Exploring San Diego


December Nights brings holiday cheer to Balboa Park

December Nights welcome holidays in Balboa Park
Posted at 1:22 PM, Oct 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-07 20:01:46-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — For two nights in December, Balboa Park will be transformed into a winter wonderland of holiday festivities and entertainment.

The 41st annual December Nights returns to Balboa Park on Dec. 7 from  3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Dec. 8 from  12 p.m. to 11 p.m., bringing along massive light display, inspiration choir performances, bands and dancers, delicious foods from vendors and international cottages, and holiday-themed attractions for the whole family.

Thousands are expected to flock to the area for the annual holiday celebration. So naturally, attendees will have to plan ahead for parking and transportation.


A free shuttle service will be available on Friday and on Saturday to give attendees a lift to the festivities.

Those planning to use any ridesharing services can hail a car on 6th Ave. and Laurel St.

If using one of the many dockless bicycle or scooter options to get into the park, remember, they will not be allowed within the perimeter of the event. Users can park them on the east or west ends of the park.


The only free parking lot will be at the San Diego Zoo, though it's bound to fill early and quickly. Free disabled parking is available at the Fleet Science Center and Federal lot on Presidents Way.

Paid parking options range from $5 - $25 for lots at:

  • 6th & A Parkade
  • 110 West Ash Street
  • 1451 3rd Avenue
  • 1450 6th Avenue
  • Inspiration Point
  • South Carousel
  • Natural History Museum

Cash or credit is accepted. A map of lots is available here.


-- Balboa Park's Spreckels Organ Pavilion tree lighting: Stick around for performances throughout the weekend, including acts from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, and Del Cerro Baptist Church's "Christmas Story Tree."

-- International Christmas Festival: Enjoy delicious cuisine and enjoy entertainment inspired by nations around the globe at the park's international houses.

-- Gifts and crafts will be on sale from vendors around the Spanish Village and at museums, including the Fleet Science Center, Natural History Museum, and Timken Museum.

-- Speaking of museums, admission will be free at a number of museums each night from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

-- Balboa Park's Botanical Garden will be decked out with lights and decorations as a scenic spot to gather and take in the event. 

-- Keep your eyes open: Santa is expected to make an appearance at the festival, but the Old Globe Theatre's "Grinch" may be there too...