San Francisco Holiday Events
December is often called the most wonderful time of year. That might be especially true in San Francisco, where several holiday-themed events are planned throughout the month to bring excitement and joy to merrymakers of all ages. From the traditional to the magical, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate in the City by the Bay this holiday season.
Naughty and Nice Packages at Kimpton’s Argonaut Hotel
No one gets a coal-filled stocking at Kimpton’s Argonaut Hotel this holiday season; whether naughty or nice, everyone can find a package deal at the newly redesigned property. The Argonaut’s “Naughty” Package (rate code: PNTY) features deluxe accommodations for two, one-way limousine service to Union Square, scented holiday bath oils, a complimentary DVD movie rental, continental breakfast for two at the Blue Mermaid Chowder House and Bar, and complimentary champagne and chocolates. The “Nice” Package (rate code: PNCE) includes deluxe accommodations for four, four tickets to the Exploratorium, cable car passes for four, shopping coupons for Union Square retailers, a complimentary DVD movie rental, and continental breakfast for four at the Blue Mermaid. Both packages start at $350.
Where: 495 Jefferson St., San Francisco
Holiday Sugar Castle
The main lobby of the Westin St. Francis has quite the sugar high—one that is 12 feet tall and weighs 1,200 pounds, to be exact. The hotel’s signature rotating holiday sugar castle, created by executive pastry chef Jean-François Houdré, resembles a French chateau and features 20 circular towers, 30 rooms, glowing windows, and a running train. On display through January 2, the castle includes a new feature for 2012: life-like elf replicas of politicians, celebrities, athletes, and well-known personalities deemed to be the year’s newsmakers.
Where:335 Powell St., San Francisco
Hotel Monaco’s Holi-daze Recovery Package
Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco San Francisco is offering a place to escape zany relatives and find reprieve after a chaotic holiday season. Its Holi-daze Recovery Package includes deluxe accommodations at the four-star hotel, a rejuvenating amenity upon check-in, daily breakfast for two in the hotel’s Grand Café, and two Bloody Marys to help guests get back on their feet in no time. Use the code word “HANG” when making reservations to take advantage of the package deal. Hotel Monaco’s blend of Beaux Arts charm and worldly sophistication abounds throughout 201 guest rooms, including 24 suites. The property also boasts an on-site spa with a whirlpool, a steam room, a sauna, and a massage room. There’s also morning coffee served daily in the living room as well as evening wine and cheese.
Where:501 Geary St., San Francisco
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Nutcracker Holiday Tea Menu
When: Weekends through December 16; daily December 17-30
Where: Fairmont San Francisco – 950 Mason St., San Francisco
Teddy Bear Tea
When: Through December 24
Where: The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco – 600 Stockton St. at California St., San Francisco
Illuminique Under the Dome
Through December 31, a cast of holiday characters twirl, drum, and dance underneath the Westfield San Francisco Centre’s 102-foot glass dome in Illuminique Under the Dome. Set in a 19th century toymaker’s workshop, the enchanting animated, 3-D story is backed by a dynamic mechanical orchestra to create a giant holiday music machine. The six-minute-long, free show runs every half hour from 5 p.m. until 30 minutes prior to the Centre’s closing.
Where: 865 Market St., San Francisco
San Francisco Symphony
The sounds of the season fill Davies Symphony Hall with myriad holiday performances throughout December. Productions include Handel’s Messiah, performed by the San Francisco Symphony and SF Symphony Chorus, December 13 through 15; Natalie Cole with the San Francisco Symphony on December 20; and “The Snowman” animated film and sing-along with the symphony on December 22. ‘Twas the Night carols and sing-alongs with SF Symphony Chorus and Orchestra are held December 22 through 24.
Where: Grove St., between Van Ness Ave. and Franklin St., San Francisco
The Nutcracker presented by the San Francisco Ballet
What began in 1944 (the San Francisco Ballet was the first to bring The Nutcracker to the United States) continues as a San Francisco tradition today. Set in 1915, during the San Francisco World’s Fair, Clara, our holiday heroine, enters her famous dreamlike journey in an ode to the city’s historical grandeur. The performance dazzles with more than 200 costumed characters, colorful scenery, and Tchaikovsky’s memorable score performed by the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. The Nutcracker runs December 7 through December 28 at the War Memorial Opera House.
Where: 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco
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ODC/Dance presents The Velveteen Rabbit
When: Through December 9
Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – 700 Howard St., San Francisco
A Chanticleer Christmas
When: December 10-December 23
Where: Various locations
American Bach Soloists perform Handel’s Messiah
When: December 20-21
Where: Grace Cathedral – 1100 California St., San Francisco
20th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy
When: December 22-25
Where: New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific Ave., San Francisco
Holiday-Themed Magic and Comedy Shows
When: Through December 22, December 26-31
Where: The Alcove Theater – 414 Mason St., San Francisco
A Christmas Carol with the American Conservatory Theater
When: Through December 24
Where: American Conservatory Theater – 415 Geary St., San Francisco
Santa Concert with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
When: December 24
Where: Castro Theatre – 429 Castro St., San Francisco
Beach Blanket Babylon’s Seasonal Extravaganza
When: Through December 31
Where: Club Fugazi – 678 Beach Blanket Babylon Blvd. (Green St.), San Francisco
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Victorian London comes to life with more than 120,000-square-feet of lamp-lit music halls, pubs, and dance parties. The world-renowned event features appearances by characters from the imaginations of Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, and Lewis Carroll, as well as shops filled with handmade holiday treasures. New this year is Victorian sideshow Richardson’s Empire of Wonders, a production of Pinocchio, and a “Christmas Carol” environmental theater. The fair runs weekends through December 23.
Where: The Cow Palace – 2600 Geneva Ave., San Francisco
Holiday Lights and Reindeer Romp at the San Francisco Zoo
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night from December 22 through 30, from 4 to 8 p.m., the San Francisco Zoo is illuminated in magical holiday lights as visitors enjoy hot apple cider and cocoa and sing along to special seasonal entertainment. Through January 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Santa’s reindeer Belle, Holly, Peppermint, and Velvet, will be at the zoo to meet and greet good little girls and boys.
Where: Sloat Blvd. and the Great Highway, San Francisco
Bill Graham Menorah Lighting
The Union Square menorah was originally lit 38 years ago, the first time this ceremony was performed in any outside, public area not in Israel. The tradition continues with an eight-day-long lighting ceremony beginning December 8. Ceremony times vary each day. Snacks, warm drinks, and children’s activities will be provided.
Where: Union Square – Intersection of Post, Stockton, Geary, and Powell Sts., San Francisco
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24 Holidays on 24th Street
When: December 1-24
Where: 24th St. in Noe Valley, San Francisco
Holiday tree-lighting Ceremony and Forest Walk at the Presidio
When: December 7
Where: Lincoln Blvd. and Funston Ave. on the Presidio’s Main Post
Christmas At Sea on Hyde Street Pier
When: December 8
Where: Aboard Balclutha at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park – 499 Jefferson St., San Francisco
The Science of (Holiday) Light: A Seasonal Stroll for Inquisitive Souls
When: December 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, and 30
Where: Tour begins at Dolores Park – 566 Dolores St., San Francisco
Decorated Boat Parade at Fisherman’s Wharf
When: December 14
Where: Viewable from the Aquatic Park (499 Jefferson St., San Francisco) and PIER 39 (Beach St. and the Embarcadero, San Francisco)
Holiday Lights-and-Chocolate Tours with Gourmet Walks in San Francisco
When: Fridays and Saturdays throughout December
Where: Tours depart from Justin Herman Plaza – Market St. at the Embarcadero, San Francisco
Red And White Fleet Introduces San Francisco’s Holiday Twilight Cruise
When: Thursdays through Saturdays throughout December
Where: Pier 43 ½ – Taylor St., Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco