Top weekend events in San Diego for Dec. 1-4: December Nights, tree lightings and more

A holiday character celebrates the season at the Holiday Market at Petco Park.
(Courtesy of Alec Basanec/Petco Park Events)

December is finally here, and the first weekend of the month is packed with holiday activities and events.

If you’re planning to do some shopping, check out our holiday gift guide.

Need a Christmas gift or any other present for the holidays? This list of ideas will help you choose one for anyone in San Diego, including surfers, book lovers and more

Nov. 18, 2022

Otherwise, there’s a lot to do this weekend in San Diego County.

Here are the top events happening in the area from Thursday, Dec. 1 to Sunday, Dec. 4.


Yaegel T. Welch, foreground, and Rochard Thomas, left, in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
Yaegel T. Welch, foreground, as Tom Robinson and Rochard Thomas, left, as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.
(Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes)

“To Kill a Mockingbird”: The wildly successful play, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” arrives in San Diego this weekend. Written by Aaron Sorkin, the play is an adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulizer Prize-winning novel of the same name. Showing Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Times vary depending on the day. Tickets start at $49.

Petco Park holiday market: The holiday market at Petco Park returns for a third year. The market will feature local artisan shops and booths, Christmas light displays, seasonal food and beverages and Santa and other holiday characters. Entry times are based on tickets. 4 to 10 p.m. Dec. 1-23. Petco Park, 100 Park Blvd., San Diego. Tickets $10 for ages 1-14, $14 for adults.

Herbert Siguenza's "It's a Wonderful Vida" at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.
Jaden Guerrero, left, Javier Guerrero, Richard Rivera, Hannah Trujillo and Wendy Sanchez in Herbert Siguenza’s “It’s a Wonderful Vida” at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista.
(Courtesy of Daren Scott)

“It’s a Wonderful Vida”: OnStage Playhouse presents San Diego playwright Herbert Siguenza’s dark satirical look at Mexican Americans working hard to assimilate during the 1957 Christmas season in Corpus Christi, Texas. 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. 2 p.m. Sundays. Through Dec. 21. 291 Third Ave., Chula Vista. $15-$25. (619) 422-7787.

Mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and Spanish guitarist Pablo Sáinz-Villegas: San Diego Opera and La Jolla Music Society co-present this classical vocal music and guitar concert. 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Baker-Baum Concert Hall, Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. $44-$115. (619) 533-7000.

Tree of Life ceremony in Hillcrest: This annual event recognizes and remembers those affected by AIDS and commemorates World AIDS Day. Heart ornaments are available for purchase online to honor friends and family. There will be a candle light vigil, tree lighting, guest speakers, awards and a performance by the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus. Coffee, hot chocolate, cookies and water will also be available. Masks are suggested for all and required for those who are not vaccinated. 6 p.m. Thursday. Village Hillcrest, 3955 Fifth Avenue, San Diego.

“Plaid Tidings”: San Diego Musical Theatre presents this holiday edition of the popular doo-wop musical comedy “Forever Plaid.” In this version, the long-dead 1960s-era men’s vocal quartet, the Plaids, are resurrected for one night to give the holiday concert they never got to sing in life. 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays. 8 p.m. Fridays. 4 p.m. Saturdays. 2 p.m. Sundays. Through Dec. 24. SDMT Stage, 4650 Mercury St., San Diego. $40 and up. (858) 560-5740.


The San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park, lit up for December Nights.
(Courtesy of The City of San Diego)

December Nights: For the first time since 2019, December Nights returns to Balboa Park with its traditional in-person experience. This family-friendly event brings together the sights and sounds of the holiday season, as well as activities, attractions and, of course, the various foods and treats from around the world. 3 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. on Saturday. Closes both days at 11 p.m. Balboa Park, San Diego. Free.

What to see and do at December Nights in Balboa Park, from vendors, music and can’t miss attractions, there is something for everyone at this family-friendly holiday event.

Dec. 1, 2022

Coronado holiday parade and tree lighting: Enjoy holiday cheer with the lighting of a 85-foot tree, local business open house and a parade featuring local organizations, clubs and businesses with lights and costumes. There will also be live music and holiday sing-alongs. 6 to 8 p.m. Friday. Parade runs from the Ferry Landing, down Orange Avenue, to the Hotel del Coronado. Tree lighting takes place in Rotary Park.

Lemon Grove holiday bonfire: Lemon Grove will host its 25th annual community bonfire. The fire will be ignited at 6 p.m., and a community aerial photo will be taken at 6:15 p.m. The ugly sweater contest is at 7 p.m. Enjoy a game truck, bounce house, arts and crafts, rock climbing and live music. There will also be free hot chocolate, popcorn and cookies and food trucks. 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Treganza Park, 3200 Main St. Free.

Tree lighting celebration in Carlsbad: Festive activities include a live performance by Crown City Bombers, holiday characters and entertainers, a visit from Santa, lighting of the Christmas tree and a light show along with magical snowfal. 6 to 9 p.m. Friday. The Forum Carlsbad, 1923 Calle Barcelona.

Alpine parade: Alpine’s “Parade of Lights” is hosted by the Alpine/Mountain Chamber of Commerce and will be on the main stretch of Alpine Boulevard. 6 p.m. Friday at Alpine Boulevard and West Victoria.

A scene from Palomar College's "The Gods of Comedy."
Tara Farrokhi, left, as Thalia, Nick Ashley as Dionysus, Finn Proctor as Ralph and Rhiann Glaudini as Daphne in Palomar College’s “The Gods of Comedy.”
(Courtesy of Carl Thompson)

Palomar opens ‘The Gods of Comedy’: Palomar Performing Arts presents Ken Ludwig’s comedy about a Greek classics scholar who calls upon the ancient gods of love to save her career and love life. Opens Friday and runs through Dec. 12. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Howard Brubeck Theatre, Palomar College, 1140 W. Mission Road, San Marcos. $10-$15. (760) 744-1150, Ext. 3997.

“Prairie Lights”: Patio Playhouse Youth Theatre presents this tender holiday musical by Susan Lieberman, David Rush and Rosalie Gerut about a pair of Jewish teen siblings riding an orphan train to their new adoptive Jewish parents in 1905 Nebraska, just before Hanukkah and Christmas. Opens Friday and runs through Dec. 18. 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. 2 p.m. Sundays. Patio Playhouse, 116 S. Kalmia St., Escondido. $13-$17. (760) 746-6669.

Festival of Christmas: “A Christmas Carol”: Lamb’s Players Theatre presents Kerry Meads’ newly revised 90-minute adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Through Dec. 24. 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado. $43-$86. (619) 437-6000.

“The Holy Ghost”: San Diego New Music presents a concert of music curated by Zane Shrem-Besnoy. 2 p.m. Friday. The Athenaeum Art Center, Bread & Salt, 1955 Julian Ave., San Diego. $12-$30.

Winter WonderLights: This holiday light show and snowfall experience takes place at The Forum Carlsbad. On Fridays, visitors can meet holiday characters. 5 to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 3-17, at the The Forum Carlsbad, 1923 Calle Barcelona.

“Huai Li: Constraint and Transcendence”: California Center for the Arts Museum, Escondido presents the opening reception for this exhibition representing 35 years of artwork by this San Diego artist that examine her relocation from China to the United States. Exhibit continues through Feb. 26. Reception, 6 p.m. Friday. 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $20.

Christmas Concert at Mission San Luis Rey: The San Luis Rey Chorale will perform this 11th annual concert and singalong twice. The Friday event includes a dessert reception in the sacred garden among twinkling lights. On Saturday, an encore performance with just the concert will take place. 7 p.m. Dec. 2, 2 p.m. Dec. 3. Mission San Luis Rey, 4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside. $30-60.

Modernist Cuisine Gallery exhibit opening: Gallery owner Nathan Myhrvold will host an opening reception for his new collection of photographs taken on a two-week trip to Iceland. 4-7 p.m. Friday. 1241 Prospect St., La Jolla. RSVP at (858) 886-7721.


Friends choosing Christmas gifts at the Christmas market
(Getty Images)

Holiday in the Village: La Mesa hosts its seventh annual Holiday in the Village with live music, craft vendors, a holiday 360 photo booth, “selfies with Santa,” a children’s area and lots of holiday cheer. Play carnival games, listen to carolers and enjoy food and drinks from local businesses. Entertainment includes traditional holiday songs and music, local bands and community performers. Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday. La Mesa Boulevard, between Spring and Fourth Streets. Free.

Vista Christmas parade: The Vista Chamber of Commerce’s annual Christmas parade is set for this weekend. This year’s theme is “A Toy Stories Christmas” with “Toy Man of Vista” as the grand marshal. There will be floats, music and marching bands, along with Santa. 1 to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Downtown Vista. The parade starts at 1 p.m. on Santa Fe and Pala Vista Drive, heads north, goes down Broadway to Citrus, then to Main Street, ending at the Wave Waterpark.

Winter Wonderland at Escondido High School: This free event will include photos with Santa, story time with elves, crafts for kids and a petting zoo. Pozole, sweet tamales, hot chocolate and champurrado will be for sale. Other holiday vendors will also be on site. All proceeds benefit Escondido High Agriculture students. Guests are also invited to bring canned foods and nonperishable items to donate to Interfaith Community Services. 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Escondido High School, 1535 N. Broadway., Escondido.

Ocean Beach parade: Ocean Beach holds its holiday parade with a theme of “Jingle all the Waves.” 5 p.m. Saturday along Newport Avenue.

Ramona Christmas tree lighting: This annual event takes place Saturday with carolers, sleigh rides, dining and shopping, crafts for children, classic cars and dancers, along with photos with Santa. 5 to 9 p.m. with tree lighting at 7 p.m. Guy B. Woodward Museum, 645 Main St., Ramona. Visit

Little Italy tree lighting: Little Italy hosts a tree lighting and Christmas Village with twinkle lights and 10-foot-tall nutcrackers decorating the neighborhood. Enjoy seasonal vendors, Christmas music and other entertainment and an appearance by Santa. 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. Piazza della Famiglia, 523 W. Date St. The Christmas Village can be found on India Street, between West Cedar and West Grape Streets.

Fallbrook Christmas parade: Fallbrook’s 41st annual Christmas parade, themed “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” is hosted by the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce. The parade features Santa, lighted floats, music, marching bands and dancers along with classic cars, led by Grand Marshals Jim and Jean Dooley. 5 p.m. Saturday. Main Street in downtown Fallbrook.

San Marcos tree lighting and market: This is a family event with dance performances, school choirs, crafts and vendors. There will also be entertainment and “snow.” 1 to 7 p.m. Dec. 3 at the San Marcos Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Drive. Santa lights the tree at 5:35 p.m., followed by snowfall. Photos with Santa are from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Winter Wonderland in Escondido: Visitors can play in snow, join holiday crafting activities led by artists, browse for gifts made by local artisans and buy holiday-themed drinks and treats at Santa’s Corner Café. There is also a self-guided “Northern Lights” tour of twinkling lights and Christmas trees. 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd.

Port of San Diego holiday fair: The Makers Arcade Holiday Fair at the Port of San Diego returns to the Broadway Pier for its sixth year. The shopping event will host more than 110 local makers, plus photo displays, gourmet food, live music, cocktails, beer, workshops and more. The pier itself will be decked out to add to the ambiance as you shop.10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Inside the Broadway Pier, 1000 N. Harbor Drive, San Diego. Tickets start at $7 at the door; children under 10 free.

“Passionate Voices”: La Jolla Symphony & Chorus with guest conductor Jeffrey Malecki will perform John Adams’ “The Chairman Dances,” Rossini’s “Stabat Mater” and more works featuring four vocalists. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. 2 p.m. Sunday. Mandeville Auditorium, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla. $19-$41.

Encinitas Holiday Parade: Encinitas’ annual holiday parade kicks off with a tree lighting and brief appearance from Santa at 5 p.m. in The Lumberyard shops courtyard, between H Street and I Street, followed by the parade at 5:30 p.m. featuring floats, marching bands and decorated cars along Coast Highway from D to J streets. The theme is “Classic Encinitas” with Grand Marshal Warren Raps. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday. S. Coast Highway 101, Encinitas. Free parade shuttles will run from 4 to 8:30 p.m. from the San Dieguito Academy High School parking lot at Melba Road and Nardo Road and the YMCA/Ecke Sports Park parking lot on Saxony Road to the North County Transit District bus station on Vulcan Avenue a half-block from the parade route. ADA-accessible bus runs from San Dieguito Academy.


Starlight Nights in Chula Vista: The city of Chula Vista and the Downtown Chula Vista Association kick off the holiday season with Starlight Nights. An official lighting of a 25-foot tree takes place at 5:45 p.m. on the plaza at the northwest corner of Memorial Park, 373 Park Way. Children can enjoy rides on Santa’s holiday train, and holiday shopping abounds at local businesses and at the holiday market. Live music will be performed on the stage near the historical Third Avenue sign throughout the evening and Santa will be making an appearance. 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4 on Third Avenue in downtown Chula Vista.

Benjamin Alard plays Bach: San Diego Early Music Society presents French organist and harpsichordist Benjamin Alard in two separate programs of keyboard works by J.S. Bach. Harpsichord works will be played at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Ciccati Performing Arts Center, Cuyamaca College, 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway, El Cajon. $10-$40. Six organ trio sonatas will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Saint Brigid Parish, 4735 Cass St., San Diego. $25. (619) 291-8246.

Carlsbad tree lighting: The Rotary Club of Carlsbad’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony will include free photos with Santa and entertainment by Renaissance Institute of Music Orchestra, Carlsbad High School Band and Lancer Dancers and XCalibur dance teams. There will be free cookies, cider and coffee along with storytelling and crafts. Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at 2:15 p.m. in an antique fire engine, followed by Mayor Matt Hall. 2 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 4 in the south parking lot of Carlsbad Village Faire shopping center, 300 Carlsbad Village Drive.

Randall Goosby, violin, and Zhu Wang, piano: Works include Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” violin sonata and Ravel’s violin sonata No. 2. 3 p.m. Sunday. Baker-Baum Concert Hall, Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. $43. (858) 459-3728.

San Diego Master Chorale: “Messiah Sing”: Music director John K. Russell conducts chorale members, accompanied by St. Paul’s organist Martin Green, as they sing selections from Handel’s masterpiece. Bring or rent a score and come an hour early for festive refreshments. 4 p.m. Sunday. St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Ave., Bankers Hill. $25 adult, $20 senior, $15 active military and student, children under 13 free. (858) 581-2203.

Greater San Diego Music Coterie: ‘The Nutcracker and Christmas Carols Sing-Along’: Dr. Angela Yeung leads the Greater San Diego Chamber Orchestra in the coterie’s annual Christmas concert, featuring Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite and Christmas Carols Sing-Along. 3 p.m. Friday. All Saints Episcopal Church, 625 Pennsylvania Ave., Hillcrest. $20 suggested donation.

Randi’s Damn Jingle Ball: Now based in Nashville, erstwhile San Diego singer-songwriter Randi Driscoll returns for her annual holiday concert. She’ll be joined by Noah Heldman and Eve Selis, the latter of whom is another erstwhile San Diego singer-songwriter now based in Nashville. The talent-packed lineup also includes Lisa Sanders, Berkley Hart, Ashley E. Norton, Story & Tune, Ashes & Arrow, Roni Lee, and some surprise guests. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Musicians on Call, a nonprofit that provides free performances for hospital patients. 6 p.m. Sunday. Normal Heights Church, 4650 Mansfield St., Normal Heights. $20-$35.

Kringle Mingle: Cardiff’s 15th annual Kringle Mingle will include live music, crafts for children, holiday treats, hot coffee, hot chocolate and vendor booths for holiday shopping. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Downtown Cardiff along South Coast Highway 101. Santa and his vintage Camera Camper sleigh will be ready for photos from noon to 3 p.m. Free.

North Pole by the Sea: Enjoy family-friendly festivities from throughout the Del Mar Village, including photos with Santa and letters to Santa at Del Mar Plaza, holiday characters, carolers, live music, hot chocolate for kids, drink specials for adults at L’Auberge Del Mar and holiday characters. The inaugural Del Mar Village Winter Taste & Sip event is from 1 to 4 p.m., and the annual holiday tree lighting at 5 p.m. in the Jim Watkins Amphitheater at L’Auberge Del Mar. Noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 4. Throughout the Del Mar Village.

Boy Scouts from local troops carry the ceremonial banner to start the La Jolla Christmas Parade.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

La Jolla Christmas parade and festival: La Jolla will hold a Christmas Parade and holiday festival on Sunday with the theme, “Grand Ol’ Christmas,” celebrating La Jolla’s history. The holiday festival opens at 11:30 a.m. at Girard and Wall Streets, and the parade starts at 1:30 p.m. at Kline and Girard. The event closes at 4 p.m.

San Marcos holiday parade: The 25th annual Kiwanis San Marcos Holiday Parade starts will be themed “Back Together Again” to celebrate the community coming together again, with bands, floats, marching groups and Santa. 1 p.m. Sunday. The parade route is Comet Drive at Palomar College, east on Mission Road to the Civic Center.

Solana Beach community tree lighting: This annual holiday tree lighting includes live music, sweets, treats, cider and hot cocoa. It’s hosted by the city of Solana Beach’s Parks and Recreation Commission. Santa is slated to arrive by a firetruck escort at 5:20 p.m. 4:30 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Fletcher Cove Park, 111 S. Sierra Ave., Solana Beach.