Holiday Events for Families with Special Needs

Don’t miss these festivities designed specifically for children with special needs and their families. Make Christmas memories with sensory-friendly performances and encounters with Santa; or join a Hanukkah celebration with friends!

1. Santa Cares – A Sensory-Friendly Santa Experience 
Sunday, Dec. 3, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Westfield North County, Center Court, Level 1
272 East Via Rancho Parkway, Escondido   
www.westfield.com/northcounty/events/all-events

This compassionate, sensory-friendly event welcomes children with special needs to visit Santa in a comforting environment prior to public hours. In partnership with Autism Speaks and San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, we accommodate and support the sensory, physical and developmental needs of special needs families. Visits with Santa are free and space is limited. Reserve a time slot through the registration link below. We’ll operate by a number system instead of a queue line, with activity stations and light breakfast treats for waiting families. Keepsake Santa photo packages available for purchase. Register at www.westfield.com/northcounty/events/all-events/santa-cares---a-sensory-friendly-santa-experience/45683

2. Sensory-friendly performance of Dr. Seuss's “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”
Saturday, Dec. 9, 10:30 a.m.
The Old Globe Theatre, Balboa Park
www.theoldglobe.org

For its sixth year, The Old Globe offers a sensory-friendly performance of the holiday classic Dr. Seuss's “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” To help make this theater experience safer and more enjoyable for theatergoers with autism and other sensitivity issues, this showing has fewer loud noises and flashing lights and there is a quiet area in the lobby for children who need to leave their seats during the show. On-site volunteer specialists will be on hand to assist families as they arrive and throughout the performance.

3. A Sensory-Friendly Production of The Nutcracker by California Ballet Company
Saturday, Dec. 16 at 10 a.m.
San Diego Civic Theatre
http://californiaballet.org/nutcracker

This sensory-friendly 60-minute performance with pre-recorded music is adapted for people with sensory, intellectual or developmental disabilities so they may enjoy the performance with their families in a supportive and safe environment. Accommodations include adjusted lighting, lower sound levels, relaxed theater rules (guests may talk and leave their seats during the performance), allocated space for standing and movement, and designated safe/quiet areas in the lobby (Grand Salon, Level 2). Purchase tickets at http://sandiegotheatres.org/the-nutcracker-autismsensory-friendly-performance/

4. Family Hanukkah Celebration with The Friendship Circle
Sunday, Dec. 17, 4-6 p.m.
16934 Chabad Way, Poway
www.facebook.com/friendshipcirclesd

The Friendship Circle fosters friendships between children, teens, and young adults with special needs and their typically developing peers. All ages are invited to join us for a fun evening of friends, food and candle lighting! Enjoy entertainment and activities and get into the holiday spirit. $5 per person; $18 per family (4+). RSVP by Dec. 11 by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or calling 858-487-4879.

5. Brunch with Santa
Saturday, Dec. 16, 11:30-2:30
War Memorial Building, 3325 Zoo Dr., San Diego
619-525-8247
www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/activities/trs/

Join the City of San Diego Therapeutic Recreation Services (TRS) for face painting, games and activities designed for families with special needs who have children ages 3-13.
Meet at the grassy area at the east end of the War Memorial Building. Brunch is served from 11:30-1 pm with activities following. Cost: $5 per person. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Register online at www.SDRecConnect.com by Dec. 8. Questions? Email Gerald Cunanan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please note: An assessment to determine participant’s diet, functioning levels and other pertinent information is required before attending TRS events. Schedule the free assessment with TRS staff by calling 619-525-8247. It takes 15-30 mins.

6. Holiday Extravanganza Craft Fair
Saturday, Dec. 16, 2:00-5:30 p.m.
War Memorial Building, 3325 Zoo Dr., San Diego
619-525-8247
www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation/activities/trs/

Join the City of San Diego Therapeutic Recreation Services (TRS) to meet Santa, play free games and do some holiday shopping at the craft fair! Register online at www.SDRecConnect.com.

Please note: An assessment to determine participant’s diet, functioning levels and other pertinent information is required before attending TRS events. Schedule the free assessment with TRS staff by calling 619-525-8247. It takes 15-30 mins.

Holiday Events for Families with Special Needs

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