This past Friday, John and I decided to check out the December Nights Event at Balboa Park. Many of our coworkers warned us against it, because all of downtown becomes a parking nightmare, but since we live downtown and are able to walk to Balboa from the Penthouse Penthouse, we decided to give it a go! And I’m glad we did! We had an unbelievable time!
Once you look past the crowds and slight claustrophobia, you can see why this is an event that over 250 thousand people attend each year – I mean, come on, there’s a reason it’s so jam-packed- it draws an insane crowd because they put on a truly spectacular event! From carnival rides, to hundreds of different food choices, to shows happening throughout the park, to beautiful lights that truly showcase Christmas and the holidays, the December Nights event at Balboa Park has it all!
We started off in the southwest corner of the park, where all the culture houses are located. The cool thing about this area was all of the cultural food! Each country had its own tent where it served traditional food of that country. John and I were able to try Argentinian Arroz con Pollo (chicken and rice), German Bratwurst complete with potato salad and sauerkraut, a traditional Danish pancake dessert called Aebleskiver, and Varenyky, a Ukranian dumpling which tasted similar to a pierogie. We also indulged in some hot cocoa and hot cider, but those weren’t as traditional to one particular culture – they did warm us up though, it was a chilly night by San Diego standards (in the 50s, brr)!
After having our fill of food from around the world, we began exploring other parts of the park. One of the coolest aspects of this event is that all of Balboa Park “opens its doors”, meaning that all the museums, buildings, and areas of the park are free and open to the public. So you can spend your evening enjoying the Sculpture Garden, Museum of Man, or even the San Diego Air and Space Museum, free of charge. We didn’t spend too much time checking out museums because we were focused on other priorities – like the food ;-)
The lights were truly spectacular, and the photos we took don’t do them the littlest bit of justice. My two favorite decorated areas were the Balboa Park Botanical Garden and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Everywhere you turned there was yet another form of entertainment- there were carolers, choirs, dancers, singers. You name it, and it was probably at Balboa on both Friday and Saturday of last weekend.
If the opportunity ever arises and you’re in San Diego at the time Balboa is hosting December Nights, you must check it out. It’s definitely worth braving the crowd and trying to find a parking spot!