Balboa Park December Nights | 35th Year of San Diego’s Favorite Holiday Event

November 22, 2012

Balboa Park December Nights, San Diego’s favorite kick-off to the holiday season, will take place for the 35th year on Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8, 2012. The beloved holiday event, co-produced by the City of San Diego and the San Diego Hall of Champions, features sparkling lights; multi-cultural music and dance performances; carolers, bell-ringers, choirs and bands; and food throughout the Park. In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. both evenings.

During December Nights, Balboa Park is transformed into a holiday wonderland with historic Park promenades, plantings and structures adorned with seasonal decorations and lights.  More than 300,000 attendees are expected, making this the largest free community festival in San Diego. Balboa Park December Nights highlights include:  

Stages galore! See the annual production of Del Cerro Baptist Church Christmas Story Tree, the House of Scotland Pipers , the Sun Harbor Chorus  and many more on the Organ Pavilion Stage; community musicians and dance troupes at the Botanical Building Stage and the Palisades Stage; good time Cajun-Zydeco sounds on the Bon Temps Dance Pavilion; music and dance at Junior Theatre Stage, San Diego Civic Dance Stage, and also Civic Youth Ballet showcases excerpts from The Nutcracker on the Casa del Prado Stage; music and dance from around the world at the International Cottages Stage; plus a host of musical performances inside many Park museums.

Food! International Cottages’ Christmas Festival features food from around the world including: empanadas, egg rolls, fried plantains, pierogi, baklava, paella and pie; many other food options throughout the Park, including the Prado Pub on the Square in the Plaza de Panama.

31st year of the annual Santa Lucia Procession at the California Quadrangle near the Museum of Man.

Enhanced lighting throughout the Park, including a magnificent lightshow on Botanical Building and the Lily Pond and the lighting of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree.

Opportunities for distinct holiday photos throughout the Park including pictures with Santa and The Grinch

San Diego Gas & Electric, a Sempra Energy utility, covers the center of the Plaza de Panama with a dazzling and energy-efficient canopy of LED holiday lights that will illuminate the Park for the entire holiday season.

Parking-Visitors to December Nights can help keep Balboa Park “green” by taking the free shuttles. Free shuttle locations include:

PETCO Park and lots around Park Blvd. and Imperial Ave Parking is $5.00/vehicle and there are more than 2,000 parking spaces in this area. Shuttle drops off at 6th and Laurel Streets.

City College Lots between 16th and "B" Street. Parking is free. Shuttle drops off at 6th and Laurel.

Free disabled parking at the Fleet Science Center lot and the Federal lot near the Hall of Champions.

Shuttle service runs from 4:30-11:00 p.m. on Friday and 11:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m. on Saturday.

In addition, there will be optional preferred parking for $20/vehicle at the Natural History Museum parking lot and the South Carousel lot (both accessible from Park Blvd. and Village Place). Paid parking will also be available at the Inspiration Point parking lot for $20/vehicle (accessible from Park Blvd and Presidents Way). There is limited free parking at the San Diego Zoo lot.  Visitors can also take public transportation for an easy ride to Balboa Park December Nights. To create your personal trip plan visit or call 511 to speak to one of the Transit Information Operators.

Balboa Park December Nights 2012 is co-produced by the City of San Diego–the Office of Special Events and other City departments, which provide festival management expertise; and the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum- which provides event oversight, promotional and sponsorship acquisition and activation guidance. Balboa Park December Nights is co-hosted by The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a coalition of the non-profit cultural institutions in the Park serving over 6 million visitors annually; Balboa Park Central, Balboa Park Online Collaborative and the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department.

Find information about entertainment, food, parking, traffic, and free museums at the enhanced December Nights website