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Best Places to See Holiday and Christmas Lights in San Diego with Kids
November 25, 2022

Create lasting memories by bringing your kids to festive events and holiday lights extravaganza in San Diego and feel the spirit of Christmas!

The Christmas season is here to bring families together, and what better way to get into the festive spirit than with some twinkling lights? As the holiday cheers take over San Diego, you’ll see the excitement of your kids and the smile on their faces as they engage in some festive events and express all the joy of the season. So, grab your kids, hop in the car, put on your favorite holiday tunes, and drive out to visit some of the best Christmas lights in San Diego!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in San Diego as the community starts to deck out their areas with colorful decorations and shimmering holiday lights. Although it may not have that ideal “white Christmas” weather, the illuminations on every corner still turn the city into a spectacular winter wonderland, helping us get into the holiday spirit. The holiday season brings out a special kind of experience and magic for families, especially with kids.

Holiday festivities and events are getting underway all across San Diego. It can get a bit overwhelming to track them all down, so we’ve picked some of the best places to see Christmas Lights in San Diego to add to your holiday to-do list. Whether you’re looking for Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, opportunities to see Santa, holiday performances, or an all-day fun of a theme park — there’s enough out there to set the mood for a happy holiday!

Christmas Lights and Holiday Events in Los Angeles

Holiday lights events in San Diego - SeaWorld Christmas Celebration
Photo by: SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

500 Sea World Dr., San Diego, CA 92109
Phone Number: (619) 222-4732

November 14, 2022 – January 8, 2023
Schedule:
Daily | 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

SeaWorld is transformed into a wintry, watery wonderland for the holiday season. Visit jolly old St. Nick inside Sesame Street Christmas Village, and play “reindeer games” in Rudolph’s Christmastown. Explore the magic and wonder of SeaWorld’s beautifully decorated outdoor park grounds, including palm trees lit like candy canes and the iconic 320-foot Skytower Tree of Lights. Of course, there are lots of holiday food and shopping opportunities.

Many holiday activities and shows are included in a day’s admission. Bring your family together for the eye-catching spectacles, priceless traditions, and fun-filled surprises of SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration. The holidays are meant to be merry and bright, and that’s precisely what you’ll find as this particular event returns with more wondrous moments than ever. For more information, please visit their website.

Places to see Christmas Lights - Lightscape - San Diego Botanic Garden
Photo by: San Diego Botanic Garden

Lightscape

300 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone Number: (760) 436-3036 ext. 232

November 18-20, 23, 25-27, 2022
December 1-4, 8-11, 14-23, 26-31, 2022
January 1, 2023
Schedule:
Select Days | 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Set along a beautifully illuminated, one-mile walking trail custom-designed for SDBG, Lightscape features spectacular artistic installations that come to life after dark with color, imagination, and sound. Stroll outdoors along the glowing pathway that meanders throughout this Botanic Wonderland. Lightscape illuminates San Diego Botanic Garden evenings with more than one million holiday lights, tunnels, fire, sculptures, and artistic installations.

Each area is transformed into dazzling holiday displays and children’s gardens filled with delights. Have a night of dinner with the whole family from the on-site food trucks, sing along with carolers, and kids can write letters to Santa after they play in the magical treehouse. Make this unique wonderland part of your winter holiday tradition. For more information, please visit their website.

Holidays at LEGOLAND California
Photo by: LEGOLAND

Holidays at LEGOLAND California

1 Legoland Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92008
Phone Number: (888) 690-5346

November 19–27, 2022
December 3–4, 10–11, 17–30, 2022
January 1, 7–8, 2023
Schedule:
Select Days | 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM

Experience the Holidays at LEGOLAND, where the entire resort is bursting with holiday cheer and will be transformed into a Winter Wonderland complete with elaborate décor, twinkling lights, Christmas trees, and even falling snow. There’s live entertainment and posing for photos with the life-sized LEGO Brick Santa and Reindeer. Your favorite holiday characters, Santa and the Toy Soldier are back along with the Gingerbread Man.

Head to Fun Town, where there’s a 30-foot, decorated LEGO® Christmas tree with over 400 LEGO ornaments. And as the day winds down, the tree gets a-twinkling to holiday tunes at the Holiday Light Show featuring falling “snow.” Along with the holiday fun, food, and live music, there are more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions at LEGOLAND California Resort. For more information, please visit their website.

Lights at the Lakes
Photo by: Santee Lakes

Lights at the Lakes

Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve
9120 Carlton Oaks Dr., Santee, CA 92071
Phone Number: (619) 596-3141

November 25 – December 24, 2022
Schedule:
Thursday – Sunday | 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM

One of the best places to see Christmas Lights in San Diego during the holiday is at Santee Lakes. Over 35 displays will light up the night during this one-mile drive-through holiday display. Music will synchronize with your car radio, and every visit will be a different experience. The show will feature unique winter scenes that blink, swirl, and dance to holiday tunes. Best of all, the combination of lights and music changes, creating a memorable experience each visit.

Tickets must be pre-purchased before the event, and prices are $30 per vehicle with up to 8 passengers plus a $3 fee. Cars with more than eight passengers will pay single admission of $50 plus a $5 fee. This is a drive-through event, so walking and biking are not permitted. You can expect the show to be approximately 15-25 minutes long. For more information, please visit their website.

Places to see Christmas Lights in San Diego - Balboa Park December Nights
Photo by: Balboa Park

Balboa Park December Nights

1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
Phone Number: (619) 239-0512

December 2 –3, 2022
Schedule:
Friday | 3:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Saturday | 11:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Balboa Park December Nights is among the largest free events in San Diego during the holiday season. The family-friendly community festival brings San Diegans together to enjoy the lights, the sounds, the attractions, and the fantastic food. There’s a reason 350,000 people start their holidays with December Nights. From ballet and banjos to parades and puppetry, the holiday entertainment is top-notch and non-stop.

Bring holiday cheer and a new pair of socks to this year’s December Night events as they are teaming up with PATH San Diego and San Diego Gas & Electric for a Sock Drive to benefit unhoused San Diegans. December Nights attendees can drop off socks at the SDG&E booth during the December Nights festivities – look for the all-electric SDG&E truck. For more information, please visit their website.

Old Town Trolley's Holiday Sights & Festive Nights Tour
Photo by: Old Town Trolley Tours (San Diego)

Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Sights & Festive Nights Tour

Old Town Market
4010 Twiggs St., San Diego, CA 92101
Phone Number: (866) 754-0966

December 3–24 & 26–30, 2022
Schedule:
Select Days | 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

A great way to celebrate the holiday season and view the best San Diego Christmas lights all in one evening is by hopping on Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights and Sights Trolley Tour. Join in sing-along caroling with the Elf conductors as they share fun holiday facts, trivia, history, and traditions. Enjoy a 15-minute stop at Seaport Village for holiday festivities. Hop aboard to see the festive holiday sights of Old Town, Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Balboa Park, Banker’s Hill, and more!

The Christmas cheer is on from the moment you step onto the trolley. From the colorful candy canes they hand out to the uplifting holiday music that plays throughout the tour — the Christmas spirit is alive and well on this adventure. It’s an excellent activity for the family, not to mention a good way to get into the holiday spirit. Tickets for the 75-minute tour must be purchased 24 hours in advance. For more information, please visit their website.

Places to see Christmas Lights in San Diego - Snow N Glow Holiday Festival
Photo by: Surfer’s Point Live

Snow N Glow Holiday Festival

Del Mar Fairgrounds
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA, 92014
Phone Number: (805) 585-7811

December 8, 2022 – January 1, 2023
Schedule:
Select Days | 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Experience the holidays at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, featuring more than one million LED lights, holograms, and projection mapping animation to the tunes of holiday classics. In addition to walking through the dazzling light display, you can rent private igloos, reserve firepits for roasting s’mores, play in the snow and go snow tubing on their hill.

Gather your family and friends and prepare to make some Holiday memories at the Snow N Glow Holiday Festival in Del Mar. For more information, please visit their website.

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo
Photo by: San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

2920 Zoo Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
Phone Number: (619) 231-1515

December 9, 2022 – January 1, 2023
Schedule:
Daily | 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM

The magic and the spirit of the holiday season return! Spend your December nights on the wild side at the annual Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo, transformed into a wild wonderland of twinkling lights, merry-making performances, and festive foods. This San Diego Christmas full-packed holiday events include an opportunity to visit Santa, colorful light displays, 4-D holiday experiences, including a Polar Express train ride, and more in the evenings.

The Zoo lights up the night with fantastic entertainment featuring the spectacular show Aurora, which will once again highlight the beauty of wind, water, and ice with two mesmerizing performances nightly. This year, guests can interact with the show by purchasing all-new Aurora bubble scepters, which glow and bubble during portions of the show. For more information, please visit their website.

Holiday events - San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Photo by: San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

1220 Rosecrans St., Ste. 414, San Diego, CA 92106

December 11 & 18, 2022
Schedule:
Sunday | 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

The boat parade on San Diego Bay is a time-honored tradition bringing the boating community out in full force to dazzle and entertain the bayfront crowds. This year’s theme is fantaSEA; over 80 boats are expected to participate in this free event. Continuing its long-standing San Diego tradition, the 52nd annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights promises to dazzle and entertain bayfront crowds during two evenings.

This year, for the 6th time, the parade will proceed to the pier at Cesar Chavez Park before turning to Coronado, giving spectators another area to view the parade. Participants in this year’s highly anticipated holiday boat parade will decorate their boats to fit this year’s theme. For more information, please visit their website.

Enchanted Village
Photo by: Enchanted Village

Enchanted Village

Noah Homes
12526 Campo Rd., Spring Valley, CA 91978
Phone Number: (619) 660-6200

December 16–22, 2022
Schedule:
Sunday | 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Experience festival events with trees and lights in San Diego this Christmas season. Guests will walk through with over one million lights amongst eight acres of brightly lit trees, magical cottages, light tunnels, carolers, giant candy canes, interactive displays, and other festive decorations. This year also brings new holiday celebrity entertainers, food trucks, kids’ activities, and more!

 This annual event for Noah Homes provides housing and care for people with developmental disabilities. We suggest making a $10 donation to support lifelong homes for people with developmental disabilities. Santa will appear nightly, so bring your littles for fun photos. For more information, please visit their website.

Best Places to See Holiday and Christmas Lights in San Diego with Kids

San Diego is the perfect place to enjoy your holiday season. If your family enjoys festive holiday lights, then there’s no shortage of fun things to do with kids to celebrate Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there’s no better family tradition than going out with the kids to attend festive events and see Christmas lights in San Diego. These immersive displays of lights will undoubtedly bring bright smiles and cheers to the holiday season!

San Diego offers so many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun all year round! Check out our list of resources, or browse through our things to do in San Diego with kids. Still looking for more activities for kids in San Diego? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and our highly recommended seasonal blog posts.

Best Places to See Holiday and Christmas Lights in Los Angeles with Kids
Best Places to See Holiday and Christmas Lights in San Francisco
Best Places to See Holiday and Christmas Lights in San Jose
20 Fun Things To Do with Kids in San Diego

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