Best Places to See Holiday Lights in San Diego

Where to Enjoy Christmas Lights in San Diego

City lights everywhere bring more than a decorative and impressive charm to a place. Holiday lights, however, bring double the magic and excitement to each corner their shine comes through. Christmas lights are a signature part of the holiday season and nothing would be the same without them. With all the holiday events each city is offering, you may feel like some serious research is necessary in order to not miss the ones you want to see the most. The season of giving starts with setting up lights which give a constant mental note of how beautiful the holidays are. The list of places where to see holiday lights is here, sync it with your calendar!

Julian Country Christmas and Tree Lighting
Saturday, November 25th

Driving to Julian for the holidays for many Californians could be a good excuse for getting some fresh mountain air, enjoying the snow, and getting that “snow for Christmas” feel many appreciate across the world. Holidays at Julian start with an annual lighting of the town’s living Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend. Check your weather app frequently and plan to come when there is snow to enjoy the winter look of the holiday lights in the mountain village.


Balboa Park, December Nights
Friday, December 1 from 3 to 11 pm and Saturday, December 2 from noon to 11 pm


Offering not just a day, but a two-day festival which has been going on consecutively for 40 years, Balboa Park put itself down on our list.  Festive celebration at Balboa invites everyone for tons of fun, great food from around the world, a variety of attractions, and complimentary admission to museums from 5 to 9 pm. Beautiful holiday lighting throughout the Park will light up your mood and get you ready for the countdown to Christmas.



California Center for the Arts, Holiday Tree Lighting, and Winter Wonderland Festival
Saturday, December 2

Making a stop at California Center for the Arts will bring you the magic of the twinkling lights and “install” a great holiday spirit to the Escondido neighborhood. While there, decorate your own Christmas cookie and take the Center on their promise of providing the real snow to play with.


Little Italy Tree Lighting Ceremony
Saturday, December 2 from 4 to 8 pm

If you skip visiting Balboa Park or Escondido’s Winter Wonderland and find yourself downtown, enjoy the 25-foot tower of 1100 lovely Poinsettias which will be lit the whole evening on December 2nd in the center of Piazza Basilone. The ceremony of lighting the new 20’ tall live tree is scheduled to start at 6:30 at the Piazza della Famiglia on W. Date and India Street. Great opportunity to get some of your holiday gift shopping in Little Italy since the ceremony brings the seasonal vendors with other entertainment.



Port of San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
Sunday, December 10th and 17th at 5 pm

The tradition brought to San Diego by the boating community has been going on for 46 years and attracting more than 100,000 spectators each year. This year’s Parade of Lights theme is Pirate’s Christmas and it will include approximately 80 boats glowing in the ocean waters with their lights and decorations. Parade starts at Shelter Island at 5 pm which is also one of the best spots to view the parade and finishes at Ferry Landing on Coronado at 7 pm. Other great places to watch the route of the Parade are Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and Marina Park.


Old Town Trolley’s Holiday Lights and Sights Tour
December 1st to 23rd and December 26th to 30th

Another amazing way to spend time with the entire family while trying to catch all the beautiful holiday lights of San Diego is promised here with the Holiday Trolley. The route includes Christmas lights of the Old Town San Diego, the Embarcadero, Balboa Park, and Garrison Street. It will take you around 75 minutes of sing-a-long caroling with the conductors to finish it. This year take a break from all the running around and treat yourself to a special holiday ride with the warm and jolly trolley.