East County News Service
November 27, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – December brings the magic of the holiday season, with many delightful events and activities. This year’s options in East County include the North Pole Express train ride in Campo, outdoor ice skating rinks in Julian and Alpine, a pottery tour and a Crest Craft festival ideal for holiday gift shopping, elaborate holiday lighting displays at Santee Lakes, Enchanted Village in Spring Valley, and Camp Christmas in Pine Valley. There’s a performance of the Nutcracker Ballet in El Cajon, and a contemporary twist on the Nutcracker performed by Kidz Danz Kompany in La Mesa. Plus, you can enjoy tree lighting ceremonies in Lakeside and Ramona , caroling on Mt. Helix, La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village, and Lemon Grove’s annual holiday bonfire.
Scroll down for details on these merry events, and have a joyous holiday season!
Know of a holiday event we've missed? Please post info in our comments section.
ICE SKATING AT JULIAN FARM AND ORCHARD NOV. 10-JAN. 1
Julian Farm and Orchard will be transformed into a winter wonderland with the first-ever ice rink, from November 10th through January 1st, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
This skating arena is a synthetic and water-free ice substitute that aligns with Julian Farm and Orchard's commitment to sustainability. You can rent their ice skates or bring your own. You can also enjoy snuggling by outdoor fires, roasting marshmallows, holiday tastes and taps.
You can reserve your spot online https://www.julianfarmandorchard.com/ice-skating
NORTH POLE EXPRESS TRAIN RIDES IN CAMPO NOV. 24-DEC. 18
The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum invites you to take a ride aboard the North Pole Limited railway, each Friday and Saturday from November 24 through December 16, departing at 5 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.
The fun begins at the festive Campo Depot, where guests pick up tickets and browse the holiday items in the gift shop. Once onboard the North Pole Limited, a crew of elves will regale you with holiday songs and stories, serve hot chocolate and fresh cookies, and more as the North Pole Limited winds its way through the beautiful backcountry on its way to the North Pole, where it stops at Santa’s Workshop to pick up Santa and Mrs. Claus. The train ride lasts for approximately 90 minutes, as Santa and Mrs. Claus visit with all passengers on the train on our way back to the Campo Depot.
For tickets, visit https://www.psrm.org/npl/.
Find details at https://www.downtownelcajon.com.
PINE VALLEY CAMP CHRISTMAS NOV. 17-DEC. 23
Pine Valley Camp Christmas transforms into a winter wonderland where you can view thousands of computerized lights strung on trees and a spectacular water show, both synchronized to holiday music. This year’s even runs November 17-26 and December 1-23 from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
You can also enjoy hayrides, bounce houses, laser tag, tree climbing, and many other games and attractions for all ages, plus tasty food options .
For full details, visit https://pinevalleycampchristmas.com/.
VIEJAS ICE RINK IN ALPINE OPEN NOV. 23-JAN. 7
The largest outdoor ice rink in southern California will be open at the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine from November 23rd through January 7th from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Skate rentals are available.
You can also enjoy holiday shopping at the outlet center’s many shops. For more information, visit https://viejasoutletcenter.com/skating-rink/.
LIGHTS AT THE LAKES DEC. 1
Santee Lakes will host its Lights at the Lakes Holiday Light Show on December 1st from 6 to 8 p.m.
This event features one mile of over 100,000 lights and more than 35 larger than life displays all synched to the car radio. Tickets will be available at www.SanteeLakes.com.
SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS DEC. 2 BRINGS HOLIDAY CHEER TO LAKESIDE
Santa and his elves are hard at work, getting ready for Christmas and working together with the Lakeside Chamber of Commerce on their Spirit of Christmas event. The festivities will be held on Saturday, December 2 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. along Maine Ave. in the heart of historic Lakeside.
Everyone is invited to come and enjoy an old-fashioned, hometown celebration complete with all the sights, sounds and scents of Christmas:
3:00 p.m. – Shopping, children's activities, delicious treats open to the public
4:30 p.m. – Santa's Arrival down Maine Avenue
5:00 p.m. – Community Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Olde Presbyterian Church (Lakeside Historical Society)
Santa Claus – Photos with Santa & Mrs. Claus
There will also be...
- Local Youth Performances
- Delectable Foods & Treats
- Classic Car Show(link is external)
- Kids Activities & Craft Booths
- Holiday Shopping from Local Clubs and Vendors
- Community Tree Lighting Ceremony
- Mailbox for the North Pole
- Parking $5. Donation at El Capitan Stadium Association's Lakeside Arena.
RAMONA CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING DEC. 2
Ramona Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Christmas Tree Lighting on December 2 at the Guy B. Woodward Museum (645 Main St., Ramona). The event runs from 5-9p.m. with the tree lighting at 7 p.m.
Enjoy holiday decorations, late shopping and dining, classic cars, live music, vendors, kids' crafts, dancing, carolers, photos with Santa and more.
For details, see https://ramonachamber.com/christmas-tree-lighting/.
HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE DEC. 2 IN LA MESA
La Mesa’s historic downtown will transform into a Victorian-style village for the city’s annual Holiday in the Village event on Saturday, December 2 from 12 noon to 9 p.m.
The event is held in the heart of La Mesa’s downtown along La Mesa Boulevard between Spring and Fourth streets.
Visitors can stroll the streets of La Mesa’s historic downtown while exploring dozens of local craft vendor stands, then cozy up with artisan and craft foods. Friends and family can relax by the fire pits while enjoying holiday caroling, cheerful holiday music, and fun live entertainment from local schools, clubs and more.
You can also take selfies with Santa, and children can enjoy a kids’ area bigger than Santa’s toy shop. A full schedule of events will be posted soon at http://www.lamesavillageassociation.org .
LEMON GROVE BONFIRE DEC. 3
The City of Lemon Grove will host its 24th annual holiday bonfire on December 3 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Treganza Park (3200 Main St., Lemon Grove.)
The event includes live music, food booths, arts and crafts, a rock climbing wall, game truck, cookies and hot chocolate and a giant bonfire to light the night.
KIDZ DANZ KOMPANY’S NUTCRACKER IN A NUTSHELL DEC. 8-10
Kidz Danz Kompany presents “The Nutcracker: In A Nutshell” at MPD Performance Space (8674 La Mesa Blvd. La Mesa, CA 91942) on December 8-10. It’s a new take on the classic “tail.”
Clara visits the Land of the Squeaks each winter for Royal Rat’s Grand Cheese Ball. The Cheese Fairy brings treats and plans magic for the festive event – but she is captured by Evil Nutcracker and his Nutshell Trappers. Clara must now travel through the kingdom of the Woodland Animals and rescue the Cheese Fairy to save the Cheese Ball.
For tickets and details, visit https://visionarydancetheatre.org/
CHRISTMAS ON MT. HELIX DEC. 9
Christmas on Mt. Helix returns on December 9 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. complete with a Christmas market to shop for holiday gifts, caroling, crafts, food trucks, a holiday program and Santa Claus.
Free shuttles will be available from Grossmont High School, or for members of MtHelixPark.org, there will be parking at the fire station on Vivera. To become a member, or visit https://www.mthelixpark.org.
CHRISTMAS WITH THE ANIMALS: DECEMBER 9 AT LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS IN ALPINE
You’re invited to Christmas with the Animals, a fundraiser for the Lions, Tigers and Bears sanctuary in Alpine, where you can witness the heartwarming spectacle of animals unwrapping their Christmas presents. It's a delightful moment that will warm your heart. The event takes place on Saturday, December 9 from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m., with animal feedings from 3 to 4 p.m.
There is also a festival of lights, hot cocoa and holiday beverages from a full bar, as well as a gift shop where you’ll find special holiday gifts for those on your list.
All proceeds support the rescued animals at Lions Tigers & Bears, San Diego’s only accredited exotic animal sanctuary, making your celebration even more meaningful.
Member and guest rates are available, as well as an optional upgrade to feed an exotic animal alongside a keeper. Earl reservations are advised. Tickets are available online at https://www.lionstigersandbears.org.
FIND UNIQUE GIFTS AT SAN DIEGO POTTERY TOUR DEC. 9-10
The 16th annual San Diego Pottery Tour features 11 open studios with works of over 35 ceramic artists. The self-guided tour is held December 9 and 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tour includes several artists in or near East County, including Spring Valley, Rolando and the College area.
Visitors can peruse hundreds of pots and other items ideal to purchase as gifts or for you to enjoy. All of the artists have been busy making useful pottery for food like plates, cups, bowls, pitchers, and serving dishes, along with a wide range of sculpture, vases, planters, and much more.
Maps and individual artist info on the website: www.sdpotterytour.com
CREST CHRISTMAS CRAFT SHOW DEC. 10
Ho ho! Santa will be visiting at the Crest Christmas Craft Show on Sunday, December 10. The event will be held at the Crest Clubhouse, 113 North Park Blvd., El Cajon, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The family-friendly event will feature crafts, food and music. Santa Claus will join the festivities between 4 and 6 p.m.
THE NUTCRACKER BALLET AT THE MAGNOLIA IN EL CAJON DEC. 16
On December 16th at 1 p.m., the San Diego Ballet brings the Nutcracker ballet to The Magnolia theater in El Cajon.
The Nutcracker features Tchaikovsky's timeless musical score and an international cast of more than 100 beautifully costumed dancers. Sugarplum fairies, leaping Cossacks and flurries of snowflakes swirl across the stage, in this magical journey through a young girl’s imagination.
For tickets, visit https://www.magnoliasandiego.com.
ENCHANTED VILLAGE DEC. 15-22
Noah Homes in Spring Valley (12526 Campo Rd.) will present its 6th annual Enchanted Village December 15-22 from 5-8 p.m.
Drive through 8 acres of holiday lighting with magical cottages, light tunnels and over a million lights. Also enjoy enjoying live musical performances, carolers, hundreds of candy canes and Christmas trees, holiday displays and more.
All proceeds benefit Noah Homes, a nonprofit that provides housing and care to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome and autism.
For tickets and details, visit https://www.enchantedvillage.org/.
A CAPPELLA GROUP BRINGS “SLEIGHIN’ IT" TOUR TO SYCUAN DEC. 28
The a cappella group Straight No Chaser, whose fall tour has become a holiday tradition for families around the country, will be performing Dec. 28 at Sycuan Casino and Resort in El Cajon The renown singers also just released “Stocking Stuffer,” an EP with their newest holiday repertoire here, and will also be available for purchase at the concert.
Initially formed at Indiana University, Straight No Chaser emerged at the forefront of the modern day a cappella movement, and has since sold more than three million albums worldwide, garnered more than a billion streams on Pandora alone, and sold more than 1.5 million concert tickets worldwide. In the fall of 2022, the group performed in more than 60 cities across the US with multiple sold out shows and last year ranked in the top 20 of Pollstar’s “Live 75” list of tours.