Best Places to See Holiday and Christmas Lights in San Diego with Kids
November 27, 2023

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 San Diego

Video by: SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld Christmas Celebration

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

November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Daily | 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM

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 exactly what you’ll find as this beloved event returns with more wondrous moments than ever. Where else can you say “Merry Christmas” to a sea otter? This year, join us for a holiday unlike any other.

See dazzling new Christmas shows or meet Santa and Rudolph. Feel the snow falling and watch a Christmas parade. Find photo-perfect moments across acres of beautiful decorations, including a towering 30-foot, twinkling Christmas tree and a music-activated tunnel of lights. All the while, savor delicious candy-topped hot chocolate and other treats for all ages.

Holiday and Christmas Lights in San Diego - Lightscape
Photo by: San Diego Botanic Garden


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

November 17, 2023 – January 1, 2024
Daily | 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Another dazzling year of Lightscape is just around the corner! This one-mile loop has been reimagined to surprise and delight visitors with exciting new installations and returning fan favorites. Merging nature and art, the Garden will come to life at night with festive sights and sounds for all to enjoy. Lightscape illuminates San Diego Botanic Garden evenings this Christmas season with more than one million holiday lights, tunnels, fire, sculptures, and artistic installations.

Stroll outdoors along the glowing pathway that meanders throughout this Botanic Wonderland. 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.

Holiday events in San Diego - Holidays at LEGOLAND California
Photo by: LEGOLAND

Holidays at LEGOLAND California

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

November 18, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Daily | 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
(Closed on Nov. 23 & 29, Dec. 6 & 13)

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.

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

December 1-28, 2023
Thursday – Sunday | 5:45 PM – 8:45 PM
(Closed on Dec. 4-6, 11-13, & 24-25)

One of the best holiday events to see Christmas Lights in San Diego is at Santee Lakes. Lights at the Lakes is a drive-through light show in Santee, California. This event features dazzling displays synchronized to music from your car radio for the entire family to enjoy. 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 prior to the event. There will be no ticket sales on-site. The show is approximately 15-20 minutes long. This is a drive-through event only. Walking and biking are not permitted. All attendees are required to remain in their vehicle. There is no restroom access.

Balboa Park December Nights
Photo by: Balboa Park

Balboa Park December Nights

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

December 1 –2, 2023
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. The holiday entertainment is top-notch and non-stop, from ballet and banjos to parades and puppetry.

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. F

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 1-23 & 26-30, 2023
Daily | 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

When it comes to the holiday season, San Diegans do it better than most. Whether with holiday tamales and margaritas, watching the parade of lights on San Diego Bay, or seeking out local holiday traditions, a San Diego Feliz Navidad day is in order. Because of its year-round picture-perfect weather here, sometimes they need reminding when the holidays are approaching. But when they do, they go all out!

For a full-on, unique experience in ‘America’s Finest City,’ take an Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Sights & Festive Nights Tour and ride a wave of holiday cheer. Join sing-along caroling with their Elf conductors as they share fun holiday facts, trivia, history, and traditions. Hop aboard to see the festive holiday sights of Old Town, Little Italy, Banker’s Hill, Garrison Street, and more Christmas lights in San Diego!

Coastal Christmas Holiday Light Spectacular
Photo by: Coastal Christmas Del Mar

Coastal Christmas Holiday Light Spectacular

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

December 14-17, 21-26, 29-30, 2023
Select Days | 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Get ready to embark on a festive journey as they transform this iconic venue into a winter wonderland by the sea. With twinkling lights, holiday cheer, and delicious snacks and drinks, Coastal Christmas promises to be your new favorite holiday tradition. Join everyone for the warmth of the season, the joy of community, and the beauty of the coast, all wrapped up in one enchanting festival.

With 12 days of holiday fun, stroll through millions of twinkling and shimmering lights. Glide around the rink in a festive holiday setting, with Christmas music to get you in the holiday mood. Take a free photo with the Big Guy to capture the best holiday memory. Bounce, climb, and zipline through their exciting play area – Frosty’s Fun Zone, and more!

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

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

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

December 9, 2023 – January 1, 2024
Daily | 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Experience the magic and spirit of the holiday season at the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Join everyone for Jungle Bells as they light up the night until 8 p.m. (*except December 24) with amazing entertainment—including the end-of-the-evening spectacular Aurora — a magical experience with lights, projections, and music. The festivities continue with lighting displays, entertainment, and more.

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo, proudly supported by California Coast Credit Union, is lighting up the night with memory-making holiday experiences for the whole family. Guests of all ages will love stopping by Santa’s Factory for a visit—and getting a photo with the jolly old elf himself. Bring the whole family and enjoy all the fun and warmth of this joyous annual celebration.

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

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

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

December 10 & 17, 2023
Sunday | 5:30 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 7th 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.

Enchanted Village
Photo by: Enchanted Village

Enchanted Village

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

December 15–22, 2023
Daily | 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM

The Enchanted Village will welcome thousands of visitors from San Diego and beyond. For the price of a movie ticket, guests will be surrounded by brilliantly lit trees, magical cottages, light tunnels, live entertainers, hundreds of giant candy canes, over a million lights, interactive displays, and many other festive decorations!

Each night will include live musical performances, carolers, hundreds of candy canes and Christmas trees, holiday displays, and more. All proceeds benefit Noah Homes, a nonprofit that provides housing and care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism.

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.

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