Art, crafts and fun at December Nights!

I spotted a Santa Claus with a beard made of white yarn at 2018 December Nights!
I spotted a Santa Claus with a beard made of white yarn at 2018 December Nights!

Another year, another wonderful December Nights in Balboa Park!

I headed across the Cabrillo Bridge at noon today, just as the second day of San Diego’s big annual holiday event got underway.

I prefer to wander through December Nights in the early afternoon. The sun is out, the air is warm, and the feeling is unhurried and carefree. I miss the magical Christmas lights after dark, but I also avoid the hectic press of huge crowds.

I’ve blogged December Nights for so many years now, I thought I’d try for a new angle in 2018 and focus on all the holiday art and crafts one can see while walking around. As usual, however, I ended up taking photos of anything fun that happened to catch my eye.

Many fun holiday crafts and decorations can be enjoyed throughout Balboa Park during December Nights.
Many fun holiday crafts and decorations can be enjoyed throughout Balboa Park during December Nights.
Jeff, the super cool Spanish Village Art Center historian, holds a drum and greets visitors with a huge smile!
Jeff, the super cool Spanish Village Art Center historian, holds a drum and greets visitors with a huge smile!
I was taking a photo of glass Christmas ornaments in Spanish Village when I got photobombed!
I was taking a photo of glass Christmas ornaments in Spanish Village when I got photobombed!
A happy elf was lurking near one of the Spanish Village artist studios.
A happy elf was lurking near one of the Spanish Village artist studios.
Some of the carved wooden animals of the Balboa Park Carousel were wearing elf and Santa hats.
Some of the carved wooden animals of the historic Balboa Park Carousel were wearing elf and Santa hats.
I learned Santa Claus would be hanging out in front of the Starlight Bowl.
I learned Santa Claus would be hanging out in front of the Starlight Bowl.
I noticed The Old Globe Theatre's gift shop was well stocked with nasty green Grinches, and his adorable dog Max, too!
I noticed The Old Globe Theatre’s gift shop was well stocked with vile, nasty Grinches, and his adorable dog Max, too!
People take a break during December Nights by sitting near cheerful red poinsettias in the Botanical Building.
People take a break during December Nights by sitting near cheerful red poinsettias in the Botanical Building.
A big Santa hangs from the Point Loma Garden Club's colorful tree, one of many fantastic Christmas trees inside the Casa del Prado.
A big Santa hangs from the Point Loma Garden Club’s candy and cookie bedecked tree, one of many fantastic Christmas trees inside the Casa del Prado.
Another Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees was decorated by the Friends of Balboa Park with many happy dreams.
Another Christmas tree at the annual Festival of Trees was decorated by the Friends of Balboa Park with many happy dreams.
The San Diego Womens Chorus sings holiday music at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2018 December Nights.
The San Diego Womens Chorus sings holiday music at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2018 December Nights.
A group of children called Let's Dance for Fun! performs at the small December Nights stage near the Botanical Building.
A group of children called Let’s Dance for Fun! performs at the small December Nights stage near the Botanical Building.
Santa, a guest of the House of Finland, was checking to see if children have been good at Balboa Park's International Cottages.
Santa, a guest of the House of Finland, was checking his list to see if children have been naughty or nice at Balboa Park’s International Cottages.
Holiday traditions and music from around the world are celebrated at the International Cottages during December Nights.
Holiday traditions and music from around the world are celebrated at the International Cottages during December Nights.
The House of Sweden always has lots of Christmas crafts and fun holiday stuff on display.
The House of Sweden always has lots of Christmas crafts and fun holiday stuff on display.
I headed over to the Starlight Bowl and spotted a happy snowman atop the outdoor amphitheater's roof.
I headed over to the Starlight Bowl and spotted a happy snowman atop the outdoor amphitheater’s box office roof.
These friendly folks with Save Starlight are looking for people to help support the restoration of a cherished San Diego performance venue, Balboa Park's Starlight Bowl.
These friendly folks with Save Starlight are looking for people to help support the restoration of a cherished San Diego performance venue, Balboa Park’s Starlight Bowl.

If you love Balboa Park, and would like to help restore the beloved Starlight Bowl, please take a moment to visit the Save Starlight website here!

I poked my nose inside the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater and noticed there's going to be a fun Merry Christmas Show coming up!
I poked my nose inside the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater and noticed there’s going to be a fun Merry Christmas Show coming up!
I discovered lots of holiday art, crafts and fun at another wonderful December Nights!
I discovered lots of holiday art, crafts and fun at another wonderful December Nights!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

A joyful celebration of Christmas in San Diego!

Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.
Second grade students from Dailard Elementary School fill Balboa Park with joyous song during 2018 Christmas on the Prado.

If you love Christmas and happen to be in San Diego this Sunday afternoon, head over to Balboa Park! It’s the second day of Christmas on the Prado!

The 5th Annual Children’s Coalition “Christmas on the Prado” will be held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and International Cottages from 1 – 4 pm, and will feature a special Christmas Concert by Civic Organist Raúl Prieto Ramírez, lots of holiday treats, inspiring scenes of the Nativity, games and crafts for kids, cultural displays of Christmas Around the World, a reading of The Night Before Christmas by Mrs. Claus, and photos with good old Saint Nick himself!

Christmas on the Prado is a joyful two day holiday event that celebrates the birth of Christ and the generous spirit of Christmas.

Click here to learn more. (Christmas on the Prado continues to grow every year–but they can always use more volunteers and participants! I learned that church groups from all around San Diego are welcomed to come together and join the program! Why not?)

Yesterday I experienced the first day of this year’s event.

Here are some photographs . . .

Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Mrs. Claus greeted me in the early afternoon as Christmas on the Prado got underway.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Looking at eight beautiful scenes of the Nativity created by the Community Christmas Center, which was established in 1953 in Balboa Park.
Child is awed by a visiting angel.
Child sees a visiting angel.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Elsewhere in the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa confers with an elf before a photo is taken.
Dozens of happy elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Dozens of happy, energetic elves would be first to perform on the Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
Young singers from Dailard Elementary School treat the crowd to fun holiday music.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
The nearby International Cottages were celebrating Christmas Around the World. This beautiful creche in the Hall of Nations is from Peru.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden's cottage.
These fun Christmas crafts were on display in the House of Sweden’s cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper and many hands inside the House of Norway's cottage.
Christmas baskets made of paper by many hands inside the House of Norway’s cottage.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of Hungary had their very beautiful Christmas sparkling for all to enjoy.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
The House of England was hoping that Father Christmas would Please Stop Here.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
Members of the House of Ireland prepare to sing among the International Cottages during Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
A bit later, Santa and Mrs. Claus read The Night Before Christmas to gathered children and the young-at-heart.
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They've sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Back at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the super talented group Chamber Bravura performs. They’ve sung several times at Carnegie Hall!
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected moments of humor.
Chamber Bravura lifts hearts with Christmas song, combining popular carols with unexpected bits of silly humor.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
Jumping for treats at the Gingerbread House.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
The Kearny Mesa Concert Band is almost ready to perform as the magical Spreckels Organ Pavilion lights come on.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Lights also come on in the Nativity scenes. A beautiful depiction of Mary and Joseph with the Christ child, escaping to Egypt.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Jesus with the little children. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
More happy elves take the stage for a Christmas sing-along.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The Sun Harbor Chorus Elves had many in the audience singing, clapping and ringing bells.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
The nose of an elf named Faith was getting cold, so Santa took a mini-Santa hat off the tree and put it on her nose. Photo courtesy Bill Swank. (Thank you!)

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Give a Christmas toy to less fortunate children.

Numerous elves show up at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado.
Happy elves magically appear at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for Christmas on the Prado.

If you would like to give a special Christmas gift to less fortunate children in San Diego, here’s a wonderful idea!

This coming Saturday and Sunday afternoon–December 1 and 2, 2018–toys will be collected by Toys for Tots during the 5th Annual Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park.

Bring a new unwrapped toy . . . or two . . . or three!

Here’s an even more wonderful idea! Host a toy drive at your work, church or special event and bring lots of toys!

If you happen to swing by Balboa Park on Saturday, you’ll be able to watch the lighting of the community Christmas tree in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion at 6:30 pm, then Sing Along with Santa!

Click here to learn more!

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Holiday lights shine brightly at December Nights.

A fun, illuminated snowman in Spanish Village. Festive lights dazzle at 2017 December Nights.
A fun, illuminated snowman in Spanish Village. Festive lights dazzle at December Nights.

Tonight I headed into Balboa Park to enjoy 2017 December Nights.

When its buildings, fountains and gardens are brightly lit after dark, Balboa Park is magically transformed. During the holidays the park seems like a storybook wonderland.

My camera managed to capture a small bit of that magic.

Strings of lights radiate from the center of Plaza de Panama during December Nights.
Colorful strings of lights radiate from the center of Plaza de Panama during December Nights.
The Bea Evenson fountain in the Plaza de Balboa is brightly lit for December Nights.
The Bea Evenson fountain in the Plaza de Balboa is brightly lit.
One of many beautiful Christmas trees on the Spanish Village Art Center outdoor patio.
One of many shining Christmas trees on the Spanish Village Art Center patio.
Dozens of vendors sell gifts throughout Balboa Park during the big annual holiday event.
Dozens of vendors sell gifts throughout Balboa Park during the delightful holiday event.
Roasted nuts are among the traditional holiday treats that visitors enjoy.
Roasted nuts are among the traditional holiday treats that visitors enjoy.
One of many youthful dance groups performing at the Casa del Prado.
One of many youthful dance groups performs at the Casa del Prado.
San Diego's Portuguese community contributed a Christmas tree and royal robe to the December Nights Festival of Trees inside the Casa del Prado.
San Diego’s Portuguese community contributed a Christmas tree and royal robe to the December Nights Festival of Trees inside the Casa del Prado.
The Old Globe Theatre created this very stylish Christmas tree.
The Old Globe Theatre created this very stylish Christmas tree.
The center of December Nights is the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where joyful entertainment continues into the night.
The center of December Nights is the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, where joyful entertainment continues into the night.
A choir performs holiday songs for a large December Nights crowd.
A choir performs holiday songs for a large December Nights crowd. A scene of amazing beauty.
Getting something to eat or drink at the Gingerbread House.
Getting something to eat or drink at the colorful Gingerbread House.
Scene of Jesus with children in the Nativity along the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Scene of Jesus with children in the Nativity along the rear of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
Graceful dancers perform at the International Cottages.
Graceful dancers perform at the International Cottages.
The fun zone in the Palisades area of Balboa Park features brightly lit rides for the kids.
The fun zone in the Palisades area of Balboa Park features brightly lit rides for the kids.
Getting more treats ready.
Getting more treats ready.
The bright Christmas tree at the Old Globe draws the eyes of old and young alike.
The very merry Christmas tree at the Old Globe draws the eyes of old and young alike.
In the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa Claus brings a child joy.
In the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Santa Claus brings a child magic and joy.

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Four years of December Nights memories.

December Nights begins this afternoon! The big holiday festival in Balboa Park runs today from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm, and tomorrow from noon to 11:00 pm.

The past four years, Cool San Diego Sights has featured many fun photos from December Nights. So many smiles! So many heartwarming memories!

Perhaps you’d like to relive those moments in time. Simply click the following links!

2016 . . .

Searching for Santa at December Nights!

2015 . . .

Fun photos of 2015 December Nights in Balboa Park!

2014 . . .

Joyful colors of Christmas at December Nights.

2013 . . .

Lots of Balboa Park December Nights photos!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Fun photos of 2017 Christmas on the Prado!

Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!
Energetic elves run about the colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion during 2017 Christmas on the Prado in Balboa Park!

Look at all these fun photos! I took them today in Balboa Park, where the 2017 Community Christmas Center’s “Christmas on the Prado” is being held, even as I type this.

I caught the very beginning of the annual family-friendly event. Various activities and musical entertainment on the stage of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion emphasize the religious importance and meaning of Christmas. The central feature is an extensive life-size nativity display showing Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.

When I walked around Balboa Park during the afternoon, I noticed other holiday decorations are going up all throughout the park. Next weekend the big December Nights event will be held, which is one of the nation’s most popular and spectacular holiday festivals!

Even with that smile, you can't fool me Mrs. Claus! That's not really Santa!
Even with that smile, you can’t fool me Mrs. Claus! That’s not a real Santa!
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
A bunch of folk from the North Pole were getting ready among toys as Christmas on the Prado was almost set to open.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
These outstanding U.S. Marines were collecting Toys for Tots during the annual family-friendly event.
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
I learned kids would be playing pin-the-carrot-on-the-snowman!
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
First up to sing were those elves. They attend Dailard Elementary School. Funny songs included Silly Humans and Elfie Selfie.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
Lots of parents were in the large crowd waving.
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
This elf probably thought I was a silly human, who asked her to smile for my camera!
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
Christmas on the Prado emphasizes the religious importance of the holiday. Scenes in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion show Biblical events leading up to the birth of Christ.
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
I spy four smiling faces in this photo. Can you count them?
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.
As the evening becomes chilly, a line will form at the Gingerbread House for cookies, cocoa and coffee.

Here are some additional photos from around Balboa Park today. The first two I took at the International Cottages…

A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
A beautiful small Christmas tree inside the House of Sweden cottage.
Visitors to the House of Norway were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Visitors to the House of Norway cottage were making all sorts of holiday crafts.
Artists were selling their work not far from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
Artists were selling their work on some grass near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. I spied some truly amazing Christmas artwork created by Katrina Bittar. I learned that the core of each delicate piece is papier-mâché.
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park's Spanish Village Art Center. Seems it's going to be a Meowy Christmas!
All sorts of fun holiday stuff can be found in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village Art Center. Appears it’s going to be a Meowy Christmas!
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
I bought 3 bags of cookies from this happy elf in front of the Casa del Prado. I believe funds were being raised for the San Diego Junior Theatre.
A bunch of elves are running loose in Balboa Park!
A bunch of elves are running loose in Balboa Park!

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!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Team of Santas urges kids to eat healthy food!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity pose for the judges in the Uniform Contest at 2017 OTL. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

People playing Over The Line on Fiesta Island today had to be blinking their eyes. They didn’t just see Santa Claus striding across the sand–they saw a whole team of jolly Santas!

Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity is competing this year in the OMBAC World Championship Over The Line Tournament in San Diego! And they’re spreading the important message that kids should eat healthy, nutritious food!

The unique team of Santas is organized by “Sustainable Santa” Richard Eckfield, and its members were observed this morning parading around the island handing out carrots and talking about the dangers of processed, sugary junk food and the rise of childhood obesity. Supported by several sponsors and the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, their mission is simply to promote healthy eating habits for children. “Healthy, Happy and Fit for Life!”

Members of Real Santas United to End Childhood Obesity can also be seen from time to time at farmers markets across San Diego County. They encourage children to eat real, honest-to-goodness wholesome food.

Will they win the OTL Camummy Division this year? I don’t know. I do know these Santas have a winning message!

You might like to follow the Santa & Mrs Claus for Healthy Children Facebook page!

Unlike most presents unwrapped at Christmas, good health is a gift that will last a long, merry, magical lifetime!

Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Kristin Francy, Miss Emerson in 2015, and a team of sporty Santas at the Over The Line World Championship tournament in San Diego. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Photo of Baseball Santa Bill Swank and Richard “Sustainable Santa” Eckfield at the Linda Vista Farmers Market last December. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Click to enlarge.) Image courtesy Bill Swank.
Front and back of cards that Sustainable Santa hands out at farmers markets throughout San Diego County. (Image courtesy Bill Swank.)
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. Photo courtesy Bill Swank.
Baseball Santa Swank holds up carrots which the Real Santas United hand out to kids instead of sugary candy canes. (Photo courtesy Bill Swank.)

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