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 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.

The hotel has a glittering 1920s art-deco theme for the 2023 holiday season and will feature extravagant decorations throughout the resort. There’s a fabulous new light show entitled ‘All That Jazz’ and a special new ‘Fire & Ice’ package offer for overnight guests (more details below).

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 7, 2024

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 also reserve a rink-side lounge at Frostbite: A Place to Chill, which features plush seating around a fire pit and a food and beverage service.

Ticket prices for Skating by the Sea cost $40 for general admission and $35 on Value Skate Days (November 27-28, December 4-5 and 11-12).

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.

All tickets include 90 minutes of skating time and skate rental. You can opt to take your own ice skates, but the admission price will be the same. Tickets can be reserved online.

2. Frostbite Lounge

November 17–January 1, 2024

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

Frostbite Lounge at the South Paseo Lawn of the Hotel del Coronado property is a great spot for holiday treats and cocktails.

With a perfect view of the beachfront ice rink, guests in groups of 4-10 people can get their holiday spirit on while sitting around a cozy fire pit. Choose from either a rink-side or ocean-side lounge, where you can enjoy a full food and beverage service.

Prices TBD. Advance reservations online are required.

3. Beachside Igloos 

November 17–January 7, 2024

Reserve your private Beachside Igloo during the holidays for a unique San Diego experience!

Get cozy in this stunning oceanside living room for the season’s ultimate family event. You only need to step outside to roast s’mores around a roaring firepit before brushing off sandy toes to snuggle up inside again.

Up to six guests can enjoy an igloo for two hours. Prices and food and beverage options are TBD.

4. “All That Jazz” Lightshow Spectacular

November 17January 7, 2024

This stunning holiday light show set to music will play every 30 minutes from 5 – 9 p.m. on the Founders Lawn and will definitely bring out your holiday spirit. Redesigned for 2023, the show features a 1920s Jazz soundtrack as the light show plays along among the enormous Norfolk Island Pine trees.

A new bar and lounge have been added for this holiday season, where you can take in the show in style. And this year promises even more lights and snow than ever. Don’t forget to stay till the end for a flurry of surprises!

5. Thanksgiving Dinner 

Thursday, November 23

Thanksgiving dinner at Hotel del Coronado takes place in the hotel’s beautiful Southpointe Ballroom this year. Guests are invited to give thanks and celebrate with friends and family over an elegant and sumptuous buffet, with live music on hand to entertain.

The holiday theme this year is ‘A Twenties Holiday Affair’, and the hotel features a dazzling display of 1920s art-decor holiday décor throughout the resort.

6. Holiday Festival

December 6

Holiday season events are kicked into high gear at this hugely popular annual festival. There are photos with Santa, ice skating by the sea, the light show spectacular, and Coronado school choir performances.

If all that’s not enough, Santa will be skydiving onto the beach to help ring in the holidays! And don’t miss the fireworks show at 6.45 p.m. on Del Beach.

7. Photos with Santa

December 6, 8, 9, 1517, 2124

Guests of all ages are invited to take photos with Old St. Nick on the Garden Patio. The cost is TBC 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

Dates TBD

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

9. Jingle Roast

Weekends from November 17December 10 & Daily from December 1524

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

Fire pits can be reserved for one hour for up to 10 people. Whether you’re a day or overnight guest, you can take advantage of this fun activity, but reservations are required.

10. Gingerbread Houses

December  1417, 2124

Guests are invited to decorate gingerbread houses at the hotel this holiday season. This sweet event features 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. Reservations must be made in advance. 

11. Elf Deliveries

December 8, 9, 1517, 21–24

Do you want to surprise your little ones with something special during the holidays? The Del has an extra special treat option for guests on select dates leading up to Christmas Day. Santa’s elves will deliver a personalized, themed bag filled with holiday treats, a stuffed animal, and a book signed by Santa himself direct to your room upon request.

Elf deliveries are priced per child, and the fee is TBD. Reservations must be made in advance and can only be booked by overnight guests.

12. Menorah Lighting

December 18–26

Guests can celebrate Chanukah this year at The Del. A Menorah lighting will be held every night from December 18 in the hotel’s elegant Garden Patio. The event is hosted by the Chabad of Coronado.

13. Christmas Eve

December 24

This year, guests can experience an extraordinary Christmas Eve at the stunning new Southpointe Ballroom while marveling at 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.

Reservations must be made and prepaid. 

14. Christmas Day

December 25

Guests can also celebrate Christmas Day with a special festive buffet at The Del’s beautiful new Southpointe Ballroom. The elaborate menu will include all your favorite Christmas fixings and trimmings and is sure to be a great feast.

The hotel’s holiday theme for this year, ‘A Twenties Holiday Affair,’ promises a fabulous 1920s art-deco vibe throughout the resort, and sparkling lights, towering trees, garlands, and holiday decorations will surround Christmas Day guests. Be sure to check out the spectacular two-story Christmas tree in the hotel lobby.

Pricing for the Christmas Day buffet is TBD. Reservations must be made and prepaid.

15. New Year’s Eve Gala

December 31 – Details TBD

In 2022, 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. 

16. Holiday Shopping and The Annual Christmas Ornament

And let’s not forget shopping for the holidays at the various stores on-site. The details for this year’s Annual Collector’s Ornament are out, and it’s a gorgeous tribute to the glittering art-deco style of the 1920s with familiar touches that you may see around the hotel. It comes in a padded gift box, ready for travel and gift-giving. You can buy it online.

17. Book Using 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 on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast credit of $45 per person, for up to two guests per bedroom, served in Serẽa restaurant (credit is non-cumulative, restrictions if applicable)
  • $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

Sign in or create a free Virtuoso account to see the discounted rate! When booking on use the number of adults traveling to get the correct rates. Kids may otherwise be priced as adults. We will add them after we follow up to collect your arrival details. If you see multiple rates for the same room type, choose the lowest rate. Check the status of ocean swimming in front of Coronado Lifeguard Tower as it changes. This is the testing station in front of Hotel del Coronado.

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

18. Fire & Ice Holiday Package (Not Yet Bookable)

November 17December 23 

The hotel is offering a fantastic package this year. Perfectly entitled Fire & Ice, the package fuses The Del’s famous Skating by the Sea ice-skating experience with a private beach bonfire.

The offer is only available for overnight guests staying at the hotel between November 17 and December 23.

Here are all the details from their website: 

  • Overnight accommodations (2-night minimum stay required; 4-night maximum)
  • Two passes to Skating by the Sea®, The Del’s legendary beachfront ice rink ($70 value)
  • Roast – a private beach bonfire with all the makings for roast s’mores, the perfect setting to take in the holiday splendor ($210+ value)
  • Overnight Valet Parking ($75 value per night)
  • Your own Holiday Concierge to help create a magical vacation with priority access to our most popular experiences (your Holiday Concierge will reach out via email and phone prior to your stay)

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 $25 for the first 2 hours and $10 for each additional hour. The daily maximum is $75. However, if you shop or dine at the resort, you’ll receive a $10 parking discount.

Valet parking is also available for day guests at $35 for the first 2 hours and $10 per extra hour. The daily maximum is $85 and there’s no validation option for valet parking.

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 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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  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…