San Diego may not resemble a “winter wonderland,” but each week we’re inundated with new holiday events that have us feeling the spirit of the season. If all the holiday cheer makes you want to puke, check out the CrawlPB Beer Olympics on Saturday; it’s a refreshing break from carolers and lights and mall Santas. If you haven’t had your fill, be sure to check out the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights on Sunday. It’s a unique local event that celebrates the season on the water. Check out the rest of our eight great weekend tips below.
City Ballet presents ‘The Nutcracker’: City Ballet kicks off a popular holiday tradition Friday: its performance of Tchaikovsky’s beloved ballet, “The Nutcracker.” The classic tale begins when young Clara is given a Nutcracker, who turns into a prince after a battle with the Mouse King. He takes Clara on a magic journey through the Land of the Snow to the Kingdom of the Sweets, where the Sugar Plum Fairy honors the couple with entertainment from around the world. City Ballet’s performance is called the best in San Diego, and it’s a holiday treat that shouldn’t be missed. City Ballet will present “The Nutcracker” Dec. 11-13 and Dec. 18-20 at Spreckels Theatre. Spreckels Theatre is located at 121 Broadway. Tickets and times are available online.
San Diego Botanic Garden of Lights: The San Diego Botanic Gardens are transformed each holiday season into a winter wonderland, with more than 100,000 lights illuminating the garden. After dark, the lights sparkle, creating a gorgeous holiday sight-to-behold, complemented by horse-drawn-wagon rides, holiday crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, live music, hot mulled wine in the Poinsettia Garden, and refreshments. The Garden of Lights is open Dec. 10-23 and Dec. 26-30 from 5-9 p.m. Admission for garden members, seniors, students and members of the military is $8; non-members pay $12; and children 3-12 pay $4. The San Diego Botanic Garden is located at 230 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas.
The San Diego Zoo’s Jungle Bells: The San Diego Zoo is getting into the holiday spirit with its all new Jungle Bells celebration. The holiday event kicks off Saturday and runs through Jan. 2, and features holiday shows, including Dr. Zoolittle’s “The Night Before Christmas” — with a zoo theme. Also catch the Winter Winged Wonders bird show, and the Fire & Ice Show, with ice artist Dominique using a chainsaw and torch to carve 300-pound blocks of ice into animal sculptures. Visit with Santa, meet-and-greet with some of your favorite zoo animals, or take a spin around the Zoo’s holiday ice skating rink. Zoo tickets are $37 for adults and $27 for children ages 3-11. The San Diego Zoo is located at 2920 Zoo Drive in Balboa Park.
San Diego Bay Parade of Lights: The Port of San Diego will host the 38th annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, a merry maritime event that dazzles the water. The parade — hosted Dec. 13 and Dec. 20 from 5:30-9 p.m. — will feature more than 80 vessels, decked out with creative lighting designs, and “Christmas at the Zoo”-themed decorations. Both days the event will kick off with a fireworks display at 5:30 p.m. Boats will sail from the east end of Shelter Island to the downtown waterfront and Coronado, and more than 80,000 spectators are expected, so arrive early to find parking.
The Ten Tenors: If you missed one Aussie ensemble — Thunder from Down Under — last week, do yourself a favor and catch The Ten Tenors, performing through Sunday at the San Diego Civic Theatre. The entertainment value of the two shows couldn’t be more different. Thunder from Down Under revs its audience up by stripping down. The Ten Tenors, by contrast, stay clothed and get audience members going with lush harmonies, and skillful vocal arrangements. Arts editor Valerie Scher says, “The Ten Tenors may come from the land down under. But they’re experts in over-the-top showmanship.” See Scher’s review of The Ten Tenors here. The San Diego Civic theatre is located at 1100 Third Ave.
The Beer Olympics: Need a break from the warm, fuzzy holiday-themed events? Trek over to the 710 Beach Club in Pacific Beach on Saturday for the second annual CrawlPB Beer Olympics. Teams consist of two participants, who pay $20 each to compete in three events: Beer pong, flip cup and quarters. The $20 per person admission covers beer for all competitions and proceeds benefit the Wehr Family Charity, fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease. Sign-ups start at 1 p.m. (or register online now), and competition begins at 2. A pre-game pub crawl will also start at the 710 Beach Club, located at 710 Garnet Ave.
Cool Yule: More than 120 singers with the San Diego Men’s Chorus and the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego will perform “Cool Yule,” a joint, one-night-only holiday concert at the Balboa Theatre Saturday at 8 p.m. Accompanied by a 10-piece swing band, the choruses will perform jazz arrangements of holiday favorites, including Bing Crosby’s “Little Jack Frost,” and Patti Page’s “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.” Tickets are still available for the fun, festive event. The Balboa Theatre is located at 868 Fourth Ave.
‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’: Tickets to The Old Globe’s annual holiday hit, Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” are on sale now, and the musical runs through Dec. 27. The classic holiday tale is celebrating its 12th year on the boards at the Globe, and each year it continues to delight children and adults alike. The Old Globe is transformed into the snow-covered Who-Ville, and everyone’s favorite green villain is back to try and spoil Christmas. By now, you’re familiar with the tale of the Grinch, but the Globe brings it to life in a way you have to see to believe. Tickets start at $39, and they go fast. Visit the Globe’s Web site for more information.