Top weekend events in San Diego for Dec. 29 - Jan. 1: ‘Annie,’ New Year’s Eve and more

The national touring production of "Annie," playing Dec. 28- Jan. 1 at the San Diego Civic Theatre.
Ellie Pulsifer as Annie and Christopher Swan as Daddy Warbucks in the national touring production of “Annie,” playing Dec. 28 through Jan. 1 at the San Diego Civic Theatre.
(Courtesy of MurphyMade)

It’s time to celebrate New Year’s Eve in San Diego, and this weekend’s top events include “Annie,” continued holiday light shows, theater, animal encounters and more.


This weekend, we ring in 2023. Can you believe it?

For those headed out to celebrate New Year’s Eve, here’s a helpful tip. Trolly rides after 6 p.m. will be free, with routes running after 2 a.m.

Here’s your lineup of top weekend events.


Ibrahima Ba performs during the first day of Kwanzaa celebration at the WorldBeat Cultural Center.
(Ana Ramirez/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Kwanzaa: The final day of the WorldBeat Cultural Center’s Kwanzaa celebration takes place on Thursday. Each night, the event has included a ceremonial candle lighting, drumming, poetry reading and a traditional feast. Thursday will also include a youth theater performance of “The Kola Nutcracker” by Diva Works Dance. 6 p.m. Thursday. WorldBeat Cultural Center, 2100 Park Blvd., San Diego. Free with donations accepted.

‘Annie’: Broadway San Diego presents the national touring production of this classic 1976 holiday musical about an irrepressible Depression-era orphan who wishes for a family for Christmas. 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 30. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31. 1 and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 1. San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave., San Diego. $30.50 and up.

Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo: This annual holiday event at the San Diego Zoo features a wonderland of twinkling lights, live entertainment, music and views of wildlife, along with the Aurora immersive performance about the power of nature with 3D projection mapping, music and lights. Highlights include reindeer games, Northern Frontier’s Holiday Forest, zoo characters and visit with Santa, along with food and shopping for gifts. The zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during this event. San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Drive. Free with zoo admission or membership; parking is free. Visit

Hotel del Coronado's "At First Light" show produced by EPIC Entertainment Group.
(Courtesy of Hotel del Coronado’s “At First Light “ show produced by EPIC Entertainment Group)

“At First Light” at the Del: The Hotel del Coronado features the return of “At First Light,” a free 11-minute light show every 30 minutes along with “Frosted by the Sea” heated beachside igloos decorated with twinkling lights, cozy seating and seasonal decor. The hotel’s historic lobby will showcase a massive 22-foot Christmas tree with 10,000 amber lights and nearly 2,000 ornaments. 5 to 9 p.m. nightly through Jan. 1. Free. Visit

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 through Sunday. 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

Big Bird sits in a nest and reads a story to the audience.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

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. Park open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets start at $49.99. Now through Jan. 2 with select dates after. Sesame Place San Diego, 2052 Entertainment Circle. Visit


Auto show: The San Diego International Auto Show returns to the Convention Center starting Friday. See the latest new vehicles and discover new models, including the newest EVs. Enjoy test drives, check out new automotive products and more. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Sunday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Monday. San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Drive, San Diego. Tickets start at $18; military and seniors discounts available.

Jefferson McDonald, left, and Matthew McGloin in North Coast Repertory Theatre's "2 Pianos 4 Hands."
(Courtesy of Mikki Schaffner)

‘2 Pianos 4 Hands’: North Coast Repertory Theatre presents the final weekend of this music-filled 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. Friday. 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 987D Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. $59. (858) 481-1055.

“Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Now in its 25th year, the Old Globe’s storybook-come-to-life musical is based on a 1957 children’s book by the late La Jolla author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and the 1966 animated TV version of his book. 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park, San Diego. $59-$89. (619) 234-5623.


Alternative New Year: The WorldBeat Center in San Diego marks the start of 2023 with its annual Alternative New Year’s Eve Ascension. Take part with alcohol-free drinks, kombucha on tap, and a vegan international buffet. Experience Aztec dance, African drumming, Qigong, yoga, sound bath, crystal healing and more. 7:30 p.m. to midnight Saturday. WorldBeat Center, 2100 Park Blvd., San Diego. Members $25, nonmembers $30. Tickets at

Bubble party: Celebrate the New Year early with a different kind of bubbly at the Living Coast Discovery Center. The Bubble Pirate brings the fun with interactive bubble shows for all ages. The evening includes a silent disco, bubble-making stations and experiments, guided night hikes, animal encounters and more! Food will be available for purchase. 6-9 p.m. Saturday. Living Coast Discovery Center, 1000 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista. Adults 21 and older $35, general admission $30, children 2 and under free.

Spiritual ceremony: Take part in a New Year’s Eve “Burning Bowl” ceremony to burn and release the old and set new intentions for the new year. After three years of online-only participation, the ceremony will be held in person and online this year. 7 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Free, but donations appreciated. Seaside Center for Spiritual Living, 1613 Lake Drive, Encinitas, next to the Cardiff Sports Park. Registration at appreciated but not required. Join the online event at

Legoland, which employs 3,000 people in Carlsbad, is a non-essential business closed by the COVID-19 crisis.

New Year’s Eve for kids: Legoland will host its annual kids’ New Year’s Eve party on Saturday with a dance party, block party, a countdown and more. A fireworks show will take place at 6 p.m.10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Event included with park admission. Tickets start at $89.

Punch Bowl Social New Year’s Eve Celebration: At Punch Bowl Social, you can find board games, yard games, karaoke, bowling and table games to enjoy while you count down to 2023. The New Year’s Eve event will include a DJ and photo booth with general admission and light bites, a midnight toast and more with VIP tickets. 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday. Punch Bowl Social, 1485 E Street, San Diego. $10 for general admission, $50 for VIP.

Noon year celebration: For those wanting to ring in the new year a bit early, Plunge San Diego will be hosting a count down and balloon drop at noon on New Year’s Eve. Attendees can swim and try an obstacle course and there will also be bounce houses, giveaways, family-friendly entertainment, dessert, crafts, dancing and more. Adult beverages will be available for purchase. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m Saturday. Plunge San Diego, 3115 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego. General admission until Dec. 30 is $50 for a family of two and $100 for a family of four. Admission prices go up on the day of the event.


Penguin Plunge: The Del Mar Penguin Plunge starts the New Year with a brrrrrr as folks jump into the ocean at Del Mar beach. Friends of the Powerhouse are selling commemorative beach towels to raise money for the group’s projects. Towels are $25, available through Saturday at Bring your receipt and get your towel starting at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Friends of the Powerhouse tent by the lifeguard station at 1700 Coast Blvd. 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Del Mar Beach, near 17th Street. Free.

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. Times start at 7:45 p.m. 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