The Best of December Nights in Balboa Park

By Evonne Ermey

You may not have even realized it was happening: Somewhere in a turkyfied, cranberry sauced stupor, Christmas came creeping into your life, your radio, your shopping list.

In San Diego, the holidays are heralded into being by the over-the-top, cultural carousel that is December Nights. The two day event goes from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dec 2, and noon to 11 p.m. on Dec 3.

To guide you through the frenetic pace of this festive event, here are some tips and tip offs on the who’s, what’s and where’s:

Highlights!

Balboa Park museums are free to patrons of December Nights from 5-9 p.m. on both nights. Inside, visitors can find crafts for sale and holiday themed fan fare: At Robert H. Fleet Science Museum you can take a photo with Einstein and have a peek at the Art of the Brick exhibit. At the Classic Car museum you can snap a photo with Santa in a classic whip.

Santa Claus with vintage car (Thinkstock)

Santa Claus with vintage car (Thinkstock)

The Botanical Building will be decked out in glorious red Poinsettias – Imagine the photo opportunities here. #NoFilter

The California Quadrangle will host the Santa Lucia Procession, a Swedish Tradition to honor Saint Lucy, who is said to have brought food and aid to Christians hiding in catacombs. She wore candles on her head to light the way, freeing her hands to carry as much food as possible. If that doesn’t fill you with holiday vibes, what will?

 ( SVEN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

( SVEN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

On both nights, Balboa Park’s Organ Pavillion will be home to the Christmas Story Tree – An opulent nativity scene resplendent with music, lights and diorama put on by Del Cerro Baptist Church.

december nights 385x240 The Best of December Nights in Balboa Park

Did we mention that WE will be there? Stop by our booth near the El Cid Statue for some Energy 103.7 Christmas cheer!

img 1844 The Best of December Nights in Balboa Park

For a full list of activities go to the Balboa Park website.

Eat and Drink

Food, glorious food! Isn’t it what the holidays are really about, putting ourselves into a gingerbread, eggnog, cranberry flavored coma? Pretty much everywhere you turn at December Nights there’s going to be food to accompany the eye candy.

Each of the Balboa Park’s International Cottages will feature food representative of their specific region. Of this spread we are most excited about the Finish Glogg, a traditional mulled wine, which can be found in the Spirits Garden (that’s code for 21 and over.) It’s interesting that only the houses of Finland and Ireland are holding down the 21 and over crowd. We thought for sure Germany would have a boot in that party.

Two glasses of mulled wine (Glogg) photo by Thinkstock

Two glasses of mulled wine (Glogg) photo by Thinkstock

Also, House of the Phillippines is serving up Chicken Adobo and Pancit, You’ll find the house of Poland behind the curtain of sausages, Spain only had to drop the word Paella and they were excused from serving anything else. These are just a few of the tasty nibbles you’ll find around this section of the park, and this fare is good for adventurous eaters of all ages.

Seafood paella (Thinkstock)

Seafood paella (Thinkstock)

The San Diego Art Institute will also be selling roasted chestnuts and coffee. Seriously, what’s more seasonal than that? Be sure to check out the full list of vendors who will be forking up the food all around the park.

Getting there

Keep in mind, thousands of people are likely to visit Balboa Park over the course of this popular weekend, and that means parking challenges up the coo-coo-ca choo.

Here are some better options.

  • Lyft: The smart-thinking December Nights peeps were savy enough to hook you up with a discounted ride to their party. Attendees will enjoy a 20 percent discount off of two rides – that’s there and back. This offer is only applicable to rides to and from Balboa Park, and tops out at $5 per ride. The best part is, you do NOT have to be a new Lyft user to unlock this discount. It’s available to everybody. The code to use is BPDN2016.
  • Shuttle: There are various free shuttles to the park from the outer parking lots. Here’s a map. To catch the last shuttles going TO the park, you need to be at the designated spot by 7 p.m. The last free shuttle to your car leaves the park at  11:45 p.m.
  • Public Transportation: Trolley and Bus are both viable options.
  • Bike, walk, skate or crawl, just don’t you dare try to jump on the 163 southbound between the hours of 5-8 p.m. for any reason whatsoever.
  • If you absolutely have to drive: The San Diego Zoo lot is open for free parking, free disabled parking can be found in the Fleet Science Center Lot and paid parking throughout the park goes from $20-$25.

 

 

 

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