The iconic Hotel del Coronado is one of the best places to celebrate the holidays in San Diego

The beachfront hotel offers a full lineup of holiday events and activities with many exciting festivities returning this year, including Victorian Tea, Gingerbread house building, photos with Santa, a holiday festival complete with snow flurries, and of course, Skating by the Sea, the renowned ice-skating rink overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Whether you check in overnight or visit San Diego for the day, read on for our insider tips on what to expect at the iconic Hotel del Coronado resort during the holidays between Thanksgiving week and the first week of January.

See also: 15 Things to Do at the Hotel Del Coronado

1. Skating by the Sea

November 17 –January 1

The Hotel Del Coronado offers some of the best holiday events in San Diego from Skating by the Sea to Victorian tea.

Skating by the Sea is truly a one-of-a-kind Southern California experience and a great thing to do in San Diego for kids during the holidays. This spectacular ice rink is located on the Windsor Lawn and features stunning ocean views and Coronado beach.

Sparkling lights adorning the ice rink and colorful decorations create the perfect festive atmosphere for one of our favorite holiday activities.

A portion of the proceeds benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego. Guests can reserve their rink-side lounge at Frostbite: A Place to Chill, featuring seating for up to six people around a fire pit and food and beverage service. Tickets cost $40  per person for 90 minutes of skating time and can be reserved online.

Discounted tickets of $5 off will be available for military members and first responders on particular days. Check out the schedule online for the specific hours the ice rink will be available for use.

2. Frostbite Lounge

November 17–January 1

Three women enjoy their food and drinks at a Frostbite Lounge fire pit.
Frostbite Lounge

Get your treats and libations these holidays on the South Paseo Lawn of the Hotel del Coronado property at the Frostbite Lounge. With a perfect view of the beachfront ice rink, guests in groups of up to six people can get their holiday spirit on while sitting around a cozy fire pit with access to a full food and beverage service.

The minimum pricing for the food and beverage service is $200 for 1–3 people, and an extra $65 will be charged for every additional person. An additional $50 reservation fee will be included to reserve each ocean-side or rink-side lounge. Guests can make their reservations online in advance.

3. Beachside Igloos 

November 17–January 1

Reserve your private Beachside Igloo during the holidays for a unique San Diego experience! Get cozy by a roaring fire pit with everything you need for s’mores, plus snuggle under two Hotel del Coronado blankets in the season’s ultimate family event.

Up to six guests can enjoy an igloo for 2 hours Monday–Thursday for $400 and Friday–Sunday for $500.

4. “At First Light” Lightshow Spectacular

November 17 – January 1, 5-9 p.m.

This dynamic 11-minute holiday light show set to music occurs every 30 minutes on the Founders Lawn and will bring out your holiday spirit—stay to the end for a flurry of surprises!

5. Thanksgiving Dinner 

Thursday, November 24 

Thanksgiving dinner at Hotel del Coronado will be featured in the beautiful Southpointe Ballroom this year. Guests are invited to give thanks and celebrate with friends and family over an elegant buffet and live musical entertainment.

Pricing for Thanksgiving dinner is $205  for adults (ages 11 and up) and $100  for children ages 4–10, plus additional charges. Children who are three and under will be granted free entry.

Check out the mouth-watering menu full of gourmet surprises and make plans to kick off your holidays at Hotel del Coronado with a feast. 

6. Holiday Festival

December 7

Holiday season events are kicked into high gear at this festival with photos with Santa, ice skating by the sea, the light show spectacular, Coronado school choir performances, and fireworks. If all of that isn’t enough, Santa will be skydiving onto the beach to help ring in the holidays at the Holiday Festival!

7. Photos with Santa

December 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24 

Guests of all ages are invited to take photos with Old St. Nick on the Garden Patio. The cost is $30  and includes a professionally-taken 5×7 photo printed onsite so that your photos with Santa are available immediately.

Guests are also welcome to take their own photos, as well. For those interested, you can make a reservation online to secure your spot. 

 8. Two-Story Lobby Christmas Tree

November 17 –January 1 

Swing by the newly-renovated lobby during the holidays for a peek at the famous lobby Christmas tree. It’s one of the most popular places to snap photos.

9. Holiday Movies At the Beach

December 3, 10, 17, 31 

Watch your favorite holiday movies in a “theater under the stars” on Del Beach. Lounge in a beach daybed or a sand chair, enjoying s’mores as well. 

  • December 3: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) 
  • December 11: Jingle All The Way (1996) 
  • December 17: Home Alone (1990) 
  • December 31: Top Gun Maverick (2022)Followed by a fireworks show on the beach! 

Tickets are $25 per chair or $350  for the special VIP Family Movie Package. Movies begin at 7:30 p.m., and doors open at 7 p.m. Interested parties must make reservations online.

Guests are encouraged to bring their blankets to stay warm, and food can be purchased to go at Eno Market & Pizzeria, the beach taco shack, and Sun Deck. Outside food is not permitted.

10. Jingle Roast

December 17 –24  at 5:30 or 7:30 p.m.

Gather friends and family around the fire on the beach at sunset for a Jingle Roast at the Hotel del Coronado. Colorful Santa hats and holiday s’mores are included, but you can also opt to purchase food from ENO Market & Pizzeria or the Beach + Taco Shack.

Fire pits are $230 for 1 hour for up to 10 people, with optional add-on extras also available. Whether you’re a day or overnight guest, you can take advantage of this, but reservations are required for the Jingle roast.

11. Gingerbread Houses

December  17, 18, 22, 23, 24 

Guests are invited to decorate gingerbread houses in the Coronet Room this holiday season. This sweet event will burst with festive decorations and holiday treats, including a fully stocked candy bar.

To make things easy, the culinary team at Hotel del Coronado will be pre-assembling the gingerbread house to allow kids of all ages to focus on the best part: decorating. Pricing includes $65 per gingerbread house, and reservations must be made in advance. 

12. Elf Deliveries

December 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 6-8 p.m. 

Do you want to surprise your loved ones with something special during the holidays? Leading up to Christmas Day, Santa’s elves from the Hotel del Coronado are delivering personalized, themed bags to rooms upon request filled with holiday treats, a stuffed animal, and a book signed by Santa himself.

Elf deliveries are $75 per child, and reservations can only be made online for overnight guests.

13. Victorian Tea

December  14-18, 2 p.m.

Guests can enjoy a wide range of teas, finger sandwiches, and sweet treats while relaxing to beautiful music in the Coronet Room.

If you have children you would like to bring along, there are special kids’ plates catered for a younger crowd so that Victorian Tea can be enjoyed even by the littlest of your crew.

This Victorian Tea will truly feel like you’ve been transported to another time, so be sure to add this to your holiday event calendar! Pricing includes $62  for adults (ages 11 and up) and $35  for children ages 4–10, plus additional charges. Children ages 3 and under can attend the tea free of charge.

14. Christmas Eve

December 24

This year, guests can experience an extraordinary Christmas Eve at the spectacular Crown Room and Coronet Room while marveling at the sparkling lights, magnificent Christmas Trees, garlands, and holiday decor. This special event will feature a Christmas Eve dinner with an elegant buffet showcasing traditional fare and some surprise dishes.

Pricing includes $185  for adults (ages 10 and up) and $100  for children ages 4-10, plus additional charges. Children ages three and under can dine for free. Reservations must be made and prepaid. 

15. Christmas Day

December 25

Guests can celebrate Christmas Day with a special Christmas Day brunch at the magical Crown Room and Coronet Room. The elaborate menu will include all your favorite Christmas fixings and some less traditional options, such as regionally inspired dishes.

With the delicious feast, guests can take in their surroundings, including sparkling lights, towering trees, garlands, holiday decorations, and the two-story Christmas tree in the lobby of the Hotel del Coronado.

Pricing includes $185 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $100  for children ages 4–10, plus additional charges. Children ages three and under can dine for free. Reservations must be made and prepaid.

16. New Year’s Eve Gala

December 31

Guests are invited to reign in New Year’s Eve at a Masquerade Gala in the new Southpointe Ballroom. The lively event will include a live DJ, performances, live-action food stations, a midnight champagne toast, and an open bar. Reservations are not currently available yet for this event. 

17. Holiday Shopping and The Annual Christmas Ornament

And let’s not forget shopping for the holidays at the various stores on-site. This year’s Annual Collector’s Ornament comes in a beautiful, padded gift box, ready for travel and gift-giving.

It’s handpainted and depicts the annual tradition of Skating by the Sea. You can buy it online.

18 . Book A Special Holiday Room Package (or Use My Benefits)

The resort's drive-up entrance with holiday lights and decor.
The main entrance

Many people, even locals, stay overnight at Hotel del Coronado during the holidays. I have some advice if this is in your plans. And I also have access to some amazing perks and services at the hotel.

It’s best to book in one of two ways: the Skating by the Sea package or Virtuoso (the latter is usually more advantageous).

The Skating by the Sea package includes two passes to Skating by the Sea. Book this directly through Hilton.

However, it’s usually more beneficial to book with Virtuoso benefits that include:

  • Upgrade not applicable at this property
  • Daily full breakfast for up to two guests per bedroom
  • $100 USD Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early Check-In / Late Check-Out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

If you see multiple rates for the same room at Hotel del Coronado on Virtuoso.com, choose the lowest one.
Room selection tips: Don’t book rooms in The Cabanas or The Views without a view type listed, as they offer subpar views and locations. We like Pool View, Poolside and Oceanfront rooms in The Cabanas building and Beachside, Ocean View, or Oceanfront rooms in The Views building. Rooms in The Victorian (historic building) are good, too, but not renovated.

Use the number of adults traveling and I’ll add on your kids later to get the correct rate.

See also: The Most Luxurious San Diego Beach Vacation: Beach Village at The Del


Other Hotel del Coronado Holiday Tips

Aerial view of Hotel del Coronado resort during the holiday season at night.
Hotel del Coronado holiday events and lights at night.

The Hotel del Coronado is a popular place to spend the holiday season. Reservations for any dining, spa, and special events are highly encouraged. The common areas of the hotel are quite busy during the holidays, but health and safety measures are in place.

Day guests use self-parking in the North Garage only. The current parking rates are $20 for the first 2 hours and $10 for each additional hour. The daily maximum is $70. However, if you shop or dine at the resort, you’ll receive a $10 parking discount.

What is your favorite thing to do at the Hotel del Coronado during the holidays?

*Top photo is used courtesy of Hotel del Coronado

Katie Dillon headshot

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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3 Comments

  1. Great post! Though we’ve live in Coronado, The Del has continues to be a Christmas destination for us for over 24 years. I also collect the ornaments (but don’t have 24 because I don’t always like the design), and part of the proceeds benefit the Coronado Schools Foundation. Fab place all around!

  2. We go to the Del every year at Christmas time to view The Tree and buy a new Christmas ornament. The Del never fails to deliver….Love Love Love the candy store…have had my eye on the mini version huge stuffed black lab for years.. maybe I’ll purchase this year…