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About December Nights

Balboa Park December Nights, San Diego’s favorite kick-off to the holiday season, will celebrate 38 years of bringing friends, families and the community together on Friday, December 4, from 3-11 p.m. and Saturday, December 5, Noon-11 p.m. 

Balboa Park December Nights is the largest free community festival in San Diego, attracting more than 350,000 visitors over two days. In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5-9pm both evenings.


As a major international destination with a strong military presence, the City of San Diego works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement throughout the year to ensure the highest level of safety possible at all special events, including December Nights.  The City is taking all necessary precautions, and attendees can expect to see enhanced law enforcement patrols throughout the park during the event.

In addition, we ask that our visitors and guests also remain on alert and “if you see something, say something.”

Entertainment, wonderful food and holiday cheer are all part of this classic and elaborate San Diego celebration. Long-standing traditions include food from around the globe at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages; the charming Santa Lucia Procession at the San Diego Museum of Man; unique gift shopping at the museum stores and with the artisans of Spanish Village; and musical and dance presentations from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Del Cerro Baptist’s Christmas Story Tree, and more.

In addition, the varied museums open for free from 5-9pm both nights feature a wide variety of exhibitions and entertainment, from the Timken Museum’s annual Christmas Tree displaying the exquisite Schlappi Collection of Hord and Schlappi Christmas ornaments, to the Reuben H. Fleet’s kid-friendly and interactive exhibits, to the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Fossil Mysteries set to holiday music in the atrium.

**NEW THIS YEAR!! Children’s Interactive Area including a dynamic Community Mural where families can creatively contribute to giant-sized coloring book page featuring Balboa Park. Following December Nights, the Community Mural will then be on display in the Park throughout the holiday season! The Children’s Interactive Area will also include hands-on crafts, games, and entertainment and will be located adjacent to the beautiful and historic Botanical Building. 

Information booths are located in the Plaza de PanamaCascades Holiday MarketplaceSpreckels Organ Pavilion Stage, and Palisades Midway and are staffed by cheerful volunteers from the Balboa Park Visitors Center, the City of San Diego Park & Recreation Department,  and the Friends of Balboa Park. 

Santa can be found at: Organ Pavilion (Gingerbread Cottage); Auto Museum; Fleet Science Center; Spanish Village; Civic Dance Arts; Model Railroad Museum;

Also photo ops with The Grinch at The Old Globe, and an Allosaurus in a Santa hat at theNAT!   

2015 Festival Areas

Plaza de Panama

Cascades Holiday Marketplace

Botanical Lawn & Children's Interactive Area, El Prado, Moreton Bay Fig Tree

Palisades Midway

Museums & Cultural Organizations

Spreckels Organ Pavilion Stage