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A Map of 19 Spots to Get Into the Holiday Spirit in SF

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Holiday lights may have started popping up around town on the day after Halloween, but now that it's actually December we're ready to get into the spirit of the season. San Francisco may not be filled with traditional snow-covered scenes (real ones, at least) but there are plenty of places around town to celebrate the holidays, with lots of fake flurries, ice rinks, and even a Dickens-like London Christmas out at Cow Palace. Have a favorite holiday spot that we missed? Leave it in the comments after the jump.

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1. Gingerbread House at the Fairmont

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950 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 772-5000
Visit Website

The world-famous giant gingerbread house at the Fairmont San Francisco stands more than 22 feet high and 23 feet wide and includes thousands of home-baked gingerbread bricks and around two thousand pounds of royal icing and candy. There's even a gingerbread doghouse to go along. The Fairmont also offers Gingerbread Tea every day between now and New Year's Eve.

2. Union Square Ice Rink

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Post St & Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108

As if ice-skating (or at least trying) weren't fun enough, this temporary ice rink in Union Square has a view of Union Square's gigantic Christmas tree, along with all the holiday decorations from the surrounding stores, like the infamous Macy's wreaths display. Union Square's temporary holiday ice rink runs through January 18, 2016. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

3. Winter Walk

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120 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

The Winter Walk, launched in 2014, shuts down Stockton Street and fills it with a winter wonderland pop-up pedestrian plaza. There's a nightly light show projected onto the side of the Macy's building, carolers and musicians, and food provided by Off the Grid food trucks. Plus, the SPCA puppies and kittens from the nearby Macy's windows get their walks down the laneway each day.

4. Tom and Jerry's House

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3650 21st St
San Francisco, CA 94114

Eureka Valley residents Tom and Jerry's gingerbread Victorian is home to a 65-foot tree covered in lights and gigantic ornaments. It's surrounded by giftwrapped boxes bigger than most garages, with a pair of gigantic stockings hanging above. Santa also makes regular appearances during the holiday season, giving out candy canes and listening to what the local kids want for Christmas. [Photo via Whole Wheat Toast]

5. SPCA Holiday Windows

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170 O'Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 397-3333
Visit Website

If you find yourself on the corner of O'Farrell and Stockton streets, do not be alarmed by the mob of people gathered on the corner. They're simply enjoying the impossibly adorable kittens and puppies that are hanging out in their holiday-themed temporary home and are up for adoption through the SPCA. The SPCA holiday adoption window displays (open through January 3) are a long-running tradition that has helped the SF SPCA raise over $500,000 and find homes for 2,500 animals. Can't make it? There's a webcam.

6. Great Dickens Christmas Fair

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Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Ave
Daly City, CA 94014
(800) 510-1558
Visit Website

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party have been a holiday tradition since the 1970s. The Cow Palace gets transformed to resemble the streets of Victorian London for five weekends through December 20.

7. Zoo Lights

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1 Zoo Rd
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 753-7080
Visit Website

The zoo lights are up for the holidays. Santa and his reindeer will be there, and snow is set to fall. Giraffes, koalas, and komodo dragons are also all on view during the celebrations.

8. SF Gay Men's Chorus Concerts

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429 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 864-5000
Visit Website

The San Francisco's Gay Men's Chorus will host a special event on Christmas Eve at the Castro Theatre. There are also concerts leading up to the main event at the Nourse Theater. This is the 25th anniversary of the chorus at the Castro Theater.

9. Noe Valley Caroling

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3982 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

Noe Valley's 24th Street celebrates the season with carolers, live holiday music, and reindeer. The parklet in front of local shop Just for Fun is the center of the celebrations.

10. Embarcadero Ice Rink

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4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

San Francisco's other temporary holiday ice rink is located in Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero. It runs until January 3, 2016, and is open 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

11. City Hall

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1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 554-4000

City Hall's exterior is all lit up in green and red for the holiday season. The festive colors of the building can be seen from as far away as the Bay Bridge. A world tree of hope covered in origami cranes will be lit on December 2. [Photo via Ramón Burgos-Ruíz]

12. Union Street

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Van Ness Ave & Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123

The annual Union Street Holiday Program is a month-long extravaganza. The program stretches from Van Ness to Steiner on Union and from Union to Lombard on Fillmore. The stores on the streets spare no expense in lighting up their window displays and exterior with holiday spirit, and the parking meters are wrapped to resemble candy canes. On Saturday, December 5 a Fantasy of Lights celebration will be held.

13. Lighted Boats

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PIER 39
San Francisco, CA 94133

On Friday, December 11, a set of lighted boats will parade past the Fisherman's Wharf Pier. The boats can be seen for the rest of the holiday season at the Sport Fishing Harbor along Jefferson Street between Jones and Taylor. More than 60 boats will take part.

14. 'Tis the Season

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55 Music Concourse Dr
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-8000

The California Academy of Sciences hosts 'Tis the Season for Science, with a snowman theater, live reindeer, indoor snow flurries, and holiday crafts.

15. Ritz-Carlton Events

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600 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 296-7465
Visit Website

The Ritz-Carlton, which has a giant tree out front, is also holding a slew of holiday events. There's a Christmas Tree lighting on December 3. There will be Teddy Bear tea for children and their toys every weekend and a hot chocolate lab with fancy toppings between Christmas and New Year's eves. [Photo: Sally Kuchar]

16. Charlie Brown Christmas—Live!

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201 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 864-6000
Visit Website

Charlie Brown and his famed little tree come live to the San Francisco Symphony between December 19 and 24. The symphony will be filled with holiday and Peanuts decor for the occasion.

17. Nutcracker Under the Dome

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865 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103

Every half-hour starting at 5PM the glass dome at the Westfield Shopping Center lights up with an animated 3D light show that lasts for six minutes. The show runs until December 31.

18. Beach Blanket Babylon

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678 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133

San Francisco's famed revue show's Holiday Extravaganza features a chorus line of tap-dancing Christmas trees and spoof characters done up for the season.

19. Grace Cathedral Brass & Organ Christmas

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Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St
San Francisco, CA 94108

Grace Cathedral serves as the backdrop for this Christmas carol concert, which features the cathedral's organ accompanied by the Bay Brass, a group of musicians who come together from the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

1. Gingerbread House at the Fairmont

950 Mason St., San Francisco, CA 94108

The world-famous giant gingerbread house at the Fairmont San Francisco stands more than 22 feet high and 23 feet wide and includes thousands of home-baked gingerbread bricks and around two thousand pounds of royal icing and candy. There's even a gingerbread doghouse to go along. The Fairmont also offers Gingerbread Tea every day between now and New Year's Eve.

950 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94108

2. Union Square Ice Rink

Post St & Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

As if ice-skating (or at least trying) weren't fun enough, this temporary ice rink in Union Square has a view of Union Square's gigantic Christmas tree, along with all the holiday decorations from the surrounding stores, like the infamous Macy's wreaths display. Union Square's temporary holiday ice rink runs through January 18, 2016. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Post St & Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108

3. Winter Walk

120 Stockton Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

The Winter Walk, launched in 2014, shuts down Stockton Street and fills it with a winter wonderland pop-up pedestrian plaza. There's a nightly light show projected onto the side of the Macy's building, carolers and musicians, and food provided by Off the Grid food trucks. Plus, the SPCA puppies and kittens from the nearby Macy's windows get their walks down the laneway each day.

120 Stockton Street
San Francisco, CA 94108

4. Tom and Jerry's House

3650 21st St, San Francisco, CA 94114

Eureka Valley residents Tom and Jerry's gingerbread Victorian is home to a 65-foot tree covered in lights and gigantic ornaments. It's surrounded by giftwrapped boxes bigger than most garages, with a pair of gigantic stockings hanging above. Santa also makes regular appearances during the holiday season, giving out candy canes and listening to what the local kids want for Christmas. [Photo via Whole Wheat Toast]

3650 21st St
San Francisco, CA 94114

5. SPCA Holiday Windows

170 O'Farrell St., San Francisco, CA 94102

If you find yourself on the corner of O'Farrell and Stockton streets, do not be alarmed by the mob of people gathered on the corner. They're simply enjoying the impossibly adorable kittens and puppies that are hanging out in their holiday-themed temporary home and are up for adoption through the SPCA. The SPCA holiday adoption window displays (open through January 3) are a long-running tradition that has helped the SF SPCA raise over $500,000 and find homes for 2,500 animals. Can't make it? There's a webcam.

170 O'Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

6. Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Ave, Daly City, CA 94014

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party have been a holiday tradition since the 1970s. The Cow Palace gets transformed to resemble the streets of Victorian London for five weekends through December 20.

Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Ave
Daly City, CA 94014

7. Zoo Lights

1 Zoo Rd, San Francisco, CA 94132

The zoo lights are up for the holidays. Santa and his reindeer will be there, and snow is set to fall. Giraffes, koalas, and komodo dragons are also all on view during the celebrations.

1 Zoo Rd
San Francisco, CA 94132

8. SF Gay Men's Chorus Concerts

429 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

The San Francisco's Gay Men's Chorus will host a special event on Christmas Eve at the Castro Theatre. There are also concerts leading up to the main event at the Nourse Theater. This is the 25th anniversary of the chorus at the Castro Theater.

429 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114

9. Noe Valley Caroling

3982 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

Noe Valley's 24th Street celebrates the season with carolers, live holiday music, and reindeer. The parklet in front of local shop Just for Fun is the center of the celebrations.

3982 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

10. Embarcadero Ice Rink

4 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

San Francisco's other temporary holiday ice rink is located in Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero. It runs until January 3, 2016, and is open 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

11. City Hall

1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl., San Francisco, CA 94103

City Hall's exterior is all lit up in green and red for the holiday season. The festive colors of the building can be seen from as far away as the Bay Bridge. A world tree of hope covered in origami cranes will be lit on December 2. [Photo via Ramón Burgos-Ruíz]

1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl.
San Francisco, CA 94103

12. Union Street

Van Ness Ave & Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

The annual Union Street Holiday Program is a month-long extravaganza. The program stretches from Van Ness to Steiner on Union and from Union to Lombard on Fillmore. The stores on the streets spare no expense in lighting up their window displays and exterior with holiday spirit, and the parking meters are wrapped to resemble candy canes. On Saturday, December 5 a Fantasy of Lights celebration will be held.

Van Ness Ave & Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123

13. Lighted Boats

PIER 39, San Francisco, CA 94133

On Friday, December 11, a set of lighted boats will parade past the Fisherman's Wharf Pier. The boats can be seen for the rest of the holiday season at the Sport Fishing Harbor along Jefferson Street between Jones and Taylor. More than 60 boats will take part.

PIER 39
San Francisco, CA 94133

14. 'Tis the Season

55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

The California Academy of Sciences hosts 'Tis the Season for Science, with a snowman theater, live reindeer, indoor snow flurries, and holiday crafts.

55 Music Concourse Dr
San Francisco, CA 94118

15. Ritz-Carlton Events

600 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108

The Ritz-Carlton, which has a giant tree out front, is also holding a slew of holiday events. There's a Christmas Tree lighting on December 3. There will be Teddy Bear tea for children and their toys every weekend and a hot chocolate lab with fancy toppings between Christmas and New Year's eves. [Photo: Sally Kuchar]

600 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108

16. Charlie Brown Christmas—Live!

201 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102

Charlie Brown and his famed little tree come live to the San Francisco Symphony between December 19 and 24. The symphony will be filled with holiday and Peanuts decor for the occasion.

201 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

17. Nutcracker Under the Dome

865 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Every half-hour starting at 5PM the glass dome at the Westfield Shopping Center lights up with an animated 3D light show that lasts for six minutes. The show runs until December 31.

865 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103

18. Beach Blanket Babylon

678 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

San Francisco's famed revue show's Holiday Extravaganza features a chorus line of tap-dancing Christmas trees and spoof characters done up for the season.

678 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133

19. Grace Cathedral Brass & Organ Christmas

Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108

Grace Cathedral serves as the backdrop for this Christmas carol concert, which features the cathedral's organ accompanied by the Bay Brass, a group of musicians who come together from the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.

Grace Cathedral, 1100 California St
San Francisco, CA 94108