Christmas in sunny San Diego County

Holiday Season in San Diego: Thread Spun’s Guide to Get Festive Around Town

Santa's sleigh in Balboa Park San Diego
It’s that time of year to remember how amazing it is to celebrate the holidays in San Diego. When most of the rest of the country is starting to hunker down for a long winter’s rest, we get to buzz about catching delightful performances, ice skating by the beach and perusing outdoor makers markets, all while being free of blizzards and snow shoveling.
Thread Spun’s guide to the holiday season in San Diego will help you dial-in the best events of the region so you can make the most of this one precious life. We’ve compiled our short list of COVID-safe activities around town that will get your family and friends out of the house and into the world of sunny San Diego even in the depths of bitter winter. hehe.


Botanic Garden Wonderland

Dec. 4-5, 10-23, 26-30

San Diego Botanic Garden Christmas lights

Take the festive one mile meander through the garden’s holiday winter wonderland of lights, trees and beguiling botany. Be treated to professional carolers making their rounds through the grounds and visit Santa between 5:30-8:30 for photos. The garden is a family-friendly favorite because of the hands-on crafts and activities that keep all ages engaged. Children under 2 are free and prices range between $10-$18 per guest. 

It’s required to reserve your visit in advance here.

Olivenhain Farm Visit with Santa

Dec. 12 & 18 10am- 12pm  ($25 per person, reserve in advance here.) 

Olivenhain Farms Visit with Santa

Cuddle farm animals and enjoy the countryside of Olivenhain without spending hours in the car to reach rural California. This family-owned farm is a non-profit raising funds for a new pen remodel so your ticket fee will go towards a new home for the sweet animals you’ll meet. 

Order Holiday Tamales from Maribel y Olivia Cocina

Maribel y Olivia Cocina offering holiday tamales for sale 

Pre-order your holiday tamales from the talented sisters who use heritage techniques to create the most delectable vegan specialities like jackfruit mole and vegan rajas with cashew cream sauce. Tamales are lovingly wrapped in corn husk making them a perfect picnic snack you can bring along as you explore events all over the county. 

Sign ups go live December 18th here.

Encinitas4Equality Multicultural Collective Marketplace (FREE)

Sunday Dec. 12 3pm-8pm
Encinitas 4 Equality Multicultural Collective 1900 N. Coast Hwy 101, Leucadia 

Stop by the holiday edition of the E4E’s monthly market to purchase art, gifts and treats made by artists, artisans and chefs of color. December’s market features a toy drive, gift wrapping, craft stations, live music and a screen printing workshop with Campana Studios. Support Black-owned businesses as part of your holiday spending and start here with the marketplace of curated vendors. 

An Evening of Art and Movement 

Friday Dec. 10, 6pm-8pm ($50)
Encinitas 4 Equality Multicultural Collective 1900 N Coast Hwy 101 

Learn some new moves to bust on the holiday dance floor and paint a work of art for your mantle. Artists Mischele Salvant and Maya M. Joshi will channel the power of music to guide the process of creation for attendees. Each participant will be provided with art supplies and pre-sketched canvas featuring a figure in motion to illustrate the cultural movements and dances of African diaspora communities including ‘Awassa’ from South American countries, “Parreo’ from Puerto Rico and Merengue from the Dominican Republic. Not your typical holiday event and we love it for that. 

From more info and to purchase tickets click here.


Annual Holiday Express

NCTD Coaster Holiday Express

All aboard the holiday train from Oceanside Transit Center to Solana Beach in a 65 minute loop that features Santa Claus, carolers and holiday characters. Riders will be treated to an hour of songs and stories right from the North Pole as train cars are visited by performers handing out toys. Santa will be in attendance to take photos with families after the ride. Make sure your kids find the Holiday Express Mailbox at the Oceanside Platform to deliver their wish lists!

Tickets are $20. Find more info and to register click here. 

Z Supply + Rising Co. Holiday Market

Rising Co communal space located in Oceanside, CA

Dec. 11 10am- 3 pm 
332 S. Coast Hwy, Oceanside CA

Get festive with Rising Co’s all-women vendor Holiday Market . A Thread Spun favorite artist, Coco Shalom will be there with beautiful prints. Make sure to catch Daniella Manini whose colorful art depicts many of our most beloved local beaches and vistas. Get your presents wrapped on-site as proceeds will go to benefit Humanity Showers who provide haircuts, clothes and showers to our houseless neighbors. 

For a complete list of vendors click here.

Winter Story Stroll

Dec. 13 3:30-4:30
Joe Balderrama Park, 709 San Diego Street

Visit the Oceanside Library for a bilingual winter stroll at the Adelante Bookmobile. Enjoy the holiday treat champurrado (Mexican hot chocolate) and munch on pan dulce. There will be take-home crafts and book giveaways. All ages are welcome and no prior registration is needed. Visit for more info. FREE


Skating by the Sea

Skate by the sea at Hotel Del in Coronado, CA

Nov. 22 - Jan. 2

It’s truly as beautiful as it sounds! Get all the benefits of sunny San Diego weather with all the winter perks as you watch the sunset on skates. The Hotel Del Coronado rolls out the red carpet to celebrate the season with dazzling lights and majestic trees. You’ll find a photo opp around every corner of the historic sprawling property. Reserve your spots in advance by clicking here.

Barrio Logan:

Posada Navideña (FREE)

Chicano Park in Barrio Logan

Dec. 18 4-8 pm
Logan Ave from Chicano Park to 26th St.

Walk the Block presents a community celebration of small business and local latino traditions. Join the procession and posada to take part in Barrio Logan’s rich history and holiday festivity. The evening will feature Mariachi, free kids activities, bites from local restaurants, giveaways, shopping and Santa. The procession starts at 6 pm at 950 S 26th St La Libélula Books.

San Diego:

The Grinch at the Old Globe (Prices Vary) 

The Grinch at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park

Kids and parents alike are raving about this year’s performance of 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' at the Old Globe Theater. The stage is transformed into a snowy wonderland, transporting you to the very far away destination of Who-ville so you can leave real life behind. Be prepared to have ‘You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch’ living rent free in your head for the rest of the year.  Purchase your tickets here. 

Parade of Lights (FREE)

San Diego Parade of Lights in the bay

Dec. 13 and 19 5:30 pm

More than 50 boats adorned with holiday lights will take to the seas for the San Diego Parade of Lights honoring the 12 Days of Christmas with this year’s theme. It’s a very outlandish sight to observe Santa’s Sleigh gliding across the sea. The flashy boats head to the pier at Cesar Chavez park before turning back to Coronado.  Visit for more info. 

Annual Kwanzaa at World Beat (FREE)

Dec. 26-30
World Beat Cultural Center 2100 Park Blvd, San Diego

Founded in 1966 during the civil rights movement by University Professor Dr. Maulana Karenga to bring the Black community together, Kwanzaa rests on 7 principles: unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith. Gather for the communal celebration of Kwanzaa in San Diego with drum and dance, vegetarian African soul food and speakers who will share their rich knowledge with attendees. For more info click here.

Filipino Parol Festival 

Dec 13th 3-6 pm
Mingei International Museum 1439 El Prado, San Diego - Free Exhibit

$35 to view performances 6:30-8:30 pm

For the 9 days before Christmas, families in the Philippines decorate their homes with colorful, intricate lanterns called ‘parols’. Take part in this year’s 25th Annual Parol Festival which will include an 8 foot parol in a pinwheel shape made by an award-winning artist in the Philippines. You’ll be treated to performances by PASACAT and enjoy delicious food like lumpia and the holiday sweet treat bibingka (a coconut cake traditionally baked in a terracotta oven lined with banana leaves). For more info visit:

Neighborhood Light Displays (FREE)

Go see the neighborhood displays of Christmas lights all around San Diego county

Various Locations, Nightly

Hidden San Diego put together this amazing overview of where to catch the quirky home holiday lights that are tucked in neighborhoods around the county. Holiday home lights are great because they are free and totally COVID safe. They also are so unique, individual and can be incredibly wacky. Makes you marvel at the human spirit’s propensity for self expression. 

Scroll through to find one in your neighborhood. 

Holiday Shopping at Thread Spun:

Thread Spun's festive cash wrap

Sip & Shop with Thread Spun, Timshel & Minor

Timshel sustainable pop up featuring vintage homewares and clothing        Minor sustainable clothing for kids

Saturday Dec. 11th 11am - 4pm

We’ll be cranking out the happy holiday feelings because we’re joining up with our friends at Timshel and Minor for a full day of sustainable shopping and delicious wine. Find a few gifts to chip away at your holiday list and we won’t judge when you find something for yourself. ;)

We are fully stocked for your holiday shopping! At this point it may be physically impossible for our little shop to be more full of one-of-a-kind handmade goods. If you’re unsure about where to start, scan our recent gift guide series and find the perfect treasure.

Our hours are extended to be open later this month to make sure you’ve got the time to come by and check out our busting-at-the-seams holiday collection! But as always, we are open 24/7 online. 

Heartfelt and handmade is our specialty all year round but the holidays remind us the most sentimental and cherished gifts are the ones that are made responsibly, sustainably and by those who are compensated fairly for their skill and artistry. It’s our greatest honor to provide you with a place like Thread Spun to make purchases supporting a more just and humane world. 

We hope this guide to festive events will brighten your season with opportunities to enjoy our little corner of the earth in a safe way for you and your loved ones. Thanks for reading and report back-we’d love to hear what you think of these events and destinations. 

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