♫ Dashing through the Park, on a Bird Scooter today,
I wonder how museums … celebrate the holidays! ♫

Well, wonder no further! Balboa Park loves the holidays, so December is chock full of wonderful wintry events perfect for guests of all ages. Eager to fill up your calendar this holiday season? Take a scroll!

Food truck with Balboa Park's California Tower in the background.

Upcoming Parkwide Holiday Events:

Holiday Food Truck Festival
Wednesday, December 26th through Sunday, December 30th
Oh no! You missed December Nights this year! Between the holiday shopping and unplanned (yet much needed) nap in the car, you completely forgot to grab the family and head to the Park. Well, don’t worry; there’s no need to break tradition!

For five special days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the Park will be host to a seasonal celebration you can’t miss: the Holiday Food Truck Festival! Stroll into the Park, take in the welcoming smells of sizzling food, and partake in some fun hands-on activities. Looking for a relaxing evening? Sit back and enjoy some lovely live performances! For a full description of the event, check out their website!


Gold adorned ornament hanging from a Christmas tree.

Seasonal Exhibitions Open Now:

Jewels of the Season at Timken Museum of Art
Open November 30th through December 30th
Museum Hours: (Closed Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day)
Tue-Sat: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Sun: Noon – 4:30 pm

Handmade by local artists Florence Hord and Elizabeth Schlappi, each of these bejeweled ornaments is thoughtfully decorated with precious gems, stones, and filigree to reflect the beauty of the holidays. For the month of December, Timken will once again be displaying these popular ornaments – often compared to Faberge eggs – for its second year in the museum’s rotunda. Feel free to pop in to the Timken to enjoy the artfully festive atmosphere these pieces create!


Riding into the Holidays at San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Open December 4th through January 6th
Museum Hours: (Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve)
Tue-Fri: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sat-Sun: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Come visit the Model Railroad Museum this month for a peek at the museum’s seasonal spread. All the festive rail-to-rail decorations are sure to excite any child, adult, or train lover! In addition, the museum is also offering a special exhibit, Riding into the Holidays, which covers the history of toy trains and their journey towards becoming the Christmastime staple we all know and love.


White fox staring at camera in the snow.

Museum Seasonal Events This Week:

Nature & Me Storytime: Winter Animals at The Nat
Thursday, December 13th (10:15 am)

Complete with dynamic reading and interactivity, The Nat offers a featured storytime event every second Thursday of the month covering a variety of nature-loving topics! Recommended for ages 1 through 5, this special storytelling of the season gives little attendees an imaginative and educational journey into the world of winter animals.


Ales N Rails: Ugly Holiday Sweater Party at San Diego Model Railroad Museum
*Additional charge
Friday, December 14th (6:00 pm)

Dig out that hideous reindeer sweater you bought for last year’s office holiday party, grab your ID, and head to Model Railroad Museum’s annual Ales N Rails Ugly Holiday Sweater Party! We’re celebrating the season with local craft beers, an eagle-eyed scavenger hunt, and merrymaking music. Be sure to grab your advance tickets by December 14th!


Polar Express Family Day at San Diego Model Railroad Museum
Saturday, December 15th through Sunday, December 16th (11:00 am – 3:00 pm)

If you’re not too keen on drinks but would love to have the little ones explore Model Railroad Museum’s seasonal display, look no further than Polar Express Family Day! This kid-friendly event will offer a cozy screening of Polar Express, hands-on make-and-take craft-making, and maybe even a surprise visit from a special friend of the museum!


Smiling children celebrating Kwanzaa.

Holiday Events Happening Later in December:

Kwanzaa at WorldBeat Cultural Center
Wednesday, December 26th through Sunday, December 30th (6:00 pm)

No one does Kwanzaa like WorldBeat! As they celebrate five of the seven days of Kwanzaa, WorldBeat will offer daily performances, talks, and engaging activities. Learn about the history of a holiday focused on returning to culture and honoring African roots.


Let There Be Light at History Center
Wednesday, December 26th through Sunday, December 30th (11:00 am – 4:00 pm)

Come join San Diego History Center for a 5-day seasonal celebration commemorating Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yaldā Night, and Christmas. Guests are welcome to participate in keepsake craft-making activities and learn about the holidays that mark the end of our year!


Alternative New Years Ascension at WorldBeat Cultural Center
Monday, December 31st (7:00 pm)

Dance to the beat of your own drum this New Years! Join the community in welcoming 2019 by shaking your hips, grabbing a bite, and enjoying live performances. As we close the door on 2018, the upbeat vibe of this annual celebration encourages you to reflect on the years past and prepare for the next.

Become A Balboa Park Explorer!

Think these wintry events are awesome? You should see what the Park offers through spring, summer, and fall! Snag a Balboa Park Explorer Annual Pass and receive complimentary admission to 16 amazing Balboa Park museums across all four seasons! Still deciding? Be sure to take a peek at the pass’s full list of perks!

What will YOU Explore?

Jayme De la Cruz, Balboa Park Explorer Team Member