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San Francisco Events in December 2015

X-Mas, NYE, & Other Holiday Activities

Top San Francisco events in December 2015 include holiday celebrations, tree lighting ceremonies, and several activities on both Christmas and New Year's Eve. You will also get the chance to see a performance of the Nutcracker by the SF Ballet, visit SF museums for free, and attend the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

Other highlights this month include visits from Santa, free walking tours, and performances by the SF Opera. Read on for the full calendar of events this month in SF.

Discounted Tour & Event Tickets

The best way to celebrate this month in SF is to SAVE on your tour and event tickets. My favorite source for discounted tickets is Goldstar. They often offer tickets at up to 50% off the full retail price.

Here are just a few of their top offerings for December.

Santaland Diaries: An Anti-Holiday Classic

  • Comedy written by comedian and author David Sedaris
  • About an elf at a typical Santaland inside Macy's
  • Twisted take on Santaland and the people that run them
  • Laugh the night away while relieving some of that holiday stress
  • Runs from December 16 - 26
  • Full Price: $25 - $50 | Goldstar Price: $12.50 - $25*

Red & White Bay Cruise

  • 60-minute cruise around the SF Bay
  • Leaves Pier 43 1/2 several times each day
  • See top attractions including Alcatraz, Sausalito, and the Palace of Fine Arts
  • Cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge - twice!
  • Listen to narration on your personal headset to learn more about SF
  • Full Price: $30 | Goldstar Price: $15*

Twilight Cruise on the SF Bay

  • Enjoy a relaxing two-hour cruise on the water at twilight
  • Admire top attractions including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the SF Skyline
  • Savor hearty appetizers from the buffet
  • Sip on one hot or cold beverage, buy additional beverages at the cash bar
  • Watch the water from heated indoor viewing decks or on the outside decks
  • Leaves Pier 43 1/2 at 5:30pm
  • Full Price: $64 | Goldstar Price: $32

*Tickets may have a small service fee


NightLife at the Academy of Sciences

See the California Academy of Science in a different light at their weekly NightLife event. This 21 and older event allows adults to experience this award-winning museum and participate in the evening's themed activities. Each week has a different theme. In addition to exploring the museum and enjoying its special activities, you will also get the chance to enjoy a few cocktails as you make new friends.

Dates: December 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31

Tickets: Book Today

Learn More: Find Out More About the California Academy of Sciences


Cavalia: Odysseo

Head over to AT&T Park this November and December to experience Cavalia: Odysseo. These popular performances feature a mix of equestrian arts, stage acts, and high tech theatrical effects all in one show. Odysseo includes performances from 70 horses and 45 artists. It's a high energy show and one that is perfect for the entire family. All shows are under the Big Top behind AT&T Park in Lot A.

Dates: Several Dates Between November 19 and January 10

Tickets: On Sale Now


Ice Skating Rinks

Two ice skating rinks offer 90-minute skating sessions during the holidays. Both are open the entire month of December. The first is at Union Square and the second one is at the Embarcadero Center. Both open in the morning and offer skating sessions all day long until the evening.

Dates: November 4 - January 16


Free Museum Admission Days

To allow everyone the chance to visit SF's great museums, many offer one free admission day each month or quarter. Museums participating including the Asian Art Museum, the de Young, and the Legion of Honor. Click the link below for this month's schedule.

Dates: Various Dates in December

Learn More: Check Out the Full Schedule this Month


A Christmas Carol

The A.C.T. Geary Theater will once again offer several performances of the classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. This Bay Area favorite includes dozens of characters, colorful costumes, and a lively cast. It's a show that is fun for the entire family.

Dates: December 4 - 27

Tickets: On Sale Now at Up to 50% Off on Goldstar


Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Step back in time at this year's Great Dickens Christmas Fair. This fun, annual event features music, dancing, and food. You can also stroll through the aisles of Victorian London to pick up gifts for your loved ones. This event runs each weekend from November 21 - December 20.

Dates: Weekend from November 21 - December 20

Learn More: Visit their Official Site for Tickets & Additional Details


SF Theater in December

This December, you will find three large theater productions. The first is If/Then, which tells the story of what all the possibilities available for those living in New York today. The second production is A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder. This funny show tells the story of an heir to a fortune that will do anything to move himself up to the top of the list. The third is A Christmas Story. It's based on the 1983 movie that tells the story of Ralph Parker who will do anything to get the Red Ryder B-B gun for Christmas.

Dates: Several in December

Learn More: Full December Theater Calendar


Hotel Deals

Don't pay full price for your room this holiday season. Check out the great deals on TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Booking.com to save on your nightly rate, get free parking, and more. Click the links below for details.

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

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

Expedia: Book early and save! Find special deals in hot destinations only at Expedia.com!


Lighted Boat Parade

Head down to Fisherman's Wharf to see this year's Lighted Boat Parade. This fun event includes a parade of more than 60 colorfully decorated vessels. The event is free and best viewed at Pier 39 or Aquatic Park.

Date: December 11


Holiday Tree Lighting Events & Festivals

Every year, San Francisco and the surrounding communities celebrate the season with tree lighting ceremonies, festivals, and parades. Some of the most popular include the tree lighting event at Union Square, the holiday festivities at Pier 39, and the Lighted Boat Parade on the Bay.

Dates: Several Dates in December

Learn More: Find a List of All Holiday Events


SantaCon 2015

They are still working on the dates this year, but make sure you stay in touch to find out how you can participate in this year's SantaCon 2015. This large event features thousands of people dressed in Santa costumes taking over the city. The event is free and welcomes anyone that wants to enjoy a beverage, or two, or three as they begin to celebrate the holidays a little early.

Date: Saturday, December 12

Learn More: Find Out More About SantaCon


San Francisco Parol Lantern Festival and Parade

The Filipino-American Development Committee invites the public to their 13th Annual Parol Lantern Festival and Parade. It's the time of year when the community starts to create their decorations for the holidays. At this event, you get the chance to see these gorgeous decorations on display from more than 25 local organizations. The festival is held on Yerba Buena Lane, Jessie Square, and St. Patrick's Church in the SOMA District near 3rd and 4th Streets.

Date: Saturday, December 12 from 5pm to 9pm

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Santa Skivvies Run

Jog through the heart of SF in your skimpy Santa gear during this year's Santa Skivvies Run. All money raised will go to the SF AIDS Foundation. This fun race starts at 9am and runs from the UN Plaza to the Castro.

Date: Sunday, December 13

Learn More: Register Today on the Official Website


SF Ballet's Nutcracker

The SF Ballet was the first company to perform the Nutcracker in the US. Today. it's one of their most attended shows every year. This year's performances start on December 16 and last through December 31. If you plan on attending a show, I recommend buying your tickets as soon as possible as they almost always sell out.

Dates: December 16 - 31

Tickets: On Sale Now

Learn More: SF Ballet Details & Full Calendar


Smuin Ballet

You can also check out the Smuin Ballet's Classical to Cool Performances this December. This special 20th edition of The Christmas Show features everything from jazz to ballet to tap. During the first half, the dancers will be in all white and performing more classical routines. The second half includes dancers in all red performing to hits such as "White Christmas," "Santa Baby," and "Baby, It's Cold Outside."

Dates: December 17 - 27

Tickets: On Sale at Up to 50% Off on Goldstar


Santa in SF

Santa Claus is coming to town! All month long, he will be making his way around San Francisco and stopping at places such as the Japantown Center Malls, the SF Zoo, and Pier 39. Click the link below for his full schedule of stops in 2015.

Dates: Several Days this Month

Learn More: Check Out a Schedule of All of Santa's Stops


49ers Home Game in December

This December, the San Francisco 49ers have just one home game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. On Sunday, December 20, they take on the Cincinnati Bangels. The game starts at 5:30pm.

Date: Sunday, December 20

Learn More: Find Tickets & Additional Game Information


SF Swing Fest

This SF Swing Fest is heading into its 10th year. This event will once again be held on Treasure Island at the SF Golden Gate Rugby Playhouse at 725 California Avenue. This Prohibition Ball has beginner lessons starting at 6:30pm with the contest starting at 9:45pm.

Date: December 20


Christmas Eve & Day Activities

Enjoy Christmas Eve and Day in San Francisco. You will find a number of activities including performances of the Nutcracker by the SF Ballet, dinner cruises around the bay, and the holiday theater shows. You can also visit SF's free attractions, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, or head out on one of my free self-guided walking tours.

Dates: December 24 & 25

Learn More: Check Out All of the Events for the Holiday


Patti Smith Live in SF

Enjoy the sounds of Patti Smith at The Fillmore on December 29, 30, and 31. Smith became famous in the mid-70s with her debut album "Horses" and in 2007 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Dates: December 29, 30, & 31

Tickets: On Sale Now

Learn More: Find Additional Live Music Shows this Month


New Year's Eve & Day Events

New Year's Eve is a big event here in SF with dozens of fun activities. One of the biggest events is the fireworks display over the SF Bay at midnight. You can also attend a 21+ party, take a cruise around the bay, or attend the theater.

Dates: December 31 & January 1

Learn More: Find Dozens of Fun Events for NYE & Day


SF Opera

This month, the SF Opera performs three shows. They are Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg (November 18 - December 6), The Barber of Seville (November 25 - December 9), and The Fall of the House of Usher (December 8 - 13). All of these shows are at the War Memorial Opera House in the Civic Center District.

Dates: Several this Month

Learn More: Additional Details for this Month's SF Opera Performances


CityPass Discount Card

Save on your admission to some of the top local attractions with the CityPass Discount Card. This popular pass includes admission to the Aquarium of the Bay (on Pier 39), the California Academy of Sciences, and the Exploratorium. You will also receive a 7-day Muni pass that allows you to take as many cable car rides as you want. It includes a ticket to a 60-minute SF Bay Cruise too!

Save Today: Save up to 44% on San Francisco's Muni and 4 other attractions with CityPASS. Shop Now!

Learn More: Find Tips to Make the Most of this Discount Pass


Alcatraz Tours

One of the most interesting and visited attractions is Alcatraz. This former federal prison draws in millions of visitors a year and is a must see for all visitors. Click the link below for details on what you will see, when you should book your tickets, and what else to expect during your Alcatraz tour.

Dates: Every Day Except Christmas Day

Learn More: Find Out More about Tours to Alcatraz


SF Symphony

The SF Symphony plays a handful of shows this December in San Francisco. Top performances include Deck the Halls (12/6), It's a Wonderful Life (Feature Film with SFS performing the score on 12/11 & 12/12), and Handels Messiah (12/17 - 12/19). All shows are at Davies Symphony Hall.

Dates: Various Dates in December

Learn More: Full December Calendar


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