This holiday season, share your love for Balboa Park with your family and friends or treat yourself to a visit all on your own. Don’t miss the chance to catch these events full of joy, see old favorite exhibits and discover new ones in Balboa Park.


Annual Holiday Food Truck Festival

The annual Holiday Food Truck Festival is returning to Balboa Park from noon to 7 p.m. Dec. 26th to 30th! Celebrate the holidays with visiting family and friends under Balboa Park’s dazzling holiday light display. For five days and evenings between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the annual Holiday Food Truck Festival serves up gourmet food from over a dozen of San Diego’s top food trucks. There will be free live entertainment and tons of fun activities “yule” love! Enjoy a rotation of games and activities on the Plaza.

Food trucks open for business at 12 noon each day, with the first set of live performances beginning shortly thereafter. From 4 pm to 7 pm, a different musical group performs in the Plaza de Panama. This year’s featured evening bands are Carmen Murray and John Murray Jazz Trio (12/26), Finnegan Blue (12/27), Theo and Zydeco Patrol (12/28), Sue Palmer (12/29), and the Bayou Brothers (12/30).

The Holiday Food Truck Festival is also a great time to visit Balboa Park’s many cultural attractions. The adjacent San Diego Museum of Art is keeping its doors open until 7:00 pm on December 26th and 28–30, and until 8:00 pm on December 27th with special $5 admission, 5 pm–8 pm (Friday only). The Fleet Science Center and its Craveology café hours are 10 am to 6 pm during the festival (until 9 pm on December 28th–29th).

For an entertainment schedule, list of food trucks, and more, visit:

The Old Globe
Holiday Programming

The Old Globe is presenting its 22nd annual production of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in matinee and evening shows now through Sunday, December 29th.  Back for its 22nd incredible year, the family favorite features the songs “This Time of Year,” “Santa for a Day,” “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” and “Fah Who Doraze,” the delightful carol from the popular animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Celebrate the holidays as the Old Globe Theatre is once again transformed into snow-covered Whoville, right down to the last can of Who-hash. Tickets start at $29 for adults and $19 for children (17 years and under). Purchase at, 619-234-5623 or at the box office.

Additionally, The Old Globe is presenting a new holiday show, “Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big San Diego Christmas Show” in matinee and evening performances now through Sunday, December 29th. This new show is a fast, funny, and highly theatrical reimagining of one of the most beloved holiday stories ever told. All the traditional elements of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol are intact—including the iconic ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future—but with a comic local twist! Audiences of all ages will cheer Ebenezer Scrooge’s rediscovery of the Christmas spirit in this riotous Dickens mash-up filled with music and laughter—all set in “wintery” San Diego! Tickets start at $39 at, 619-234-5623 or the box office.


San Diego Civic Youth Ballet
The Nutcracker

Take an extraordinary journey to the magical Land of the Sweets with Clara and her Nutcracker Prince at the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Witness an epic battle between toy soldiers and mice before being whisked away to an enchanting land of falling snow, waltzing flowers, and the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy! Directed by Artistic Director Danika Pramik-Holdaway and set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, this classic holiday production is a beloved San Diego family tradition presented at the iconic Casa del Prado Theater. Now through December 22nd. Tickets start at $15 at, 619-233-3060 or at the box office.



Timken Museum of Art
Jewels of the Season

The Timken Museum of Art’s annual “Jewels of the Season” installation showcases the dazzling, gem-encrusted ornaments designed by San Diego artists Florence Hord and Elizabeth Schlappi. The installation also features model trains from the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. The “Jewels of the Season” show runs through December 31st.


San Diego Zoo
Jungle Bells

‘Tis the Season to celebrate—visit the San Diego Zoo for holiday cheer! Now through January 5th, 2020, the Zoo will stay open late and deck its halls with hundreds of bulbs dazzling in the night! Enjoy musical performances, entertainers, and animal encounters. Plus! Experience “Aurora” at the end of the evening— an exciting visual and sound experience that weaves 3-D projections, music, and light into a spectacular performance.


WorldBeat Center
Kwanzaa Celebration

WorldBeat Cultural Center will be celebrating its 39th Annual Celebration with 5 of the 7 days of Kwanzaa. Enjoy a night filled with poetry, ceremonial candle lighting, live drumming and a feast of vegetarian soul food. The Kwanzaa celebration is a free family-friendly event and runs from Dec. 26th through Dec. 30th.

This year, December 26th marks the 51st anniversary of the Kwanzaa holiday (1966-2016) created by Dr. Maulana Karenga to celebrate and reaffirm family, community, and culture.

San Diego Art Institute

Wonderspaces VR Showcase offers visitors a one of a kind opportunity to experience four extraordinary virtual reality short films – previously seen at festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, and SXSW – during the course of a one-hour visit. The exhibit will run Monday-Friday 4 pm-10 pm and Saturday & Sunday 10 am-10 pm through December 30th. Information and ticket purchases:

Balboa Park Carousel

This 1910, all-original Herschell-Spillman carousel has been delighting generations of San Diegans and visitors since its permanent arrival in Balboa Park in 1922. Experience the joy and fun of a ride on the Balboa Park Carousel — the carousel will be open now through January 5, from 11:30 am to 5 pm! Stop by for a holiday-decorated ride! Tickets are $3 per ride.


Many museums will have limited hours on Christmas Eve and/or be closed on Christmas Day. Click here for a list of museum hours. 


May your holiday be filled with lots of happiness, peace, and love!

Wishing you a warm Happy New Year! We hope it’s your best year ever.

By Zia Sinclair Hance | Content Coordinator | Balboa Park Explorer | December