Top Holiday Art Events and Performances in San Diego

Yiddishland California: “Hanukkah Themed Art Walk”

Visual art

Yiddishland California just opened a year ago as a cultural center and hub for Jewish and Yiddish arts and culture—it’s in the heart of La Jolla, run by the Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America (YAAANA).

They are hosting a Hanukkah themed event on the First Friday Art Walk with a market at Judaica — Jewish ceremonial art and objects used in rituals and traditions.

The art walk also marks the opening of an exhibition by artist Miriam Liebhaber. Born in Mexico City, Liebhaber has a background in studying architecture that still influences her work, not only in her cityscapes, but even the way she paints forests evoke clusters of skyscrapers.

It’s part of La Jolla’s First Friday Art Walk, so there will be plenty to see in the Village area. This year, Hanukkah runs from December 18 to 26.

details: 4-7pm Friday, December 2, 2022. Yiddishland, 1128 Wall St., La Jolla. Free of charge.

A step beyond: “El Alebrije”


“El Alebrije” is a reimagining of the Nutcracker ballet inspired by the culture of Mexico. In pre-Hispanic Mexican culture, Alebrije is a spirit guide, and the term is also used for carved and painted animal figurines, as well as a sense of imagination or fiction – which is traced as the spinning of nutcracker dolls.

Courtesy of A Step Beyond

Dancers from A Step Beyond are featured in the 2021 production of ‘El Alebrije’.

This is an outdoor show at the Kit Carson Amphitheater in Escondido, with one performance only. There is a huge cast, including 150 students from A Step Beyond’s ballet school. The story, costumes and props are transformed into the Mexican tradition, but the music is the same “Nutcracker Suite” by Tchaikovsky.

details: 6:30 pm Saturday, December 10, 2022 Kit Carson Amphitheater, 100 Amphitheater Dr., Escondido. General admission is $10, children under 5 are free.

Nutcracker Tea Parties: San Diego Ballet and Scripps Academy of Performing Arts


If you want to go all out for the quintessential Nutcracker experience with a tea party, Scripps Academy for the Performing Arts will host its Nutcracker performances for a holiday tea and holiday brunch at the Fairmont Grand in Del Mar. Tea is Friday, December. 23 ($88+) and brunch is Saturday, December 24 ($100+).

The San Diego Ballet will also hold a Nutcracker Tea Party at Liberty Station on Sunday, December 18 ($55+).


Conductor Christopher Dragon will lead the San Diego Symphony Orchestra for “Noel Noel” December 9-11, 2022.

San Diego Symphony: “Noel Noel”

Music, storytelling

“Noel Noel” is a mix of told and performed stories and holiday music. It’s a new story and script this year, so if you’ve attended in the past, it will feel new. It is conducted by Christopher Dragon (Wyoming Symphony Orchestra), and the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, San Diego Master Chorus and San Diego Children’s Chorus will perform.

details: 7:00 p.m., Friday, December 9, 7:00 p.m., Saturday, December 10, and 5:00 p.m., Sunday, December 11, 2022. Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, 222 Marina Park Way, downtown. General admission is $20+.

San Diego Gay Men’s Choir: ‘Jingle’


“Jingle” is the San Diego Gay Men’s annual holiday show and also kicks off their 38th season, now with their new Artistic Director, Dr. Charles Beale. The event celebrates how much music – especially song – is an integral part of how we celebrate the holidays. SDGMC will perform some holiday classics along with music from Eric Whitacre, The Temptations, James Taylor and more.

details: 8:00 p.m. Dec. 10 and 3:00 p.m. Dec. 11, 2022 Balboa Theatre, 868 4th Ave., downtown. General admission is $30+.

Cygnet Theatre: A Christmas Carol


This production of Charles Dickens’ classic features original music and puppetry, as well as everything we know and love about this story. Artistic director Sean Murray will perform Scrooge. Murray notably performed every character in A Christmas Carol for a one-actor streaming adaptation of the play during the pandemic.


Ken Jacques / Signet Theatre

A previous production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Cygnet Theater is shown in a 2019 photo.

You can find performances at Cygnet’s Old Town Theater almost every day until Christmas Eve, including some with American Sign Language interpreters.

details: Through Dec. 24, 2022. Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town. Standard admission is $30+

San Diego Botanical Garden: “Landscape of Light”

Visual art

“Lightscape” is a fascinating installation along a mile-long trail at the San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas, featuring over one million lights. There are light tunnels, pyrotechnics, sculptures and visual art along the way. In the evening until January 1 there are timed entry tickets and they recommend about an hour and a half.

Winter Cathedral.jpg

Courtesy of the San Diego Botanical Garden

The “Winter Cathedral” installation at “Lightscapes” is shown in an undated photo. The light show continues at the San Diego Botanical Garden through January 1, 2023.

The trail has black and hilly sections, so comfortable shoes are recommended. Pushchairs and wheelchairs are permitted, although some areas with steps will require a detour and/or assistance from staff.

details: November 18-20, 23, 25-27 from 17:00 to 20:30; Dec. 1-4, 8-11, 14-23, 26-31; January 1. San Diego Botanical Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Dr., Encinitas. Admission is $13-$29.

La Jolla Music Society: Holiday sing-a-long

Music, books, crafts

The La Jolla Music Society’s “Holiday Sing-Along” features the Pacific Coast Harmony Choir plus a La Jolla librarian for a reading of “T’was the Night Before Christmas.”

Also, artists from the Spanish Village Arts Center will lead families in making their own pop-up holiday cards. This is a free event held in the outdoor courtyard and you can bring a book to donate to the Friends of La Jolla Library.

details: 5:00 p.m., Sunday, December 11, 2022 Wu Tsai QRT.yrd at the Conrad Prebys Center for the Performing Arts, 7600 Fay Ave., La Jolla. Entrance is free.

Art Production: “Holiday Craft Market”

Visual arts, shopping

There are so many gift markets, but don’t miss the Craft Works holiday market at Art Produce. The market is open every weekend through the end of the year and is stocked with handmade goods courtesy of the faculty, students and friends of San Diego City College’s arts program, including jewelry, candles, soaps, ceramics, textiles, artwork. It takes up the entire front gallery at Art Produce in North Park, and 70% of every purchase goes directly to the artist, with the rest supporting Art Produce, which is a non-profit organization.

details: 2-6pm Thursday and Friday; noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through December 30, 2022. Art Produce, 3139 University Ave., North Park. Entrance is free.

For more winter holiday events, visit our special holiday calendar listings. For more art events and editor’s picks, see KPBS/Arts Calendar.

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