Holiday Things To Do in Downtown San Diego

Okay, now it’s time to get in the spirit at The Old Globe, The Rady Shell, Petco Park and other colorfully decked-out seasonal sites
NAUGHTY OR NICE? Scenes from the Petco Park Holiday Market.

Ample options exist in downtown San Diego to help you get in touch with the holiday spirit. 

It’s time.

Annually, Mariah Carey tries to jumpstart the Christmas season on the day after Halloween. At least retailers wait until Black Friday, after Thanksgiving tables have been cleared.

With three weeks to go until Santa pulls his all-nighter, this seems about the right moment to offer up a list of the best downtown San Diego spots shined up in holiday mode: 

Now – Dec. 31, The Old Globe 

Let your heart grow three sizes in one day by booking theater tickets to Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” Good things also come in threes (ghosts) in the Old Globe’s production of Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show. More info. 

Now – Dec. 23, Petco Park Holiday Market

It only took three years for the Holiday Market in Gallagher Square (The Park at the Park) to become a popular tradition. There’s food and beverage to chew and gulp (including alcohol), vendors selling trinkets and doodads and even a live reindeer. More info.

Dec. 9 – Jan. 1, Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo

Our world-famous zoo ups the ante with the multi-faceted Aurora show. Everybody–even if your name is Rudolph–can play interactive reindeer games. Check out the Jack Frost Juggler. Listen to the a cappella sounds of The Tinseltones, or find lots of other ways to monkey around. More info. 

The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

Dec. 9-11, Noel Noel at The Rady Shell

There’s never a bad reason to head to the Embarcadero Marina Park South and experience the world-class Rady Shell outdoor music venue. For three days, “Noel Noel” features the San Diego Master Chorale, San Diego Children’s Choir and the city’s Symphony Orchestra. More info. 

Dec. 11, East Village Holiday Market & Tree Lighting

The East Village Association will activate the hip, outdoor Quartyard space for a night of specially curated holiday vendors and a Christmas tree lighting. Plus, food, live music and photos with Santa. More info. 

Dec. 11 & 18, San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

The 52nd annual procession of colorfully lighted boats atop the San Diego Bay usually draws close to 100,000 gawkers to downtown’s shoreline. It’s free to post up somewhere and pick your favorite from more than 80 participating watercraft. More info. 

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. (Courtesy photo)

Dec. 17, Gaslamp Pet Parade

The Gaslamp Pet Parade & Pups in the Pub Party is free to watch, and it’s $25 to register your furry friend for the holiday costume contest. The after-pup-party is at the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter. More info. 

Dec. 17, The Grinch at The Rady Shell

Reason #2 to visit Rady Shell for the holidays: The San Diego Symphony Orchestra will perform the score “live-to-film” during a presentation of the movie Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (starring Jim Carrey). More info. 

Dec. 19, Hanukkah Menorah Lighting

Light up your night at Seaport Village for a menorah lighting celebrating the third night of Hanukkah. In partnership with Chabads of Downtown San Diego, the event will be family friendly and feature traditional music. More info. 

Dec. 21, Love, Actually at The Rady Shell

What The Shell reason #3: The San Diego Symphony Orchestra performs the score of many folks who love to love’s favorite holiday rom-com, Love, Actually. More info. 

The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl layout inside Petco Park. (2021)

Dec. 27-28, SDCCU Holiday Bowl

On Dec. 27, walk the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter for a Bowl Bash and keep your ears open for the Battle of the Bands. The morning of December 28 is for the Port of San Diego’s Holiday Bowl Parade (so many balloons!) That night is the kickoff for the first-ever Holiday Bowl collegiate football game held in Petco Park (pitting the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Oregon Ducks). More info. 



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