Monday, November 7, 2011

Holiday Season Activities for International Students in San Diego (2011)

In the United States, the months of November and December are known as the holiday season. There are so many good reasons for students at English schools in San Diego to celebrate and have fun. It is a time of the year when friends and family can get together and enjoy a variety of festivals, events, activities But there are many excellent non-holiday events happening during this time as well. These are the events that our teachers, students and friends have enjoyed in the past, and that we think international students in San Diego will love in the future.

If you want more real advice and recommendations about these events, contact Student Services Director Nick Sacco at Connect English in Mission Valley:

You can also recommend other events (concerts, festivals, etc.) that you have heard about. Please notify Connect English of other great ideas. You can submit event information through the Connect English website. The Connect English Holiday Activities Calendar is here to help international students in San Diego to make the most of these opportunities to enjoy American culture. Take a look:

The San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival
Date/Time: November 16th through 20th, 2011
Location: Embarcadero Marina Park North
Price: $45+
Why should I do this? Celebrity chefs, excellent restaurants, and connoisseurs of food and wine come together for an event that defines trends in cooking, restaurants, food and style. This five-day event offers over 100 exhibitors, plus shows, presentations and much more to satisfy your inner foodie. TV personalities like Sam the Cooking Guy, Bravo Top Chef winner Brian Malarkey and dozens of others are featured presenters in 2001. Get ready for a food and beverage experience that you will remember in your mind and in your belly for the rest of your life.

Ice Skate at Horton Plaza
Date/Time: November 17th, 2011 through January 8th, 2012
Location: Horton Plaza, Downtown San Diego
Price: $12-14
Why should I do this? Want to experience ice skating in the heart of America's Finest City all while benefiting a great cause? Go to Horton Plaza and join them in a benefit for the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego. You can rent your skates there at the location and give it a try for the first time, or just go there to watch the experienced skaters practice.

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Date/Time: November 19th through December 31st, 2011
Location: The Old Globe, Balboa Park
Price: $24-57
Why should I do this? Choose a day or night to see the story of the Grinch in Whoville. For this holiday season tradition, the Old Globe Theater is turned into a snow-covered wonderland. This is the 14th year of the Old Globe Grinch performance, which even includes showtimes for young children during the day. Enjoy performances of favorite Grinch and Who tunes like “This Time of Year,” “Santa for a Day” and “Fah Who Doraze."

Thanksgiving Day
Date/Time: Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Location: Your house or a friend's house
Price: Ask your friends to contribute
Why should I do this? On this day in the United States, friends and family get together and have a big dinner. Invite your friends to your house, or go to a friend's house. Cook a turkey, some mashed potatoes, and anything else you love, and then just have a nice evening being friendly with the people you care about.

[RELATED STORY: 2010 Thanksgiving Feast for Connect English Students]

San Francisco Trip for International Students
Date/Time: November 24th through 27th, 2011
Location: San Francisco, California
Price: $300+ per person for the whole trip
Why should I do this? Use the long holiday weekend as an opportunity to see one of the favorite cities in California and in the USA in general. San Diego Experiences organizes unique and accessible trips especially for groups of students from language schools in San Diego. Transportation, food, accommodation and guided tours are included in this sweet deal from a great tour organizer.

Black Friday
Date/Time: Friday, November 25th, 2011
Location: All shopping areas of San Diego
Price: Depends on your habits and preferences
Why should I do this? Love it or hate it, Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year in the USA. Most major retailers offer excellent sale prices on everything from clothes to electronics. Shopping enthusiasts arrive early and wait in line for hours to get the best deals on the best stuff. Other people just avoid shopping centers altogether because of the parking problems and huge crowds. Whatever you choose to do on this day, make a good plan and make the most of your day.

It's a Wonderful Life
Date/Time: November 30th through December 31st, 2011
Location: Cygnet Theatre, Old Town
Price: $26 to $45
Why should I do this? See the performance of this Christmas classic story at the fantastic Cygnet Theatre. Connect English teacher Tim West plays the part of Clarence Oddbody and others. Be a part of a Christmas miracle by enjoying this Joe Landry adaptation of the story that American kids grew up watching all through the holiday season. It'll make you thankful for everything great in your life, and thankful even for the things you hadn't been happy about.

December Nights in Balboa Park
Date/Time: December 2nd and 3rd, 2011
Location: Throughout Balboa Park
Price: $3 for parking, otherwise admission is free!
Why should I do this? This giant, diverse, festive, interesting and spirited celebration is a must-do event for the holidays in San Diego. Balboa Park is a beautiful place throughout the year, but for December Nights, it is amazing. Museums are free for everyone to enter, food and drinks from all around the world are offered by local cultural club. Music and exhibitions are available everywhere, and all kinds of crafts (great Christmas gifts and souvenirs) can be found around every corner. Don't miss this wonderful holiday festival for everyone!

The 94/9 Holiday Hootenanny concert
Date/Time: Saturday, December 3rd, 2011
Location: USD Jenny Craig Pavilion
Price: $40
Why should I do this? Rock acts My Morning Jacket, Two Door Cinema Club (Uh, where's the hyphen, guys?), Matt and Kim, and Delta Spirit offer San Diegans hours of awesome music on stage at one of the best universities in Southern California. What's more, $1 of your ticket cost is donated to the "About the Music" fund, which supports local music programs.

North Park Toyland Parade and Festival
Date/Time: Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 at 11:00am
Location: University Avenue in North Park
Price: Completely FREE!
Why should I do this? Gliding down University Avenue between Utah and Iowa Streets, this cheerful pageant will feel like a Winter Wonderland, as melodious marching bands, upbeat dance groups, cool vintage cars, beauty queens and city officials (and more!) warm your spirits. Santa Claus will be riding atop his merry red sleigh and bells will be ringing as loved ones snuggle up in the bright, frosty air. After the parade, the North Park Holiday Fair lasts into the afternoon and provides family fun that everyone will love.

Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas Symphony
Date/Time: Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 7:30pm
Location: San Diego Civic Theatre
Price: $130+
Why should I do this? Mannheim Steamroller and members of the world-renowned Czech Philharmonic Orchestra have joined together in a new CD release for the holiday season. Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Symphony features brand new Christmas recordings of the group's classic Christmas songs. You've heard their famous versions of popular Christmas songs before, but now you can see them performed amazingly in person here in San Diego.

The Nutcracker by City Ballet of San Diego
Date/Time: December 9th through 21st, 2011
Location: Spreckles Theatre, Downtown San Diego
Price: $29-59
Why should I do this? The first performance of Tchaikovsky's classic ballet was on December 18, 1892 at the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. City Ballet of San Diego's first performance was in 1995, and the production has become an annual holiday tradition ever since. The San Diego Dance Alliance awarded City Ballet of San Diego's production as The Best Nutcracker in San Diego.

91X presents: Wrex the Halls
Date/Time: December 10th and 11th, 2011
Location: Valley View Casino Center (a.k.a. San Diego Sports Arena)
Price: $40-60 per day
Why should I do this? It's a two-day music festival of some of the most popular and talented bands on the radio today. This year's lineup includes Florence and the Machine, Death Cab for Cutie, Cage the Elephant, Everlast, Blink 182 and more. This may be your best chance to see some of the best bands from the USA in one place while you study English in San Diego.

Christmas Lights of Christmas Circle
Date/Time: December 11th through 26th, 2011 from 5:00pm to 10:00pm
Location: Whitney St./Mankato in Chula Vista
Price: Completely FREE!
Why should I do this? This entire neighborhood goes all-out to light up the night and bring the entire community together to celebrate the holidays. People from all over San Diego County drive to this neighborhood to see the beautifully decorated homes. Over 55 homes will be completely covered with outdoor Christmas lights and decorations. You're sure to say, "Oooooh, ahhhhh, ohhhh!" as you turn the corners to see what each individual home owner has done to make his or her home the best-decorated house on the block.

Z90 Jingle Jam concert event
Date/Time: Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 at 7:30pm
Location: Valley View Casino Center (a.k.a. San Diego Sports Arena)
Price: $40+
Why should I do this? Like the 91X Wrex the Halls concert event, the Z90 Jingle Jam brings together some bangin' hip-hop acts that you hear on the radio and on the dance floor every weekend. This year's lineup includes Pit Bull, Whiz Khalifa and Flo Rida. Even more special guests and acts will be added to the list as well, so keep checking their website.

The Poinsettia Bowl
Date/Time: Wednesday, December 21st, 2011
Location: Qualcomm Stadium
Price: $45+
Why should I do this? A new tradition in college football bowl season, the Poinsettia Bowl frequently pits American football teams from United States military academies against other popular university teams. Last year the game featured San Diego State University against the US Naval Academy (and SDSU won!). Because the game frequently features teams from universities in the western United States, the crowds of fans are enthusiastic a lot of fun.

Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade
Date/Time: Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 10:00am
Location: Downtown San Diego
Price: $15-22
Why should I do this? The scenic, bayside streets of downtown San Diego will come alive with the 2011 Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade. This exciting family event brings together world-class marching bands, magnificent floats, entertaining drill teams, and a procession of enormous balloons. Over 100,000 street-side spectators will enjoy the parade along with a nationwide television audience. All of this is done as a celebration and build-up for the nationally televised Holiday Bowl college football game later that night (see below).

The Holiday Bowl
Date/Time: Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 at 5:00pm
Location: Qualcomm Stadium
Price: $70+
Why should I do this? Some of the best teams in college football are invited to San Diego for a nationally televised football match that has been a tradition since 1978. San Diego swells with enthusiastic visitors and fans of the competing college teams. Attend this event to experience the enthusiasm and energy of college football, which some say is even better to see in person than professional NFL football games.

New Year's Eve - Big Night San Diego
Date/Time: Saturday, December 31st, 2011 from 9:00pm until 3:00am
Location: The Hilton San Diego Bayfront
Price: $109+
Why should I do this? This popular, annual New Year's Eve celebration features twelve themed party areas, six dance floors, great food, discounted hotel room rates (good luck getting a cab after midnight!), killer DJs and thousands of other fun people ringing in a hopeful and prosperous 2012 for all.


In addition to these community events, Connect English will host a variety of holiday activities for our students. Here's a video clip of one international student holiday activity [YouTube] from 2010. Join us to experience the joys of our friendly student community and excellent English classes. To learn more, contact Connect English today:
Phone: (619) 283-2811