While the sun may be shining and the temperatures mild, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Southern California. Whether you’re looking for  tree lightings, festivals and parades, or a train ride to the North Pole, there’s something for everyone this weekend.

Railway Museum

San Diego

December Nights
San Diego’s favorite kick-off to the holiday season, will celebrate 36 years of bringing friends, families and the community together. In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge. The largest free community festival in San Diego, December Nights will bring more than 300,000 visitors to the park to revel and enjoy the season over two days. Fri. – Sat., 5 – 10 pm, Balboa Park, Free. All ages. Event details.

Cabrillo Centennial Celebration
This big event features a Lighthouse Open Tower tours, antique car show, re-enactments, Bayside Trail Walk, and more. Sat., 9 am – 5 pm, Cabrillo National Monument, $5/vehicle. All ages. Event details.

South Park Walkabout
Bring the family to South Park for their annual winter walkabout celebration. Today’s walkabout features holiday lights-inspired decor and activities. Participating business will be open for browsing, product demonstrations, snacks and more. Sat., 6 – 10 pm, South Park, Free. All ages. Event details.

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival
The North Park Toyland Parade features marching bands, dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens and city officials, and and more! Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red sleigh. Following the parade, the holiday festival is a collection of local schools and organizations that are coming together to provide fun, creative, educational activities for families and kiddos to enjoy. Sat. 11 am – 4:30 pm, North Park, Free. All ages. Event details.

North County

Make Your Own Ornament at Westfield UTC
Kids won’t want to miss this! Join The NEW Children’s Museum at Westfield UTC to design your own holiday fruit ornament. Each kiddo will have the chance to hang their ornament on the mall trees or to take it home. Fri., 10 am – 12 pm, Westfield UTC, Free. All ages. Event details.

Helen Woodward’s Frosty Farm
Helen Woodward’s Frosty Farm will feature various holiday activities including gingerbread house building, hot cocoa, crafts, face painting, and an “ice” maze! Plus, have pictures with Santa and his miniature horse “reindeer.” All proceeds go back into supporting the animals and programs at the Center. Sat., 10 am – 2 pm, Helen Woodward Animal Center, $20/kid; $9/adult. All ages. Event details.

Encinitas Holiday Parade
Thousands of people will be on floats and in bands with tens of thousands more cheering them on. Grand Marshal Don Hansen will lead the approximately 100 entries of the parade. Don’t miss the tree lighting that precedes the parade. Sat., 5 – 7 pm, Encinitas Coast Highway 101, Free. All ages. Event details.

East County

Alpine Parade of Lights and Snow Festival
Santa arrives in Alpine riding down Alpine Blvd. Everyone is invited to join Santa in the Parade of Lights. Following the parade, Santa and his helpers will light the Alpine Community Christmas tree at the Alpine Creek Town Center, and join in the holiday sing-a-long. Then stay for free sledding on Snow Hill. Fri., 6:30 – 9 pm, Alpine Creek Town Center, Free. All ages. Event details.

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. – Sat., 7 pm, Campo Depot, $20 – $45/person. All ages. Event details.

Orange County

Newport Dunes Lighting of the Bay
Welcome the holidays California style as Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina hosts its 23rd annual Lighting of the Bay. taking center stage will be Santa Claus, who will arrive not by sleigh, but by lighted paddleboard. watch as he will flip the switch that will illuminate 50 electric Christmas trees situated on the bay. Fri., 6 pm, Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort, Free. All ages. Event details.

Nutcracker Christmas Tree Lighting and Holiday Village
Enjoy a spectacular tree lighting, Nutcracker Ballet, snow play area, International food frenzy, rock climbing, Christmas crafts, train rides, pictures with Santa and more! Sat., 10 am – 7 pm, Downtown Anaheim, Free. All ages. Event details.

Laguna Nigel Christmas Tree Lighting
This holiday event includes music, entertainment, activities for kids, an appearance by Santa Claus and of course, the lighting of the Christmas tree. Get into the spirit of giving by donating a new toy that will go to military families. Sat., 5 -7 pm, Laguna Niguel City Hall, Free. All ages. Event details.

Orange Tree Lighting and Candlelight Procession
Join the City of Orange for an evening of holiday cheer and family fun as we sing traditional carols of the season with the Orange Community Master Chorale led by musical director Michael Short. Sun., 3:30 pm, Old Town Orange Plaza, Free. All ages. Event details.

What are you doing this weekend? 

–Leah R. Singer

Photo courtesy of the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum Association’s Facebook page.