You don’t have to do anything this holiday season. Despite what the song says, you don’t have to deck the halls, join the chorus, or don any sort of gay apparel. You don’t have to honor old traditions or forge new ones, or feast your eyes, or thrill your ears, or tickle your taste buds, or any of it. You don’t have to do a single thing; you can just go about your business and let the time go by until it’s all over and every day is just like the next and the next one after that. Or you can get out there and make some meaning, make some memories, and above all, make some merry. From classy to kitschy, from spiritual to sensible, from parades to parties — opportunities abound to close out the year in happy holiday fashion.
Summer tourists who flock to the amusement resort that plastic bricks built may enjoy warmer weather and its adjacent water park, but they miss out on one of the best times of the year to visit. The festive spirit returns this season with a newly constructed Lego Holiday Village, housing the park’s annual holiday programming, highlighted by appearances of Lego Santa Claus, and the 30-foot tall “world’s largest Lego Christmas tree.” Admission to the park through December includes musical light shows and special treats, including peppermint crepes and milkshakes. Perhaps the best part is a seasonal discount: choose your day in advance and reserve special holiday tickets for $75, a bargain compared to the usual $98-and-up pricing.
First of the California missions, founded in 1769, San Diego’s namesake celebrates 250 years in 2019. An annual tradition for over 40 years, the mission’s Christmas Candlelight Meditation fills the winter night with warm light. Scripture readings and live musical accompaniment in the historic church followed by reception in La Sala. Friday December 15 and Saturday December 16, 7:30 pm.
The Nativity Scene comes to life with “O Wondrous Night,” a light-hearted musical show featuring over 30 Christmas carols and live animals (including camels) to help tell the story of Christmas. The entire park will be decked out in sparkling lights. Here you can visit Santa’s Christmas Village and meet not only the big guy from the North Pole but also Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Catch story time with Mrs. Claus, and stop by Dolphin Island for a special tropical Christmas performance. Before heading home, be sure to walk by the Christmas tree that can be seen from miles away, 400 feet tall and festooned with lights from top to bottom.
For a slightly more theatrical performance of holiday music, head over to Coronado’s premier playhouse, where the Lamb’s Players present a musical “tradition that’s different every year!” This season’s show, dubbed Reaching for the Stars, is written and directed by Lamb’s resident Kerry Meads. It promises fresh, modern arrangements of traditional Christmas carols, interwoven though a narrative establishing Father Christmas as resident of a hip, urban neighborhood. The roughly two-hour play and sing-along, deemed appropriate for all ages, runs through December, including matinees on weekends and a 4 pm performance on Christmas Eve. Tickets start at $24 for weeknight shows, and range up to $78 for prime seating, with discounts available for youth, seniors, veterans, and active military.
The only thing that could make thousands of sparkling lights more spectacular is seeing their glittering splendor reflected in the Bay. Have a glass of your own sparkles (champagne) and be transported, literally, for a close-up view of the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights from your front row seat on the water. Choose from the Spectator Cruise (a narrated night tour of the harbor and this year’s boats, decorated in a tropical island theme) or the Dinner Cruise, which also includes a three-course meal and live entertainment, as if gazing upon the colorful luster from all those tall masts isn’t entertaining enough.
Tradition says that Christmas Circle Community Park in downtown Borrego Springs was named to honor the birth of Salvador Ignacio Linares on Christmas Eve 1775. Child of a Native American father and an Española mother, Salvador was born during a Spanish settlement expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza. The trek, from Sonora to Monterey, took the homesteaders through the winter wilderness. On a frigid and foggy Noche Buena, Salvador’s mother María went into labor in the saddle. They stopped for the night in what is now Borrego Springs, where she had a healthy Christmas nativity. Pack a picnic and get literal with a visit during the Christmas season — when Borrego Springs is an oasis of calm.
Santa ditches the sleigh for a luxury catamaran. Cruise around Oceanside Harbor for 20 minutes of sparkling views, spirit-lifting crisp ocean spray, and just enough Santa to satiate the kids and snap some photos. Oceanside Adventures offers this very affordable activity as a fundraiser for Friends of Oceanside Parks. Saturday, December 8, 11 am - 3 pm. $3 per person, kids 2 and under free. No reservations required. Bonus: free parking through the blue tunnel near Joe’s Crab Shack. Make a day of it and visit New England-style Harbor Village for lunch or treats al fresco. Look for the letters that spell “Oceanside” along the east side of the harbor mouth.
Birch Aquarium celebrates the “SEAson” for the entire month of December with holiday-themed crafts, activities, live music, and even a scuba-diving Santa. Even the jellyfish seem to swim among snowflakes, thanks to the winter-themed decor throughout the space. There will be themed animal encounters, a scavenger hunt, and unique photo opportunities. At Holiday Night Lights, you’ll get to see underwater creatures that glow in the dark, such as bioluminescent sharks. Members who go early enough in the season (Through December 8) get 20 percent off of ocean-themed holiday decor and more at the gift shop.