Balboa Park December Nights is San Diego's Largest Free Festival | 36th Year of San Diego’s Favorite Holiday Event Coming December 6 & 7

December 1, 2013

Balboa Park December Nights is one of San Diego’s favorite kick-offs to the holiday season and includes fun for all ages. This event will take place for the 36th year on Friday, December 6 and Saturday, December 7. The beloved holiday event, co-produced by the City of San Diego and the Balboa Park Conservancy, features incredible holiday festivities that include sparkling lights, multi-cultural music and dance performances, carolers, bell-ringers, choirs and bands, a culinary world tour taking place throughout the Park and much more. In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9pm on 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 350,000 attendees are expected to attend throughout the two evenings, making this the largest free community festival in San Diego.

There will be stages galore throughout the Park, featuring 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 will be at the Botanical Building Stage and the Palisades Stage. Good time Cajun-Zydeco sounds will blare from the Bon Temps Dance Pavilion. Don't miss music and dance at Junior Theatre Stage and the San Diego Civic Dance Stage. Also, the Civic Youth Ballet will showcase excerpts from The Nutcracker on the Casa del Prado Stage.

The food offerings at December Nights are incredible and beyond diverse. International Cottages’ Christmas Festival features food from all around the world including empanadas, egg rolls, fried plantains, pierogi, baklava, paella, pie and so many other cultural food staples offered throughout the Park, including at the Prado Pub on the Square in the Plaza de Panama.

House of China making their food!
For those looking to warm there bellies with holiday spirits, there will be a Spirit Garden at the International Cottages, the Air & Space Museum will have a 21-up area with entertainment, The Prado Pub in the Plaza de Panama will have a 21-up area adjacent to the Bon Temps/Gator by the Bay stage, The Prado Restaurant will also be open for regular food and beverage and the SWEA (Swedish) group will serve Glögg (mulled wine) at the California Quadrangle near the Museum of Man.

There will be enhanced lighting throughout the Park to make it a most festive experience, including a magnificent lightshow on Botanical Building and the Lily Pond and the lighting of the Moreton Bay Fig Tree. There will also be opportunities for distinct holiday photos throughout the Park including pictures with Santa and The Grinch

New this year, there will be extended hours! Due to popular demand, December Nights opens even earlier this year, starting at 3pm on Friday and 12 noon on Saturday, and will remain in operation until 11pm both nights, allowing visitors even more time to enjoy the music, food, and fun.

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; and Free disabled parking at the Fleet Science Center lot and the Federal lot near the Hall of Champions. Shuttle service runs from 3pm to midnight on Friday and 11am to midnight on Saturday. The last shuttle leaves all sites at 8pm for the Park. Plan to arrive at locations before 7:00pm.

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.

For more information on Balboa Park December Nights, visit