Holiday Events Guide: Lots of Christmas cheer coming to La Jolla and San Diego County


From free film screenings to illuminated winter wonderlands and holiday choir classics, the month of December is booked full of seasonal celebrations and appearances by Santa Claus. Here is a rundown of the many events planned in La Jolla and San Diego County:

Holiday events in La Jolla

• To pick up holiday décor, gifts and other seasonal surprises, stop by the St. James by-the-Sea Church Christmas Bazaar, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 at 743 Prospect St. Proceeds benefit St. James outreach ministries and nonprofit organizations.

• San Diego Jewish Genealogical Society presents an afternoon of Hanukkah celebrations, including food, traditions, stories and experiences, 1 p.m. Sunday Dec. 3, at Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive. Catered buffet, including latkes, is $10-$15. Seating is limited, RSVP: and visit

• The 60th annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival returns to the Village of La Jolla, 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 down Girard Avenue with the theme, “Christmas Jewels.” Enjoy floats, bands and a special visit from Santa Claus followed by the Holiday Festival at La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St. with activities and the lighting of the La Jolla Recreation Center Christmas Tree. Free. Read more about the Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival at and find more details at

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library’s annual Night Owls Holiday Party really puts the “gin” in gingerbread, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7 at the 1008 Wall St. library. Sip on cocktails and beer while enjoying delicious finger foods from Whisknladle. Explore the A to Z artwork of Mark Licari (“Awaken to Zero”). Singer-songwriter Tina Leinenweber will provide the spice with neo-soul, jazz and blues tunes. The Night Owls is recommended for those ages 21-40. Tickets: $5-$10.

• This year’s Bird Rock Bazaar on the Boulevard is 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, with several merchants participating in this event. In-store specials at businesses along La Jolla Boulevard, cookies, holiday music and a giant mailbox for mailing letters to Santa and holiday cards. Clothing, accessories, jewelry, eyewear, dining gift cards, surf gear, wine, bikes, skate board, music lessons and more. Learn more at

• Steven Schick conducts the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus with soprano Susan Narucki in Francis Poulenc’s mid-20th choral masterpiece, “Gloria,” 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 at Mandeville Auditorium, on the UC San Diego campus, 9500 Gilman Drive (at Mandeville Lane). Also on the program is Thomas Ades’s violin concerto, “Concentric Paths,” with Young Artists Winner Keir GoGwilt as soloist; a new arrangement of a 14th-century gem featuring percussion ensemble red fish blue fish, violinist GoGwilt and soprano Kirsten Wiest; and the premiere of Tina Tallon’s work for orchestra and electronics. The concert begins with Beethoven’s “Egmont Overture.” Tickets $15-$35. (858) 534-4637.

La Jolla United Methodist Church Chancel Choir and Dorian Bells will present its annual Christmas concert “Carols of Light,” 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 in the Sanctuary, 6063 La Jolla Blvd., with new anthems based on familiar carols and compelling compositions and arrangements by John Rutter, Howard Helvey, Craig Courtney and others. Soloists, orchestral ensemble and percussion will join the choirs. A free-will offering will be taken to the church’s music ministry. Refreshments follow in Memorial Hall.

La Jolla Presbyterian Church holiday concert, “Many Moods of Christmas,” is set for 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 at 7715 Draper Ave., and is considered “the feel-good show of the year.” Performers include the La Jolla Presbyterian Church chancel choir, children’s choir, La Jolla Brass and hand-bell choir. Collectively, the choirs tell the story of Christmas through song, including carols and works by Vivaldi. Free. (858) 729-5511.

• The Will Ferrell holiday classic “Elf” screens at Barbarella Restaurant, 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 15, at 2171 Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores. Free admission, candy (and you know how Buddy loves his sugar!) and popcorn. Call to reserve a spot: (858) 454-7373.

• A favorited annual tradition, the Lunch with Santa is 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 at La Jolla Recreation Center, 615 Prospect St. Cameras are encouraged for photos with Santa, recommended age is 2-10. $5 per child, donations accepted at the door. Parents may only reserve a space for their child(ren). Maximum enrollment is 100 children. (858) 552-1658.

• Bah Humbug! The West Coast Performing Arts Presenters stages Charles Dickens’s classic “Scrooge” starring Kellan Baker in this one-man show, 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23 at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, 4126 Executive Drive. Tickets $39-$59. (858) 362-1348.

Worth a Drive: Holiday events in San Diego County

• One of San Diego County’s most popular (and crowded) free events during the Christmas season is December Nights, 3-11 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1 and noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 throughout Balboa Park, San Diego. Balboa Park will be adorned with thousands of dazzling holiday lights attracting thousands of visitors to this two-day extravaganza. Completely free with fun for the whole family, December Nights is a multicultural holiday experience with live music, dance performances, museum shopping and international fare. A dozen museums will also offer free admission 5-9 p.m. Dec. 1-2.

• Last year’s live radio play “Miracle on 34th Street” was so successful, the San Diego Musical Theatre decided to do it again! This year’s production is 7:30 p.m. Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays; 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 24 with a special show 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20. When a department store Santa claims he’s the real Kris Kringle, his case gets taken all the way to the Supreme Court. Watch the miracle unfold when the belief of a little girl makes all the difference in this classic tale. Horton Grand Theatre, 444 Fourth Ave., downtown San Diego. Tickets from $25. (858) 560-5740.

• The Old Globe holiday traditional production of “Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” runs through Dec. 24 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park, San Diego. Edward Watts makes his Globe debut as The Grinch. He has appeared on Broadway in “Scandalous” and “Finian’s Rainbow,” as well as the national tours of “The Book of Mormon,” “Les Misérables” and “The Little Mermaid.” Abigail Estrella and Reese McCulloch alternate in the role of Cindy-Lou Who, with both making their Globe debuts. Tickets from $37 for adults and $24 for children (17 years and under). Children under age 3 will be admitted to 11 a.m. performances only, which are open to all ages. (619) 234-5623.

La Jolla Symphony & Chorus‘s new Choral Director, Patrick Walders, leads chamber orchestra, chorus, soloists and audience members in the Christmas portion of Handel’s “Messiah,” 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3 at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church, 6628 Santa Isabel St., Carlsbad. Join the singing or simply enjoy the sound of hundreds of voices lifted in song. Scores are available for purchase or rent on site. Tickets $18 (with discounts). (858) 534-4637.

• With tickets starting at $20, the San Diego Symphony presents a series of holiday concerts at Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St, downtown San Diego. A screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life” with symphony accompaniment opens the series 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3. Then “Winter Daydreams,” conducted by Johannes Debus, is 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 and 2 p.m. Sunday Dec. 10 and features Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp. Classic holiday favorites and a Christmas carol sing-along are featured in “Noel Noel,” with shows 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16; 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22; and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 23. The holiday series also includes “Fanfares and Celebrations,” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, with selections by Handel, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and more (tickets for this show are $35).

• Three Nutcracker Productions: In honor of the 12 days of Christmas, City Ballet of San Diego presents 12 performances of “The Nutcracker” holiday classic in matinee and evening shows Dec. 8-10, Dec. 15-17 and Dec. 22-24 at Spreckels Theater, 121 Broadway, downtown San Diego. Saturday evening performance tickets start at $20, all others start at $25. The dancers will be accompanied by the City Ballet Orchestra and Chorus. Following matinees, cast members will be in the lobby to greet the audience and pose for photos.

San Diego Ballet’s version of “The Nutcracker” has 100 beautifully costumed dancers reveling in Tchaikovsky’s beloved score. It also features members of the San Diego Children’s Choir, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21, 22 and 23, and also 2 p.m. Dec. 23 at Mandeville Theater, UC San Diego campus. Tickets $25-$55.

California Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is onstage matinees/evenings through Dec. 23 at the San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third Ave. downtown. Tickets: $54-$75. (800) 295-5354.

• The San Diego Santa Run begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, when an estimated 4,000 Santas take over Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. Offering a series of waves to choose from, the event includes a 5K Fun Run and one-mile runs that feature the Santa’s Little Helper Mile (for the festive pup), the Santa’s Elves Mile (for kids) and the Speedy Mile (for competitive Santas). Throughout the course, runners will don “Sunny Santa Suits” including white beards, Santa hats and sunglasses. Following the Santa Run, the 38th annual Pacific Beach Holiday Parade will march down Garnet Avenue at 1 p.m. Santa Run registration is $20 for the Kids Run to $50 for day-of registration for the 5K. To register and get more details, visit

• The San Diego Pro Arte Voices will present their fourth annual “An Evening of Readings & Carols,” 7:30 p.m. Friday Dec. 15 at Village Community Presbyterian Church, 6225 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16 at St. Andrew’s by the Sea Episcopal Church, 1050 Thomas Ave., Pacific Beach. The concerts are modeled after the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service at King’s College in Cambridge, presented every Christmas Eve since 1918 and broadcast live via BBC Radio. Musical selections will be paired with readings by distinguished guest speakers. This year’s repertoire will include Herbert Howell’s “Long, Long Ago”; Ēriks Ešenvald’s “O Emmanuel”; Stephen Paulu’s “Splendid Jewel”; Alec Roth’s “Song of Shepherds,” among others. Tickets $10-$30.

Dianne Reeves, winner of five Grammy Awards for Best Jazz Vocal Album and an honorary doctorate of music from Julliard, will usher in the holidays with music from her album, “Christmas Time Is Here,” in the La Jolla Music Society concert of the same name, 8 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave. downtown San Diego. Joining Reeves is Peter Martin, Romero Lubambo, Reginald Veal and Terreon Gully. Tickets $18-$63. (858) 459-3728.

• A holiday celebration that draws 400,000 people a year to Sacramento is opening in San Diego for first time this season. Global Winter Wonderland, features the largest display of traditional Chinese lanterns outside of China — along with Cirque du Soleil-level acrobatics, 35 carnival rides, holiday-themed activities, games, and international food and shopping — now through Jan. 7 at SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm Stadium), 9449 Friars Road in Mission Valley. Tickets $22, with discounts.