Santa Claus with a Surfboard in hand

San Diego’s Holiday Parades, Lights & Sights

The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to kickstart the festivities than by immersing yourself in the enchanting world of holiday parades and light displays in San Diego! From the mesmerizing twinkling lights along the coastline to joyful parades that light up the streets, San Diego has an array of festive events lined up for 2023. Let’s take a closer look at what’s in store for you this holiday season.

Holiday Parades

Ocean Beach Holiday Parade (Dec. 2)

(Photo: @obbcsd)

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 looked-forward-to holiday parades in town happens in this beachside community each 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.”

Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107


La Jolla Christmas Parade (Dec. 3)

(Video: @ljparade)

The La Jolla Christmas Parade is an enchanting holiday event you should be sure to mark on your calendar. This charming coastal town transforms into a winter wonderland during the event, as the streets come alive with the sounds of carolers and the sights of beautifully decorated floats. The parade is set to feature local schools, community groups, and of course, Santa Claus himself, who is sure to spread cheer to all who attend. When you attend, be sure to stroll along the streets of La Jolla and take in the warm and welcoming atmosphere during this fantastic family-friendly event.

Girard Ave & Kline St, La Jolla, CA 92037


Chula Vista Starlight Parade & Festival (Dec. 3)

(Photo: @cvstarlightparade)

Chula Vista celebrates the South Bay holiday season in grand style during this treasured celebration, featuring a festive parade and a vibrant festival sure to keep everyone entertained. The annual parade – with an impressive display of colorful floats, marching bands, and twinkling lights — is the centerpiece. Afterward, the occasion kicks into high gear, offering a variety of activities for the young, and young at heart. From live music and entertainment to delicious food vendors and an artisan market there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy.

353 3rd Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights (Dec. 10, 17)

(Photo: @halfmooninn)

This cherished event is a true San Diego tradition that’s been delighting locals and visitors alike for more than 50 years. The 2023 edition (with the theme “Christmas Traditions around the World”) promises to be spectacular — as boats of all shapes and sizes adorned with vibrant lights will set sail along the stunning San Diego Bay. Expect to see creatively decorated vessels that reflect the theme of the year, all glittering under the starry night sky. Plus, get a front-row seat right from our hotel! Stay the night to get the full experience with our Parade of Lights Package or pregame with us here at Blue Wave Bar & Grill and enjoy our “Parade of Flights” menu, before the event!

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade (Dec. 17)

(Photo: gaslampquarter)

Pet pals of all varieties always look forward to the annual Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade! This unique and heartwarming event takes place in the historic Gaslamp Quarter and features a delightful parade of pets (and their people) dressed up in festive attire. Adorable dogs, charming cats and even some exotic pets are all welcome to get into the holiday spirit, and the result is always a whimsical promenade of adorable, festive costumes. The parade typically culminates with an awards ceremony to recognize the “best-dressed” pets, adding a dash of friendly competition to the festivities.

Fifth Avenue between Broadway and Harbor Drive, San Diego, 92101

Festive Displays

Holidays at Seaport Village

(Photo: @seaport_village)

Seaport Village — located along San Diego’s stunning waterfront — is a delightful destination for holiday festivities. This charming shopping and dining hub features stunning views of the bay and a calendar full of events throughout the holiday season. You can expect to find twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a lively atmosphere throughout the entire complex. It’s the ideal place to do some holiday shopping, savor delicious meals, and enjoy the captivating beauty of San Diego’s waterfront.

849 West Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Winter Wonder at Belmont Park (Dates TBA)

(Photo: @belmontparksd)

San Diego’s beloved beachfront boardwalk amusement park transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, offering an array of enchanting experiences for the whole family. The yuletide festivities at Belmont feature dazzling light displays, a tree lighting, holiday music, and a holly-jolly atmosphere sure to warm your heart. You can enjoy holiday-themed rides, games, and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus himself. It’s the perfect place to create magical memories with loved ones during the holiday season.

3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA 92109

Liberty Station Holiday Events (Beginning Nov. 24)

(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, a holiday screening of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” and so much more, Of course, Liberty Station regulars also 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

Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo (Beginning Dec. 9)

(Photo: @juliegayle24)

The San Diego Zoo is a year-round treasure. Still, during the holiday season, it becomes an even more enchanting destination. Jungle Bells is the zoo’s annual holiday celebration that brings a unique twist to your zoo visit. Jungle Bells features thousands of twinkling lights, holiday-themed decorations, and special animal experiences. You can catch Dr. Zoolittle’s remarkable animal-themed magic show, take a ride on the Twinkle Light Trolley, and even see Santa Claus, who makes a special appearance. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the San Diego Zoo in a whole new light this holiday season.

2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101


Celebrate the Holidays With Island Palms

(Photo: @island_palms)

San Diego’s holiday parades and lights displays for 2023 promise to be bigger and brighter than ever before. Best Western Plus Island Palms is the ideal home base from which to explore! Our guest-first amenities, cozy accommodations, unbeatable rates, and spectacular special offers will have you feeling the festive love all season long. So, gather your family and friends and immerse yourself in the magic of the season as “America’s Finest City” lights up with holiday joy.