Christmas in San Francisco

Things to Do on Christmas Eve & Day in 2015

Christmas in San Francisco is a magical time. The air is crisp, but warm enough to walk around and explore this beautiful city. I also love this time of year as the city is full of gorgeous holiday lights.

You will find quite a few things to do this holiday season from theater performances to shopping in Union Square or Pier 39.

Many attractions close on Christmas Day, but you can still find fun activities such as cruising down Lombard Street, visiting the Japanese Tea Garden, or walking through the Mission to see its colorful murals.

You will also find several recommendations on places to eat for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Each section below offers several options at every price point.

Are you looking for a unique way to celebrate the holidays? How about jumping aboard a Hornblower Cruise? You will find cruises each day that include dinner, dancing, and fun on the SF Bay.

Details for 2015 are still in the works. Read on for information on 2014 to get an idea on what to expect again this year. Also, stay tuned for updates as I'll provide details on what to see and do this holiday season once they are available.

Click here to skip down to events and activities planned on Christmas Day.

Christmas Eve in San Francisco

Holiday Attraction Schedule for Christmas Eve

Some attractions close early on Christmas Eve, even if they are open the next day. Before you finalize your plans for Christmas Eve Day, make sure to check out the closing times for many of SF's major attractions.

Learn More: Holiday Attraction Schedule for Christmas Eve & Day

SF Ballet's Nutcracker on Christmas Eve in San Francisco 2014

The San Francisco Ballet performs two shows on Christmas Eve in San Francisco. You can catch their interpretation of The Nutcracker at 11am or 4pm at the War Memorial Opera House. This is one of their most popular performances every year and tickets sell out quickly. If you plan to go to one of these performances, I recommend buying your tickets right away.

Learn More: Additional Information on SF's Ballet

Cirque du Soleil's Kurios

On Christmas Eve, you can also catch one of two performances of Cirque du Soleil's Kurios. Step inside an inventor's cabinet of tricks to find out what he might do next. Colorful characters, beautiful costumes, and daredevil acrobatics are again the highlights of this year's performance.

Times: 1:30pm and 4:30pm

Learn More: More Details on This Year's Performances

A Christmas Carol

This Dicken's Christmas classic plays at the American Conservatory Theater on Christmas Eve Day. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he gets a second chance to change the way he deals with Christmas each year. It's the perfect way to kick off this special holiday with friends and family.

Kinky Boots

On Christmas Eve, head over to the Orpheum Theater to see Kinky Boots. It's a charming story about a shoe factory owner that sets his business back on track with the help of a special local entertainer in stilettos. This story will melt your heart as you watch this odd couple teach each other about life and what it has to offer when you just believe in yourself.

Times: 2pm & 8pm

Learn More: Other Performances this Month & Ticket Details

Smuin Ballet's Christmas Ballet: From Mozart to Elvis

On Christmas Eve at 2pm, you can catch the Smuin Ballet's performance of Uncorked: The Christmas Ballet. The show includes a mix of music. You will hear Mozart, Elvis, and even Irish folk band music. It's a fun way to kick off your Christmas holiday.

Elf the Musical

Head over to the Curran Theater at 2pm for Elf, The Musical. It's a funny tale about a young orphan named Buddy that ends up in Santa's bag. He is a strange character that does not realize he is human. During the performance, he goes on a journey of self-discovery including how he can help others rediscover Christmas.

Santaland Diaries

Another funny performance on Christmas Eve is Santaland Dairies. It's a comedy by award winning writer David Sedaris. Local artist David Sinaiko plays Crumpet the Elf. This one-man performance shows you the funny side of being an elf in shopping mall Santalands.

Christmas Eve Dinner Recommendations

Dozens of restaurants in San Francisco open their doors on Christmas Eve. Most offer special menus so you can sit back, relax, and let the chef do all the work.

Here are some places to check out this Christmas Eve in San Francisco.

  • 501 Zingari: 3-course dinner (with six choices in each course), regular dinner menu available as well, $69 per person, served from 5pm to 10pm, Downtown/Union Square

  • 750 Restaurant & Bar: 3-course meal, options include Slow Roasted Prime Rib, Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop, or Pan Seared Scallops, 11am to 11pm, $55 adults, $25 for children

  • A16: 5 course "Feast of the Seven Fishes", seafood inspired, prix fixe dinner for $80 per person, Marina District

  • Bisou: Four course special dinner menu, $80, Castro

  • Bourbon Steak: Four course tasting menu, $135 per person, Downtown

  • Cafe Des Amis: Three course meal for $58, special holiday meal in place of their regular menu, Marina/Cow Hollow

  • Campton Place: 5 course prix fixe for $140 per person, Downtown

  • Eclipse at the Hyatt Regency: 3-course dinner for $54 per person, children 4 - 12 for $27, Financial District

  • Michael Mina: 3-course prix fixe menu for $95 per person or their 8-course tasting menu for $165, Financial District

  • OneUP Restaurant and Lounge at the Grand Hyatt: 3-course dinner from 4:30pm to 9:30pm, $65 per person and includes one glass of sparkling cider or champagne, Downtown/Union Square

  • Red Dog: Enjoy brunch all day long at Red Dog in the SOMA district

  • Spruce: 4-course tasting menu with optional wine pairing $125 per person ($70 per person without wine pairing), Presidio Heights

Secure your spot early, by booking a table on

Hornblower Supper Cruise 2014 (SOLD OUT!)

If you want a unique experience for dinner this Christmas Eve, then check out this dinner cruise offered by Hornblower Cruises:

  • 3 hour cruise
  • Holiday dinner buffet with gourmet selections
  • Live entertainment and dancing
  • Wine and cocktails available for purchase
  • Cruise leaves at 3:30 pm and returns around 6:30 pm
  • Dress code is upscale casual to business casual. Jeans are not allowed
  • Per person cost is around $129 per person (cruise is $98+ taxes and other fees)

Top Lodging Recommendations

Are you still looking for the perfect place to stay? Below you will find the best places to stay in Union Square, Fisherman's Wharf, and other fun neighborhoods. You will also find recommendations for luxury accommodations as well as budget friendly options.

Make sure you also check out the selection of hotel specials on too before you book. This is where I always find great deals on hotel rooms including free parking or a discount off the night's room rate. Click here to check out their current selection of offers for the 2014 Christmas holiday season.

Christmas Day in San Francisco 2014

Attraction Schedules for Christmas Day

Many paid attractions close on Christmas in San Francisco. However, several key attractions are free and open almost every day of the year.

Learn More: Click here for a full Christmas Day schedule of SF's top attractions.

Supper Cruises

Hornblower also offers two great cruises on Christmas Day 2014. Make sure to book early as they sell out fast.

  • Premier Christmas Day Dinner Cruise
    • 3-hour cruise that leaves at 3:30pm from Pier 3
    • Three-course seated premier dinner plus a dessert buffet
    • Hosted premium bar
    • Beautiful holiday decor
    • Business casual dress, jeans are not allowed
    • Price starts at $168 per person + taxes (estimated at $224.60 per person with taxes)
    • Book tickets now

  • Christmas Day Supper Cruise
    • 3-hour cruise on the SF Bay
    • Holiday supper buffet with gourmet selections
    • Live entertainment and dancing
    • Wine and cocktails available for purchase
    • Cruise leaves at 3:30 pm and returns around 6:30 pm
    • Dress code is upscale casual to business casual. Jeans are not allowed
    • Tickets are available now: Starting at $98.00 per person + taxes (estimated at $129.91 per person with taxes and other fees)
    • Book tickets now

Lunch & Dinner Recommendations

Many restaurants open on Christmas Day also feature a special menu. Here are some of the places to try in 2014.

  • 750 Restaurant & Bar: 3-course meal, options include Slow Roasted Prime Rib, Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop, or Pan Seared Scallops, 11am to 11pm, $55 adults, $25 for children

  • Ame: Choose from the Ala Carte menu or their special Christmas Tasting menu; SOMA

  • Americano Restaurant - Hotel Vitale: Prix-fixe menu for $65 or $95 with wine pairing, 2pm to 6pm, Embarcadero

  • ANZU: Christmas Buffet with prime rib, roasted turkey, salads, traditional sides and lavish desserts from 3pm to 9pm, $70 for adults, $35 for seniors, $37 for kids 5 - 12, Union Square

  • Campton Place: 5-course menu at $150 per person; Downtown

  • The Cavalier: Prix fixe menu for $75 per person, wine pairings add another $50 per person, serving from 11:30am to 7:30pm, Financial District

  • First Crush: 3-course prix fixe for $70 per person, wine pairing plus dinner is $115, vegetarian options available, Downtown/Union Square

  • L'Olivier: Four course prix fixe with dessert for $58.50, 3pm to 10pm; Financial District

  • Luce: Four course menu for dinner for $90 per person with a wine pairing for $130, kids 21 and younger $45, SOMA

  • The Oak Room at the Westin St. Francis: Christmas appetizer and desert buffet with a main course a la carte, $94 for adults, $45 for kids 12 and under; Union Square

  • OneUP Restaurant and Lounge at the Grand Hyatt: 3-course prix fixe menu from 4:30pm to 9:30pm, $65 per person and includes one glass of sparkling cider or champagne, Union Square/Downtown

I recommend you book a table as soon as possible, as restaurants fill up quickly. The easiest way to book your table is through

Tours Operating on Christmas Day

Even though many attractions close this day, you will still find a number of fun tours running. They range from the standard bay cruise to walking tours around SF's top districts. Here are a few of my favorites that plan to run on Christmas Day 2014.

  • Golden Gate Bay Cruise
    • Cruises depart several times this day between 10am and 3:45pm
    • One hour cruise on the SF Bay
    • Starts at Fishermans Wharf, sails under the Golden Gate Bridge, around Alcatraz and many other attractions along the bay
    • Narrated tour, available in several languages, where you will learn all about SF's history and these famous attractions
    • Full bar with drinks and snacks
  • San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge Bike Tour
    • 3 hour guided tour from Fishermans Wharf to Sausalito
    • Bike along SF's waterfront and over the Golden Gate Bridge
    • After the tour, you can continue biking or explore Sausalito
    • Ticket includes a ferry ride back to SF from Sausalito
    • Tours offered at both 10am and 1pm on Christmas Day
    • Tickets start at around $60 per person

  • Chinatown Walking Tour
    • Two to three hour walking tour of the famous Chinatown Neighborhood
    • Highlights include a stop at an Herbal Pharmacy, the Fortune Cookie Factory, and a Chinese Temple
    • You'll also walk past and learn more about other historical landmarks throughout the district
    • Walk through the Stockton Street Food Market
    • Tour starts at 10am
    • Tickets start at around $30 per person

It's a Wonderful Life: Radio Play

Head over to the Tides Theater on Christmas evening at 7pm for It's a Wonderful Life. This Radio Play is one of the all time Christmas classics that comes to life in a live radio style broadcast from the 1940s. It follows the story of a down on his luck man, George Bailey, and the angel that shows him what his city would have been like without him.

Live Music at Biscuits & Blues

Enjoy live music on Christmas night at Biscuits and Blues in Union Square. Lance Canales and the Flood take the stage at 9:30pm. This roots-blues influenced Americana trio is from Fresno and will keep your toes tapping all night long.

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day Mass

Many churches throughout San Francisco will offer a Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day Mass. To help you find one, I complied this list of the best churches in the city.

It includes some that you can visit as attractions. Others on the list offer less traditional services. Use it to find the experience you seek during your stay.

Learn More: A List of Churches in SF

Other Events in December

sf symphony new years eve ice skating
SF Symphony Performances
New Year's Eve Events
Full December Calendar

> > Christmas & Christmas Eve 2015

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