photo: San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Ahoy mateys! The theme of this weekend’s San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is “Arrgh! A Pirate’s Christmas!” and your little landlubbers will delight in seeing the boats shine bright as they sail by. Also up this weekend: splendid holiday markets, winter wonderlands, gingerbread house making and more merriment! Read on for where to get festive!

National City

Gingerbread House Workshop
Start a family tradition as you fashion a sweet gingerbread house! Each kiddo receives an assembled gingerbread house and will decorate under guidance by Standlee’s pastry expert Jose Barajas, of MMM…Cakes.
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. There will be festive music, photo-booth and more! Reserve your spot by Dec 7th, at either Standlee’s, Candy Pro’s Store or Candy Pro’s Warehouse. Note: Parents must be present. Sat. Event details.


SoCal Etsy Guild Market Downtown
Head to the SoCal Etsy Guild Market for an amazing day of handmade fun! Local designers, live art, handmade vendors, music, and much more. All vendors will be located directly in the center of the amphitheater of Horton Plaza Park. Get your holiday shopping done and support small businesses and independent artisans. Sat. Event details.

Noel Noel: A City Lights Concert
Every family and every city has treasured holiday traditions that bring us together in celebration of the most special time of the year. One of those traditions for Southern California is the San Diego Symphony’s holiday concert, “Noel Noel.” Classic holiday favorites and a joyous Christmas carol sing-along, as well as a visit from Ol’ Saint Nick – this is the one concert your family won’t want to miss! Selections to be performed include “Adeste fideles,” “Farandole” (Bizet), “Dance of the Sugerplum Fairy” (Tchaikovsky), “We Need a Little Christmas,” Hanukkah Festival Overture, a suite from The Polar Express, “Sleigh Ride” and more! Arrive early for fun pre-concert activities beginning at 1 p.m. in the lobby where kids can try their hand at playing an instrument in the Discovery Zone, meet the Symphony’s musicians and more. Note: There’s a special, compact one-hour performance on Dec. 17th. Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Winter Wonderland
It’s a Winter Wonderland at Maritime Museum of San Diego! For two special nights the museum is transforming their parking lot into a Winter Wonderland. The area is open to all, no museum admission fee is required. Items can be purchased individually and include an ice rink, pirate ship bounce house and slide, photos with Santa and hot cocoa. Sun. Event details.

Multiple Waterfront Locations

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Continuing its long-standing San Diego tradition, the 46th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights promises to dazzle and entertain bayfront crowds this holiday season. Participants in this year’s highly anticipated holiday boat parade will decorate their boats to fit this year’s theme: “Arrgh! A Pirate’s Christmas!” The procession of approximately 80 lavishly decorated boats has become one of the most iconic events in the region. This year, for the 2nd time, the parade will proceed to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park before making the turn to Coronado, giving spectators another area to view the parade. Spectators can view the parade from any of the following waterfront viewpoints: Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, the Pier at Cesar Chavez Park and the Ferry Landing in Coronado. Sun. Event details.

Carmel Valley

Holiday Movie Night: Elf
Pack your blankets, get cozy and enjoy Free Movie Saturdays at The Village! The Polar Express begins at 6 p.m. As a special addition, live music will be performed before the show starting at 5 p.m. Sat. Event details.

La Jolla

Winter Nights at Westfield UTC
’Tis the season! Westfield UTC is transforming into a SoCal winter wonderland during its Winter Nights — a series of magical evenings, featuring REAL snow, real reindeer, living snow globes, snowflake girls, live entertainment, surprise giveaways and much more. Sat. Event details.

North Park

San Diego Holiday Market at The Lafayette
Enjoy some last-minute local holiday shopping at the final San Diego Made Holiday Market of the year at the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows. This exciting event sponsored by San Diego Made will feature only local vendors and will include: Handmade goods by over 60 local makers, holiday food stations featuring a taco bar, Brussels and brats and sweets station with hot coffee, holiday‐inspired craft cocktails and beer bars, family-friendly attractions, like face painting, balloons and a free kids coloring station, free photo booth and professional photography by Bronwyn Huddleson Photography, music by DJ Leeds and a hand-lettering Workshop by Kimposed. The first 100 people to arrive will receive a free swag bag with local goods and bars by KIND Snacks! Note: There’s a $5 entry donation to San Diego Made’s Brick and Mortar Fundraiser. If you purchase a presale ticket online it includes entry into the raffle for one of many awesome locally-made prizes. Children under 10 are free. Sun. Event details.

Orange County

Winter Wonder Fest
It’s snowing in Orange County, so bundle up and investigate the science behind weather, snow play and tubing at Winter Wonderfest. Experience a lesson in physics as you whoosh down a huge 75-foot ramp on inflatable tubes. Enjoy the snow play area, where snowmen are under cold construction. Join the snow building activity or sled down a snow-covered hill! Winter Wonderfest is fun for the entire family and allows kids and adults to experience a snow-filled day without leaving Southern California! Sat. & Sun. Event details.

Where are you getting festive with the fam this weekend? Share in the comments!

––Beth Shea