December 16, 2013

December Nights

Now it seems a bit cruel to tell ya'll about an event that's already passed, but it was so Christmasy and grand how could I resist? I promise to pop up some other holiday suggestions at the end, just to ensure no one is deprived of any Christmas cheer. 

The first weekend of December, every year, Balboa Park (one of my favorite spots), hosts December Nights. It is the largest community event in San Diego and host around 350,000 people over two nights. Crazy, I know. You might think that with this extreme amount of people the event might feel overwhelming, but it really doesn't. There's a good dose of Christmas cheer in the air, and everyone is generally pretty happy to be there. I went with a whole gaggle of people, and we trekked our way to the park to join in the festivities. 

There's a whole ton of food booths (kettle corn anyone?). They also offer more exciting things than what one might consider "carnival food". For instance, the each international house located in Balboa Park opens up a booth so you can try foods from around the world, which is pretty dang nifty. And if you were feeling fancy smancy, there's also a 21+ special cocktail center near where one of several musical venues was set up. 

For most, one of the biggest selling points of December Nights is that all the museums in the park (and there are a lot) open their doors for free. So as you wander the park you can wander into (or queue in front of) various museums. Like I said, there are some lines involved, but not for every museum, and they usually go pretty fast, especially if you keep your friends locked in line with you!

Side note: if you want to go to these museums outside of December Nights, and you don't want to pay, check out Free Tuesdays(follow the link for details). 

So you've got your people, you've got your food, you've got some history and culture, what are you missing? Oh yes, Christmas cheer! The whole Christmas-y feel isn't the easiest to muster in sunny San Diego, but if it's dark enough outside, even palm trees are festive when they're strung with lights. Plus with the addition of Christmas lights put on every other available surface, a few good Christmas trees & Santa, you're nearly there! Throw in some Christmas music, and even in San Diego (ignore the 80 degree weather), Christmas can be achieved. 

It's this part, the whole Christmas-spirit-thing, that was my favorite part of the whole event. I just love the lights, the happy faces, the cider, the candy canes, the Christmas carols; I'm basically a sucker for the holidays. 

Pretty magical right? I thought so. Which means, next year, I highly recommend going. It's a pity that it only goes on two nights, but having volunteered at one of the museums the second night, I can tell you that a LOT of work goes into the whole affair. So even two nights is a triumph and I give kudos to all those involved in the set up of the whole shebang. 

However, that does not mean that there aren't other festivities going on that we can't also enjoy. So as promised here's a brief list of things we could all do to enjoy the Christmas cheer: 

(for San Diegans) 

1. Go see How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Old Globe in Balboa Park. 

2. Drive or walk around neighborhoods that traditionally set up Christmas light displays. I found one list here, but a simple google search can find you several. 

3. Go ice skating! San Diego has two outdoor arenas set up for the holidays, one on Coronado and one in the Gaslamp. Take your friends along and laugh your asses off as you all realize you don't actually know how to ice skate (or maybe that's just me). 

4. Tired of Balboa Park yet? I'm not, so why not go see the San Diego Youth Ballet perform The Nutcracker in the Casa del Prado. 

5. The Big Bay Balloon Parade, which to be honest, I don't know much about. From what I've gathered from the internet it seems very Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade-esc, which sounds pretty dandy to me. I will unfortunately be out of town for this one, so on December 30th, at 10:00 am, someone go down to this shin-dig, and let me know how it goes! 

(Southern Californians)

6. Merry Grinchmas at Universal Studious Hollywood. You get to meet the Grinch. Need I say more? I do? also get to meet Max, if you're not sold now, I don't know how I could possibly convince you further. Okay, yes I do, here are some pictures to prove how fun it is. 

Did I mention they make it snow on City Walk? That's pretty novel for Hollywood. 

7. Disneyland, at Christmas time. "The happiest place on earth just go merrier." Basically my own personal dream. No sell necessary, just know that if you go, I will be so very jealous. 

(Northern Californians)

8. Old Town Country Christmas in Auburn, CA on December 21st. 

9. Victorian Christmas in Nevada City, CA on Wednesdays and Sundays until December 22nd. 

10. Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley, CA on December, 20th. 

For all essential purposes, these are all the same event, just in different places. That's not to say they all aren't worth going to. You go and walk around the streets of your favorite little towns, pop into some shops, the roads are lined with booths, you can pick up some last minute Christmas gifts, or maybe just get a cup of cider. You'll run in to at least ten people you know, all very lovely and Christmasy. 

11. Go to the snow. Truckee, Tahoe, Squaw etc, etc. Drive north, you'll find some eventually. 

(All Christmas lovers)

12. Go to the store, buy some cookie dough, hot chocolate, candy canes, and some nog. Invite your friends over to watch your favorite Christmas movies on the couch and get fat off the Christmas cheer. 

So that's my list, if you have any additions, just leave a comment. I apologize for not spanning the whole state, or anywhere outside California, but I'm just one girl and I've got finals, what can be expected of me really? I hope everyone is enjoying all their Christmas activities and drinking plenty of nog. Let me know what ya'll end up doing for some cheer!

Yours, Kenna 

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