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Spend the Holidays in Little Italy!

Category: Stories

After years of spreading holiday cheer throughout our community by transforming Little Italy into a winter wonderland and creating magical evenings, we are looking forward to another year filled with seasonal festivities to enjoy from home and in person. From weekly holiday markets and virtual cocktail classes to a traveling elf and letters to Santa, there is something for everyone of all ages.

‘Tis the season to shop local, so join us every Wednesday during the month of December at our Wednesday Holiday Market! Shop for all of your holiday needs from fresh, locally sourced produce provided by your favorite farmers and artisan food producers to beautiful, handmade gifts sold by local crafters. Lucky for you these vendors don’t just stop by once a year to distribute their goods. You can visit our market every Wednesday in the month of December, excluding December 30, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Kick off the holiday season with the 22nd annual Little Italy Tree Lighting Ceremony taking place virtually this year during the Little Italy Holiday Special.  One of the most anticipated events of the year, this 45-minute “Hallmark-style” broadcast will include the tree lighting ceremony of the 30-foot Christmas tree located in the center of Piazza della Famiglia led by the Little Italy Association along with an Italian countdown initiated by Father Jo Tabigue of Our Lady of the Rosary Church, and exciting performances by Our Lady of the Rosary Choir in the historically renovated church, a reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas, and so much more.

Stop by Piazza Basilone to see Little Italy’s newest Christmas Tree, AURORA: The Northern Lights of Downtown. California designer Joshua Hubert, known for his light and optics work in the San Francisco Bay Area Art, Burning Man and underground music communities, has created this one-of-a-kind 25-foot tree made from Venetian faux-stained glass honoring the Italian fishermen who built the neighborhood in the 1920s. Over 2,000 panels adorn the tree giving it life-like movement and will be lit with 1,000 LED bulbs creating a 3D effect that interacts with the sun to cast hues in blue, magenta, gold, copper, yellow, and green mimicking the San Diego bay and the vibrant scales of the tuna that swim in the ocean. The tree will be topped with a brightly lit Moravian star crafted by artist Rudy Baker adding another touch of magic to our historical neighborhood.

Spread some holiday cheer to a child in need this holiday season during the 10th Annual Little Italy Toy Drive. Over the past decade, The Little Italy Association has been able to gift foster children of New Alternatives, Inc. over 6,000 new toys. Participating local restaurants, retailers and the Little Italy Mercato will host drop-off boxes where people can drop off new, unwrapped toys appropriate for a child between the ages of 1 and 18. In light of COVID-19, New Alternatives Inc. is also accepting monetary donations. All donations are being accepted now through December 14.

Is that an Elf in the middle of Little Italy? Sure is! Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for Gio the Elf as he adventures through our neighborhood checking out everything Little Italy has to offer. Follow along on social media to see the shenanigans he gets into and be sure to tag us if you see him out & about!

We can’t forget about our favorite essential worker – Santa! This year we’ll be helping Santa make sure he gets everyone’s letters in time with our big red mailbox in Piazza della Famiglia. For your letter be sure to include your name, address, stamp and be as specific as possible with what you’d like. You’ll need to address it to Santa at 123 Elf Road, North Pole 88888. Don’t forget to drop your letter off by December 13th so that Santa has time to send you a response! If you can’t make it in time, no worries! Santa’s also gone digital, so you and your family will be able to send him your lists by emailing

Adults – don’t think we’ve forgotten about you! You can get into the holiday “spirit” and upgrade your classic eggnog by joining our virtual mocktail and cocktail tutorials hosted by Little Italy mixologists from Civico 1845, Cloak & Petal, Juniper & Ivy, and Graze by Sam. These virtual tutorials will be taking place on our Facebook and Instagram and the recipes for each class, will be posted on Tuesdays.

For more information on everything happening in Little Italy this holiday season, please visit us at or follow us on Instagram @LittleItalySD, Twitter @LittleItalySD and Facebook @LittleItalySD.