December Nights lights up Balboa Park

SAN DIEGO -- This year's installment of the annual San Diego holiday tradition known as December Nights begins throughout Balboa Park Friday with music and dance performances, food and drink, and arts and crafts.

The 40th edition of the free event, which used to be known as Christmas on the Prado, will run from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday. Park museums will offer free admission from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on both nights.

December Nights traditionally serves as a holiday season kickoff of sorts, drawing large groups of families and friends in a crowded setting.

Around 350,000 people generally attend the two-day event, so those planning to go are asked to arrive early if they're driving, carpooling or using a ride-hailing service. Attendees can also take advantage of a shuttle that will stop at 16th and C streets near City College and on Ash Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

Drivers are cautioned that traffic will be much busier than usual in and around Balboa Park Friday and Saturday.

The Metropolitan Transit System said it will not operate buses along Park Boulevard between University Avenue and C Street during festival hours. The closures will affect bus routes 1 and 10. Rapid route 215 and route 7 will be detoured.

Routes 3 and 120 serve the west side of Balboa Park and won't be affected, according to the MTS.

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