By Miriam Raftery
November 24, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) - This week’s Destination East County features many events to be thankful for – from Thanksgiving weekend events at a local camel dairy and exotic animal sanctuary to holiday tree lightings, live hawk demonstrations, Christmas festivals and more.
Scroll down for all of these events and many more!
PINE VALLEY CAMP CHRISTMAS CONTINUES NOW THROUGH DEC. 23
The trees of Pine Valley light up the night with hundreds of thousands of lights dancing to the beat of your favorite Christmas songs at the top of every hour at Pine Valley Camp. Grab some hot cocoa and enjoy this festive light show that will mesmerize all ages. There are four different programmed shows each night at the top of each hour from 5:30-9:45 p.m. on Nov. 26-28, December 2-5 and December 9-23. Tickets also include a dancing water show, a live presentation of “The Christmas Guest,” hayrides, bounce houses, face painting, a photo booth, game room, talking Christmas tree, and Nativity scene. Additional options are available for an added fee including S’mores, laser tag, hot drinks, snacks, sweets, and gift items. For tickets and details, visit https://pinevalleycampchristmas.com. Be sure to dress warm! It’s chilly in this mountain community.
HOLIDAY WINE TRAIL NOV. 28-DEC. 19
What could be merrier than a Holiday Wine Trail in the country featuring 17 local wineries? This year, the Ramona Holiday Wine Trail offers discount wine tastings each Saturday and Sunday now through Dec. 19. Advance reservations are required.
Find full details at ramonavalleyvineyards.com/.
POMEGRANATE DAYS RETURNS AT OASIS CAMEL DAIRY NOV. 26-28
On Thanksgiving weekend, Nov. 26-28 from 12 to 2 p.m., Oasis Camel Dairy invites you to the return of Pomegranate Days along with an open farm tour. The festivities include a live show featuring racing turkeys, talking parrots and camels.
You can also feed apple treats to camels, take a camel ride, or shop for gifts such as camel’s milk soaps, lotions, bath products, chocolates and more.
Capacity is limited to 200, so pre-booking online is required. Reserve space at https://cameldairy.com/open-farm-tours.
HOLIDAY FEST AT GROSSMONT CENTER NOV. 27-28; TREE LIGHTING NOV. 27
You’re invited to a holiday fest at Grossmont Center mall in La Mesa on Saturday, November 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 28 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Come kick off your holiday shopping with a curated mix of over 70 local crafters and vendors while enjoying family-friendly activities at this fun, free holiday event.
November 27 is Small Business Saturday, and this will be the perfect opportunity to small and shop local among the shops and vendors at Grossmont Center. There will also be a tree lighting from 4 to 6 p.m. on November 27 in the Grossmont Center courtyard.
On both Saturday and Sunday, you can mix and mingle with Kris Kringle and friends while getting your holiday photos taken at one of the holiday photo backdrops and enjoy lunch or snacks including vegan options by local food vendors.
For more information, visit https://grossmontcenter.com.
NORTH POLE EXPRESS TRAIN RIDES IN CAMPO NOV. 27-DEC. 18
The famous North Pole Limited returns to celebrate the holiday season at the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum in Campo each Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting November 27 through December 18..
The fun begins at the lighted Campo Depot. Once onboard the North Pole Limited, Santa’s elves will sing favorite Christmas carols, read a popular Christmas story to all of our young ones. The North Pole Limited will stop at Santa’s Workshop to pick up Santa and Mrs. Claus who will visit with all passengers on the train on its way back to the Campo Depot.
For tickets and details, visit https://www.psrm.org
LIONS, TIGERS AND BEARS HOSTS TURKEY BASH NOV. 26-27
After you’ve savored your Thanksgiving feast, you’re invited to come watch exotic animals at Lions, Tigers and Bears in Alpine device their Thanksgiving meal at the annual Turkey Bash.
The event takes place Friday and Saturday, November 26 and 27 at 10 a.m. Advance ticket purchases are required. All proceeds benefit the rescued animals. The event will take place, rain or shine.
For tickets, visit https://www.lionstigersandbears.org/our-events/thanksgiving-turkey-bash.
HOLIDAY LIGHTS ON MAIN NOVEMBER 27 IN DOWNTOWN EL CAJON
Downtown El Cajon will host its annual Holiday Lights on Main on Saturday, November 27 from 12 noon to 8 p.m. The event features a tree lighting at 6 p.m. and free musical entertainment by the Original Starfires Band from 2-4 p.m., followed by the Siers Brothers Band.
The merchants group also invites the public to help support local business on this “Shop Small” occasion to keep revenues in the community.
JULIAN COUNTRY CHRISTMAS NOV. 27
Julian’s Country Christmas will be held on November 27 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Pioneer Park.
Musical entertainment will be held all afternoon, followed by lighting of an enormous living Christmas tree in the evening. The park is located at 2811 Washington Street in historic downtown Julian.
A living nativity will be on display outside Julian Cider Mill from 6 to 7 p.m., right after the tree lighting ceremony.
For details, visit https://visitjulian.com/event/country-christmas-tree-lighting/.
LANTERN CREST HOSTS DRIVE-THRU HOLIDAY LIGHT EXTRAVAGANZA IN SANTEE
Lantern Crest Senior Living (300 Lantern Crest Way, Santee) is hosting its annual drive-through Holiday Light Extravaganza featuring thousands of twinkling lights throughout its 34-acre East San Diego property! Cocoa and snacks will be available for purchase with proceeds benefiting the Lantern Crest Foundation. The event takes place every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Thursday, Dec. 2 to Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021 (12 nights to choose from!).
The cost is $5 per vehicle. All proceeds will go to the Lantern Crest Foundation, a 501 (C)(3) which provides comprehensive services to help local seniors meet their healthcare and daily living needs.
No walk-through traffic is permitted for this event.
Learn more at lanterncrestseniorlivingsantee.com.
LEMON GROVE'S 24TH ANNUAL BONFIRE DEC. 3
The holiday season heats up in Lemon Grove with the city’s 24th annual bonfire on Friday, December 3 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Treganza Heritage Park(3200 Main Street).
Dress warm and come out with the family to enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies, bring friends and partake in activities including arts and crafts, a game truck, rock climbing, and live music. There will also be free hot chocolate and cookies for all, as well as other foods available for purchase.
CREST CHRISTMAS MARKET AND FESTIVAL DEC. 3-4
Santa will arrive by firetruck to cap off a two-day Christmas Market and Festival in Crest. The event will be held at the Crest Clubhouse (113 North Park, El Cajon) on Friday, December 3 from 3-8 p.m. and Saturday, December 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Santa will ride in on the firetruck on Saturday only at 4 p.m. and stay until 6 p.m.
Throughout the two-day event, visitors can shop from vendors, enjoy food, raffles, door prizes, photo stations and fulfil Christmas wishes on a wish tree.
HOLIDAY HAYRIDE AT FORT CROSS OLD TIMEY ADVENTURES
‘Tis the season for family fun. Fort Cross Old Timey Adventures in Santa Ysabel invites you to enjoy a Holiday Hayride on November 27-28 and December 4-5 from10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hayride packages include the hayride, caroling, a hoedown jug band show, petting zoo, reptile show, seasonal craft, and candle dipping.
For tickets ($25 for age 13 and up, free for each younger child accompanied by an adult) visit https://www.fortcross.com
JULIAN CHRISTMAS MARKET DEC. 4
You’re invited to an old-fashioned Christmas Market at the Julian Mining Company (4444 Highway 78, Julian) on Saturday, December 4th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
This festive community event open to all features craft vendors, Christmas wreath making and candle dipping.
Plus, you can enjoy Julian Mining Company activities such as gem sluicing, gold panning, a miniature mine train ride, tomahawk throwing, a dig pit, and shopping at the general store.
For more information, visit julianminingcompany.com/.
LIVE HAWK DEMONSTRATION DEC. 5 AT MISSION TRAILS
Mission Trails Regional Park has resumed its live hawk demonstrations on the first Sunday of each month. The next “Hawk Talk” will take place December 5th from 9 a.m. to noon featuring falconer Bob Gordon, Mission Trails volunteer George Varga and Huxley, a Harris hawk.
For more information, you can visit MTRP.org.
LA MESA HOLIDAY IN THE VILLAGE DEC. 4
La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village will ring in holiday cheer on Saturday, December 4th from 12 noon to 9 p.m. along La Mesa Boulevard between Spring and 4th streets in the downtown village.
Festivities for this community event open to all include with live music, cozy fire pits, craft vendors, food, holiday photo opportunities, and a kids’ area bigger than Santa’s Toy Shop. There will also be carnival games, carolers, bands, craft vendors, food and drinks from La Mesa local favorites.
This honored tradition transforms the town into a winter wonderland for the whole family. You can find details at lamesavillageassociation.org.
JOIN JULIAN IN PERFORMANCE OF HANDEL’S MESSIAH DEC. 12
Julian’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah will take place on Sunday, December 12 in the Julian Town Hall at 7:00 p.m. and all are welcome. This is a community event, free of charge though donations are welcome.
The chorus is open to any singers who want to participate; there will be professional soloists and musicians.
The final rehearsal for the chorus is Saturday morning, December 11 at the Methodist Church on Highway 78 at 10 a.m. Alternatively, singers can join the group at the Town Hall at 6:30 on Sunday. Dress is fun Christmas.
VIEJAS ICE RINK OPEN FOR HOLIDAY SEASON
Southern California’s largest outdoor ice skating rink is open for the holiday season now through January 3rd.
The rink at Viejas Outlets Center in Alpine invites you to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season with ice skating as well as holiday lights, entertainment and a winter water show as well – all at the Viejas Outlets Center in Alpine.
The outlets mall also has visits with Santa and more holiday happenings.
The rink is open daily and skate rentals are available. You can find details at viejas.com/skating-rink/.