Celebrate National Carousel Day in Balboa Park


Friends of Balboa Park extends is warmest regards to so many in the community for the overwhelmingly positive response to The San Diego Union-Tribune article that announced Friends is in negotiation for the acquisition of the beloved, iconic Balboa Park Carousel. Though this article was premature in its announcement, we are looking forward to an exciting new chapter in our organization’s history and to sharing many more details about the acquisition and upcoming events, the first of which will kick off on National Carousel Day on July 25. Save the date and stay tuned for more info!

 On Tuesday, July 25, from 10:30 AM – 2:00 PM, Friends of Balboa Park will be celebrating National Carousel Day in Balboa Park at the historic 1910 Balboa Park carousel right next to Spanish Village. This family-friendly event will include festival-style foods, sweet treats, various entertainment, children’s activities, and free carousel rides all day! A detailed schedule of events will be added at a later date.


Annual Awards Luncheon

2016 Awards Luncheon Inspiration


Annual Luncheon Celebrates Balboa Park Milestone Accomplishments By Volunteers, Institutions 

The Friends of Balboa Park Annual Awards Luncheon celebrates Balboa Park milestone accomplishments by volunteers and institutions. Save the date for Tuesday, October 17, 2017 from 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM at the Balboa Park Club. 

“The Annual Awards Luncheon is a flagship event of the Friends organization, and I am thrilled we can again recognize such distinguished talent and unequaled dedication amongst the Park’s volunteers and employees this year,” said Friends of Balboa Park Executive Director John Bolthouse.


There are 3 categories of awards.

 The Millennium Award

The Millennium Award is presented each year to individuals and/or organizations that have made important, long-term contributions to Balboa Park.


The Inspiration Awards

In recognition of significant and long-term contributions of service to Balboa Park and/or to one or more of the organizations in the Park. These unsung heroes contribute thousands of hours of service to the Park.

 To nominate a volunteer for the Inspiration Award, let us know why by filling out the form and submitting via email or mail.  

2017 Inspiration Award Nominating Form


The Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Award

Beginning in 2016, this award recognizes exceptional promise and potential of emerging professionals who have demonstrated leadership by example in Balboa Park.

2017 Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Nominating Form



Exhibits and Performances

Museum of ManJuly 2017.  Thank you to the Balboa Park Visitors Center for compiling this monthly list. Download and Print the list

Centro Cultural de la Raza

  • Ranflista Show — ongoing

Fleet Science Center

  • IMAX films: “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,”  “National Parks Adventure,” and“A Beautiful Planet(ongoing)
  • Dream! Design! Build!  – ongoing
  • Game Masters: The Exhibition – opens 7/1
  • Retro-Active Science – ongoing

Japanese Friendship Garden

  • The AjA Project: Reflect + Unfold ( thru 7/23)
  • Ethan Snow (thru 7/12)

Marston House Museum & Gardens

  • Closed for roof renovation work, reopening later this summer

 Mingei International Museum

  • Arline Fisch –  thru 1/7/2018
  • Kanban –  thru 10/8
  • American and European Folk Art – thru 8/20
  • Trappings – thru 11/12

 Museum of Photographic Arts

  • Seeing is Believing? – thru 10/29
  • Sebastião Salgado: Genesis – thru 9/30

San Diego Air & Space Museum

  • 3D/4D films: “Legend of Apollo,”  “Aerobic Challenge,” and “Night at the Toy Store”
  • Be the Astronaut – ongoing

 San Diego Art Institute

  • Extra-Ordinary Collusion – thru 7/2

 San Diego Automotive Museum

  • Japanese Steel – thru 9/17

San Diego Hall of Champions

  • Closed permanently

 San Diego History Center

  • Part of the Patchwork: Reflections of African-American Life from the Archives thru 1/25/2018
  • The Lore Behind the ROAR! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo –  thru 8/13
  • Art & Heritage,3 San Diego Jewish Artists: Baranceanu,Braun, & Sternberg (thru 9/24)
  • Irving J. Gill: New Architecture for a Great Country – thru 8/27
  • Celebrate San Diego! The History & Heritage of San Diego’s Jewish Community – thru 5/20/2018

 San Diego Model Railroad Museum

  • Science of Signals – ongoing

 San Diego Museum of Man

  • Living With Animals – ongoing
  • Cannibals: Myth & Reality— thru 2018
  • Monsters! –  thru 2018
  • Facing Artifacts — ongoing
  • BEERology – thru  Aug 2017
  • Graffiti Art Murals – ongoing
  • California Tower Tours — ongoing
  • Race: Are We So Different? — ongoing

theNATSan Diego Natural History Museum·        

  • Giant-screen films:  “Ocean Oasis” (ongoing),   “Galapagos 3D” (thru 1/2/18), and “Sea Monsters 3D” (thru 9/4)
  • Ultimate Dinosaurs –   thru 9/4··        
  • The Cerutti Mastodon Discovery – thru 9/4        
  • Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science – ongoing· 
  •  Baja’s Wild Side – thru 8/18             

The San Diego Museum of Art

  • Modern Japan – thru 8/13
  • Reflections on Monet – thru 1/21/18
  • Picturing the Southwest – thru 8/20
  • Art of the Open Air – thru 2/13/18
  • Richard Deacon: What You See Is What You Get – thru 9/4

Timken Museum of Art

  • Private Devotions: Italian Paintings and Sculpture for San Diego Collections – 6/22 thru 8/20

Veterans Museum & Memorial Center

  • Jamul Indian Village Veteran Exhibit – ongoing

 WorldBeat Center

  • Remembering African Americans in the Civil War and More – thru 7/4


 Old Globe Theatres

  • “King Richard” (6/11 thru 7/15)
  • “Guys and Dolls (7/2 thru 8/13)
  • “The Imaginary Invalid” (thru 6/25)

 Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater

  • “Puppet Circo” (6/28 thru 7/3 & 7/5 thru 7/9)
  • “Cinderella” (7/12 thru 7/16)
  • Jack and the Beanstalk (7/19 thru 7/23)
  • “Two Frog Stories and a Spider Song” (7/26 thru 7/30)

 San Diego Civic Youth Ballet

San Diego Junior Theatre 

  • “Junie B. Jones, the Musical” (6/30 thru 7/16)

San Diego Youth Symphony & Conservatory

  • International Youth Symphony @ The Spreckels Organ Pavilion (7/25)

Twilight Concerts in the Park


Summer Concerts

The Twilight in the Park Concert Series in Balboa Park have been a 30 + year tradition that began with a dedicated volunteer group who wanted to offer musical performances and entertainment to the longer summer days. These concerts had traditionally been held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park and we thank them for this extended partnership. Our role, as Friends of Balboa Park, in this concert series began in 2016 to assist with the administrative duties of hosting a concert series. We are very excited for this partnership and look forward to many more years of adding culture into this Park.

Concerts will be held at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 6:30 -7:30 pm, with some special events on select days at 5:30 pm during June through August.

Click here for more information and the schedule.

Ice Cream Social – Thurs., August 24, 5:30 p.m. Free Ice Cream Social, while Ice Cream last. Sponsored by Friends of Balboa Park.

Additional Activities

Dance lessons throughout the concert season given by Swing Dancing San Diego. Lessons start at 5:45 p.m. July 5, 12; August 8, 24, and 30.

Family Day – July 20, 5:30 p.m. Arts and Crafts



Balboa Park Garden Party

Since the Balboa Park Centennial in 2015, we are proud to have been part of the team to begin a new annual tradition in Balboa Park. Friends of Balboa Park had been busy with the Balboa Park Garden Party 2016 that took place Saturday, May 28, 2016. The day was filled with activities for all to enjoy.

We began the day with a Kids’ Floral Wagon Parade down El Prado, where kids, families, and friends decorated a small wagons to display their creativity with flora and fauna. The horticulture clubs had a great time with park visitors and had hands-on activities for kids of all ages. The day featured special ‘Garden Talks’ with Master Gardeners and local landscapers about popular topics and offered resources and solutions. Plus, who could forget about the food trucks to satisfy that lunchtime hunger.

This park-wide event celebrates the history and horticulture highlighting the plants and programs that make Balboa Park, San Diego’s gem and one of the world’s most interesting civic gardens. If you or someone you know is interested in participating in the upcoming years’ event, please contact Leslie at Leslie@friendsofbalboapark.org.



Garden PartyFloral Wagon Parade - Wagons will be decked with flowers by Garden Clubs, families, and Recreation organizations in the parade from Spanish Village to the Plaza de Panama along El Prado in Balboa Park. Each individual or group receives 2 FREE San Diego County Fair tickets.  Garden Party Costumes

Booths at the Garden Party - If your organization would like to have a booth at the Garden Party.

Garden Clubs Galore! Over 60 garden clubs and organizations will participate with information booths, floral shows, plant sales, demonstrations, and fun!

Garden Party Vendors - Contact us if you're interested in becoming a vendor.

Pacific Photographic Society
 will have a fun booth with borrowed period costumes from San Diego Junior Theater.




The Balboa Park Garden Party 2016 will be co-partnered with the City of San Diego’s Park & Recreation Department, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, Balboa Park Conservancy, MTA and Friends of Balboa Park. 


SD Development Services Logo

Arbor Day in Balboa Park

Friends of Balboa Park has brought back the tradition of celebrating Arbor Day in Balboa Park. On Friday, April 28, 2017 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., we will be planting and dedicating a new grove of trees in Balboa Park. Location to be determined shortly.


Dedications are available for a one-time $500 donation to Friends of Balboa Park. Donors and honorees receive a certificate, tree specimen summary, map noting the tree location, and a temporary tag for the day of the celebration. 2017 Dedications are SOLD OUT.

For Arbor Day 2017 we will be planting beautiful Rainbow Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Deglupta and Eucalyptus Corymbia ficifolia-Red Flowering Gum.



Greening the Park

San Diego's first Arbor Day celebration was on Saint Patrick's day in 1904. Kate Sessions helped to organize that first planting, a community event attended by 3500 school children who came to what was then named "City Park" to plant 60 pine and cypress trees. Mary B. Coulston, then secretary of the Chamber's Park Improvement Committee, solicited messages from Governor Pardee and President Theodore Roosevelt to be read to the children, thereby insuring avid press interest. To read more about Balboa Park's original Arbor Day, click here to read the full article from "The Trees of Balboa Park: 1910," from the Journal of San Diego History, by Nancy Carol Carter.

Pictured at right is Jean Palmer, great grand daughter of Arbor Day Founder, J. Sterling Morton.  Jean was our special guest in 2014 and she is pictured planting a native California Oak tree in Zoro Garden with school children from Roosevelt Middle School.  Zoro Garden was host to our 2014 Arbor Day, where we planted 12 drought tolerant native species.   Click on our Arbor Day program archives below for more information on this and prior Arbor Day celebrations in Balboa Park:



Since 2008, Friends of Balboa Park brought back the annual celebration by planting Trees in areas designated by Park & Recreation Department that are a part of the Balboa Park Tree Management and Reforestation Plan that includes maintenance, conservation, and replanting guidelines.  Tree groves planted and funded by Friends of Balboa Park since 2008 are located in all areas of the Park:

  • (2008) along Park Blvd near the War Memorial Building Lawn
  •  (2009) on the west side just east of the Lawn Bowling green between  Balboa Park Drive and 6th Ave.
  •  (2010) along Golf Course Drive across the street from the Golden Hill Recreation Center
  •  (2011) at Morley Field near Texas and Upas Street and along the upper east rim of Palm Canyon along Pan American Road West behind the International Cottages.
  •  (2012) at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion around the outer perimeter
  •  (2013) at Quince and 6th Streets on the west side
  •  (2014) at Zoro Garden Gulch
  • (2015) at War Memorial Building Lawn
  • (2016) at Pepper Grove Playground 

Help us Purchase Trees for Arbor Day!

Your tax deductible contribution can help us plant trees for future generations. Contact the office to find out how you can become a Balboa Park Tree donor.

Arbor Day 2015

Picture 1 of 8

Arbor Day 2014

Picture 1 of 65

Arbor Day 2013

Picture 1 of 117

Arbor Day 2012

Picture 1 of 102

Arbor Day 2011

Picture 1 of 25

Arbor Day 2010

Picture 1 of 48

Annual Poinsettia Display

poinsettia displayHelp us fund the Annual Poinsettia Display in the Balboa Park Botanical Building. The annual display opens the first weekend in December and runs through the first week in January. The Botanical Building is closed to the public on Thursdays. We are now accepting donations for the 2016 display. 

The Poinsettia Celebration will be held on Thursday, December 8, 2016 from 3 to 5 p.m. inside the Botanical Building. We invite all donors, honorees, and members to celebrate the end of a wonderful year with us. This event is free, but RSVP is requested by December 2nd: events@friendsofbalboapark.org or call 619-232-2282.   Download your invitation!  

Your donation of $25 or more will help fill the Botanical Building with the beautiful flowers and the Friends will acknowledge your gift by:

Placing your name and your honoree’s name on the Poinsettia Honor Roll featured inside the Botanical Building during the display. Click here to view the 2015 Poinsettia Donor Honor Roll. *(Donations received after Dec 1 are not listed)
Sending a lovely e-mail Poinsettia card will be sent to that special someone special acknowledging your gift in their honor.

Please use the special instruction field in the checkout process to send us the e-mail and/or address of the person being acknowledged with your Poinsettia donation

poinsettiasJoin us in become a part of this special holiday tradition! We must receive your donation by December 1, 2016 to be listed on the 2016 Poinsettia Honor Roll inside the Botanical Building.

You may call our office 619.232.2282 to make a donation using your credit card or check. Email us at info@friendsofbalboapark.org if you have any questions.

To make a donation online using PayPal or a credit card use the form below

Donate up to ten plants @ $25 each

Annual Poinsettia Display




We would like to acknowledge your donation.

December Nights Information Booths

December Nights VolunteersDecember Nights Information Booth Educating People About The Park

December Nights has been a tradition within Balboa Park for over the past 30 years. This event is a San Diego tradition to celebrate the holiday season with plenty of free music, dance performances, vendors, and of course food!

Friends of Balboa Park has traditionally hosted an event information booth to guide park visitors to various performances and activities. Volunteers hold an  important role and it wouldn’t be possible without people like you. To get more information about available time-slots, please contact volunteer@friendsofbalboapark.org or call (619) 232-2282.

This year, it will take place on:

Friday December 2: 3 to 11 p.m. 
Saturday December 3: 12 to 11 p.m. 

Annual Butterfly Celebration!

butterfly garden


Friends of Balboa Park has hosted the Annual Butterfly Release in Zoro Garden since 2007. Each year, we look forward to releasing hundreds of Painted Lady butterflies with the help of children, families, and friends. This event is made possible by generous donors and sponsors, the 2017 Sponsorship Opportunities are now available.

This year, we will continue to host the butterfly release as part of Fiesta Botanica, on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Butterflies will be released at 11:30, 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30 p.m. in Zoro Garden.

Between butterfly releases, children’s activities are provided by the San Diego Floral Association. Performance schedule to be updated closer to the date of the celebration.

This event is made possible by generous donors. To make a contribution in support of the annual butterfly release, click here or contact us at support@friendsofbalboapark.org.

SD floral association

Annual Awards Luncheon 2016



Our 2016 Annual Awards Luncheon is Tuesday, October 18, 2016.

This Annual Awards Luncheon is an event fundraiser, and all net event proceeds benefit the projects and programs of Friends of Balboa Park. 

We thank our event sponsors for their generous support.  Download our Sponsorship, Underwriting Opportunities Letter Here or show your support and purchase Tickets Online Here.  

 Download and print the Invitation

Purchase Tickets

You may purchase tables of 8 or Individual Tickets. Purchase tickets online here.  


Friends of Balboa Park Annual Awards Luncheon Awardees

flower-clusterThe 2016 Friends of Balboa Park Annual Awards Luncheon recognizes one Millennium Award Honoree and five Inspiration Award Honorees and a Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader each year. Read more about all our awardees here.

The Millennium Award honoree for 2016 will be the San Diego Zoo, in recognition of the botanical collections and the world wide preservation efforts of the San Diego Zoo.

The 2016 Inspiration Awardees are given to volunteers nominated by their peers in the Balboa Park community. This prestigious award recognizes individuals who have contributed countless hours of volunteer service to Balboa Park or one of the organizations in the Park. Please join us to congratulate these individuals and all they have contributed to Balboa Park. 

Sonya Dolor of the San Diego Civic Youth Ballet
Carol Hinrichs of the Mingei International Museum
Noni and Mort Jorgensen of the San Diego Air and Space Museum and San Diego Zoo 
Michele Trevio
of the House of Pacific Relations, International Cottages (House of France)
Judy Tweed of the Spanish Village Art Center                                                              

The Betty Peabody Emerging Young Leader of Balboa Park Award recognizes exceptional promise and potential of emerging professionals who have demonstrated leadership by example in Balboa Park. Jennifer Padilla, Director of Visitor Services, The San Diego Natural History Museum is our honoree for 2016. Awardees will have worked in Balboa Park for less than five years and be age 40 and under to qualify. 

Thank you to our Sponsors!

Table Sponsors:

Dr. John and Jodie Bruhn

Nancy Carol Carter

Dean Crowder

Berit and Tom Durler

Girl Scouts San Diego

Marie Tuthill



Millennium Donors:

Connie K. Golden

Jim and Carmen Hughes


Tickets for Park and Recreation Department – Donald and Jeannette Yeckel

Photography – Berit and Tom Durler

Awards – Marie Tuthill

Delicious Desserts – Dean Crowder

In-Kind Services: