Despite its mild winter, San Francisco knows how to celebrate the holiday season. Here are a few of the best ways to get in the festive spirit around the city this December.
Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square
The holidays are officially here when the skating rink opens in Union Square. Visitors can frolic across the ice while taking in the 83-foot Christmas tree decorated with more than 1,100 shining ornaments and 33,000 twinkling LED lights. Through Jan. 18.
Enchanted Sugar Castle at the Westin St. Francis
Executive pastry chef Jean-Francois Houdré and his team at the Westin St. Francis hotel created a rotating, 12-foot-tall castle entirely out of sugar. The winter wonderland is decorated with delicious colored ornaments, gift boxes, Christmas trees and climbing elves. The St. Francis Sweet Shoppe also sells holiday sweets that are made daily. Nov. 25-Jan. 2.
’Tis the Season for Science
California Academy of Sciences brings back its annual holiday exhibit that explores how reindeer adapt to winter climates. Learn how reindeer use UV vision to find food underneath snow and how they survive on a diet of moss and lichen during the winter months. Don’t miss the live reindeer and the indoor snow flurries that fall twice an hour. Nov. 25-Jan. 3.
Winter Walk SF
For one month, two blocks of Stockton Street in the middle of Union Square are open for visitors to celebrate the holidays. Festivities include a light art show projected on the Macy’s Men’s Store building, food trucks, carolers and musicians. Nov. 27-Jan. 1.
Fairmont Gingerbread House
A giant gingerbread house has taken over the elegant lobby of this Nob Hill hotel every holiday season for over 100 years. Kids can walk inside the two-story furnished Victorian, made with thousands of homemade gingerbread bricks and over a ton of icing and candy, and pen a letter to Santa in the North Pole Nook. Nov. 28-Dec. 30.
“A Christmas Carol”
Charles Dickens’ holiday classic is back in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater’s Geary Theater. Watch the music-infused production bring the Ghosts of Christmas Past to life. Dec. 4-27.
Holiday Lights & Chocolate Tour
Gourmet Walks takes participants on a culinary exploration of the seasons. The three-hour walking and tasting tour visits seven stops with generous tastings of truffles, holiday chocolates and hot chocolate from local chocolatiers. On the evening tour you’ll see the Christmas tree and lights in Union Square. Dec. 4-23.
HoliGays Are Here
Founded in 1978, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus hosts its annual holiday show at the Nourse Theater. The 300-man group rings in the festive spirit, singing medleys of “I’ll be Home for Christmas” and Meghan Trainor’s “I’ll Be Home” as well as new original numbers. On Christmas Eve, the group returns to the Castro Theatre for the 25th year, giving three Home for the Holidays performances. Dec. 11-12, 24.
SFMade Holiday Gift Fair
Holiday shopping abounds at the free SFMade Holiday Gift Fair, featuring more than 80 vendors selling everything from jewelry to body products to chocolates and wines all of which are created by local manufacturers and artisans. Dec. 12.
The Sugar Plum Fairy, a nutcracker prince and angels dance their way through the San Francisco Ballet’s performance of “The Nutcracker,” a San Francisco tradition since its first performance on Christmas Eve, 1944. Dec. 16-31.
“A Charlie Brown Christmas”
The San Francisco Symphony works with live singers, actors and dancers to bring the classic Christmas television special to the stage in this family-friendly performance. Jodi Benson, the original voice of Ariel from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” will sing additional holiday classics, followed by a Christmas carol sing-along. Dec. 18-24.
Kung Pao Kosher Comedy
A San Francisco Jewish tradition, the 23rd annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy show brings Jewish comedians to the stage for three days with a dinner and cocktail show. Dec. 24-26.