Holiday festivals kick off around San Diego

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Winter Wonderland at Petco Park

SAN DIEGO — The annual December Nights festival is scheduled to begin at Balboa Park Friday afternoon, while a new holiday event is set to debut at Petco Park.

The two-day December Nights celebration will begin at 3 p.m. and serve as the kickoff of a yearlong celebration of Balboa Park’s centennial.

The event will feature holiday music at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, tours of the Houses of Hospitality and free admission to museums between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. It begins at noon Saturday.

Because more than 300,000 San Diegans are expected over the two days of the annual festival, city officials are urging attendees to take public transportation. Trolley riders can get off at the City College station and transfer to a No. 7 bus, which goes up Park Blvd.

Organizers will also offer free shuttles from parking lots at City College and Petco Park, at the corner of Park Boulevard and Imperial Avenue.

The shuttles will take riders to Sixth Avenue at Laurel Street.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, City Council President Todd Gloria, and Balboa Park Conservancy President Carol Chang are scheduled to take part in a kickoff ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Organ Pavilion.

The city is using the centennial to make a series of improvements throughout the park, including expanded wireless Internet access and new decorative lighting. The centennial marks the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, which first brought international attention to
San Diego.

The inaugural “Holiday Wonderland” at Petco Park will open for a 12-night run, featuring a snow scene, light displays, “Candyland” and a 40-foot tall Christmas tree decorated with almost 16,000 lights and more than 250 ornaments. The event is part of an effort by the Padres and the city to bring more off-season attractions to the ballpark.

Current and former Padres players are expected to make appearances, according to the team.

The Holiday Wonderland will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Padres said it will also be open on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Christmas week.

Admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children. Kids 3 and under are free. A family photo with Santa Claus will cost $25, and rides on a “Polar Express” train are $5.

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