Top weekend events in San Diego for Dec. 22-25: ‘A Christmas Carol,’ ‘The Nutcracker’ and more

Snow n Glow at the Del Mar Firgrounds.
(CBF Productions)

Here are some of the best things to do in San Diego County this weekend, including theater, concerts, holiday events, “The Nutcracker” and more.


The holidays are here and there are so many activities and things to do around San Diego County this weekend, it’ll be hard to choose what to do.

If you’re doing last-minute 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

Here are some of the top events and activities in the region this weekend.


Annual Northern Lights: The California Center for the Arts, Escondido, features a light show starting at sunset. Visitors can walk around the center’s 12-acre campus through tunnels of twinkling lights and see giant LED Christmas trees and themed light displays at the historical train depot along with snow. Light shows with synchronized music will be in the Lyric Courtyard and Center Theater Courtyard. Hot beverages and cookies will be sold at Santa’s Holiday Cafe. 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Admission is free. Visit

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

Holiday Market at Petco Park: This market features local artisan shops, Christmas lighting displays, seasonal food and beverages along with Santa and other holiday characters. 4 to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Shoppers select a designated date and time and buy tickets at

City Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”: This annual production showcases elaborate costumes, a Victorian-era set and Elizabeth Wistrich’s precise choreography, accompanied by The City Ballet Orchestra, with John Nettles conducting the Tchaikovsky score. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Thursday. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido. $29-$99. (800) 988-4253.

Lamb’s Festival of Christmas: “A Christmas Carol”: Lamb’s Players Theatre carries on its tradition of presenting original holiday plays by associate artistic director Kerry Meads. This year’s Festival of Christmas production, first produced as a touring show in the 1980s and revised for new, larger-cast staging last year, is a 90-minute adaptation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” 7 p.m. Thursday; 2 and 7 p.m. Friday; noon and 4 p.m. Saturday. 1142 Orange Ave., Coronado. $43-$86. (619) 437-6000.

Enchanted Village: Tursday is the last day to visited Noah Homes’ Enchanted Village. Guests can stroll through 8 acres of lighted trees and tunnels, giant candy canes and interactive displays and enjoy live music. Santa will be at the Enchanted Village nightly for photos. No pets allowed (only service animals). 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday. 12526 Campo Road. Tickets are $13.99 for children, $21.99 for adults. Visit

Golden State Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”: The lavish production with dazzling scenery and costumes returns to the Civic Theatre with professional dancers and more than 50 students from the award-winning academy. The Tchaikovsky score is performed by the San Diego Symphony. 7:30 p.m. Thursday. 5:30 p.m. Friday. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., downtown San Diego. $28.50-$109. or

Encinitas Ballet Academy’s “The Nutcracker:” The magical, family production includes live dancers with 3D animation, giant mice, toy soldiers and exotic dances from around the world. 6 p.m. Dec. 22. The Ritz Theater, 301 E. Grand Ave., Escondido. $15-$30.

The Ballet Academy’s “The Nutcracker”: The El Cajon-based school features Dewdrops, Diamonds and Sunbeams performing to music by The Lonely Hearts Club Band in The Beatles-themed rendition of the holiday tale. 6 p.m. Dec. 22-23. Joan B. Kroc Theatre, 6611 University Ave., San Diego. $30.

Safari Park features Wild Holidays: The San Diego Zoo Safari Park celebrates the “Wild Holidays” with an expedition of light and travel through places that twinkle, holiday tunes, stilt walkers and seasonal culinary delights. Entertainment includes the Light Up the Holidays choreographed lighted tree show with holiday music at Safari Base Camp, Santa at Village Market, Holiday Troubadour, Bridge of Lights, Firefly Stilt Walkers and Journey of Light decorated pathways and Nairobi Lantern Walk, among other attractions. 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday. San Diego Zoo Safari Park,15500 San Pasqual Valley Road. The Safari Park is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during this event. Wild Holidays activities are free with Safari Park admission or membership. Visit


Jingle Bell Cruise: Join Santa Claus aboard the Bahia Belle sternwheeler for a family-friendly Jingle Belle Cruise on Mission Bay. Enjoy festive carolers and holiday treats like hot cocoa and homemade cookies (plus a cash bar for the adults). Food will also be available for purchase. Cruises depart from the Bahia Resort Hotel and the Catamaran Resort. 5:30 and 7 p.m. Friday from the Bahia Resort Hotel, 998 W. Mission Bay Drive, San Diego; 5:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday from the Catamaran Resort Hotel, 3999 Mission Blvd., San Diego; then 2 p.m. Sunday from the Bahia and 4 p.m. from the Catamaran. Tickets are $45 general admission, $35 for hotel guests.

Guests walk through the Winter Cathedral at Lightscape, a one-mile walking path lined with more than 1 million lights.
Guests walk through the Winter Cathedral at Lightscape, a one-mile walking path lined with more than 1 million lights and light sculptures at the San Diego Botanic Garden on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Botanic Garden Lightscape: This light show features a 1-mile trail decorated with holiday lights that winds through the garden with lantern trees, tunnels and light attractions, along with installations from international artists that come alive at night with color. 5 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. San Diego Botanic Garden, 300 Quail Gardens Drive. Tickets start at $29 for adults, $18 for children ages 3-12, and free for ages 2 and younger. Discounted tickets for garden members and military with ID. Parking is $10 paid online in advance or $20 on day of visit. Entry times are every 15 minutes. Tickets are at

Hanukkah party: Congregation B’nai Tikvah hosts the celebration of Hanukkah’s sixth candle Friday at the Bressi Ranch Community Club House. Highlights include group candle lighting, holiday songs, playing dreidel and a retelling of the Hanukkah story, plus a light dinner of traditional latkes (potato pancakes) and fried doughnuts. Bring nonperishable food items to donate to Interfaith Community Services. 5:30 p.m. Friday. Bressi Ranch Community Center, 6276 Arbor Rose Drive, Carlsbad. Free. There is a Zoom option; to receive a link, call (760) 650-2262.

Sean Murray as Ebenezer Scrooge in Cygnet Theatre's 2022 production of "A Christmas Carol."
(Courtesy of Karli Cadel)

“A Christmas Carol”: Cygnet Theatre presents its 11th annual production of Charles Dickens’ redemptive holiday tale. At the end of last year’s production, Cygnet’s longtime Scrooge actor, Tom Stephenson, retired, so Cygnet’s artistic director Sean Murray is taking over the role this year. This version was adapted for the stage and directed by Murray, with lyrics by Murray and original music by Billy Thompson. It features sing-along Christmas carols, puppetry and special effects. 7:30 Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday. Cygnet’s Old Town Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town San Diego. $30 and up. (619) 337-1525.

Swingin’ singin’: The California Center for the Arts, Escondido hosts “A Big Band Christmas” with jazz vocalists, the D. Ben-jamin’ Big Band Orchestra, swing dancers and new arrangements by Duane Benjamin of Christmas classics. Santa Claus will drop by to check out the vibe. 2 to 4 p.m. Friday. California Center for the Arts, Escondido, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. Tickets $35 to $80.

“La Pastorela: A Shepherd’s Play”: Tonight is the closing performance of Teatro Máscara Mágica’s 33rd annual production of its Mexican-themed holiday Christmas play about the shepherds on their journey to see the Christmas child, but along the way, they become tempted by Satan. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday. El Salon Cultural Center, 114 W. Hall Ave. San Ysidro. Free parking is available at 137 Cypress Drive. $10-$20. Call (619) 987-5616.

“1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas”: New Village Arts presents San Diego playwright Dea Hurston’s contemporary holiday musical is about widowed family matriarch Dorothy Black, whose decision to change her family’s 30-year Christmas tradition upsets her adult son. This year’s production will be a concert version of the show due to construction delays at the Carlsbad theater. 8 p.m. Friday. 2 p.m. Saturday. 2787 State St., Carlsbad. $25. (760) 433-3245.

“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. 8 p.m. Friday. 4 p.m. Saturday. SDMT Stage, 4650 Mercury St., San Diego. $40 and up. (858) 560-5740.

A scene from "Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show" at the Old Globe.
(Courtesy of Jim Cox)

“Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show”: It’s closing weekend for the Old Globe presents Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen’s fast-paced and funny adaptation of the Dickens classic, re-set in Victorian-era San Diego with music, comedy and puppetry. 7 p.m. Friday. 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way. $34-$85. (619) 234-5623.

‘Community Looms’ workshops: The New Children’s Museum in San Diego is collaborating with Oceanside textile artist Michelle Montjoy on a new art workshop series in the museum’s makerspace. Now through Jan. 9, Montjoy is working with groups of both adults and children to create textile sculptures together. Admission to Community Looms is free with paid admission for ages 6 and up. 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday. 200 W. Island Ave., San Diego. $15-$20. (619) 233-8792.

“2 Pianos 4 Hands”: North Coast Repertory Theatre presents this play about two men reflecting on their lifelong love-hate relationship with the piano. Play features performances of classical, jazz and standard piano repertoire. 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Friday. 2 p.m. Saturday. 987D Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. $59. (858) 481-1055.


The Grinch and Young Maxi in the Old Globe's "Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" in 2021.
Andrew Polec as The Grinch and Tommy Martinez as Young Max in the Old Globe’s “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” in 2021.
(Courtesy of Rich Soublet II)

‘Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’: Andrew Polec, who was the childlike and wacky star in the Old Globe’s “Grinch” production last year, returns to reprise his role in this 25th annual production. The show is based on a 1957 children’s book by the late La Jolla author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel, the musical by Timothy Mason and Mel Marvin. 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 22; 1 and 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 23; 11 a.m and 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 24. The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, San Diego. $59-$89. (619) 234-5623.

Maxine Mahon’s “The Nutcracker”: Life-size toy soldiers battle giant mice before the handsome Prince rescues Clara and escorts her to the Land of Sweets. 7 p.m. Dec. 22, 1 and 7 p.m. Dec. 23, 1 p.m. Dec. 24. Poway Center for the Performing Arts, 15498 Espola Road, Poway. $35-$85.

Winter Wonders tour: Wild Wonders hosts a Winter Wonders and Holiday Lights tour of its Bonsall wild animal refuge, which will showcase its nocturnal animals. Visitors meet several animal ambassadors while strolling the 5-acre facility that has been decorated for the season. Each family will be led one at a time by a keeper. 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Cost is $39 for ages 12 and up and $20 for children ages 5-11. Visit

Belmont Park’s Winter Wonderland: The fourth annual event at the beachside amusement park features festive rides and attractions, including the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, Tiki Wonderland Mini Golf, Candy Cane Lanes Go Karts and holiday-themed Escapology room. Highlights include hundreds of twinkling lights, carolers, oversized winter sculptures and seasonal characters throughout the park. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Belmont Park, 3146 Mission Blvd. Tickets and passes are at


A view of the Snow N Glow festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.
(Courtesy of Del Mar Fairgrounds)

Snow N Glow: The Del Mar Fairgrounds’ Snow N Glow Holiday Festival begins this weekend. Highlights include a walk-through display of more than 1 million lights, a 100-foot snow tubing hill, live music, Ferris wheel rides, and igloos reserved for cozying up along with hot cocoa. S’mores kits, festive food and drinks will be sold. 4 to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Sunday. Tickets to the walk-through Snow N Glow path are $19.99 for adults and $15.99 for children ages 3 to 10. Tickets to both the Snow N Glow and the snow activities are $39.99 for adults and children. Admission is free for children ages 2 and younger. Del Mar Fair Grounds, 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Visit

Holidays at Legoland: Live entertainment, twinkling lights, holiday treats and some snowfall will be at Legoland through the holiday season. There will be nightly tree lightings at the park’s 30-foot Lego tree decked with lights and Lego ornaments. Photos can be taken with life-size Lego models of Santa and his reindeer in Fun Town or costumed characters such as Lego Santa, toy soldier and gingerbread man. Now through Dec. 30 and select dates after. Activities inside the park are included with regular park admission. Legoland California, One Legoland Drive. Visit or call (760) 918-LEGO (5346).

Cabana Christmas Village: This is a holiday wonderland for locals and guests. Festivities include holiday-themed food and beverage offerings, roaming carolers, ornament making, hot cocoa and cider stations and fireside s’mores, along with photos with Santa on certain days. 2 to 6 p.m. daily, through Dec. 31, at Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa, 7100 Aviara Resort Drive. Free admission. Valet parking is $40. Visit

A Very Furry Christmas: Holiday shows, attractions and entertainments are taking place all season at Sesame Place San Diego. Highlights include Elmo’s Christmas Wish show, A Very Merry Sesame Street Sing-Along, Furry Friends Christmas Dance Party and The Sesame Street Christmas Parade. Now through Jan. 2 with select dates after. Sesame Place San Diego, 2052 Entertainment Circle. Visit