Ring in the holiday season at SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration. The park is decorated merrily and “otterly” bright. There are plenty of opportunities for photo-ops, especially in the Tunnel of Light and with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Meet characters and Santa, enjoy holiday treats and beverages and watch special holiday shows with dolphins, sea lions, performers and more. It's a "whale-y" great time for the whole family!
Overview of the SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration
Ho-ho-ho! Holiday lovers can head to SeaWorld San Diego to meet Santa and Rudolph, listen to carolers and musicians, enjoy new shows with singers and dancers, and bask in the glow of holiday lights. It's the most joyous time of the year. Who says you can't have snow and palm trees at the same time? SeaWorld makes it happen.
You can see the 320-foot Skytower Tree of Lights for miles around SeaWorld San Diego. It's beckoning you in for some holiday and sea creature fun both day and night. The SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration certainly lights up the night with lit palm trees, tunnels, laser shows and even fireworks on select nights. And everyone can enjoy holiday treats and toast to good holiday cheer at SeaWorld this season.
Animal lovers can still see all the animal shows and exhibits. All the rides and play areas are open during the SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration. Hop over to our post on the best SeaWorld San Diego shows and attractions to balance your day with holiday and sea animal fun.
Dates and Tickets
The SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebrations hoppens daily Nov. 14, 2022, through Jan. 8, 2023. The park is open later than usual (up to 8 p.m. on weekends and up to 9 p.m. Dec. 26-31) so guests can enjoy snowfall, holiday lights and special entertainment. While the celebration takes place every day, some entertainment is limited to weekends and holidays.
You can purchase discount SeaWorld San Diego tickets through Undercover Tourist. Next season, look for Black Friday deals to get the best deals on tickets. If you are planning to visit with tadpoles through Dec. 31, 2023, check out our SeaWorld San Diego Single Day + Kids FREE Ticket! Another option is to get the SeaWorld and Sesame Place 2-Park ticket so you can visit all your Sesame Street friends at the new Sesame Place as well on a separate day. Sesame Place has A Very Furry Christmas celebration running through Jan. 8!
Holiday Décor and Meeting Santa at SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration
You'll find lights and holiday decor all around the park. It is especially beautiful after the sun goes down and the lights turn on. The Christmas tree lighting is at 5 p.m. (but check the schedule as the sun sets earlier). You can catch snowfall in the park near Santa's Village. We also saw a small area of snowfall near a doorway near the Nautilus Amphitheater. Santa's Village snowfall had the right holiday snow vibe though. We highly recommend hopping by that area at night.
You can enjoy a 30-foot Christmas tree (lighting at 5 p.m.) along with other colorful trees, snowmen and holiday decor around the park. Catch musical acts in front of the tree on the Wild Arctic stage.
Dance through the Tunnel of Lights with over 5,000 music-activated lights. Keep an eye out for a menorah lighting once Hanukkah rolls around and some Kwanzaa festivities.
Meeting Santa and Rudolph
At the base of the 320-tall tree, you'll find Santa in Santa's Village. Visit his live reindeer just across from him. We caught snowfall and carolers there in the evening. You can pose for a pic in Santa's sleigh! As for Mrs. Claus, you can see her and some elves in a very quick cavalcade near the park exit a few times a day.
If you want to meet Rudolph or Clarice and find photo-ops, you'll have to hop over to the Wild Arctic area. Rudolph is in the back of the Holly Jolly Marketplace. At Rudolph's Christmastown, you can take pictures with the cut-out photo-ops of Rudolph's friends. The character meeting times appear in the park schedule.
We noticed some characters that were not present for the holidays this year. The Sesame Street characters are not at SeaWorld. They are having their own holiday celebration at the new Sesame Place in Chula Vista (about 20 minutes from SeaWorld).
Entertainment at the SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration
There are a number of shows to see during the holiday season. The SeaWorld San Diego app has the full schedule of events for the day you visit.
A Joyous Celebration (New!) — The magic of Christmas comes to life in this nightly show in the Nautilus Amphitheater. Enjoy dancing, holiday songs, lights and a Broadway-style set!
A Stocking Full of Soul (New!) — Join “America’s Got Talent” finalist Bryan Cheatham, as he and his friends sing and dance the night away. It's located at Mission Bay Theater on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Experience a soulful celebration of holiday classics with appearances by some of your favorite SeaWorld characters.
The Holiday Brass — Catch a holiday brass band throughout the park.
Acapella Groups (New!) — The Holly Pops and the Holiday Hipsters sing carols in the park.
Clyde & Seamore's Christmas Special — In the morning and early afternoon, you can see the normal Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight show. But later in the afternoon and evening, Clyde & Seamore take over, giving the show a holiday twist. (The holiday version lacks the otter, but don't worry. He'll send postcards to let you know where he is.)
Dolphin Island Adventures (New!) — There is an all-new holiday dolphin show (however, it follows the regular dolphin show pretty closely).
Christmas Wish Fireworks — On select nights (mostly weekends and Dec. 24-31, 2022) catch the fireworks show. We watched it near the park exit, stayed for Donner and Blitzen's Lazer Light Show, which followed the fireworks, and then made our way out of the park.
Donner and Blitzen's Lazer Light Show — Twice a night, experience a canopy of laser beams set to a festive soundtrack. There may be more than one show time. If you stay until park close, you can catch this right before leaving the park.
Dining and Shopping at SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration
You can get your holiday cheer going with some festive food and drink. There are booths and bars set up near Wild Arctic as well as in Santa's Village. Get a specialty hot cocoa to help you stay warm at night. We tried the s'mores hot chocolate, but there is a peppermint flavor as well.
You can reserve Santa's holly Jolly Brunch at Dine with Orcas. Eat a meal on a poolside patio next to the orcas and get a visit from Santa and a chance to take a photo with him!
Do some holiday shopping at the Christmas Shoppe, Holly Jolly Marketplace and other stores. While you are in the Holly Jolly Marketplace, say hi to Rudolph! Stop by the new Build-A-Bear Workshop to pick out and create SeaWorld exclusive plushes and accessories.
There is an additional cost scavenger hunt — the Reindeer Round-Up Scavenger Hunt. Purchase a scavenger hunt map and embark on a merry quest to find Santa's gifts for all eight reindeer. Bring your completed map to the SeaWorld Store to collect a gift of your own!
Tips for Visiting SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration
Here are tips for getting the most out of your visit this holiday season:
- Save money and time by purchasing tickets in advance. Hop on a great deal through Undercover Tourist.
- Arrive at park opening to focus on rides and animal shows in the morning and early afternoon.
- Stay late to see the park all aglow at night.
- Dress in layers. The hot afternoon sun makes way for chilly nights.
- Consider getting Quick Queue to skip the lines if visiting during a holiday period.
- Bring snacks and water to save money and time on food and drink.
- Let the tadpoles get the wiggles out at the Sesame Street Bay of Play.
- Download the latest version of the SeaWorld San Diego app for show times and locations.
- Be wary of soak zones in animal shows as wet clothes can be uncomfortable in the late afternoon when it gets chilly.
- Find show times for smaller acts on a sign at the Wild Arctic stage.
Related: Our ∼Fin-tastic∼ Guide to SeaWorld San Diego Events
Related: Our Awesome Guide to the Holidays at LEGOLAND California