top of page

San Diego's Finest Holiday Parades

Mother Goose Parade

How many holiday parades would you guess are going on around town this year? I was able to find 14! The first one kicks of the Parade Season this weekend on Nov. 24th with the 73rd Annual Mother Goose Parade.

You have so many parades to choose from that include Mother Goose, Surfin' Santa, Toyland, marching bands, drill teams, floats, clowns, Roller Derby Dolls, vintage cars, boat parades, a pet parade, and most of them will have Santa Claus too. Take special note of the Starlight Parade because it will have SNOW to play in and so much more! 🎅🏼 🌨

Most of the other parades occur the first weekend of December and the biggest Balloon Parade 🎈in America wraps it up after Christmas on Dec. 28th with the Holiday Bowl Parade. This is one of my favorites because my kids love to gook and gawk over all of the balloons! You can buy grandstand tickets to reserve your seats ahead of time! This will save you time from having to stake out your turf an hour before it starts; which in the world of toddlers can seem like eons. My favorite part is after the parade is over...if you stick around you'll be treated to a super cool Battle of the Bands! And yes, I am a total band-geek, coming from a former flutist. 🤓 The marching bands from each of the colleges playing in the Holiday Bowl will battle it out for who can belt out the best tunes. 🎷🎵

How to make the most of your parading? View my Tips for Parade Viewing with Kids!

[Disclaimer: I make a good faith effort to ensure dates, times and descriptions are correct, but I encourage you to double check directly with the venue to make sure the information is correct or if it has changed since my research. I gather my information from multiple sources, both in person and online. If your venue is featured here and you would like for me to change anything or to be removed, please contact me right away.]

Here's the big list! Happy Parading! 👯


(click on each title to link)

Sunday November 24, 2019 (always the Sunday before Thanksgiving)

parade starts at 1pm

Gorgeous floats, helium balloons, marching bands, clowns, horses and more, followed by Santa Claus at the end! You'll find the parade route online.

Saturday November 30, 2019

1-5pm (Santa arrives at 1pm)

Named one of the 10 best Santa sightings by USA Today. Santa will be wearing his board shorts and Aloha shirt as he arrives by boat. Take FREE pictures with Santa on his surfboard riding a 6' wave!

NOTE: The 2018 Parade almost didn't happen and then came together at the last minute. To

date, there are no updates to last year's website so it's likely to be cancelled

completely. Check the website to stay updated if you're really hoping for this one to

come together.

2019 PENDING!! [December 1, 2018]


All day parking available at the North Park Parking Garage for $1.

Balloon characters, marching bands, dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens and Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red fire engine. You'll find parking info and the parade route online. *There's a festival that normally happens after the parade every year is cancelled this year, but the parade is still happening.

ROUTE: On University Ave. between Utah & Iowa Streets

Friday December 6, 2019

3:20 Santa's Arrival; 6pm Parade; 7pm Tree Lighting (times are from 2018; not yet updated)

(2019 details haven't been updated yet, so this is from last year) Santa arrives by Fire Truck at the Ferry Landing with carolers and SNOW! He'll parade down Orange Ave. with a live band. Bring a stuffed animal for the Coronado Police Department's Annual Teddy Bear Drive.

Friday December 6, 2019

6:30pm parade starts

Festivities start at 6pm with vendors, food, music and fun for the entire family. Shining holiday lights will decorate every entry in this hometown parade. Anyone with a lighted entry can be in the as long as they register in advance. Almost 100 entries, including decorated pets, children, floats, and big trucks, have registered so far. Presented every year by the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce, the parade ends at the FREE SNOW FESTIVAL --- with real snow and sledding--- in the Alpine Creek Town Center at 1347 Tavern Road.

ROUTE: Starts at the corners of Alpine Blvd. and W. Victoria Dr. and ends at Tavern Rd.

Starlight Parade (Chula Vista)

Saturday December 7, 2019

2-6pm Children's Faire; parade starts at 5pm

the historic Third Avenue Village

Visit the FREE Children's Faire (at Memorial Park: 373 Park Way) to see Frosty’s Snow Hill, Santa Pictures, Children's Train and other free fun!

ROUTE: On western side of Third Avenue and travels North from H to E Streets

Saturday December 7, 2019

5:00pm Santa Arrives; 5:30pm Parade starts promptly

687 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas

This year's theme: Botanical Oasis. There will be nearly 100 parade entries that will roll, march, cycle, scoot and cruise down the Coast Highway on the most magical night of the year.

TIP: The Coast Highway will close at 4pm and that's when you can start to claim your seats.

Followed by the Tree Lighting countdown and Santa will make a brief appearance at 5pm (at the Lumberyard shops courtyard near Starbucks. ;)

PARKING: FREE Parking Shuttles will run from San Dieguito Academy High School (at the corner of Melba & Nardo Rds. AND from the YMCA Ecke Sports Park parking lot on Saxony Rd. Shuttles run from 4pm-8:30pm every 20 minutes and will drop you off at the NCTD Bus Station on Vulcan Ave.; 1/2 block away from the parade route.

Saturday December 7, 2019


On Newport Ave. from Sunset Cliffs Blvd. to the Beach!

Point Loma High School Marching Band, SD Roller Derby Dolls, VW Beetle club and classic Woodies roll down Newport Ave., motorcycles, lighted floats, other bands and Santa.

Saturday December 7, 2019


Take a 20 minute harbor boat ride with Santa! COST: $3 donation per person, kids 2 and under are Free. No RSVP needed.

Sunday December 8, 2019


Girard Ave.

Floats, marching bands, horses, vintage cars and Santa Claus. Holiday Live entertainment and Free photos with Santa will run from 11am-1pm in front of the Athenaeum.

Sundays December 8 & 15, 2019

5-7pm (5pm starts at Shelter Island)

Boats dress up in holiday lights and decorations and parade along the bay. Presented by the Port of San Diego, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights brings more than 100,000 San Diego residents and visitors to the shores of San Diego Bay each year. The procession of approximately 80 lavishly decorated boats has become one of the most iconic events in the region.

ROUTE: Starts at Shelter Island (5pm) and will cruise past Harbor Island (approx. 5:30pm), Embarcadero (approx. 6pm), Seaport Village (approx. 6:30pm), Cesar Chavez Park Pier (approx. 6:45pm), Coronado Ferry Landing (approx. 7pm).

Saturday December 14, 2019


Boats of all kinds dress up in holiday lights and decorations and parade along the harbor.

TIP: You can also hop on a 90 minute harbor cruise to see the parade up close! COST: $39/adults, $19/kids 3-12.

Saturday December 14th, 2019


Starting at Quivera Basin and proceeds around Mission Bay

The Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights, a distinctly California celebration, features boats decorated for the holidays that will sail around the Bay. The best viewing is from Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Island or the west side of Fiesta Island.

December 15th, 2019

12-5pm; parade starts promptly at 2pm under the Gaslamp Archway

401 K St., at MLK Promenade Park, adjacent to the Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

ROUTE: Gaslamp Quarter Archway, and continues up Fifth Avenue takes a left at E street and down Fourth Avenue ending at MLK Promenade Park

Pet owners and their furry, feathered, and scaled companions are invited to don their favorite costumes for this jolly promenade and Holiday Pet Parade. You can enter for $15/advance or $25/day of. The best vantage points for the Pet Parade are along 4th & 5th Avenues between E and K Street from 2PM – 3PM (arrive early to peruse the Holiday Pet Market and guarantee a great spot to watch the parade).

Thursday December 26, 2019


Waterfront Park

ROUTE: Click here On N. Harbor Dr. between W. Cedar & W. Harbor Dr.

America's Largest Balloon Parade! World-class marching bands, magnificent floats, entertaining drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons – more than any other parade! Reserve Grandstand Seats for $22! (click here for Grandstand tickets) If you love bands like me, you'll want to stick around after the parade they usually have a super cool Battle of the Bands at the Broadway Pier.

PARKING: Take the Trolley! If you must drive, get there early. Click the link above for parking locations and road closures.


bottom of page