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As we prepare for Thanksgiving feasts, visiting family, and cool winter weather, holiday plans are inevitably on our minds. Join in the spirit of the season with family and friends at one of the many events San Diego offers celebrating this festive time of year.
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
Celebrate Christmas with Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, now it its 11th year at the Old Globe Theatre. The spectacular costumes and set transform the stage into snow-covered Who-ville, down to the last can of Who-hash. The show will run November 15 through December 28 and tickets range in price from $19-$79. Bring your family to the November 16 performance and attend the third annual Christmas tree lighting in Old Globe Plaza before the show. (619/23-GLOBE, www.theoldglobe.org)
We may not have Rockefeller Center, but how can you beat ice skating while overlooking the Pacific Ocean? Beginning November 22 and continuing through January 3, the Hotel Del Coronado will transform its oceanfront Windsor Lawn into a spectacular ice rink and offer daily two- and three-hour skating sessions. You can strap on your own skates or rent a pair for $5. A portion of the skating proceeds will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego. For times and prices, please visit the Web site. (800/HOTEL-DEL, www.hoteldel.com)
You can also soak up the downtown holiday atmosphere as you take a spin on the ice at Horton Square, nestled between Horton Plaza and the NBC 7/39 studios. Open November 20 through January 4, Sycuan’s Fantasy on Ice outdoor rink will raise money for the Cancer Care Center at Rady Children’s Hospital. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children for a two-hour session. (www.sdice.com)
As soon as you read the words The Nutcracker, odds are one of the many songs immediately sounds off in your head. Whether you hear the cheerful trumpets that begin the “March” of the Nutcracker or the soft tinkling of the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” this festive score by Tchaikovsky is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Relive the story once again or share the magic with your children for the first time as you enjoy the fantastical tale told with stunning choreography and colorful costumes. As one of the most beloved holiday productions, numerous groups will perform the show throughout Southern California, offering a range of interpretations and show dates.
Fashioned after the original choreography of Russian Lev Ivanov, City Ballet of San Diego’s performance of The Nutcracker will run at Spreckels Theatre for two successive weekends — December 5-7 and 12-14. (858/272-8663, www.cityballet.org)
In production for its 18th year, San Diego Ballet will perform this classic at UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium December 18-21. (619/544-1000, www.sandiegoballet.org)
California Ballet Company will take the stage with the San Diego Symphony at Civic Theatre December 19-23. (858/560-6741, www.californiaballet.org)
Showcasing young ballet artists ages 8-26, Maple Youth Ballet will perform a contemporary version of The Nutcracker at the Northwood Performing Arts Theater December 20-22. (949/660-9930, www.mapleconservatory.com)
Join in the fun at San Diego’s largest Hanukkah event for families at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center. This year’s event takes place on December 14 and features games, craft booths, live music, great food, and more. Kids will have the opportunity to have their photos taken with Cinderella and Batman, and jump in bounce houses — a Sesame Street-themed house for little ones, and a pirate jump for big kids with a matching slide and two-lane obstacle course. (858/457-3030, www.lfjcc.org)
San Diego Bay Parade Of Lights
Cruise down to the San Diego Bay and pick a spot along the Embarcadero for a great view of the 37th Annual Parade of Lights, held this year on December 14 and 21. This festive event boasts over 100 boats covered with lights, holiday displays, special effects, and music to this year’s theme, Rock ‘n’ Roll Around the Bay. Fireworks kick off the show at 5:30pm and the boats make their way around the bay until 9pm. Other great viewpoints include Harbor Island, Coronado Island, and Seaport Village, and the show will last about an hour and a half from the time it reaches your vantage point. (www.sdparadeoflights.org)
Families of all races are invited to attend The WorldBeat Cultural Center’s Kujichagulia, or “self-determination,” celebration honoring African-American heritage on December 27. Festivities at the Balboa Park location will include a Kwanzaa feast, the lighting of candles, a film screening of The Black Candle by M.K. Asante, Jr., speakers on the principles of Kwanzaa, and performances by WorldBeat’s Malika Drum and Dance Troupe. (619/602-9003, www.worldbeatcenter.org)
Holiday Of Lights
Over 400 twinkling displays of lights will greet you at the Holiday of Lights at Del Mar, the largest animated drive-through light show on the West Coast. Drive around the racetrack at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and enjoy the thousands of sparkling lights from the comfort of your car. Themed displays include Candy Cane Lane, Toyland, San Diego County Fair, Del Mar Race Track, the Twelve Days of Christmas, and Elves at Play, all set to festive holiday music. Last year the event drew in over 20,000 vehicles. The show runs from November 27 through January 4 and tickets cost $14 per car for up to five people. (www.sdfair.com)
The Encinitas Holiday Parade set for December 6 will kick off with a tree-lighting ceremony at 5pm in the Lumberyard courtyard on Coast Highway 101. The parade will begin at 5:30pm, heading south along Coast Highway 101 from D Street to J Street. This year’s theme is A Storybook Holiday, celebrating literary works of the holiday season with over 100 impressive parade entries representing favorite holiday stories and characters. (760/633-2740)
Enjoy the 51st annual La Jolla Christmas Parade, which welcomes over 20,000 spectators each year as it makes its way along Girard Avenue and Prospect Street. Over 1,200 people from all over San Diego participate in the parade as members of marching bands, ROTC units, drill teams, dancers, scout troops, float builders, equestrians, car aficionados, politicos, and pranksters. Themed History on Parade, the parade will begin at 2pm on December 7 and will be followed by a Christmas festival at the La Jolla Recreational Center as well as a tree-lighting ceremony at 5pm. (www.ljparade.com)
Speaking of tree lightings, on November 20, Santa arrives at the 27th annual tree lighting ceremony at Town Center Park adjacent to The Westin South Coast Plaza. Beginning at 6pm, the event will include the lighting of over 20,000 lights on the 95-foot tree, entertainment by the Orange County High School of the Arts, and a special gift from Santa’s helpers to all attendees. (714/435-2000, www.southcoastplaza.com)
The California Center for the Arts, Escondido, will host its Fourth Annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Winter Wonderland on December 6 from 5-7pm. The free event has activities for the whole family including real snow to play in, pictures with Santa, carolers and a sing-along, hot cocoa and cookies, holiday shopping at the gift shop, interactive educational activities for kids, and special appearances by the actors from the center’s Yo Ho Ho A Pirates Christmas. (800/988-4253, www.artcenter.org)
Christmas movies are a holiday staple. Only in December can you sing along to your old copy of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer or laugh as Clark Griswald burns down his Christmas tree. This year, some new holiday movies are being added to the vault. When travel plans go awry in Four Christmases (opening November 26), Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn attempt to visit each of their divorced parents and the all-star cast takes them for a wild holiday ride. Another family-focused film, Nothing Like The Holidays, will hit theaters December 12. For families who enjoy going to the movie theater on Christmas Day, Disney’s Bedtime Stories offers up a few new fairytale realms as Adam Sandler becomes part of his niece and nephew’s favorite stories. Marley & Me centers on an adorable but mischievous puppy who has a knack for teaching a newlywed couple (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston) important life lessons. Christmas Day releases also include Frank Miller’s The Spirit and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button starring Brad Pitt. And of course you can always settle in at home with good food and family and enjoy one of the classics. A Christmas Story, anyone? RINA VAN ORDEN