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Mapping 18 Spots to Get into the Holiday Spirit in San Francisco

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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.

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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. 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 19, 2015. 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, 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.

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 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.

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 21.

7. Zoo Lights

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

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.

8. Hyatt Daily Snowfall

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5 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 788-1234
Visit Website

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.

9. San Francisco 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 featuring Well-Strung, the Singing String Quartet.

10. 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.

11. 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 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.

12. 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. [Photo via Ramón Burgos-Ruíz]

13. Union Street

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Van Ness Ave & Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123

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.

14. Lighted Boats

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PIER 39
San Francisco, CA 94133

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.

15. San Francisco Bazaar

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2 Marina Blvd Bldg A
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 345-7500
Visit Website

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.

16. Holiday Nights

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

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

17. 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. 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]

18. 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.

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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. 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 19, 2015. 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, 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.

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 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.

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 21.

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

7. Zoo Lights

1 Zoo Rd, San Francisco, CA 94132

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.

1 Zoo Rd
San Francisco, CA 94132

8. Hyatt Daily Snowfall

5 Embarcadero Center, San Francisco, CA 94111

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.

5 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

9. San Francisco 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 featuring Well-Strung, the Singing String Quartet.

429 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA 94114

10. 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

11. 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 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.

4 Embarcadero Center
San Francisco, CA 94111

12. 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. [Photo via Ramón Burgos-Ruíz]

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

13. Union Street

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

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.

Van Ness Ave & Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123

14. Lighted Boats

PIER 39, San Francisco, CA 94133

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.

PIER 39
San Francisco, CA 94133

15. San Francisco Bazaar

2 Marina Blvd Bldg A, San Francisco, CA 94123

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.

2 Marina Blvd Bldg A
San Francisco, CA 94123

16. Holiday Nights

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

17. 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. 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]

600 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94108

18. 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