Co-produced by The City of San Diego and the Balboa Park Conservancy, Balboa Park December Nights 2016 was one of the most successful and memorable installments in its 39-year history!  On December 2 and 3, Balboa Park welcomed more than 360,000 guests to San Diego’s spectacular free kick-off to the holiday season, thanks to the generous support of event sponsors, Balboa Park museums and cultural organizations, entertainment groups, and the many Park and community volunteers who made this festival so special.

As in previous years, attendees of all ages enjoyed dozens of free music and dance performances on stages throughout the park, colorful decorations and festive light displays, free admission to over a dozen world-class museums, food from around the world at the International Christmas Festival, the Del Cerro Baptist Church’s annual Christmas Story program in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and so much more!

This year’s December Nights featured an expanded children’s interactive area near the Botanical Building, offering even more family-friendly entertainment and fun activities. Of note, the Rad Hatter hands-on hat-making craft witnessed the creation of more than 1,000 hats, adding another element of family fun and whimsy to the event. The nearby Botanical Building entertainment stage saw more activity as well, as guests were able to enjoy its engaging roster of musical performers from the Casa del Prado patio, which was enhanced with umbrella tables and chairs.

Another enhanced area was the Plaza de Panama and its bustling Prado Pub, which saw the addition of a central bar and umbrella tables and chairs. The planters placed around its perimeter created an attractive horticultural note to the space. One final new feature of December Nights 2016 was the Artisan Marketplace, located near the Timken Museum, which promises to grow in size and popularity in future years.

Guests to this year’s event were pleased to find improved transportation access. Changes to the event’s shuttle route shortened the ride from the free parking lot at City College from 20 minutes in previous years to only five minutes, making the entire system flow much more efficiently. Many visitors also took advantage of special discounts to use the Lyft ridesharing service, an official December Nights partner.

Once they arrived in the park, guests found they could count on the easily identifiable Zone Ambassadors–a special corps of well-trained Visitor Center volunteers in bright red vests–to answer questions or help with any problems, assuring a safe and pleasant experience for everyone.

December Nights continues to be the largest free community event in San Diego, and the largest holiday event in North America! No other city in America can boast a large-scale public holiday celebration that attracts and embraces such a wide diversity of cultural traditions.

Putting on a public festival as massive as Balboa Park December Nights requires the hard work and dedication of the City of San Diego Park & Recreation Department, the Balboa Park Conservancy, virtually every other park organization, along with dozens of community groups and hundreds of volunteers.

The Balboa Park Conservancy looks forward to seeing everyone again at next year’s 40th anniversary celebration of December Nights (December 1–2), which promises to be one for the ages!