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Christmas in San Francisco

Things to Do on Christmas Eve & Day in 2016

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.

Christmas Window at Macy's in SF

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.

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

For some of the links on this page, I receive a small commission when you purchase. You don't pay more when you buy through me and it gives me the chance to offer you all this great content for free!

Christmas Eve in San Francisco

Additional events will be added as they are finalized. Here are just a few that are already scheduled.

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 2016

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 the SF Ballet's Nutcracker shows

The Lion King

Disney's The Lion King takes the stage on Saturday, December 24 at 2pm. This Broadway musical brings its cast of animals to life at every performance. It's the perfect way to kick off this special holiday with friends and family.

Learn More: Full December theater calendar

Cirque du Soleil's Luzia

Catch one of two Cirque du Soleil performances on Christmas Eve. This year's show is called Luzia, a magical and colorful Walking Dream of Mexico. All performances are under the Big Top behind AT&T Park. This year's Christmas Eve shows are at 1:30pm and 5pm.

Learn More: Find additional information and ticketing details

Irving Berlin's White Christmas

Don't miss out on the final performance of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. This classic musical tells the story of a song and dance team in Vermont that is falling for a sister act. It's a funny, high energy performance that you will remember for years to come. There are two shows on Christmas Eve, one at Noon and a second at 5:30pm.

Discounted Tickets: Find a limited number of tickets at up to 50% off

Santaland Diaries

Enjoy this year's performance of Santaland Diaries at The Eureka Theater. For 15 years, this hillarious holiday show, written by David Sedaris, will keep you laughing all night long. There are two shows on Christmas Eve at 2pm and 4pm.

Tickets: On sale at up to 50% off on Goldstar

More Half-Priced Tickets for Christmas Eve Events

Here are a few additional tickets for events on Christmas Eve. All of them are on Goldstar with discounts at up to 50% off.

  • SF Bay Cruise Adventure: Leaves from Pier 39 several times a day on Christmas Eve, Full price $30, Goldstar price $15*

  • Brian Setzer Orchestra: Live at the Warfield on Christmas Eve, Full price $72.50 - $84.50, Goldstar price $49.50 - $69.50*

  • North Beach Food Tour: Enjoy the Italian treats of North Beach, sample at up to 6 mom and pop establishments in the district, starts at 11am, Full price $60, Goldstar $39*

*Small fee applies.

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.

>> Find a list of the best places to enjoy Christmas Eve Dinner in SF

Hornblower Supper Cruise 2016

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 (boarding starts at 3pm)
  • Dress code is upscale casual to business casual. Jeans are not allowed
  • Per person cost is around $108 per person (+ taxes and other fees)
  • Buy tickets today!

Save on Your Stay

The best way to save on your hotel stay is to shop around a little before you book. Here are just a few of the great places to save! Click on the links below to find the best deals in San Francisco for Christmas.

TripAdvisor: What's the #1 hotel in San Francisco? Read reviews & find hotel deals on TripAdvisor!

Bookings: Save on your Hotel with, Planet Earth's #1 Accommodation Site. No booking fees ever!

Christmas Day in San Francisco 2016

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.

Lunch & Dinner Recommendation

Many restaurants open on Christmas Day also feature a special menu. Click the link below for my recommendations for your entire family.

>> Where to eat on Christmas Day in SF

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 2016.

  • 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
    • Buy your tickets today

  • 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 $55 per person
    • Buy your tickets today

  • 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 $35 per person
    • Buy your tickets today

Where to See Christmas Lights

Are you looking for something fun to do on Christmas night? One of the best options is to head out to find the best Christmas lights displays. Even though some of these places are closed, you can still take a look at their gorgeous displays. Many turn their lights on around dusk.

>> Full list of places to see Christmas lights this year

Supper Cruises

Hornblower will offer two great cruises on Christmas Day 2016.

  • Premier Christmas Day Dinner Cruise
    • 3-hour cruise that leaves at 4pm from Pier 3 (boards at 3:30pm)
    • 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 $176 per person + taxes
    • Buy your tickets to this dinner cruise today!

  • Christmas Day Supper Cruise
    • 2 supper buffet cruises this year
    • One leaves at 3:30pm and one at 4pm
    • 3-hour cruise on the SF Bay
    • Holiday supper buffet with gourmet selections
    • Live entertainment and dancing
    • Wine and cocktails available for purchase
    • Dress code is upscale casual to business casual. Jeans are not allowed
    • Tickets are available now: Starting at $113.00 per person + taxes
    • Buy your tickets today!

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
New Year's
Eve Events
Full December

> > Christmas & Christmas Eve 2016

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