffet. Have a great weekend!

mother goose parade

San Diego

The Adventures of the Gingerbread Man Puppet Show
The Gingerbread Man taunts his pursuers as he narrowly escapes danger in his wild journey through the forest, the jungle the desert and even the Antarctic! This fun show for preschoolers features real handmade puppets and is the perfect length for short attention spans! Fri. – Sun., 10 am – 2:30 pm, Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre, $4-$5/person, All ages. Event details.

Hanukkah Jam Festival 2013
The Hanukkah JAM (Jewish Art and Music) festival brings the Jewish community together through art and music to celebrate the traditions of Hanukkah. The event, hosted by the San DIego Jewish Men’s Choir, includes singing, menorah competition, and family fun. Sun., 3 – 5 pm, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, Costs vary, All ages. Event details.

North County

Holiday Bazaar and Photos with Santa
Bring the kids for some holiday shopping and meet Santa! Pictures with Santa are $20 and include a digital image that may be used for holiday cards or sharing with family and friends. Sat., 2 – 6 pm, Best Foot Forward Dance Studio, $20/photo, All ages. Event details.

Encinitas Fall Festival
The festival features more than 450 booths showcasing arts, crafts, gifts, food and more. Live music will be playing at three venues, Lumberyard Courtyard Stage, Pacific Station Stage and Community Stage. Sun., 9 am – 4 pm, Downtown Encinitas, Free, All ages. Event details.

East County

Santee Holiday Lighting Celebration
Santa’s Holiday Lighting Celebration will feature the lighting of a 20-foot tall tree, Santa’s visit, ice skating on a 2,400-square-foot ice rink, a live band, caroling, holiday-themed crafts, horse-drawn carriage rides, kids’ activities, and more. Fri., 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Santee Trolley Square, Free, All ages. Event details.

Mother Goose Parade
This annual celebration features floats, marching bands, equestrians, clowns, drill teams, celebrities, and more. Sun., 9 am – 3 pm, Downtown El Cajon, Free, All ages. Event details.

Pine Cone Craft Making
Join a Park Ranger to create your very own turkey pine cone centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. The morning will begin with participants combing the park for pine cones and acorns to make this fun and easy craft. Sun., 2 – 3 pm, El Monte Regional Park, Free ($3 parking), All ages. Event details.

South Bay

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. Sat., 6 pm, Otay Ranch Town Center, Free, All ages. Event details.

Orange County

Trains, Trees and Traditions
A magical model train exhibit will deck the halls of the Nixon Presidential Library this holiday season. The exhibit takes visitors through a whistling wonderland of model trains. Surrounding the toy trains and scattered throughout the museum are 24 breathtaking Christmas trees decorated with more than 5,000 colorful ornaments and 13,000 sparkling lights. Sat. – Sun., 10 am – 5 pm, Nixon Presidential Library, $11.95-$4.75/person; kids under 6 free, All ages. Event details.

What are you doing this weekend? Are you getting ready for Thanksgiving? 

–Leah R. Singer

Photo courtesy of the Mother Goose Parade Association Facebook page