San Diego Holiday Events Worth Checking Out

There’s just something extra special about the holiday season in “America’s Finest City”. Our famously mild weather is a great break from the cold and snow, everyone you meet is full of good cheer, and there’s always a full schedule of amazing goings-on to discover. So if you’re interested in hearing about some San Diego holiday events that are worth checking out, you’ve come to the right place!

52nd Annual Bay Parade of Lights (Dec. 11 & 18)

(Photo: @sdparadeoflights)

This uniquely San Diego tradition returns for its 52nd year in 2022. During the Bay Parade of Lights, area boating enthusiasts deck out their dinghies and give their yachts a yuletide makeover, then cruise past the shore in a brilliantly beautiful show of seasonal splendor. This time-honored festival will bring more than 80 boats to the waters off of San Diego, all lavishly decorated to dovetail with this year’s theme: “FantaSEA on the Bay.” More than 100,000 residents are expected to enjoy the brilliantly-bright parade this year. As luck would have it, Best Western Island Palms is one of the best places to take it all in! The route will be passing by our Shelter Island location at around 5:30 in the afternoon.


SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration (Nov 14 – Jan. 8)

(Photo: @seaworldsandiego)

SeaWorld is a great stop for the whole family at any time of year, but the park truly pulls out all the stops to make the holidays merry and bright. SeaWorld’s annual Christmas Celebration takes place from November 14 – January 8 this year, and features a host of holiday-themed shows, events, gifts, souvenirs and other seasonal surprises. Guests are invited to sip hot cocoa and sample other yuletide treats as they visit all of their favorite sea animals and thrill rides throughout the festive environment. 

500 SeaWorld Dr, San Diego, CA 92109 


LEGOLand Holiday Celebration (Nov. 19 – Jan 8)

(Photo: @legolandcalifornia)

LEGOLand California has built a spectacular seasonal celebration for the whole family. Holiday-themed characters, events, live shows, and décor will bring the cheer all month long. A family picture in front of the two-story LEGO tree — complete with lights and more than 400 hand-built LEGO ornaments —  would make for a fantastic greeting card. The park’s snack stops and restaurants will also feature limited-time holiday treats. 

One Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008


Liberty Station Holiday Events (Beginning Nov. 25)

(Photo: @libertystation)

San Diego’s favorite public market always seems to be at its best during the holidays. Guests can look forward to Liberty Station’s traditional annual tree lighting, a Nutcracker Tea with the San Diego Ballet, a Hanukkah celebration, kids ice-skating events and so much more, Of course, Liberty Station regulars know they’ll find something for everyone on their shopping list thanks to the wide variety of the unique specialty shops inside.    

2820 Historic Decatur Rd, San Diego CA, 92106


December Nights at Balboa Park (Dec. 2 – 3)

(Photo: @balboapark)

The city’s largest free holiday festival is back for 2022. This joyous celebration at beautiful Balboa Park offers a full weekend of activities sure to put you in the yuletide spirit. The always-beautiful park space will be cheerfully decked out with holiday finery, including fantastic food, a vendor park, live entertainment, rides and more. Don’t miss this festive fête!

1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101


Ocean Beach Holiday Parade (Dec. 3) 

(Photo: @everydayimjocelynn)

When most think of a holly jolly Christmas parade, sunny Southern California isn’t usually the first place that springs to mind. Yet one of the most highly anticipated holiday parades in the country happens in the San Diego metro area every year. Ocean Beach’s Newport Avenue puts on a display for the ages each holiday, complete with floats, marching bands, local dignitaries, a car show, and the famous “crooked tree”. The parade usually gets going sometime around 5 pm, since this laid-back community operates on “OB Time.” 

Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107


Holiday Ice Skating


(Photo: @viejascasinoandresort)

While ice skating may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about San Diego, rest assured — it should be on the list! Despite our mild weather, the area has lots of places where skaters can slip on their skates for a graceful glide. Among them: 


  • Hotel del Coronado: our friends at this Coronado Island institution host a rink overlooking the ocean every year. 
  • Viejas Casino: you’ll find SoCal’s largest outdoor ice rink here during the holiday season. 
  • Poway Community Park: Poway’s Winter Festival always features an outdoor rink ideal for a holiday skate.
  • San Diego Ice Arena: this fantastic facility is open year-round, and also hosts lessons, hockey and more. 





Best Western Plus Island Palms is your Best Holiday Stay

(Photo: @island_palms)

Looking for a great place to stay for your SoCal holiday escape? Best Western Plus Island Palms offers a grand getaway. Rumor has it we’ll even be bringing back our guest-favorite “Parade of Flights” beverage sampler at Blue Wave Bar and Grill this season! So don’t forget to check out our Special Offers page for all the best San Diego travel deals, and start planning your visit.