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.Read More
A Map of 19 Spots to Get Into the Holiday Spirit in SF
Gingerbread House at the Fairmont
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.
Union Square Ice Rink
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.
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.
Tom and Jerry's House
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]
SPCA Holiday Windows
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.
Great Dickens Christmas Fair
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.
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.
SF Gay Men's Chorus Concerts
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.
Noe Valley Caroling
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.
Embarcadero Ice Rink
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.
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]
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.
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.
'Tis the Season
The California Academy of Sciences hosts 'Tis the Season for Science, with a snowman theater, live reindeer, indoor snow flurries, and holiday crafts.
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]
Charlie Brown Christmas—Live!
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.
Nutcracker Under the Dome
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.
Beach Blanket Babylon
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.
Grace Cathedral Brass & Organ Christmas
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.