Things to do in San Diego in December

Guide to San Diego in December 2016

The holiday season is upon! Holiday lights, holiday music, parades, hot cocoa, and gingerbread everything! San Diego in December is full of wonderful events for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the major events going on:


Balboa Park’s December Nights


ITH San Diego December Nights Festival


December Nights is held in beautiful Balboa Park and will happen on Dec 2nd from 3pm-11pm and Dec 3rd from noon-11pm. December Nights is probably the most popular event in San Diego in December drawing over 350,000 people! Admission is free to this festival! There will be food vendors, attractions, the international houses will be open, performances by the SD Junior Theatre & SD Civic Youth Ballet, and complimentary admission to the Balboa Park museums! (Parking is free but may be a hassle and a long walk, so plan accordingly)


Ocean Beach, La Jolla, Starlight, & North Park Holiday Parades


ITH San Diego in December OB Holiday Parade


There will be many parades to choose from in San Diego in December depending on what days you are in the region and where you would like to go. Many are happening on the same day! No matter which parade you go to, you will be entertained by floats, marching bands, vintage cars, holiday characters, and more! 


Little Italy’s Tree Lighting & Christmas Village


ITH San Diego Little Italy Tree Lighting


Happening right in downtown San Diego, this event will have live entertainment and music, holiday snacks and beverages, seasonal vendors. There will be the lightning of a 25-ft tree which will be uniquely made up of over 1,000 poinsettias! The Little Italy Tree lighting and Christmas village event will be going on Dec 3rd from 4-8pm. It will also only be a few blocks from ITH’s Adventure Hostel!


SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-off


ITH San Diego SoNo Chili Cook-off


The SoNo fest and Chili Cook-off is happening on Dec 4th from 11am-5pm. This hot showdown will take place in North Park area where 40 vendors competing for chili-making bragging rights! There will be live music and entertainment for all ages (KidsFun Fest area), beer gardens, and food trucks! Get 5 chili tastings AND a souvenir chili bowl for $20! Admission is free to get into the event.


San Diego Bay Parade of Lights


ITH San Diego in December SD Bay Parade of Lights


The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights begins at Shelter Island and ends at Coronado’s Ferry Landing. It will feature over 80 vessels draped in lavish decorations. The theme for this years’ parade is “It Began with a Roar” to celebrate the San Diego Zoo’s 100th year anniversary. The parade will occur on two consecutive Sundays, Dec 11th and Dec 18th. There are 5 spots where you can watch the parade: Shelter Island, Harbor Island, The Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and Ferry Landing. (Each point will have a different time when the boats will begin to pass by, see link)
There will also be the Mission Bay Boat Parade of Lights happening Dec 10th from 6-9pm.


Ice Skating


Ice Skating San Diego Hotel Del Coronado


Even though it doesn’t snow here in San Diego, that doesn’t stop us from having awesome ice skating rinks! From Horton Plaza to Liberty Station to Coronado, there are plenty of options! All are open every day of the week, varying in hours of operations. (Pictured above is the picturesque Skating by the Sea located at the world famous Hotel Del Coronado)

Most all of these events are happening close to one of ITH’s San Diego hostels! If you are traveling from somewhere outside of San Diego in December, you can get 20% a night at one of our two hostels in SD with promo code TEDLOVESFALL.  We have rooms for every type of traveler from shared dorms to private rooms!


*Promo code valid 11/10-12/20. Must book through*