Visits with Santa Claus, a Bay Parade of Lights, and “The Nutcracker” ballet all take center stage this weekend in Southern California. Kiddos will love celebrating at one of the visits with Santa taking place. You can also chill out on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. Or if you’re looking for caroling and traditional Christmas fun, check out one of the many holiday celebrations at the county parks. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!


San Diego

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. Fri. – Sun., 7 pm, Casa del Prado,  $10-15/person. All ages. Event details.

Santa’s Winter Wonderland
Join us for the holidays! Take your family photo with Santa Claus and create your Christmas Card in the Cymer Lounge! Admission includes: a letter to Santa, a holiday craft and bag, live entertainment, story time, and one opportunity drawing ticket. Spread your Christmas cheer and enjoy caroling and cookie decorating. Lunch and other holiday treats will be available at an additional cost. Sun., 1 – 4 pm, Mission Valley YMCA,  $8/members, $10/non-members, free/kids 2 and under. Ages 2 – 12. Event details.

Bay Parade of Lights
The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights features boats decorated for the holiday season. This year’s theme, “Big Bay Toy Parade” will have boats of all kinds judged for creative lighting, decorations and crowd-engaging fun. More than 80 vessels will take to the water. Sun., 5:30 pm, San Diego Bay, Free. All ages. Event details.

North County

Garden of Lights
As the sun goes down, the San Diego Botanic Garden will be transformed into a dazzling winter wonderland with over 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating the Garden for a magical holiday experience. Families can enjoy winter fun in the snow, so please bring your own sled. Fri. – Sun., 5 – 9 pm, San Diego Botanic Gardens,  $4 – $12/person. All ages. Event details.

The Humbug Holiday Spectacular
This comedic, colorful and crazy spoof is full of witty songs, vibrant dance numbers, and a little bit of everything to please even the grouchiest of holiday humbug-ers. Follow Horatio the Humbug on a hilarious fun-filled adventure to create the perfect Musical Holiday Spectacular. Fri. – Sun., 8 pm, North Coast Repertory Theatre, $30/person. All ages. Event details.

San Dieguito Breakfast with Santa
Come enjoy breakfast with a very special guest in attendance – good ole’ Saint Nick! Each paid breakfast ticket includes a photo with Santa. Kids can also partake in holiday arts and crafts. Proceeds will benefit the County of San Diego Parks and Recreation’s Ring & Run Program, benefiting families in need around the County. Sat., 10 am – 12 pm, San Dieguito County Park, $8 – $10/person. All ages. Event details.

Christmas in the Park
Traditions come to life during Christmas in the Park. The day is filled with fun activities including a Christmas tree lighting, Santa and Mrs. Claus arriving by train, horse-drawn carriage rides, face painting, ornament decorating, entertainment, and lots more. Sat., 3:30 – 8:30 pm, Old Poway Park, Free. All ages. Event details.

East County

Christmas in La Mesa Village
The Village of La Mesa is transformed into a Victorian Wonderland with strolling minstrels, carolers and street entertainers, holiday parade, live music, horse drawn carriages, bonfire, carnival rides, puppet shows, and, of course, Santa! All specialty shops, boutiques and restaurants open late during event. Fri. – Sat., 5 – 10 pm, La Mesa Village, Free. All ages. Event details.

Spring Valley Breakfast with Santa
Kiddos and their families can enjoy a special morning with Santa Claus. Activities include an “all you can eat” pancake breakfast, caroling, and a special visit with Santa. Sat., 9 – 11 am, Spring Valley Community Center, $4-$5/person. All ages. Event details.

Orange County

Chill on Queen Mary
The iconic Queen Mary presents CHILL, an experience that will bring cheer, enchantment and cold temperatures to Southern California just in time for the holiday season. The only event of its kind on the West Coast, CHILL is a not-to-miss holiday event. CHILL will offer a completely unique holiday experience featuring festival holiday fun. Fri. – Sun., 10 am – 11 pm, Queen Mary, $12.95 – $24.95/person, All ages. Event details.

Are you doing something festive this weekend?

–Leah R. Singer

Photo courtesy of the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet