photo: Southern California Ballet

The Nutcracker ballet and a Nutcracker Tea Party with Santa, gingerbread house making, a Polar Express Family Day and a two-story, 100-foot ice tubing slide! This weekend is filled with wintry, holiday fun! Read on for where to dive in.


The Nutcracker
International award-winning dancers Martha Leebolt and Toby Batley, now Artistic Directors of Southern California Ballet, return to the Poway Center for the Performing Arts with their stunning production of “The Nutcracker.” This holiday classic is a tradition that will never fade in excitement and entertainment! The production features over 100 talented performers from Southern California Ballet’s academy and pre-professional company alongside world-class guest artists David Ward and Mary Beth Hansohn. Southern California Ballet alumnus and musical theater star Victor Wisehart also returns to dance with members of the pre-professional company in the role of “Snow Cavalier.” Southern California Ballet’s production continues to delight and bring that special holiday magic to the entire family. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Barrio Logan

Shop and Hops Holiday Market
San Diego Made in conjunction with Alta Brewing is hosting the Shop + Hops Holiday Market at Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan!  This event will be a local, family-friendly holiday shopping and beer tasting experience and will feature handmade goods by roughly 50 local makers, free beer and wine tasting for parents, food vendors, live music, a free photo booth, a free kids station and more!  A free, handmade door gift will be given to anyone who makes a $40+ purchase from one of the makers and every attendee will be entered into the free live raffle at 8:30 p.m. with prizes that include beer growlers and Alta Brewing gift cards. There is a $5 entry fee that includes all beer and wine tastings and the raffle entry. Kids under age 10 are free. Fri. Event details.


Holiday by the Bay
Hilton San Diego Bayfront is pleased to unveil a newly reimagined Holiday by the Bay on select nights Nov. 21-Jan 5. The all-new Holiday by the Bay will transform Bayfront Park into the ultimate holiday destination and ice adventure park featuring San Diego’s only two-story, 100-foot ice tubing slide, ice bumpers cars, nightly snow flurries, an interactive light show featuring a 30-foot tall Christmas tree, festive fare, craft holiday cocktails, cozy fire-side lounges, gingerbread decorating, stocking trimming, and much more. A portion of every ticket to the annual holiday tradition will benefit United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) San Diego, supporting America’s military service members. Adults can rediscover the cheer of childhood holiday memories while creating new ones with their families participating in time-honored traditions such as trimming stockings in Santa’s Workshop and decorating gingerbread in Claus Kitchen. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

Noel Noel Concert
The San Diego Symphony invites you to make Copley Symphony Hall your home for the holidays at their annual “Noel Noel” concert. Broadway darling Bryonha Marie Parham (RagtimeBook of MormonPorgy and BessPrince of BroadwayAfter Midnight) will amp up the Christmas mood with her powerhouse voice and her 100-watt personality as she sings magical favorites including “Believe” from Polar Express and “White Christmas.” Choirs fill the hall with joy in traditional favorites like “Carol of the Bells, ” “Silent Night” and “Sleigh Ride.” Sing your own heart out with the symphony during the audience-sing-along and visit with the North Pole’s most famous resident! Join us to celebrate the beauty of Copley Symphony Hall adorned for the season and the music of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra. Sat. Event details.

La Mesa

Gingerbread House Workshop
It’s that time of year and signups are now open for this fun 2nd Annual Gingerbread House workshop! Each child receives an assembled gingerbread house and will decorate under guidance by CandyPros! Each gingerbread house will come alive with Candy Pro’s colorful candies, gumdrops, peppermints, sprinkles and more. Workshop includes a gingerbread house, decorating materials, snacks and a holiday beverage. Must purchase your seat and reserve your spot. Once seats are full, they will stop taking reservations, which are first come first serve. Note: parents of young kids will need to stay present and be responsible for your child. Ages 3 and up. Limit one gingerbread house per child. Sat. Event details.

Liberty Station

Nutcracker Tea Party with Santa
Liberty Station invites the community to experience the magic of the holiday season at its inaugural Nutcracker Tea Party with Santa at Building 177. A new addition to the community’s Salute the Season festivities, this seasonal, family-friendly event will encompass an afternoon of hot cocoa and sweets; a narrated, interactive performance of The Nutcracker by San Diego Ballet; a visit from Santa and more! As guests arrive at the Nutcracker Tea Party at 3:30 p.m., they will be greeted by The Nutcracker characters and children will receive golden tokens to partake in the scrumptious hot chocolate bar to enjoy during the performance. The narrated show will begin at 4 p.m. with vignette performances by the San Diego Ballet, as well as festive surprises throughout the afternoon! Sun. Event details.

Balboa Park

Polar Express Family Day
All aboard! Get in the spirit of the holidays and head out in your pajamas to enter a magical world at a cozy screening of The Polar Express. Relax, bring a pillow, blanket and enjoy the show starting at 11:30 a.m. After the movie, kids will craft a special keepsake and the event will be topped off by a visit from a very important friend of the museum! Sat. Event details.

Jungle Bells
Go wild this holiday season at the San Diego Zoo’s annual celebration, Jungle Bells! Jungle Bells guests will be treated to seasonal decorations, animal experiences, costumed characters, lighted displays, live entertainment and more including the zany Dr. Zoolittle and the jolly elf himself—Santa. The Zoo will be aglow with holiday cheer and activities to keep the whole family entertained. Guests can watch as animals enjoy unique enrichment treats and guests can sample treats of their own offered at many of the Zoo’s restaurants and food stands. Don’t miss out on holiday shopping at the Zoo’s retail locations, or the holiday happy hour at Albert’s Restaurant—Happy Holidays Happens—with discounted drinks and appetizers available from 3-5 p.m. each day of Jungle Bells. Fri.-Sun. Event details.

––Beth Shea