Hard to believe, but the season is upon us. And you know what that means. It's time to celebrate! So put on your holiday music, pull out the tree, and string your lights. Just because we're in Southern California, doesn't mean we don't know how to get down with the winter holidays. Here are some of our favorite ways to get into the spirit, San Diego-style:
Long a San Diego tradition, December Nights is celebrating its 34th year in 2011. Don't miss the opening ceremony and lighting of the Organ Pavilion tree with Mayor Jerry Sanders, and stay for the San Diego Children's Choir performance. Participating Balboa Park museums are also free for both event evenings: December 2 and 3. In between the fun, revelers can catch musical and dance numbers, eat their hearts out, and glimpse the Santa Lucia Procession at the Plaza de California.
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Always a crowd favorite, the Parade of Lights, held on December 11 and 18, is billed as "a Christmas present to San Diego from the boating community." In this festive event, a procession of more than 100 boats, all decked out in their holiday finest, makes their way around San Diego Bay amidst music and fireworks. Many families choose to bring blankets, chairs, and hot chocolate, and watch the fun unfold from Seaport Village, which offers a prime viewing location. Fireworks kick off at 5:30 pm, with the parade immediately after, followed by awards for "most creative lighting" and more.
Sure, it's a balmy 70 degrees most days, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy some winter fun. Take the kids to the ice rink at Horton Square (located between Horton Plaza and the NBC news studios) and pretend it's cold outside. You might also want to check out the rink's Fantasy on Ice Family Day on December 11, where a flat fee of $15 gets you ice skating, rentals, crafts, entertainment, a Santa visit, and more. Of course, there's always ice skating at the beach at the Hotel del Coronado. While you're there, be sure to visit the hotel grounds and revel in the beautiful holiday displays and enormous outdoor Christmas tree.
Holiday of Lights
Sure, many of our neighborhoods have their "street of lights" to visit, and they're all beautiful. But kick it up a notch with a trip to the "largest animated drive through light show on the West Coast." Hosted at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the light show boasts more than 400 (400!) displays twinkling their finest around the racetrack. This event can get a little crowded, so you might want to find a beautifully decorated neighborhood a little bit closer to home.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
A true holiday classic, this Old Globe Theater production is a family favorite. The musical gives life to the beloved Dr. Seuss book and features memorable performances and holiday songs. This is a don't-miss if you can swing it. The show ends on December 31.
Kid's New Year's Eve
Keep the fun going after the holidays with Legoland's Kids' New Year's Eve, a family-friendly celebration featuring kids' concerts by five musical acts, a Lego brick drop "into 2012" and a sparkling fireworks display. The fun lasts until early evening and is a wonderful way to celebrate the new year with your children.
Whatever you decide to do this year, and however you celebrate, we wish you the very merriest of seasons.
Image above courtesy of Legoland
Debbie Anderson is a 42-year-old freelance writer and editor who blogs at her slice-of-life site, www.sandiegmomma.com. She has two young daughters, one husband, and half a mind.
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