Setting up Festival of Trees for December Nights!

Balboa Park is bustling with activity today, as an army of workers and volunteers prepares for December Nights, San Diego’s epic holiday festival that kicks off tomorrow afternoon!

In Room 101 of the Casa de Prado, I saw many smiling people busy decorating Christmas trees for this year’s Festival of Trees!

The Festival of Trees is a 50 year tradition that began in 1972, inaugurated by the San Diego Floral Association. Visitors to the Casa del Prado during December Nights will see dozens of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, sponsored by organizations throughout Balboa Park and San Diego.

It appears to me the Festival of Trees in 2022 will be just as spectacular as ever. It’s always a very popular family attraction during December Nights. Of course, admission is free!

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The mysterious Christmas tree at Cardiff State Beach!

A mysterious Christmas tree appears every year on the sand at South Cardiff State Beach. Nobody knows who places this Tree by the Sea.

The annual appearance of the Christmas tree has become a magical holiday tradition in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. The Tree by the Sea has delighted beachgoers for about three decades. You can read more about its history here.

Enjoy these photographs that I took today.

It was a cloudy late November weekday. Very few people were on the beach. The contrast of sand and ocean, and the decorated tree, makes these images strange and interesting.

Anybody can add their own ornaments. I noticed many have a surfing theme!

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Jewels of the Season shine in Balboa Park!

Some of the most amazing and beautiful Christmas ornaments are now on display in Balboa Park. Step through the entrance of the Timken Museum of Art and you can’t possibly miss them!

Jewels of the Season is a special exhibition of fine, hand-crafted Christmas tree ornaments. The elaborate jewel-like creations are the work of two artists: Florence Hord and Elizabeth Schlappi.

If the name of the first artist seems familiar, perhaps that’s because she was married to renowned sculptor Donal Hord. Florence began making these unique ornaments as a hobby in the 1930s. Each one is a small work of art.

Elizabeth Schlappi met Florence when her mother started taking sculpture lessons from Donal Hord. The two began to make ornaments together.

If you see ornaments in the museum that seem more contemporary (such as one celebrating the Padres), they’re probably the work of Elizabeth. She also included fabric patches in many of her designs. You can see an example in one upcoming photograph: a lunar landing patch!

In 1995 Florence passed away, but a unique craft that she originated lives on through a network of creative friends.

If you’re going to December Nights this year, make absolutely sure you wander into the Timken Museum of Art. You’re eyes will open wide with delight!

By the way, on Monday, December 5, at 10:30 am and 2:30 pm, the museum will host an ornament-making workshop! Learn more and register here!

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International Cottages prepare for December Nights!

December Nights is almost here! The huge holiday event, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from all around San Diego, will take place this Friday and Saturday in Balboa Park.

During my walk through Balboa Park’s International Cottages today, I noticed preparation for the event is already underway. Several of the cottages have put up Christmas trees and holiday decorations, and most of the other cottages, I was assured, will be joining them shortly.

Please enjoy a few photos!

This will be the first in-person December Nights since the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I bet the crowds will be huge.

The first two photographs (above and below) were taken in the House of Mexico’s cottage.

At the House of Finland, traditional paper woven baskets called sydänkori were being created. They are used to decorate Christmas trees. Small presents such as gift cards fit neatly inside them!

Over at the House of Germany, I spotted a nutcracker, and a poster concerning a fall and winter Children’s Choir program!

At the House of USA cottage, I saw these Christmas decorations, including a bright, festive tree…

Look at all the Santa Clauses inside the House of Sweden cottage! I learned they’ll be for sale during December Nights.

Lastly, I discovered another beautiful Christmas tree inside the House of Denmark’s cottage…

If you head to Balboa Park during December Nights, make sure to visit the International Cottages. As usual, a wide variety of holiday food from all around the world will be a highlight!

Thanks for visiting Cool San Diego Sights!

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Christmas decorations appear around San Diego!

Putting up the Christmas tree at 600 B Street in downtown San Diego.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As one might expect, Christmas decorations are now going up all around San Diego!

During my walks in the past few days, I’ve taken photographs of the Holiday Season getting underway….

A worker puts up a holiday wreath in Seaport Village.

Poinsettias encircle the Homecoming sculpture at the Greatest Generation Walk near the USS Midway.

A big Christmas tree at The Headquarters.

Santa Claus has arrived in Old Town!

One of several wreaths decorating the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town.

Gorgeous Christmas trees and decorations inside the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park.

Wreath on a fantastic car at the San Diego Automotive Museum.

Jingle and Mingle in the Gaslamp.

Santa is asked to stop at this shop.

Festive holiday decorations at the Gaslamp Museum.

A bright Christmas tree at downtown’s Donut Bar.

San Diego’s City Center is getting ready for Christmas and the Holiday Season!

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Amazing poinsettia Christmas tree in Balboa Park!

An amazing 15 feet high Christmas tree made of 390 poinsettia plants now stands in Balboa Park!

The Christmas tree was installed at the San Diego History Center on Monday. I saw it today, and it’s impressive!

On a wall near the festive red “tree” is a display explaining San Diego’s historical connection to the poinsettia, the World’s Favorite Holiday Flower.

As many San Diego residents know, Paul Ecke’s famous ranch in Encinitas cultivated and hybridized poinsettias for much of the 20th century, producing different colors and variations that have become popular around the world. At one time, the Ecke Ranch sold nearly 90 percent of the holiday plants in the United States.

Flowers and other nursery plants remain a very important part our local economy. As a matter of fact, the poinsettias in the San Diego History Center’s beautiful Christmas tree were grown by Weidners Gardens in Encinitas.

If you visit Balboa Park for the holiday season, especially during December Nights, be sure to step into the San Diego History Center, which is located inside the Casa de Balboa!

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Building the San Diego Community Christmas Center!

The holidays must be near in San Diego, with Balboa Park’s December Nights right around the corner. Because look what I saw today!

San Diego Community Christmas Center volunteers were at work in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion erecting their annual Nativity Display and Gingerbread House!

I was told Santa and his reindeer will be showing up soon, too! (With a little help from City of San Diego Parks and Recreation.)

It was a bit odd to see life-size Biblical figures wrapped up in plastic. A shepherd was lying down nearby, after having “surgery” on his hand. It had been broken last year when some member of the public tore away his staff. Whatever your beliefs might be, that’s pretty sad.

The San Diego Community Christmas Center is a non-profit committee that maintains an over half century old tradition. According to their website, the Chamber of Commerce first initiated the project after World War II. Horton Plaza was first to display the Biblical figures. The next home for the Nativity Scene was the Civic Center on Pacific Highway. Finally, in 1953, the location was moved to its present home in the Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park

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Balboa Park readies for the holidays!

Holiday preparations are getting started in San Diego’s beautiful Balboa Park! In 2022 December Nights will be held on December 2nd and 3rd, which is less than 3 weeks away!

While Santa and his reindeer haven’t yet appeared between the Plaza de Panama and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and I was told Spanish Village won’t put up holiday decorations until after Thanksgiving, I did see during my walk today the above Christmas Tree at the San Diego Air and Space Museum! And there were Christmassy objects in some gift shop display cases!

As I walked past the Balboa Park Miniature Railroad, I spotted a guy getting the big holiday light displays ready!

I should mention, before I forget, that I was told The Comic-Con Museum will be going all in this year during December Nights. But what they’ll do is presently top secret!

Next up, I noticed the Old Globe’s “Grinchmas” tree is on display already. I was told it was put up a couple days ago, and yesterday–Sunday–was the official lighting event. Oops. Missed it again. Maybe next year!

Lastly, I noticed Balboa Park’s new Community Christmas Tree has really grown and taken shape! It was planted about three years ago, replacing that overgrown gangly misshapen thing!

Is the new tree now big enough to support a modest string of Christmas lights? I suppose we’ll see!

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Fun for kids in La Mesa and Campo!

Do you know any kids who love trains? If you do, there are many opportunities for fun coming up in both La Mesa and Campo!

Yesterday I was passing the La Mesa Depot Museum when I noticed it was open and someone was working inside.

That someone was Station Master Timothy. He was building a new HO scale train layout in the old depot’s baggage room!

After showing me a few nearby historical exhibits, he explained this new layout will eventually be a fun, free activity for visiting kids. There will be a dynamic little town named Kerville (the tracks curve), and a module that can be added that includes both desert and mountainous terrain!

Meanwhile, the La Mesa Depot Museum has a curvy, twisty toy train layout in the adjoining ticket and passenger room that small kids can play with by hand.

Cooler yet, there are those real life train cars outside that one can explore up close and personal! If you’ve ever driven down Spring Street at La Mesa Boulevard, you’ve no doubt seen them.

You can see more photographs in and around the La Mesa museum here.

The La Mesa Depot Museum is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00 to 3:00 pm and Saturdays 1-4 pm.

. . .

The old La Mesa depot is a satellite of the much larger Pacific Southwest Railway Museum, located out in Campo. There kids can ride historic trains through San Diego’s scenic backcountry. And big kids (adults) can even take the controls of a big, honest-to-goodness diesel-electric locomotive and run it for a short distance!

Need something fun for the family to do next weekend before Halloween? Reserve a ticket for a unique Campo train ride out to a pumpkin patch. It’s called the Pumpkin Express.

Then, before Christmas, kids will enjoy meeting Santa during an incredible train ride on the North Pole Limited!

If you’d like an idea of how awesome this all would be, check out two of my past blog posts. This one has photographs from the train ride out in Campo. And this one shows the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum during its the big 100th Anniversary of the San Diego and Arizona Railway event!

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I post new blogs pretty often, so you might want to bookmark coolsandiegosights.com and check back from time to time.

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I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Balboa Park’s community Christmas tree grows!

A new community Christmas tree was planted in Balboa Park a little over two years ago, across from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. It has visibly grown!

Back in 2016, the fragile, droopy, 35-year-old Community Christmas Tree that stood in this same location no longer held lights during the holiday season. I took a photo of the sadly misshapen old cedar during Christmas on the Prado:

In late 2019 a new young tree was planted! I posted a photograph of it here. Now, for contrast, I’ll share that pic again:

Yesterday I noticed the promising young tree has grown quite a lot! Check it out:

I know, it’s odd that I’m posting these photos in late February, with war raging in Ukraine, but during my walk yesterday I also encountered a new Peace Pole that has been installed by the International Cottages.

And it occurred to me: doesn’t a growing Christmas tree also represent Life and Hope for our shared future?

One coming December, perhaps this next one, San Diego’s growing community Christmas tree will light up for its first time. And that age-old message will shine forth once again: On Earth peace, good will toward men…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

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