9 Ways to Make Merry Holiday Memories

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December may be the merriest time of the year — but it’s also the busiest. Why not take a much-needed break from shopping and entertaining? Instead, create joyful new memories that the whole family will treasure. Make plans now to experience the spirit of the season with these fun-filled, not-to-be-missed, festive events!

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‘Tis the season for a beloved annual excursion to The Old Globe in Balboa Park. This year, experience TWO lively holiday productions! First, chase away your inner-Grinch with the incredible 22nd production of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Then, start a new family tradition with the west coast premiere of Ebenezer Scrooge’s BIG San Diego Christmas Show, based on A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but with a comic local twist. For tickets, visit www.theoldglobe.org.

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Holiday magic meets the wonderous underwater world during the month-long celebration Seas ‘n’ Greetings at Birch Aquarium. Deck the Hall (of Fishes) and join daily festivities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Check event schedule for special appearances by Scuba Santa (arrive early for dive show seating), themed animal encounters, scavenger hunts, live music and fun photo opportunities. All SEAsonal activities are included with aquarium admission. For details, explore www.aquarium.ucsd.edu/experiences/events/seas-n-greetings. 

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Reignite the holiday spirit with a visit to Noah Homes’ Enchanted Village in Spring Valley, Dec. 13–15 and 20–22, 4:30–8 p.m. For about the same price as a movie ticket, guests are surrounded by a winter wonderland filled with beautifully lit trees, magical cottages and decorations galore. Listen to carolers, experience a snow sled run, take photos with Santa and more! Help break the cycle of unemployment for adults with developmental disabilities by purchasing tickets or making a charitable donation at www.enchantedvillage.org.

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Experience holiday fun the old-fashioned way at Julian’s Country Christmas. You’ll feel a nip in the air and might even catch a glimpse of snowcapped mountains! Gather for the Country Christmas Tree Lighting on Nov. 30, followed by festivities throughout December. Visit Santa at Town Hall, explore the Living Nativity on Main St., tour holiday homes, take a winter hayride, enjoy Victorian Christmas tea, and shop for unique holiday gifts. Discover a mountain of merriment at www.juliancountrychristmas.com.

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Spend Christmas Eve with candlelight, carols, the Christmas Story and the Christmas Spirit. First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley offers five distinct candlelight services with two special services for families: Worship led by youth at 3 p.m. will have everyone singing Christmas carols, with cookies and refreshments to follow. At 5 p.m., the annual Christmas Pageant re-enacts the story of Jesus’ birth through scripture readings, children’s choir songs, carols and candle lighting. Visit www.fumcsd.org/christmaseve for more information. 

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Who doesn’t love the sights and sensations of winter snowfall? Experience enchanted flurries, choreographed lights, and seasonal music nightly during Village Walk at Eastlake Winter Wonderland from Dec. 7–24. Kids will receive free holiday-themed headbands and “magic” glasses to view falling snow in rainbow colors. They can even meet a charming “snowman” on select nights! Capture unique family photos within a giant snow globe. Visit www.shopvillagewalk.com for more info. 

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Everyone’s favorite holiday classic comes to life in the new production A Charlie Brown Christmas Live On Stage! Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang as they produce their own Christmas play and learn the true meaning of the season. This charming show features the unforgettable music of Vince Guaraldi and a concert of beloved holiday carols. Visit www.sandiegotheatres.org/a-charlie-brown-christmaslive-on-stage for tickets. Choose from two shows on Dec. 27 at Balboa Theatre: 1:30 p.m. or 5 p.m.

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Celebrate the holidays in an Alpine Wonderland at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Don’t miss the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 with Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist Hank Plante. Holiday choirs perform through Dec. 13 and Santa arrives Dec. 14. Take the kids to Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 15. Ride ‘n’ Dine is Dec. 25 starting at 11 a.m. in Pines Café. Extended tram hours Dec. 23–Jan. 3. Visit www.pstramway.com for details.

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Bah humbug! A Christmas Carol returns to Cygnet Theatre for its sixth season of cheer from Nov. 27–Dec. 29. Discover hope and redemption with Scrooge, the Spirits and the Cratchit family during this musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic. Don’t miss Family Day pre-show activities on Dec. 1, or a sensory-friendly performance—designed for individuals with sensory processing disorders, autism or other developmental disabilities—on Dec. 11. For tickets and info, visit www.cygnettheatre.com

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Lisa Pawlak

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