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Events

Horses coming around the corner on the turf track Del Mar Racing Season 7/17/14 - 9/3/14
San Diego Brewers Guild San Diego Beer Week 2014 11/7/14 - 11/16/14

From traditional holiday parades and festivals to the migration of California gray whales along the Pacific coast, a visit to San Diego during the winter offers a wealth of free, fun and festive experiences. Visitors to the region can escape overcast skies and the wintry cold for San Diego's brilliant sunshine and temperate climate and enjoy diverse wintertime experiences, with a Southern California twist.

The following suggestions for free activities and events are sure to capture the imagination and lift the spirits of visitors to San Diego during the winter months.

  1. Join the festivities during Balboa Park December Nights, a two-day holiday celebration of food, entertainment and fun first week on December 6-7, 2013. The sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season fill the air as the museums and cultural institutions in Balboa Park, the nation's largest urban cultural park, open their doors free of charge. Festivities include carolers, live music, light displays, theater and dance performances, and delicious foods from around the world.
  2. Witness a tradition that began as a gift to the children of San Diego in 1947 - the Annual Mother Goose Parade on November 24 in the East County city of El Cajon. One of the biggest parades of its kind in the country and the largest single-day event in San Diego County, the parade features floats, clowns, Santa Claus, marching bands, equestrian teams and celebrity appearances.
  3. Whale watch from the shores and cliffs of Point Loma, as California gray whales migrate south to the warm-water breeding grounds off the coast of Baja, California. Spectators can catch a spectacular show during December through March when these majestic mammals pass through the waters off San Diego's coastline.
  4. Experience the unique sights and sounds of the 50th Annual North Park Toyland Parade on December 7, 2013. Enjoy marching bands, floats, vintage cars, dance groups, beauty queens, city officials and Santa in this popular community celebration. The parade is followed by a holiday fair behind the historic North Park Theatre.
  5. Enjoy free organ concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park beginning at 2:00 PM each Sunday. The Organ Pavilion features the world's largest outdoor pipe organ, a San Diego landmark for over 90 years, where organists resound holiday favorites, waltzes and show tunes from the organ's monstrous 32-foot lead alloy pipes.
  6. See Old Town State Park decked out for the season during Old Town Holiday in the Park & Las Posadas on December 14. Guests can learn how residents celebrated the holidays in the 1800s while enjoying candlelight tours, holiday singers, live performances and complimentary refreshments.
  7. Take a walk around Balboa Park and discover its beautiful architecture. Take advantage of the park's variety of free offerings, including free admission to select museums on Tuesdays and tours of the park and its spectacular gardens. Be sure not to miss the "Whoville" decorations in the plaza outside The Old Globe Theatre, which are on display mid-November through December to coincide with the theatre's annual holiday production of Dr. Seuss' "How the Ginch Stole Christmas!"
  8. Head over to Seaport Village for the festive Surfing Santa at Seaport Village event on November 30, 2013. Hang-ten with Santa and enjoy a lively parade along the Seaport Village boardwalk, live music, stilt walkers, kid's crafts and photo opportunities of your family and friends surfing with Santa.
  9. Spread some holiday cheer at the La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival on December 8, 2013 in downtown La Jolla. The event includes marching bands, floats, equestrian units, vintage automobiles and an appearance by Santa Claus.
  10. Drive to the mountain town of Julian for a warm mug of hot apple cider and a delicious piece of Julian's legendary homemade apple pie. On Saturdays, stroll through the quaint neighborhood streets and enjoy the sounds of wandering Christmas carolers and a living nativity scene.
  11. Explore the tide pools in Point Loma when the tide is low to see some of the magnificent creatures of the sea. Point Loma tide pools are located just south of the tip of Cabrillo Point.
  12. Take a walk along one of San Diego's 70 miles of beaches, all free and open to the public. Collect seashells for decorating special holiday gifts or just enjoy the magnificent Pacific Ocean.
  13. Watch the season sail by at the Oceanside Harbor Parade of Lights on December 14, 2013. The popular parade circles the harbor and features a wide variety of boats, brightly decorated for the holiday season.
  14. Enjoy the Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade December 8, 2013 in downtown San Diego's historic Gaslamp Quarter. Owners and their dressed-up pets march down the decorated streets of the neighborhood, ending at a Pet Expo featuring an award-ceremony for best-dressed pups.
  15. Enjoy the twinkling waters of the San Diego Bay and more than 100 private boats decorated with holiday lights for the Annual Port of San Diego Parade of Lights on December 8 and 15, 2013. Great views are available on dry land from Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Marina Park and Coronado's Ferry Landing.
  16. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla for a panoramic view of the city all spruced up in holiday finery. Along the way, take a peek at the beautifully decorated homes in this exclusive community.
  17. Drive to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to marvel at wildlife and a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers amidst the desert warmth. Anza-Borrego is located just two hours from San Diego via Highway 78 and Interstate 8.
  18. Gaze up at the massive balloons during the Big Bay Balloon Parade, the country's largest balloon parade, on December 30. Floats, balloons and marching bands are just some of the offerings in this colorful holiday parade along San Diego Bay in downtown San Diego.
  19. Watch runners compete in San Diego's oldest marathon during the scenic Carlsbad Marathon & Half-Marathon on January 18, 2014 along the Pacific Coast.
  20. Experience a white Christmas in San Diego when you make the scenic, one-hour drive to the top of Mount Laguna. Sled down mountain slopes, build snowmen and have snowball fights (weather conditions permitting).
  21. Delight in the festive gatherings along the Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights on December 14, 2013. Over 100 brightly illuminated powerboats and sailboats parade along Mission Bay; the parade ends with a fantastic firework show at 9:00 PM above SeaWorld San Diego.
  22. Bring the whole family to a unique neighborhood event featuring a chili cook-off between more than 20 of the celebrated restaurants of South and North Park. At the SoNo Park Holiday Fest & Chilipalooza on December 1, you can pick out your own hand-spun ceramic bowls then sample chili from the local restaurants. You can also shop for holiday gifts from local artisans and enjoy free live music, kids' games and activities, gourmet food trucks, a beer garden featuring local craft beers and more.
  23. Celebrate holiday cheer with Christmas in the Park – Poway on December 14. The event features a tree lighting ceremony, visits from Santa, train rides, live music, theatre performances, food, treats, crafts and more.
  24. Rock out at the Poinsettia Bowl Gaslamp March in December. Kicking off two days prior to the annual Poinsettia Bowl, which is played in San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, bands representing the two Bowl football teams line up at opposite ends of Fifth Avenue in downtown's Gaslamp Quarter and face-off in an old-fashion battle of the bands.
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