Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas in San Diego

"Life is mostly froth and bubble.
Two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another's trouble,
And courage in your own."

          These words written by Adam Lindsay Gordon closed the last entry on The Spinster Aunt's blog.  I am currently enjoying a large helping of trouble.  We all have them every day, and they all run on a different cycle.  Occasionally it seems like every problem you can experience all arrive at once.  This is when people, pushed to the limit of endurance, give up and move onto the street, into a bottle, or even take their own lives because they feel that they can't cope anymore, and nobody cares.  That's never been me.  I cope.  I solve.  I overcome.  But I considered letting this blog go for a week or two because I didn't want my problems to leak into it and bring my readers down for no good reason.  Inspired by The Spinster Aunt, who has no easy road herself, I am back here, on schedule, to post.  I make note that I have troubles, so if anything creeps into it, you won't be in the dark, and I persevere; perseverance is a highly underrated virtue.  I will make this post a "laundry list" that you may find useful, doesn't require much in the way of my personality to be engaged, and I'm sure that by next week, all this will be behind me, if I mention it at all.  So, here we go...
          Now, anybody who has taken a casual glance at my profile knows that I live in El Cajon, which is a satellite city near San Diego, California.  It's a charming combination of two opposite worlds.  Here in El Cajon, we have feed stores, hitching rails in front of some of the shops, and a Mother Goose Parade down Main Street every Thanksgiving, a Main Street much of which is lined with storefronts dating back to and before the 1950s.  A quick flight down a smooth freeway takes us into San Diego, 7th-largest city in the United States, home to every personal service and shopping experience anyone could ask for, and a tourist mecca for the world.  Which brings me to the subject of this week's post.
          I don't feel a lot of pressure to travel (a good thing, given the state of my finances!); the world travels to my home to see the Zoo, Sea World, LegoLand, our world-class Maritime Museum, the Hotel Del, the Gaslamp District, the beaches, ComicCon, well, I could fill the post with a list of attractions.  But that isn't my point today.  If you want articles about the mega-attractions, they can be had for a quick Google search of tourist spots.  No, I'm here to provide a different service.
          Maybe you're an expatriate looking for a little nostalgia; maybe you're coming in to visit friends or family; maybe you've been recently assigned to our huge military community here, and are looking for things to do this Holiday Season.  Whatever your interest, I have pulled together all the attractions on "the road less traveled" to provide you with a calendar of Holiday events here in one of the world's great destination cities.  Whether you're coming, or you're already here, hopefully this will help you find some little jewel of an activity that would have slid by unnoticed otherwise.  In chronological order, then:


28 Nov - 18 Dec:  "Miracle on 34th Street."  Stage adaptation of the beloved 1947 movie presented by CAST Productions in the Mission Theatre in Fallbrook.

28 Nov - 31 Dec:  "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  Dr. Seuss classic presented live on stage at Balboa Park's world-famous Old Globe Theater.

28 Nov - 31 Dec:  "It's a Wonderful Life."  The classic Jimmy Stewart movie presented live on stage at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town.  Cygnet has stated that this will be their final production of this holiday favorite, so don't miss it!

28 Nov - 31 Dec:  "Jingle Bell Rock."  House ensemble, the Alley Cats, perform music and comedy at the Welk Resorts Theatre in Escondido.

28 Nov - 1 Jan:  Holiday of Lights at Del Mar Fairgrounds.  The largest drive-through light show on the west coast, featuring lively animated Holiday displays.  For an extra treat, take the Holiday Hayride.  Admission $14 for up to five people in a car.

28 Nov - 1 Jan:  Skating by the Sea.  For ice skating by the ocean, the Hotel del Coronado has turned the Windsor Lawn into a seaside rink.  A portion of all ticket sales will be donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation's San Diego Chapter.  Admission is $25 for three hours, $20 for children under 10.  Prices include skate rentals.

28 Nov - 18 Jan:  Sycuan's Fantasy on Ice.  Located in Horton Plaza downtown, this is an outdoor ice skating rink that is open (with admission) to the public.  Families are the majority during the day; things become more adult-oriented in the evenings, with faster music and skating.  A tree lighting ceremony is planned for 7:30 PM on the 30th.  Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for children under 12.

30 Nov:  Holiday Festival at Hotel del Coronado.  The world-famous resort lights its 100,000 twinkling white lights tonight.  Children can visit with Santa and his elves, play games, and win prizes while mom & dad sip festive drinks and watch the fireworks show.

30 Nov, 8:00 PM:  KPRI Holiday Soiree with Fitz & the Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne, and more.  Blue-eyed soul at the Balboa Theatre downtown.  $42-100.

1-2 Dec, 3:00 PM:  Celtic Woman, A Christmas Celebration.  This all female Irish quartet, a true world-class act, graces the Pechanga Theater in Temecula with their magnificent Christmas show.  $65-95.

1-30 Dec:  "An American Christmas."  This combination stage play and dinner features audience participation in a 1911-style feast.

1 - 30 Dec: "Festival of Christmas."  Long-running presentation by the Lamb's Players, this thought-provoking tale is presented live on stage at the Lamb's Players Theater in Coronado.

2 Dec, 6:00 PM:  Lemon Grove Community Bonfire.  Free event.

2 Dec, 7:30 PM:  Greater San Diego Community Orchestra performs Messiah Sing-Along!  With lots of audience participation, the collective effort is conducted by Angela Yeung.

2 - 3 Dec:  San Diego Academy of Ballet presents The Nutcracker.  Poway Center for the Performing Arts.

2 - 3 Dec: December Nights at Balboa Park. The iconic Balboa Park becomes even more beautiful when adorned with thousands of holiday lights.  Expected to draw more than 30,000 visitors in this, its 34th year, this event is completely free, and includes music, dance, museum shopping, and cuisine from all over the world.  5-10 PM on the 2nd, and Noon-10 PM on the third.  Parking available throughout the park.  Just pick a spot, and enjoy!

2 - 18 Dec:  "Santa Claus vs. the Martians."  Comedic stage production based on the 1964 cult movie about aliens attacking the North Pole.  La Jolla YMCA Firehouse Theatre, La Jolla.

3 Dec: Encinitas Holiday Parade.  Featuring more than 100 floats, this year's grand marshal is Don Hansen, founder of Hansen's Surfboards, an iconic Southern California business if ever there was one.  Sunset tree-lighting ceremony following the parade.

3 Dec, 10:00 AM:  Starlight Parade.  Third Avenue Village, Chula Vista.  No info on this, including how you're going to see stars at 10:00 AM, but best of luck!

3 Dec, 3:00 PM:  Celtic Woman, A Christmas Celebration.  This all-female Irish quartet, a true world-class act, graces the Pechanga Theater in Temecula with their magnificent Christmas show.  $65-95.

3 - 4 Dec:  La Jolla Symphony & Chorus presents Les Noces.  Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD.

3 - 4 Dec:  San Diego Ballet presents The Nutcracker.  Birch North Park Theatre (with the Grossmont Symphony).

4 Dec, 10:00 AM:  Carmel Mountain Ranch Holiday Festival.  On Carmel Mountain Ranch Road between Highland Ranch Road and Stoney Peak Road.  Sounds country.

4 Dec, 12:30 PM: Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl-iday in Pacific Beach.  Don your ugliest sweater and report to the Typhoon Saloon in Pacific Beach for a six-bar crawl featuring prizes, giveaways, and drink specials.  I might not list a drinking party here, but the proceeds benefit AJ's Kids and Rady Children's Hospital.

4 Dec, 2:00 PM:  Fourth Annual Kringle Mingle.  Cardiff Town Center.

4 Dec, 2:00 PM, La Jolla Christmas Parade & Holiday Festival.  Parade takes place along Girard Avenue beginning at 3:30; antique aircraft make a flyover at 2:00.  Features food, music, photos with Santa, and a ceremonial tree lighting.

4 Dec, 2-5 PM: Holiday Wonderland in Del Mar Village.  An old-fashioned Christmas card comes to life with carriage rides, arts & crafts, a cakewalk, face painting, and visits from Santa, complete with fresh snow.  Sunset tree-lighting ceremony at 5:00 PM.

4 Dec, 2:30 PM:  Greater San Diego Community Orchestra performs Messiah Sing-Along!  Audience participation goes without saying.

4 Dec, 5:00 PM:  11th Annual Holiday Party.  Del Mar Art Center.

4 - 13 Dec:  "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful - Black Nativity, the Musical."  This longtime favorite is presented by the Common Ground Theatre at the Educational Cultural Complex in Mountain View.  This is the story of the birth of Christ told in gospel, hip-hop, and more.

6 Dec, 7:30 PM: Mannheim Steamroller.  America's best-selling Christmas music group appears at the San Diego Civic Theatre downtown.  $32.50-89.50.

7 Dec, 9:00 AM:  Have Yourself a Punny Little Christmas, with Richard Lederer.  Noted humorist and master of the English Language hosts this show whose name is self-explanatory.  Joslyn Senior Center, Escondido.  $10, and having heard this speaker, I'm betting well worth it!

7 - 18 Dec:  San Diego Civic Youth Ballet presents The Nutcracker.  Casa del Prado Theater, Balboa Park.

8 Dec, 7:30 PM:  Cristina Fontanelli performs Christmas in Italy.  Accompanied by a student choir and a small ensemble, the soprano performs songs and arias by Donizetti, Tosti, and Puccini,

8 Dec, 7:30 PM:  Orchestra Nova performs Masterpiece Messiah.  Rancho Bernardo Presbyterian Church.

8 - 18 Dec:  "Mistletoe, Music and Mayhem!"  Holiday comedy presented live on stage by the North Coast Repertory Theatre, Solana Beach.

8 - 18 Dec:  "The Messiah: A Musical Drama."  Musical stage production about the life of Jesus.  Community Actors Theatre, Oak Park.

9 Dec, 7:30 PM:  Orchestra Nova performs Masterpiece Messiah.  St. James by the Sea Episcopal Church, La Jolla.

9 Dec, 8:00 PM:  Carols by Candlelight.  Clay Walker, Juice Newton and friends perform the country's oldest country music-themed Holiday show.  This benefit concert for Rady Children's Hospital takes place at the California Center for the Arts.  $40-60.

9 Dec, 8:00 PM:  Dave Koz & Friends present Smooth Jazz Christmas.  Show is at the Pechanga Theatre in Temecula this year.  $50-65.  I have seen this show, and it rates the Hideout Seal of Approval!

9 - 11 Dec:  Scripps Ranch Performing Arts Academy presents The Nutcracker.  Scripps Ranch High School Theater.

9 - 18 Dec:  "A Child's Christmas in Wales."  Stage production based on Dylan Thomas' Chistmas story.  Point Loma Actors Theatre, Point Loma.

9 - 21 Dec:  City Ballet of San Diego presents The Nutcracker.  Spreckels Theatre.

9 - 22 Dec:  "Traditions of Christmas: A Musical Spectacular."  The Christian Youth Theatre of Lincoln Park offers a cast of 100 plus a 25 piece orchestra in a dance-filled visit to holiday songs and stories.

10 Dec, 7:30 PM: Orchestra Nova performs Masterpiece Messiah. Solana Beach Presbyterian Church.

10 Dec, 8:00 PM: Carols by Candlelight. Clay Walker, Juice Newton and friends perform the country's oldest country music-themed Holiday show. This benefit concert for Rady Children's Hospital takes place at the California Center for the Arts. $40-60.

10 - 24 Dec:  "The Santaland Diaries."  One man show featuring Daren Scott as the wisecracking department store elf, Crumpet.  Written by David Sedaris, the show is presented by the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad.  If you like your Christmas plays of the spitting-egg-nog-through-your-nose variety, this is your show!

11 Dec. 1:00 PM: Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade. Dress up your doggie and show off in style! This San Diego favorite starts at the corner of 4th & K, and features prizes for the best costumes as well as a pet expo and talent show. Check-in begins at 1:00, and the parade steps off at 3:00.

11 Dec, 1-5 PM:  Holiday Themed Ice Show.  The Broadway-inspired Ice and Lights Holiday Show will be presented at the Iceoplex in Escondido.  No info on ticket prices at the time of this writing, but the show is presented by students and members of the many programs they offer throughout the year.

11 Dec, 4:00 PM:  Orchestra Nova performs Nova Pops! Holiday Spectacular.  California Center for the Arts, Escondido.

11 Dec, 5:30-9:00 PM: San Diego Bay Parade of Lights.  Back for its 40th year, this annual tradition combines the Winter Holidays with San Diego's love of boating.  The attraction consists of a parade of private boats and yachts decorated with thousands of Christmas lights while fireworks fill the sky.  Best viewing areas are the Embarcadero, and the Coronado Ferry Landing.  Just park and watch.

11 Dec, 8:00 PM:  The Blind Boys of Alabama Christmas Show.  One of the nation's most celebrated gospel groups teams with San Diego's Grammy winning Sara and Sean Watkins at the Belly Up tavern in Solana Beach.  $30-32.

12 Dec, 7:00 PM:  The Westwind Brass, a fun-loving quintet, will perform a holiday program promising "memories, mirth, and good feelings."

13 Dec, 8:00 PM:  San Diego Early Music Society performs "To Drive Cold Winter Away."  St. James by the Sea Episcopal Church, La Jolla.

14 Dec, 6:00 PM: So You Wish You Could Skate at Hotel del Coronado.  Local celebrities perform for the judges to benefit Make-a-Wish San Diego.  Some of these folks, like DiscoverSD's Michelle Guerin and Nadav Wilf, are rumored to be pretty talented.  Come on out and see for yourself, as this promises to be a rollicking good time for a very good cause.

15 Dec, 8:00 PM: Venice Christmas Show.  No details available, but a catchy name will appear at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.  $17-19.

15 - 24 Dec:  "La Pastorela de Valor."  At 21 years, this bilingual production is San Diego's longest running theatrical tradition.  This production contemporizes the biblical story of three shepards who encounter temptation and redemption on the road to Bethlehem.  Performed by Teatro Mascara Magica, the play is presented in the wonderful Lyceum Theatre downtown.  (619) 544-1000.

16 Dec, 7:30 PM:  "An Irish Christmas."  Performers gather at the Balboa Theatre downtown to present stories of Christmas with a bit of a brogue.  A preshow concert will be offered on the theater's historic Wonder Morton organ.

16 Dec, 7:30 PM:  Bach Collegium San Diego performs Gaudete! Motets and Carols, Old and New.  St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

16 Dec, 8:00 PM:  San Diego Symphony performs Holiday

17 Dec, 2:00 PM:  San Diego Symphony performs Holiday

17 Dec, 7 and 9:30 PM:  Jingle Bell Rock Tour.  Eddie Money, Lou Gramm, and Mickey Thomas rock the Sycuan Showcase Theater in El Cajon.  $45-55.

17 Dec, 7:30 PM:  Bach Collegium San Diego performs Gaudete! Motets and Carols, Old and New.  St. Andrews by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

17 Dec, 7:30 PM:  12th Hawaiian Christmas Show.  The Makaha Sons appear at the Birch North Park Theatre in North Park.  $45-75.

17 Dec, 8:00 PM:  Gary Ho Ho Hoey Holiday Show.  House of Blues, downtown.  $20-37.50.

17 - 18 Dec:  Ballet Arte presents The Nutcracker.  Jewish Community Center.

17 - 18 Dec:  San Diego Ballet presents The Nutcracker.  Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD.

17 - 18 Dec:  West Coast Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker.  California Center for the Arts, Escondido.

17 - 23 Dec:  The California Ballet Company presents The Nutcracker.  San Diego Civic Theatre.

18 Dec, 2:00 PM:  San Diego Symphony performs Family Festival.  Copley Symphony Hall.

18 Dec, 5:30-9:00 PM:  San Diego Bay Parade of Lights.  Encore performance.  See 11 Dec. entry for details.

18 Dec, 7:30 PM:  San Diego Symphony performs Holiday

18 - 21 Dec:  Scripps Ranch Performing Arts Academy presents The Nutcracker.  The Grand Del Mar.

19 Dec:  Moscow Ballet's "Great Russian Nutcracker."  Copley Symphony Hall.

19 - 20 Dec:  "An Unscripted Carol."  Holiday comedy presented live on stage at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, Solana Beach.

21 - 24 Dec:  "Sister's Christmas Catechism."  Holiday comedy presented live on stage at the North Coast Repertory Theatre, Solana Beach.

23 Dec, 8:00 PM:  Dave Koz & Friends present Smooth Jazz Christmas.  Detailed in the December 9th entry, Dave brings his show to the Balboa Theatre downtown for a second performance.  $65-85.

Charities, Donations & Fairs

          There are more of these events than I could list if I didn't publish until after Christmas.  I counted 113 in one paper alone!  They run the range from Sleep Train's Secret Santa, similar to Toys For Tots, through bazaars for everything from battered women to starving students, to photography studios providing cheap to free pictures with Santa.  Those preferring the more intimate events can consult,,, and these will link you to other sites as well.

          I have to say that I learned a couple of things just from the tedious act of compiling this list.  First, nobody knows how to spell "theater" any more, and second, only an art gallery in the little burg of Del Mar is pretentious enough to include a capital letter in their web address.  By way of acknowledgment, all of these listings came from the pages of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  Anyone with access to the paper could have found them him(her)self, but you would have been paging through a lot of Entertainment Sections, and without a bit of luck might have missed something you would have liked to have seen anyway.  Now they are in one place for you, A Christmas Stocking from the Hideout, you might say.  I sincerely hope something on this list enhances your enjoyment of the Holidays.  Moving on,

From the "See, it's not just me" department:

          Appearing in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Saturday the 26th was an article by Nick Canepa, long time local sports writer, on Tim Tebow, quarterback of the visiting Denver Broncos.  Included therein was this backhanded swipe at a talentless icon of our empty society:

          "A truly fascinating case, Tim Tebow.  But he's become the NFL's rock star without singing a hit song or one with dirty lyrics.  Alas, that's the America we enjoy today.  Remember, we're the ones who made the Kardashians multimillionaires, and while Tebow isn't the greatest at what he does, at least he can do something."

          See, it's not just me!

          Okay, if you can't enhance your Christmas experience with something off this list, maybe you're the Grinch.  Maybe you'd better check.  As for me, I'm going to go soak my fingers in bourbon; this is the longest post I've ever assayed, and I'm feeling it!  I'll see you, events willing, on the 6th.  Now, get out there and live life like you mean it!


  1. There are several things on this list that I would like to do with the kids. But even if we don't, thanks for taking the time to pull all that together. That was very thoughtful!

  2. I never knew you could do half of this stuff in San Diego