- 16th annual Gingerbread City contest with chefs basing creations on themes from holiday storybooks, 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 1 at Grand Del Mar Resort, 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, benefit for Epilepsy Foundation. (619) 296-0161.
- Letter writing to Santa at Macy's stores through Dec. 24. For each postcard received, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million.
- "The Elf on the Shelf" co-authors (mother/daughter) Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell visit from 2 to 4 p.m. at Geppetto's, Flower Hill Promenade, 2670 Via de la Valle. (858) 350-9038.
- Leonard Bernstein's "Mass," presented by La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, 8 p.m. Dec. 4-6 and 3 p.m. Dec. 6, Mandeville Auditorium, UCSD campus. Tickets $18-$36. (858) 534-4637, www.lajollasymphony.com.
- "Ode to Joy," from the San Diego Symphony (and Beethoven), 8 p.m. Dec.
4-5 and 2 p.m. Dec. 6.
Copley Hall, 750 B St. (619) 235-0804, www.sandiego
- Santa arrival, Dec. 5 at Del Mar Plaza. Del Mar Art Gallery will have kids' Santa Drawing from 1 to 3 p.m., and each child will take home what they paint and draw with Santa's signature. email@example.com.
- Torrey Pines High School Holiday Boutique, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 5, free parking. More than 30 vendors selling jeans, purses, clothing, holiday gifts and more. Benefits the College and Career Center and other student programs. (858) 755-0125, ext. 2024.
- Holiday Wonderland in the Village of Del Mar, from 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 6, includes activities for every age. Pre-event tickets cover four to 10 food items and/or activities. Twenty-five tickets for $20 (day of event $25). Music, arts and crafts, restaurant sampling, barbecue, Bully's fun zone, horse and carriage rides, Santa photos, school choirs, carolers, dance teams, Snow Queen visits and puppet show at the library. Snow! the real white powdery stuff, will be "imported" at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 2 to 4 p.m., with complimentary hot cocoa and goodies, 334 14th St., across from the Del Mar Plaza.
- Advent Evensong with the choir of St. Peter's Episcopal Church and the young singers of the St. Nicholas Choristers under the direction of Ruben Valenzuela, 5 p.m. Dec. 6. Festive sherry reception follows in the parish hall. (858) 755-1616.
- "A Night in Bethlehem," 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at Calvary Lutheran Church, 424 Via de la Valle, north of the fairgrounds, Solana Beach. The courtyard will be set up to resemble a marketplace in biblical times. Booths will feature food, arts, crafts and other goods of the era. Church members will portray Mary, Joseph, shepherds and Roman soldiers. Strolling musicians will entertain. Tickets: $15 ($45 per family), include a light meal. R.S.V.P. by Dec. 2. (858) 755-2855. www.CalvaryLutheran
- Jewels and Jammies holiday shopping extravaganza benefits Foundation for Animal Care and Education (FACE), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, 17025 Avenida de Acacias. Raffle and silent auction, and more. R.S.V.P. by Dec. 4 for an invitation. (858) 450-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org. www.face4pats.org.
- Westwind Brass holiday concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla. Christmas carols, Hanukkah music and selections from Klezmer's Nutcracker Suite, Händel's Messiah, as well as a few surprises. Tickets: $15-$25. (619) 501-3562, www.west
- Toy drive at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza through Dec. 13 to benefit the San Diego Center for Children. Donate a new, unwrapped toy for ages 6-18 and receive a coupon for one free signature Messy Sundae dessert.
- Calling All Virginias! On this day, all girls and women named Virginia will get a $10 gift card when they come in to any Macy's store to celebrate the animated movie, "Yes, Virginia" ... there is a Santa Claus.
- Handel's "Messiah," conducted by Jung-Ho Pak, performed by Orchestra Nova and the Bach Collegium 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, La Jolla and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. Tickets: (858)
- Free holiday concert, "O Come, Let Us Adore Him," 7 p.m. Dec. 12-13 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Del Mar Stake Center, 12701 Torrey Bluff Drive. Soloists, 86-voice choir, youth and children's choirs will perform, accompanied by a 30-piece orchestra. (760) 753-9360.
- Fourth annual Hanukkah Celebration, with lighting of 6-foot ice menorah at Del Rayo Village Shopping Center, 7 p.m. Dec. 12. Free. Ice carving demonstration by James Lovejoy, music, refreshments, kids' crafts from the Chabad Jewish Center of Rancho Santa Fe. (858) 756-7571.
- Starry Nights Reception, 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 13, hosted by DMAC Gallery, with music, fun and food, opportunity tickets to win money tree, artwork by members and many other prizes. Del Mar Plaza, 15th and Camino del Mar. (858) 481-2882, www.dmacgallery.com.
- Third night menorah lighting and Hanukkah Soul event, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 13 at Temple Emanu-El, 6299 Capri Drive, San Diego. SoulAviv will lead the audience songs inspired by Jewish traditions and Hebrew texts combined with Southern gospel-style music, creating a unique fusion of soul, gospel, reggae and world music with Jewish heritage spirituality and celebration. (619) 286-2555, www.templeemanuelsd.org.
Annual Public Menorah Lighting, 6 p.m. Dec. 14, Charriol La Jolla, 1227 Prospect, also World Torah send off, music, refreshments and gifts. (858) 455- 5433 or Chabad@san.rr.com.
- Holiday Pops from the San Diego Symphony, Dec. 16-20 at Copley Hall, 750 B St. (619) 235-0804, www.sandiegosymphony.com.
- World holiday music, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at the Neurosciences Institute, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive. Combined Chorus of Pacificaires and Cedar Center present "The Whole World is Singing," a free concert of international music directed by Eunice Williams. Hear soloists and small ensembles, in addition to the full chorus of some 100 members and children. Patrons are invited to wear costumes reflecting their ethnicity. http://sites.google.com/site/achoruslife/Home.
- Garden of Lights, 5 to 9 p.m. Dec.10-23 and Dec. 26-30 at San Diego Botanic Garden. See 90,000 sparkling lights illuminate the paths for a magical experience with horse-drawn wagon rides, crafts, marshmallow roasting, visits with Santa, music, hot mulled wine and refreshments. Holiday Tales and Tunes for ages 2-6 several nights in December. Tickets: $4-$12. 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas. (760) 436-3036, ext. 206, www.SDBGarden.org.
- 32nd Annual December Nights, 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 4, noon to 10 p.m. Dec. 5 in Balboa Park. Lights, music, food and drink, displays and a chance to swap old strands of lights (with San Diego Gas & Electric Co. bill or California ID) at the East Gazebo from 1 to 5 p.m. for LED strands, free gift. International Cottages open from 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 4. (619) 729-8234, www.balboapark.org.
- "Santa and the Ho Ho Thief," 10 and 11 a.m. Dec. 2-3 at Mary Hitchcock Puppet Theater, 2130 Pan American Place, Balboa Park. (619) 544-9203, www.balboaparkpuppets.com.
- Gingerbread contest. 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 10-12 at Arclinea San Diego, 2515 Fifth Ave. Showcase of ginger structures built by San Diego architects, designers and cultural leaders. View and vote for a favorite, in person or online. On Dec. 12, it ends with a cocktail party and silent auction of the houses with proceeds to the Second Chance food pantry and holiday meals program. Refreshments and canned food and donation drive. Tickets: $25. (619) 564-7440, www.arclineasandiego.com.
- Old Town State Historic Park's 59th annual Las Posadas event, 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 12, includes candlelit procession from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. based on the biblical story of Mary and Joseph's search for a birthplace for the Christ child. Join the walk and sing holiday songs as the players go from inn to inn, asking for symbolic lodging. Also, food vendors, entertainment and kids' craft activities, plus guided park tours at 3 and 6 p.m. All free, but tours are $5-$10. (619) 297-3100, ext. 22, or www.fiestadereyes.com.
- SeaWorld's outdoor 5,000-square-foot ice-skating rink, beneath the 320-foot Holiday Tree of Lights, through Jan. 3; also a toddler rink with double-edged rentable skates. Twelve-minute presentations of "The Polar Express 4-D Experience" with snow, fog and gusts of wind. Skytower lights will dance, flash, swirl and glow to holiday music on KyXy 96.5 FM. www.seaworld.com
- Free Day of Dance from Malashock Dance, Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater and San Diego Ballet. Classes run from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 26 at Dance Place San Diego, 2650 Truxtun Road. www.MalashockDance.org, www.sandiegodancetheater.org, www.sandiegoballet.org.
- Cannons will fire as Santa arrives on a pirate ship from the Maritime Museum, 1 p.m. Nov. 28. The Port of San Diego will hold its first green tree lighting at 5 p.m. at Seaport Village. Santa will be available for surfing photos all afternoon, kids craft tables, strolling entertainers and dining. Breakfast with Santa at the Harbor House Restaurant, Dec. 19-20. Reservations, (619) 235-4014. www.seaportvillage.com.
- City Ballet: Dec. 11-20, Spreckels Theatre, 121 Broadway, San Digeo. $59-$29. (858) 272-8663, www.cityballet.org.
- San Diego Ballet: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17-18, UCSD Mandeville Auditorium, La Jolla. $20-$50. (619) 294-7311.
- California Ballet: Dec.12-13, Poway Center for the Performing Arts, 15498 Espola, Poway; Dec. 19, 20 and 22, San Diego Civic Theatre, 1100 Third, San Diego. Tickets: $35-$25. (858) 560-6741, www.californiaballet.org.
- "How Do You Spell Chanukkah?" 8 p.m. Dec. 5 and 7 p.m. Dec. 6-7. "Sister's Christmas Catechism: Mystery of the Magi's Gold," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14-16. "An Unscripted Carol," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21 and 28. North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. (858) 481-1055.
- "A Christmas Carol," 7 p.m. Dec. 9-27, North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach. Tickets $17.50-$35. (858) 481-1055, www.northcoast.rep.org.
- "Holiday Memories," through Dec. 12 at Legler Benbough Theatre, Alliant International University, Avenue of Nations, Scripps Ranch. $18-$20. (858) 578-7728, Scrippsranchtheatre.org.
- "A Christmas Story," through Dec. 20 at Firehouse YMCA Theatre in La Jolla. Tickets: (619) 239-8355, Boxoffice@juniortheatre.com.
- Musical performances of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," matinees and evenings through Dec. 27, Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. Tickets: $20-$79. (619) 23-GLOBE, www.theoldglobe.org.