It’s a holiday-themed weekend in San Diego. December has officially began, so that means it’s time to round up the kids and hit the fun and free parades, tree lighting events, holiday festivals and more that are taking place all over San Diego. Go low key in Little Italy for Italian cookies and music, join the crazy crowds at Balboa Park, or catch one of the parades happening in different parts of town. If you have a budding baker in the family, join a gingerbread making class with a first class pastry chef. Happy Holidays!

San Diego

Balboa Park December Nights
Balboa Park is full of fun holiday activities, and the biggest of them all is December Nights. The largest free community festival in San Diego, December Nights offers free museum admission in the evening and food, dancing, shopping and holiday cheer all day. Sat, 10:00 am. Balboa Park. Free. All ages. Event Details.

Little Italy Tree Lighting
Join the crowd in Little Italy to kick off the holidays. The Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village event is a fun, laid back way to spend a Saturday evening and ease into the holiday spirit. Festive music, Italian cookies, coffee and cider are available for everyone, plus word on the street is that a surprise guest will make an appearance. Sat, 4:00 pm. Piazza Natale. Free. All ages. Event Details.

North County

Gingerbread House Decorating Class
Gingerbread houses are classic signs that the holidays are upon us. Learn how to create a gingerbread house like a pro with Park Hyatt Aviara Resort’s Executive Pastry Chef. Sip and nibble on holiday treats as Chef Franck Riffaud leads an engaging step-by-step tutorial on the art of gingerbread modeling. Sat, 2:00 pm. Park Hyatt Aviara. $15 kids/$20 adults. All ages. Event Details.

Encinitas Holiday Parade
The Encinitas Holiday Parade has a special theme this year: celebrating its beginnings. Start the fun evening off right by watching the tree lighting, then enjoy over 100 floats and bands, working their way down the 101. Sat, 5:00 pm. Encinitas. Free. All ages. Event Details.

South Bay

Starlight Parade
The holidays are a great time for parade lovers! Back for the 50th year, this fun parade gets the season started with floats, marching bands, classic cars, community groups and so much more. After the parade, stick around for face painting and photos with Santa. Sat, 5:30 pm. Chula Vista. Free. All ages. Event Details.

— Laura Willard