The Ultimate Guide to Holiday Events via MTS

Christmas trees at the beach

Photo by Karen Laårk Boshoff

The holidays are here again in San Diego! With so many events happening this season, let MTS be the easy way to celebrate the holidays. With our Park & Ride stations, you can avoid the hassle of trying to find parking at busy malls and can avoid sitting in traffic. With PRONTO, you'll never pay more than $6 in a day to help you save on gas. Youth ride for free with the YOP pass as well. Check out a few of the celebrations happening around town below.

Ice Rink at Liberty Station
Now through January 8, 2023
Cost: $20 for adults, $15 for children, Rady Children's Staff or military; includes rentals

For 25 years the Rady Children's Ice Rink at Liberty Station has been operating to raise money for kids with cancer. Net proceeds from the ice rink directly support the Thriving After Cancer program at the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego. Get to Liberty Station via Route 28.

Ice Skating by the Sea in Coronado, CA
Ice Skating in Coronado | Photo by virgomerry

Skating by the Sea
Now through January 1, 2023
Cost: $40, includes rentals

How often do you get the opportunity to ice skate and be by the ocean? At the Hotel del Coronado, it's possible! Visit the Hotel del Coronado this season for some fun skating by the sea. Enjoy the salty sea air as you glide across the ice. Ice skating is available now through January 1, 2023. Park elsewhere in Coronado and avoid high parking fees at the hotel by hopping on Route 901 or Route 904 to Orange Ave & Adella Ave.

Holiday Market at Petco Park
December 1 - December 23 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Excludes December 5, 6, 7, 12, and 13

The Holiday Market returns for its third year at Petco Park. Petco Park is turned into a winter wonderland filled with lights, holiday shopping, delicious eats, light displays, and the occasional “snowfall” as you walk around Gallagher Square. It's an 18-night festival that is fun for the whole family. Check out our Petco Park page for details on how to easily get downtown for the market.

December Nights in Balboa Park
December Nights in Balboa Park | Photo by kellinahandbasket

December Nights
December 2 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
December 3 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

December Nights is back in full force this year! This free holiday festival takes place in Balboa Park with lights, entertainment, shopping, and plenty of food to sample. The International Cottages are known for opening their doors with food representing their different countries. Parking is limited and always tough with the crowds so take advantage of our Park & Ride lots and use the Trolley or bus to get you to the event. You can take the UC San Diego Blue Line or Orange Line to 5th Avenue station and transfer to Route 3 or 120 to Laurel Street. Use the MTS Trip Planner for directions and remember that each person in your party will need their own PRONTO card or app to tap or scan before boarding.

La Mesa Holiday Village
December 3 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Over in La Mesa, they will host the 7th Annual La Mesa Holiday Village filled with craft vendors, food, holiday photo opportunities, live music, and cozy fires to bundle up next to with your loved ones. Carolers will be singing holiday songs as you stroll through the village. With limited parking in La Mesa, your best bet is to use one of our Park & Ride lots and then hop on the Trolley to the event! Use the MTS Trip Planner for directions and then get off at Spring Street Station in La Mesa to enjoy the event. Route 1 and 852 are alternative routes to take.

La Jolla Christmas Parade
December 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The La Jolla Christmas Parade will feature a variety of entertainment including floats, bands, equestrians, vintage vehicles, dog units, and different marshals representing community leaders, schools, and community service organizations. The parade starts at 1:00 p.m. In addition to the parade, there is a Holiday Festival called Santa's Village which starts at 11:30 a.m. It features Santa visits for children, arts and crafts, games, music, and face painting. Get to the parade with MTS - take Route 30 or 140 to get to La Jolla.
Chula Vista Starlight Nights
December 4 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Chula Vista Starlight Nights is a family-friendly event to kick off the holiday season! To celebrate the season, there will be Santa's Holiday Train, holiday shopping, live music, plus a visit from Santa for the kids. A tree lighting ceremony will take place at 5:45 p.m. on the plaza at the northwest corner of Memorial Park. The UC San Diego Blue Trolley can get you to Chula Vista off E Street or H Street. Routes 701, 704, 705, 709, or 929 all stop near Third Avenue in Chula Vista. Use our Trip Planner for exact directions and times.

Jungle Bells
December 9, 2022 through January 1, 2023

The San Diego Zoo celebrates the holidays in style. All creatures big and small will be there to welcome guests to a land full of holiday cheer. The zoo will be decked out with lights and decor, roaming entertainers, storytellers, special food items, and their end-of-the-evening event, Aurora, filled with lights, sounds, 3D video images, and live performances. Take Rapid 215 or Route 7 and avoid the long lines of traffic around Balboa Park. Use the MTS Trip Planner for specific directions from your location.

San Diego Parade of Lights
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights | Photo by Port of San Diego

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights
December 11 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
December 18 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights celebrates its 52nd year with the theme “FantaSEA on the Bay”. Boats are decorated and lit up to dazzle spectators as the boats float by. The parade route starts at Shelter Island, goes past the Pier at Cesar Chavez Park, and turns up to Ferry Landing on Coronado.

There are a number of viewing locations accessible via the Trolley:

  1. Santa Fe Depot (Green Line, UC San Diego Blue Line)
  2. Seaport Village (Green Line)
  3. Gaslamp Quarter (Green Line)
  4. Convention Center (Green Line)
  5. 12th & Imperial (All 3 Trolley Lines)
  6. Barrio Logan (UC San Diego Blue Line)

You can also access Harbor Island via Route 923.

Holiday Bowl
December 28, 2022 at 5 p.m.

The San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl will take place at Petco Park on Wednesday, December 28, 2022. Come see the ballpark transformed into a football stadium for this special event where capacity will increase to nearly 50,000 people. After the game, stick around for the 101.5 KGB Sky Show! With all of those folks at the stadium, you'll want to Park & Ride to get to the game this winter. MTS is the easy way to Petco Park with all three lines arriving at 12th & Imperial Transit Center, a short walk from the stadium.

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