Balboa Park’s December Nights shines bright

by Nicole Badgley, Staff Writer

Excited faces and shining eyes glowed red and green last weekend. Numerous light displays made Balboa Park glow as those excited faces enjoyed a gathering of holiday festivities.

Food trucks, local vendors, attractions and the spirit of the holidays all made for a night to remember at this year’s Balboa Park’s December Nights festival.

This is the 39th consecutive year that the event has been going on at the park.

It opened to the public on Dec. 2 from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

December Nights is the largest free community festival in San Diego. This year’s festival was co-produced by The City of San Diego and the Balboa Park Conservatory.

The whole park was decorated and lit for the 350,000 people who attended the event over the two day span.

As one of the nation’s premier holiday festivals, December Nights is a great way to attract visitors to San Diego and bring fellow community members together to enjoy the holiday season in good spirits.

“This is my first time coming to this event and it was so fun and festive,” festival-goer Mikayla Hatala said. “I’ve never seen such a huge place completed decorated like this. I see why people would come all the way from across the country to be here.”

Admissions to the park’s museums was also free for visitors from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Some museums offered Christmas displays and walk-thru’s.

This year, over 100 various musical and dance groups took to the nine stages set up around the park to offer live entertainment to visitors.

The choir from Del Cerro Baptist church sang in front of the Christmas tree as families swayed and sang along.

Children from the San Diego Junior Theatre took the stage to sing Christmas carols and sold snacks to raise money for the theatre.

Students from the San Diego State University School of Theater, Television and Film also contributed to event. They provided a Christmas-themed art installation.

78 food trucks and vendors attended the event selling food from across the globe.

Vendors and booths with crafts were an excitement to kids and adults alike.

San Diego Art Institute featured arts, crafts and jewelry vendors from San Diego.

One booth was selling beads and wooden jewelry. Another booth was selling homemade ceramics.

Others were there for awareness and promotion of a club or event.

One such booth was selling Santa Claus suits to festival-goers. Eric Narneberg is the executive director of the booth.

He was there promoting and signing visitors up for the San Diego Santa Run, a 5k run in Pacific Beach on December 10.

“Right after the run is the Pacific Beach Holiday Parade so the funds from the San Diego Santa Run support the PB community and the parade they put on,” Narenerg said.

This is the fourth year that he has set up his booth at Balboa Parks December Nights.

“There’s just something about it with all the lights and atmosphere that really kicks off the holiday and Christmas season,” Narneberg said.

The lights, decorations and thousands of people all made a very festive night of friends and family gatherings for the start of the holidays.

For those who missed Balboa Park December Nights, next year’s event will surely be as cheery and full of holiday spirit as this year’s was.

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