It's mid-December in San Francisco, which means that the city's holiday decorations and celebrations are filling the streets with cheer. Although we won't get any real snow here, there are plenty of places to see some fake flurries, and opportunities to meet live reindeer abound. There are long-standing traditions, like Tom and Jerry's famed holiday decorations in Eureka Valley and the Ritz-Carlton's third annual Ugly Sweater Party, plus newcomers like the Winter Walk, which has taken over two blocks of Stockton Street with decorations, a light show, and food trucks. Have a favorite holiday spot in San Francisco that we missed? Leave it in the comments after the jump.
Mapping 18 Spots to Get into the Holiday Spirit in San Francisco
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. 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 19, 2015. It's open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
The Winter Walk, new in 2014, has shut down Stockton Street and filled it with a winter wonderland pop-up pedestrian plaza. There's a nightly light show projected onto the side of the Macy's building and food provided by Off the Grid food trucks.
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 4) are a seven-year tradition that has helped the SF SPCA raise nearly $400,000 and find homes for 2,300 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 21.
The zoo lights 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.
Hyatt Daily Snowfall
At 17 stories tall, the atrium at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco is the largest in the world. During the holidays, streams of white lights cascade all the way from the ceiling, and snow falls in the lobby several times a day. You also won't be able to miss the hotel's gigantic Christmas tree that's located in the lobby.
San Francisco 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 featuring Well-Strung, the Singing String Quartet.
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 4, 2015, 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. [Photo via Ramón Burgos-Ruíz]
The 25th 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 20, caroling will happen in the courtyard of St. Mary's the Virgin Episcopal Church.
On Friday, December 12, 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.
San Francisco Bazaar
The Bazaar Holiday show has a handmade market, DIY workshops, and local food on offer. It's set for December 13 and 14 at Fort Mason.
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. On December 10 (tonight!) there is an Egg Nog and Ugly Sweater party. 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.