10 Free & Cheap Christmas Family Events! (Nov.-Dec.)

Don't Miss Out!

By Courtney Daly-Pavone November 15, 2021

*Free Holiday Tree Lighting @ Otay Ranch Center!

Tue, Nov 16: 5pm – 7pm

From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 16, in addition to the lineup of the market's regular selection of certified farm stands, unique street foods and handicraft items, shoppers and families can enjoy:

  • Free holiday crafts for kids
  • Free cookies and hot chocolate (while supplies last, 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.)
  • Magic snowfall at Santa's House (after tree lighting at 7 p.m.)
  • Roaming Carolers
  • Special holiday-themed merchants and unique gift stands
  • Local entertainment and music

 Santa will arrive in grand style and light the Christmas Tree on Main Street at 7 p.m. sharp!

 New for 2021 is the unveiling of a spectacular new Christmas Tree towering nearly 50 feet over Main Street and featuring 17,000+ lights, 1,000+ ornaments, snowflakes, and an LED Grand Star Topper!

Cheap! Go Ice Skating in Liberty Station At Rady Rink!

Location: 2875 Dewey Rd., San Diego, CA 92106 Opens 11/18 thru 1/9/21 open daily 10 am-10 pm (closed Christmas and Thanksgiving day).

$15 per adult
$13 per child
$10 Rady Children’s staff or military (with ID)
Note: includes skate rentals and helmet.
Punch cards are also available for 5 and 10 skate sessions. Proceeds go to Rady Children's Hospital Cancer Care!

*Free Holiday Tree Lighting and Party in Santee!

Location: Santee Trolley Square 9884 Mission Gorge Road Santee 11/19/2021 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM  

Tree lighting @ 6:15pm, Live Music, Face Painting, Holiday Photo Opportunities and More!

Santa Photos (5"x7") • 1 for $12 or 2 for $20

*FREE Holiday Tree Lighting Liberty Station November 26th, 2021 

Tree Lighting will take place in the North Promenade, just behind Stone Brewing and Liberty Public Market.


  • 5:00-6:15 PM | Live entertainment on the North Promenade main stage in front of the tree
  • 5:00-9:00 PM | Fire truck rides at Central Promenade, adjacent to the ice rink
  • 5:00-9:00 PM | Pictures with Santa in Building 177, adjacent to the ice rink
  • 6:15-6:30 PM | Lighting of the tree
  • 6:30-6:45 PM | Rock Church Children’s Choir
  • 7:00-8:45 PM | The Grinch will play outside in North Promenade, bring your lawn chairs!
  • 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM Rady Children's Ice Rink hours of operation

Parking: Free parking is available in any of the lots within Liberty Station in addition to street parking

Weather: The Tree Lighting and all activities will take place rain or shine. Guests are asked to dress warmly and bring rain gear.

* Affordable Holiday Hayride in Julian @ Fort Cross

November 27 10:00 am - 4:00 pm

$25 Hayride Package:
This package takes about 2.5 hours to complete and includes all of the following activities:
Reptile Show
Country Christmas Jug Band Show
Petting Zoo
Candle Making
Rustic Ornament Making
(this activity package does not include activities in the Adventure Package)

$20 Adventure Package:
Tomahawk Throwing
Ghost Town Slingshot Range (20 paint balls)
(this activity package does not include activities in the Hayride Package)

*Free Christmas Kick-Off Escondido! Online Registration Required

Crossing Church, 1001 W Country Club Ln, Escondido 12/1 6-8pm

Kicking off the Christmas season with tree lighting, real snow, and a visit from Santa. There will be an opportunity to go sledding, make crafts, visit from Olaf, and pictures with Santa. We will have yummy food for purchase.

Even though this is a free event, we are asking that you register beforehand. Early registration allows you to sign the waiver early so that when you show up for the event you will receive a wristband and start having fun right away.

* Free Balboa Park December Nights!

Address: Inspiration Point South Parking Lot Balboa Park Friday, December 3rd through Sunday, December 5th from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

For more than 40 years, the San Diego community has welcomed in the holiday season by celebrating the annual December Nights at Balboa Park. Due to the current pandemic conditions, we are saddened that our beloved gift to the region cannot occur as we know it. Instead, the City of San Diego is offering a "Taste of December Nights."

The program will have some of your favorite food vendors and food trucks from past December Nights in a drive-thru setting in the Inspiration Point parking lots near Balboa Park.

The three-day event will be on Friday, Dec. 3 through Sunday, Dec. 5 with 20 food truck/food vendors offering their most popular menu items and festive entertainment.

All safety protocols by the county will be strictly enforced. Customers must remain in their cars. 

We hope you’ll join us; come hungry!

*Free Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village Sat. December 4th 4:30 PM-8:30 PM

Family-friendly event includes two Christmas trees, seasonal vendors, live music and entertainment, holiday treats, tree lighting, while Santa virtually checks in from the stage’s LED screen. 

Don’t miss the Christmas Village, located on India Street between W. Cedar and W. Grape Streets, where you’ll find one-of-a-kind stocking stuffers and other holiday goodies from seasonal vendors and select Little Italy Mercato vendors.For more information about the Little Italy Association or the Little Italy Tree Lighting and Christmas Village visit

*Free Christmas in Old Poway Park

Saturday, December 11 from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m

An old-fashioned holiday tradition. This free event will take you back in time with caroling, live music, horse-drawn hayrides, and so much more. Purchase tasty holiday treats, finish your Christmas shopping at the craft boutique, or board the Poway Midland Railroad for a night-time ride around the park. Children of all ages will enjoy the free crafts, model trains and of course a visit with Santa. The annual lighting of the community Christmas tree at 5:15 p.m., followed by Santa’s arrival. The event is sponsored by the City of Poway and the Old Poway Park Action Committee. Admission is free, train and pony rides are available for a nominal fee. Free shuttles to and from the event will be available from two locations: Poway City Hall parking lot, located at 13325 Civic Center Drive, and Poway Adult School parking lot, located at 13626 Twin Peaks Road. Shuttles will run throughout the event, beginning at 3 p.m. and leaving Old Poway Park for the last trip at 9 p.m. For more information call: 858-668-4576.

*Free La Jolla Christmas Parade

“Spirit of La Jolla” is the theme for the La Jolla Christmas Parade. Festivities will fill the streets of downtown La Jolla on December 5, 2021 at 1:30pm.

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