It might be October, but we’re already wishing for colorful Christmas lights, hot chocolate, and oversized sweaters. If you’re in the mood to ring in the holiday festivities, you’re in luck. There’s a massive Christmas Festival called Balboa Park December Nights coming to San Diego and it’s magical.

This fantastic two-day event is easily the biggest holiday attraction in San Diego. Last year, over 350,000 people came to visit! Entry to the event is completely free. This year will be the 41st annual celebration.

All you have to do is pay for parking and bring some cash for the delicious international food stands and goodies. Even Balboa Park’s museums are free from 5 pm to 9 pm each day!

This year’s event kicks off on Friday, December 6th from 3 pm to 11 pm and Saturday, December 7th from noon to 11 pm. Make sure you plan out your visit far in advance so you can avoid the crowds and get a parking spot before they’re snatched up. 

You can walk around under sparkling Christmas lights, Santa’s massive sleigh and reindeer sculptures suspended above you, and listen to cheerful holiday music. There’s plenty of food trucks, hot chocolate stands, and Christmas cheer to go around. Plus, there’s a fun beer and wine garden for 21+ guests.

Make sure to check out the small wooden buildings that host food from different countries around the world. Each one is decorated according to their country's traditions and themes.  It's truly amazing.

There’s everything from Swedish meatballs and lingonberry sauce to delicious Iranian and Italian cuisines and more. Each small plate costs only a couple of dollars and vendors only take cash. Make sure to come hungry so you can sample all the international food and dessert options.

There are plenty of ATM machines around the park for you to take out some money to spend and get cute souvenirs.

Along with the delicious food and drinks, vendors offer handmade crafts from their cultures. This is the perfect place to learn a little more about global culture and get some super unique gifts for your friends and family.

There are plenty of fun photo ops for Instagrammable pics too. Check out the famous Christmas Grinch tree while you’re there, the lit-up Ferris wheel, and the Lily Pond. This is one big holiday extravaganza you don’t want to miss!

December Nights: Balboa Park

Location: Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Price: Free! All you have to do is pay for parking and bring some cash for the food and goodies.

Hours: Friday, December 6th from 3 pm to 11 pm and Saturday, December 7th from noon to 11 pm

Why you should go: You can come and enjoy San Diego’s largest Christmas festival. There are beautiful lights, delicious food, and goodies from all around the world, and plenty of places to take super-fun, Instagrammable pics.


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