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Balboa Park's December Nights 2012

The largest free community festival is a San Diego holiday tradition

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Balboa Park's December Nights 2012

December Nights Organ Pavilion

Granted, San Diego has a lot going for it. But when it comes to the holiday season, there is one thing our fair city lacks: snow. So living in the land of perfect climate does make it a bit of a stretch when we sing "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" while wearing our requisite shorts and sandals. And although building a sandman isn't quite as enchanting as having your own Frosty the Snowman in your front yard, San Diego gets into the holiday spirit as well as any snowbound town -- minus the wind-chill factor, of course!

Traditionally, the holiday season kicks off with a grand celebration in Balboa Park. Balboa Park December Nights is a two-day gift to the community that brings out the holiday spirit in all, this year taking place December 7 and 8, 2012.

It's hard to believe only a few years ago, this event was on the verge of being canceled. This year marks the 35th anniversary of this must-attend family event, and once again features expanded hours: Friday, Dec. 7, 5 to 10 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 8, noon to 10 p.m. In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5 to 9 p.m. both evenings.

The beloved San Diego event features sparkling lights, theatrical and musical entertainment, and exotic Food/Spirits throughout the Park. The largest free community festival in San Diego, December Nights is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors over two days.

Entertainment, wonderful food and holiday cheer are all part of this classic and elaborate San Diego celebration. Long-standing traditions—including 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—fill the heart of Balboa Park.

December Nights Activities

: Christmas on the Prado
Politcally correct or not, this is what most San Diegans still refer the event as, and it is why they come in droves. The long-standing traditions of Christmas on the Prado-including food from around the globe at the International Christmas Festival at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages; the Santa Lucia procession at the 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-fill the heart of Balboa Park.

Food & Spirits: Here is a sampling of offerings:
California Quadrangle:
SWEA serves traditional Swedish meatballs, home baked Swedish cookies, bread, cakes, hot chocolate and the traditional Swedish Christmas drink, Glögg.

Civic Dance Arts:
Pasta, salad, hot and cold beverages, gingerbread cookies and candy.

Community Christmas Committee:
Gingerbread and sugar cookies along with hot and cold beverages are for sale in the Gingerbread House.

GRO Cafe:
Delicious options for healthy appetites. Limited menu during Balboa Park December Nights includes drinks (no smoothies) and Grab & GRO items from the deli case (no made to order items).

House of Pacific Relations International Cottages:
The annual International Christmas Festival at the Cottages features cultural performances, food, drink and festivities to celebrate the season from around the world. Hours: Friday, 5:00-10:00pm; Saturday Noon-10:00pm.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion Stage
Balboa Park December Night’s main stage features performances by groups from around San Diego. Highlights include House of Scotland Pipe Band, San Diego Chorus of Sweet Adelines, and of course the Del Cerro Baptist Church Christmas Story Tree.

Museums & Cultural Organizations
In the spirit of the holidays, participating Balboa Park museums open their doors free of charge from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. both evenings. Also enjoy musical and dance presentations from the San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, and San Diego Civic Dance; floral displays by the San Diego Floral Association and members; music and docent tours at The Old Globe; and puppet shows at Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre.

Plaza De Panama
Beautiful displays will light the gorgeous Spanish Revival architecture in the Plaza de Panama’s expanded entertainment area–where the Cohn Restaurant Group and The Prado at Balboa Park are pleased to partner with Balboa Park December Nights as sponsors and operators of the 2010 December Nights Holiday Spirit Lounge. The Spirit Lounge will offer food stations as well alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Chances are pretty good that there won't be a single snowflake falling upon those at Balboa Park December Nights, but chances are even better that you'll certainly be in the holiday spirit when it's over. And there might even be enough chill in the air to throw on those little used ski cap, muffler and mittens.

2012 December Nights Event Info:
Friday, December 7, 5 to 10 p.m.
Saturday, December 8, noon to 10 p.m.
Balboa Park Admission is FREE

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