Halloween in San Diego: 13 Recommendations for International Students.

Halloween in San Diego: 13 Recommendations for International Students.


San Diego is the best Halloween city in the United States. The perfect October weather allows everyone to celebrate both indoors and outdoors, while our friends in Northern California and on the East Coast are already starting to freeze in the autumn and winter weather conditions there.

I’ve been teaching English and TOEFL to international students for years in San Diego, living in San Diego even longer, and celebrating Halloween even longer than that. Over this time I’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to make sure that everyone is aware of super-fun and safe Halloween events for international students. As always, I want to make sure that San Diego International Students have the knowledge to enjoy this fantastic cultural event in the USA. Here are my thirteen Halloween recommendations for you and your friends this year:


1. Wear a costume. Really.


Dressing up in a funny costume may seem embarrassing at first, but I have surveyed hundreds of students in my time as a teacher. Students who wear costumes have a lot of fun and they tell all of their friends back home about all of the Halloween good times they experienced. Students who don’t wear costumes frequently regret it after Halloween is over. Believe me. Costumes don’t have to cost a lot of money and don’t have to be complicated. There are a lot of options that are not embarrassing at all, but are still a lot of fun. For example, a baseball player could be a great costume that’s not embarrassing, not complicated, not expensive, and totally comfortable. Here’s a good little list of costume shops and Halloween stores in San Diego.

2. Decide early which events you’d like to visit.

Don’t wait until Halloween weekend to make your plan. There are many, many events happening around town. One of my biggest regrets of Halloweens past is having to argue with my friends on Halloween night about which event will be better. It’s much smarter to decide a few days before the weekend. Here is a 2019 San Diego Halloween events list for international students and for locals:

Through October – The Haunted Trail, The Disturbance

Friday, October 11th & Saturday, October 12th – Ocean Beach Oktoberfest

Saturday, October 19th – The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Kensington)

Friday, October 25th – HauntFest on Main (El Cajon)

Friday, October 25th & Saturday, October 26th and Thursday, October 31st – San Diego Zombie Crawl

Saturday, October 26th – The Nightmare on Normal Street (Hillcrest)

Saturday, October 26th – WCKD Village (Gaslamp)

Sunday, October 27th – Daytime Halloween Party (Liberty Station)

Sunday, October 27th – Trick or Trot 5k and 1k run (Balboa park)

HALLOWEEN NIGHT – Thursday, October 31st – Halloween Cruise on Mission Bay

Friday, 1st through Sunday, November 3rd – Dia de los Muertos (Old Town)

See even more events on the San Diego Tourism Authority Halloween Calendar!

*These events will be updated regularly, so visit this page again for more information, dates and locations.

3. House parties are good, but officially sanctioned events are safer and are still a lot of fun.

Organized events around town have security staff and are properly planned so that they can accommodate large numbers of people. If you go to a house party, be prepared for long bathroom lines and the possibility of the police arriving and telling everyone to leave. Most organized events are pretty centrally located, too. This means that they’re easy to reach by public transit, taxis/Ubers/Lyfts are easier to find afterward.

4. Organize your transportation plans early.


Make sure you have a designated driver or a bus/trolley/taxi plan. Do not drink and drive (ever!). There are so many people walking around town, and so many police. Don’t take your chances. It’s too easy to hurt yourself, your friends, or even strangers if you decide to drink and drive. There are plenty of safe ways to get around on Halloween if you plan just a little bit. Talk with your friends and decide who will be the sober driver, or plan with them to use San Diego MTS services to reach your destination. Also, research the schedules of buses and trolleys because the schedule changes after midnight on most days for many routes. Many parties in Downtown San Diego offer special admission deals that include discounted hotel rooms nearby so that you don’t have to worry about returning to your house after their Halloween party.

5. Keep a few ride service telephone numbers in your phone.

On the nights when people go out to celebrate Halloween, transportation systems get pretty busy.  Getting a ride to or from your party can take a long time, especially later into the evenings.  If you have two or three taxi and rideshare apps in your phone, you will have a much easier time getting around and getting home safely after the parties and events.

Here are some links to get the apps for your smart phone:

Ride Yellow app
Uber app
Ride Lyft App

Download all of these apps onto your phone now, and input your payment information.  This way your transportation will not be a nightmare when you’re out having Halloween fun!

6. Don’t wear costumes with masks.

Do you like to eat? Do you like to drink? Do you like to talk? Do you like to see? Do you like to breathe? Imagine how difficult all of these things are when you have a mask covering your face. It’s especially sad when the mask really completes the costume, but the person has to keep the mask pulled up over the top of their head most of the time so that they can breathe. You may find some excellent-looking masks at the Halloween store, but believe me: you’ll regret choosing them.

7. Don’t choose a costume that has big fake props.

Most people spend their Halloween walking, dancing, giving high-fives and sometimes holding beverages. All of these things are a lot harder to do when you have to carry around a fake knife, a rubber chicken, a fruit basket, or some big, heavy parts of your costume. Anything that makes it difficult to walk or stand is also a bad idea. Here is one good example of a costume that is probably not very smart. Can you see why? And can you imagine walking around with all this stuff all night? Forget it.

8. Wear costumes with wigs, makeup, funny hats, pockets, etc. instead.


All of these things make your Halloween much more fun and manageable than if you wear a bad costume with a mask or fake weapons and toys that you have to carry around all weekend (#s 6 and 7 above). A purse or a backpack is always a great idea for you or one of your friends to have as well. This way you can keep your wallet, your ID, your credit or debit cards, your camera (see #9 below) and your cell phone secure. Can you imagine trying to carry all of those things around while wearing this tiny costume? Be prepared for event security guards to search your purse or backpack, though. Remember, Halloween is fun because you can talk and walk and laugh with good people. If your costume makes these things difficult, you will not have as much fun. Wear a costume that is light and flexible, not heavy and cumbersome.

9. Take lots of pictures, of course!

You are definitely going to want to take pictures of the events you’ll attend, the costumes you’ll see, the people you’ll meet, and the hilarious things you and your friends will do. Want to see some pictures of regular people having tons of fun on Halloween? Here is a website full of Halloween photo albums from all around San Diego. Imagine how jealous your friends back home will be when they see how fantastic your experience in San Diego has been, and the culture that you have experienced as you learn English. You will want to remember Halloween in San Diego forever.

10. Carve pumpkins


If you have the chance to carve pumpkins, do it! You’ll have a lot of fun. Pumpkins can be bought at your local Vons, Ralphs or Albertsons any time in the month of October. Connect English will have a pumpkin carving event/contest later this month, so keep your eyes open. You will never forget it!

One of the first pumpkin-carving days at Connect English [YouTube] was a fresh and educational experience for all of our students.

11. Try pumpkin-flavored everything.

Pumpkin pie is amazing. Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes are delicious. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin beer, pumpkin ice cream, and just plain pumpkin seeds are seasonal foods that you’ll remember for a long time. But you won’t remember them if you’re afraid to try them, and many of them are not available once October ends. You can’t afford to wait!

12. Be adventurous. Don’t be afraid of the fun!

Participate in the student activities that your school offers. They’ll help you understand and become more comfortable with how to celebrate Halloween in the USA. It is understandable that international students are a little bit uncertain about this unique season in the USA. But don’t let your uncertainty ruin your opportunity to have one of the best experiences of your life. Ask a teacher, a roommate or any American friend about Halloween and we will be happy to tell you more. I promise!

13. Join Connect English Activities!



If you are in a school that is not offering many fun activities for Halloween, join Connect English! The whole month of October (“CONNECTober”) is full of activities with costumes, pumpkins, food, friends and fun. Check out our CONNECTober calendar here to see the dates, times and locations of activities this year. Check out our Facebook photo albums from parties past. And contact Connect English if you want to be part of the San Diego language school that students enjoy the most at Halloween, and throughout the year!


Holidays at Connect English

Holidays at Connect English

Don’t be bored over your long Christmas vacation!! Connect English offers special one-week, two-week and three-week English courses*.

Every Christmas we get groups of students who come to Connect English to study for short periods of time without transferring their I-20s. If you are studying at one of the big universities (UC San Diego, San Diego State University, University of San Diego, Grossmont, etc) here in San Diego, we have great options for you!


One week: $100
Two weeks: $200
Three weeks: $300
No application fee! 🙂

Join the short Connect English programs so you can:
– Meet new friends in our student community
– Continue learning from some of the best teachers in San Diego
– Celebrate the holidays the Connect English way
– Participate in American cultural activities around San Diego and on campus

Three program start dates available:

Monday, December 7th
Monday, December 14th
Monday, December 21st

It’s very easy to register. You just complete the APPLY NOW form and we will contact you.

See you soon!

*Valid for university students

Christmas season at Connect English

Christmas season at Connect English

Christmas is coming and we’ve selected the best events and places you should try for the holidays. It’s time to celebrate together with Connect English!



American Football Class – Connect English wants students to understand the most popular sport in the USA. We’ll learn the essential rules of the game, enough so you can understand watching football on television.

Balboa Park December Nights – A free event that brings more than 50,000 people to the best park in San Diego. Christmas decorations, holiday cocktails, international foods, and free museum tours are available for attendees!



OB Holiday Parade with Wonderland – This has got to be one of the most festive parades in San Diego.
Entire Ocean Beach/Point Loma community for a festive night of holiday cheer and beer! Pre party with us or join us after the parade! Dress festive and spread the holiday cheer!

La Jolla Christmas Parade and Festival – Community groups, local businesses, and lots of Christmas characters will participate in this parade that is now entering its 100th year!

Holiday Wonderland at Petco Park – The tradition is just beginning! This is the second year of a fantastic holiday event, which happens on twelve nights in December. Get photos with Santa, ride the Polar Express, and have a Christmas cocktail at the home of the San Diego Padres baseball team.



Christmas Tree Ornament Design Day – Every year our students amaze us with their artistic talent. The Connect English Christmas tree will be up, but it will need ornaments. So we ask our students to spend an afternoon designing ornaments for decoration!

Christmas Tree Decoration Day – Now that our students have made custom-designed ornaments, it’s time to decorate the campus Christmas tree together, and begin adding gifts!



La Mesa Christmas in the Village – Many students of Connect English live in the community of La Mesa, east of Mission Valley. So this festival is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the holidays with neighbors and friends.

Mission Bay Boat Parade of Lights – Students at Connect English, Pacific Beach should especially enjoy this event. This free, distinctly California celebration features boats decorated for the annual holiday season that will sail around Mission Bay. A highly anticipated event in the San Diego community, dozens of vessels take to the water for the parade.



San Diego Boat Parade of Lights – The second and biggest Christmas boat parade for San Diego. This one happens on San Diego Bay, and is great to watch from Seaport Village and Coronado.

Ice Skating with Connect English – Students from all three campuses of Connect English are invited to try out ice skating together. We’ll go to UTC Ice, close to our La Jolla campus. Even if you haven’t skated before, you can learn quickly, especially with the help of some of our Russian students, who always seem to be amazing skaters.

Connect English “Decorate Yourself” Day – A fun Christmas tradition in the USA is to dress up in an ugly Christmas sweater, wear reindeer antlers, or a warm Santa Claus hat. On this day, we’re asking our students to “decorate yourself” and come to school wearing great Christmas decorations.

GLEE: Santana (Naya Rivera, L), Kurt (Chris Colfer, C) and Rachel (Lea Michele, R) work as Santa's elves at a mall in the "Previously Unaired Christmas" Fall Finale episode of GLEE airing Thursday, Dec. 5 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Adam Rose/FOX

GLEE: Santana (Naya Rivera, L), Kurt (Chris Colfer, C) and Rachel (Lea Michele, R) work as Santa’s elves at a mall in the “Previously Unaired Christmas” Fall Finale episode of GLEE airing Thursday, Dec. 5 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. CR: Adam Rose/FOX


Connect English Candy Cane Relay – This fun and energetic activity involves students working in teams and using Christmas candy to pass items from one student to the next. It’s a new activity, and we know it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Connect English Musical Chairs – This simple game is an international favorite. We play the Christmas music and set up the chairs. Students walk around and listen closely. When the music stops, someone doesn’t have a place to sit. Here’s a video of the Connect English musical chairs activity back in 2010:

Connect English Gift Exchange – Everyone brings a fun gift that costs no more than $20. All participating students will receive a number and select a gift, or even steal a gift form another student. It’s so much fun!


Join us! In addition to our excellent classes, Connect English students enjoy events and celebrations like these, which activate their language skills in social situations. You can enjoy learning a lot with Connect English!

Look at these pictures for the other holidays:,