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'Tis the season: Everything you need to know about 42nd-annual December Nights in Balboa Park

From parking to transportation, here's how to plan ahead for a staple San Diego event.

SAN DIEGO — It's hard to believe that it's almost that time of year. Hundreds of thousands of people are prepping for a classic ho-ho-hometown event, December Nights. 

December Nights will kick off the holiday season Dec. 6 and 7 if you're looking for a winter fun-derland in sunny San Diego. It's a family-friendly event filled with light displays, holiday choirs, music and cuisine from around the world. 

RELATED: December Nights celebrates 40 years in Balboa Park

Hours of operation

The event is open from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday.

If you've ever wanted to check out the museums, you're in luck. The Balboa Park museums are free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on both days.

Getting there

The free shuttle will pick-up and drop-off downtown at Ash St. between 5th and 6th Avenue only. Service animals are allowed on board, but keep your other pets at home. There is no shuttle service from City College. The final shuttle to the park leaves at 8:30 p.m. on both nights. 

MTS will provides rides from City College (11th & C), 5th Ave Trolley Station (5th & C) and Park and University. Routes 7 and 215 will bypass Park Blvd during the event, therefore, MTS will not conduct direct bus service along Park Blvd from Downtown to Hillcrest. 

If you're planning to have a Lyft driver, Uber driver or your homebody friend drop you off at the event, both sides of Sixth Avenue near the Laurel Street Bridge are your best bet.

Get those steps in! You're also welcome to walk to the event, assuming you can't catch a ride on Santa's sleigh. 

RELATED: San Diego's MTS reminds residents to consider public transit for December Nights Festival


Limited free parking is available at the San Diego Zoo and paid parking is available at the Inspiration Point parking lot for $20, either cash or card. Parking for people with disabilities is available off Park Blvd on Presidents Way at the Fleet Scene Center and Federal Lot. The lots are strictly ADA, but they do fill up. Considering carpooling and singing some holiday tunes on the way to get in the spirit.

Leave your rollerblades, skateboards and bikes at home, or park them away from the event near the Laurel Street Bridge, Fig Tree and the Federal Lawn. Of course, motorized scooters and wheelchairs are welcome for those with disabilities. 

Check out last year's event:

RELATED: Crowds get into holiday spirit at December Nights