Last updated: 01:00 AM ET, Fri November 18 2016

Six Big Events Warming Up Winter Visitors in San Diego

Destination & Tourism Dawna L. Robertson November 18, 2016

Six Big Events Warming Up Winter Visitors in San Diego

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While much of the U.S. Mainland faces the big chill during the winter, San Diego continues to shine with weather that’s predictably sunny and inviting. From parades to NCAA bowl games and PGA golf, visitors can enjoy a winter playground basking in Southern California warmth.

Here are six winter events making San Diego a hot ticket.

Balboa Park December Nights – Dec. 2-3, 2016

San Diego’s largest free community festival, Balboa Park December Nights kicks off the holiday season with entertainment, culinary treats from across the globe at the House of Pacific Relations Cottages, shopping at Spanish Art Village and museum stores, concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and free admission to Balboa’s lauded museums from 5-9pm.

In addition to regular exhibits, select museums add a dash of holiday spirit. Among these is the Timken Museum’s annual Christmas tree displaying the superb Schlappi Collection of Hord and Schlappi ornaments. The family-friendly fest also caters to kids with Fleet Science Center’s interactive exhibits, while the Natural History Museum intrigues all ages with its Coast to Cactus in Southern California exhibition.

December Nights fanfare rolls out from 3-11pm on Friday, Dec. 2 and from noon-11pm on Saturday, Dec. 3.

San Diego Parade of Lights – Dec. 11 & 18, 2016

Deemed one of the most unique holiday events in “America’s Finest City,” the San Diego Parade of Lights features an armada of some 80 private boats generously decorated with lights reflecting the annual theme. In its 45th year, nautical tradition will display interpretations of “It Began with a Roar–San Diego Zoo Celebrates 100 Years.”

Beginning at Shelter Island at 5pm, the parade unfolds along the bayfront’s Harbor Island, The Embarcadero, Seaport Village, and The Pier at Cesar Chavez Park en route to its finale at Ferry Landing on Coronado Island. Since it takes roughly an hour to pass any point along the route, spectators enjoy ample gawking time.

Viewers can also opt to catch the action near announcers’ areas situated at the Maritime Museum on The Embarcadero and at Coronado Landing. The main perk of these sites is that announcers provide a description and brief history of each participating vessel as it passes.

Poinsettia Bowl – Dec. 21, 2016

This year’s SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl will pit a top Mountain West Conference team against the BYU Cougars at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. Garnishing what is expected to be a competitive gridiron game is the Dexcom WinterFest, a free, family-friendly tailgating experience complete with winter-themed activities and music.

READ MORE: San Diego Ranked as One of Top Destinations by Cruise Critic

Holiday Bowl – Dec. 27, 2016

Kicking off a week later, the National Funding Holiday Bowl features a collegiate clash between highly competitive Pac 12 and Big 10 conference rivals. In 2015, the latter’s Wisconsin Badgers beat the USC Trojans 23-21 in a contest that found Badgers fans embracing San Diego’s weather. The pre-game National Funding FanZone adds further appeal with food trucks, craft beer garden and interactive college football experience.

Aside from action on the field, Holiday Bowl game day dazzles with the Bumble Bee Seafoods 5K Run/Walk at 9:45am followed by America’s largest balloon parade at 10am. The colorful family event is highlighted by floats, marching bands, drill teams and procession of enormous balloons stringing along San Diego’s already-scenic bayfront.  

Both the Poinsettia and Holiday bowls elevate the excitement with impressive pre-game and halftime pageantry that includes fireworks. Tickets are available on both websites.

Farmers Insurance Open – Jan. 26-29, 2017

The PGA’s annual Farmers Insurance Open hits Torrey Pines’ South and North courses with a roster of the sport’s greatest golfers. Count on up-close viewing of such top guns as San Diego’s Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and 2016 champion Brandt Snedeker.

Full-tournament ticket package options are far above par with VIP perks, while individual day tickets allow fans to refuel at Fringe sports bar perched on the 15th green, Michelob Ultra 19th Hole and Surf Club on the 17th green. Parking is available in the UTC area, with shuttle service to the event.

READ MORE: Celebrating 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Museum Month – Feb. 1-28, 2017

Throughout February, San Diego Museum Month welcomes visitors with half-price entry for exploring the city’s rich cultural offerings. The program was designed to share San Diego’s rich culture and arts destinations while saluting the contributions of the local museum community.

Complimentary San Diego Museum Month Passes are available at any of the 15 Macy's department store locations in the San Diego area. Guests with a pass are able to bring up to three additional people to receive half-off admission to participating museums.

Among the 40 treasures ranging from historical sites to interactive science centers are the San Diego Museum of Art, USS Midway Museum, Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Japanese Friendship Garden, Museum of Making Music and Natural History Museum.

For San Diego accommodations, additional events and recreation options, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority.