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Christmas Magic in San Diego 2023: A Wonderland of Attractions, Celebrations, and the Holiday Bowl

From HOA Elect CA

San Diego, renowned for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and pleasant weather, undergoes a magical transformation during the holiday season. In 2023, the city promises an array of attractions and Christmas celebrations, including the highly anticipated Holiday Bowl. From dazzling light displays to heartwarming events, here's a comprehensive guide to experiencing the enchanting Christmas spirit in San Diego this year.


  1. Glowing Neighborhoods: San Diego's neighborhoods come alive with brilliant light displays, turning the city into a sparkling spectacle. From the historic Gaslamp Quarter to the charming suburbs, residents go all out to create dazzling exhibits. Take a stroll through neighborhoods like La Jolla and Coronado to witness beautifully adorned homes and streets, fostering a sense of community and holiday cheer.

  2. December Nights in Balboa Park: December 1st and 2nd - Balboa Park, the city's cultural heart, hosts the annual December Nights celebration. This event features over 150 performances, festive light displays, and an international winter market. Attendees can enjoy traditional holiday treats, live music, and explore the park's museums and gardens, all illuminated with the magic of Christmas.

  3. Holidays at the Hotel Del Coronado: Now through January 7, 2024 - Celebrate the holidays in style as The Hotel Del Coronado takes a look back 100 years to the glittering art-deco extravagance of the 1920s. For the 2023 season, The Del will razzle-dazzle with breathtaking lights and festive décor in emerald green, shimmering silver and gold, delicate pearls, and velvet.​ They'll also herald the return of holiday experience favorites including Skating by the Sea® and Frostbite Lounge, special holiday dining, redesigned "All That Jazz" Dynamic Light Show with a new lounge, Beachside Igloos, and more.

  4. SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration: Now through January 7, 2024 - SeaWorld San Diego hosts a spectacular Christmas Celebration, featuring holiday-themed shows, a sea of twinkling lights, and the enchanting Sesame Street Christmas Village. Visitors can experience festive attractions, meet Santa Claus, and enjoy the park's signature marine life exhibits in a winter wonderland setting.

  5. Old Town Holiday in the Park: December 8 From 5 - 7 PM - Old Town San Diego, known for its rich history, comes alive with Christmas spirit during the Holiday in the Park celebration. Visitors can enjoy carolers, festive decorations, and horse-drawn carriage rides through the historic streets. Local shops and restaurants offer holiday-themed treats and unique gifts, creating a nostalgic and charming atmosphere.

  6. San Diego Bay Parade of Lights: December 10th & 17th - The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a maritime spectacle featuring dozens of boats adorned with festive lights and decorations. This annual event takes place on San Diego Bay, offering breathtaking views of illuminated vessels against the city skyline. Families can gather along the waterfront to witness this magical parade and celebrate the season. Viewing Areas and Times

  7. The Grinch Play at The Old Globe Theatre: Now through December 31st - Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a wonderful, whimsical musical based upon the classic Dr. Seuss book. Back for its 26th incredible year, the family favorite features the songs “Santa for a Day,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and “Welcome, Christmas (Fah Who Doraze),” the delightful carol from the popular animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Celebrate the holidays as the Old Globe Theatre, is once again transformed into the snow-covered Who-ville, right down to the last can of Who-hash.

  8. San Diego Zoo Jungle Bells: December 9, 2023, through January 1, 2024 - Experience the magic and spirit of the holiday season at the world-famous San Diego Zoo! Join us for Jungle Bells as we light up the night until 8 p.m. (*except December 24) with amazing entertainment—including the end-of-the-evening spectacular, Aurora. Bring the whole family, and enjoy all the fun and warmth of this joyous annual celebration. Jungle Bells is included with all admission tickets and memberships.

  9. USS Midway Jingle Jets: Select Nights Now through December 23, 2024 - San Diego's Newest Holiday Tradition! The USS Midway Museum will deck out the carrier from bow to stern with hundreds of thousands of twinkling and shimmering lights to celebrate this year’s holidays with “Jingle Jets,” its inaugural festive lighting experience. At more than 40,000 tons, the Midway will be transformed from a mighty warship into a winter wonderland with an aviation twist to bring an extraordinary holiday spirit to the San Diego Bayfront.

  10. Holiday Bowl Excitement: Snapdragon Bowl Bash 5 PM December 26 - The Holiday Bowl is excited to host the second annual Snapdragon Bowl Bash in the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego! The Snapdragon Bowl Bash is a time for fans and locals to gather in the heart of San Diego for FREE family fun, great food, live music, giveaways and more! Witness a one-of-a-kind performance as the two university bands face off in a Battle of the Bands in the streets of downtown San Diego. This event is FREE for all fans and also features photo booths, interactive games, street performers, food & drink specials from participating restaurants. Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade: 10 AM December 27th - It’s America’s Largest Balloon Parade! The streets of downtown San Diego come alive with the Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade presented by Kaiser Permanente! This exciting family event brings world-class marching bands, magnificent floats, entertaining drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons. Street viewing of the parade is free! Holiday Bowl Football Game: December 27 at 5 PM - Teams from the ACC and the PAC 12 clash on grid-iron in an always exciting game downtown at Petco Park! KGB Sky Show: December 27 following the Holiday Bowl - Beginning in 1976, with fireworks set off from Fiesta Island and Chollas Lake, the SkyShow evolved to an elaborate production, with some 5,000 fireworks shells launched, computer synchronized to music. The 101.5 KGB Sky Show returns to Petco Park following the 44th annual Holiday Bowl on December 27th! This is the second year in a row these two iconic events are teaming up for a legendary game day lineup. Your ticket to the Holiday Bowl is also your ticket to the KGB Sky Show.

In 2023, San Diego invites both residents and visitors to experience the magic of Christmas through a variety of festive attractions and celebrations. Whether you're exploring enchanting neighborhoods, enjoying the holiday spirit at Balboa Park, witnessing the twinkling lights of the San Diego Bay Parade, or cheering on your favorite team at the Holiday Bowl, the city offers a plethora of opportunities to create lasting memories during this joyous season. Embrace the holiday cheer, and may your Christmas in San Diego be filled with warmth, laughter, and the spirit of community.

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