Santa is arriving in less than two weeks. If you need some last-minute holiday cheer and entertainment, look no further than the activities in Southern California. Your kiddos can take a Polar train ride with Santa himself, enjoy other kids performing in “The Nutcracker,” or celebrate Las Posadas at Pretend City. Whether you’re looking for Santa, twinkling lights, or need some need to keep the kiddos entertained during last-minute shopping, enjoy this last weekend before Christmas.

encinitas ballet

San Diego

Belmont Park Festivities and Holiday Cheer
Take the family to Belmont Park for some holiday cheer and celebrating. Enjoy a tree lighting, free kid activities and more! Fri. – Sun., 6 – 8 pm, Belmont Park, 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. Leave the hustle and bustle of the malls behind and enjoy a relaxing evening strolling through the lighted Garden. Families can enjoy winter fun in the snow, so please bring your own sled. Fri. – Sun., 5 – 9 pm, San Diego Botanic Gardens, Free with admission. All ages. Event details.

Encinitas Ballet Presents “The Nutcracker”
Encinitas Ballet’s spectacular production of “The Nutcracker” has become a Holiday tradition among families throughout our region. With mice battling soldiers, the Nutracker becoming a Prince, and Clara, the main character, receiving the gift of a dream,  this beloved Holiday favorite is a wonderful way to celebrate the season for the whole family. And kids will love that students ages 4 to 18 are performing alongside international professional guest dancers. Sat., 2 –  6 pm, Carlsbad Cultural Arts Center, $15-25/person. All ages. Event details.

Holiday Sing-Along Concert
The Sunset Strummers will bring their ukulele band and holiday music to the Oceanside Civic Center Library. The band will play sing-along songs and Hawaiian dance music at this free concert. Sat., 2 – 3 pm, Oceanside Public Library, Free. All ages. Event details.

Santa by the Sea
Kids will love seeing Santa by the Pacific Ocean. Bring your own camera for more pictures with Santa and enjoy holiday music by the Original Dickens Carolers. Sat., 2 – 5 pm, L’Auberge Amphitheater, Free. All ages. Event details.

East County

Santa Train North Pole Limited
As the Limited leaves the Depot, Santa’s Elves will serve cookies and hot chocolate. An on-board reading of a famous train Christmas story leads up to the magical arrival at Santa’s Workshop, where Santa boards the train and returns with the passengers. Advanced reservations required. Fri., 7 pm, Campo Depot,  $20 – $45/person. All ages. Event details.

Winter Wonderland Kids Night Out
Kids will have fun playing games, baking, crafting, and much more. Fee includes dinner and all Wonderland supplies. Fri., 6 – 9 pm, Hillside Recreation Center, $10/kid, 5-12 years. Event details.

Orange County

105th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade
The Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade celebrates its 105th year this year. The parade is free to watch and features more than 100 decorated and lighted boats making their way along a 14-mile parade route through scenic Newport Harbor. Fri. – Sun., 6:30 – 9 pm, Newport Harbor, Free. All ages. Event details.

Las Posadas Celebration
Las Posadas welcomes families to celebrate the first day of this nine-day Mexican Christmas celebration. Through special activities and events your children will have a better understanding of the history of this celebration in which so many partake. Activities of the day include Smart Art, piñata ornaments, Posada placemats, and a luminaria path. Fri. – Sun., 10 am – 1 pm, Pretend City Children’s Museum, $12.50/person. Ages 0-8 years. Event details.

Will you be attending a holiday event or doing Christmas shopping this weekend?

–Leah R. Singer

Photo courtesy of the Encinitas Ballet Company.